Raising Conscious Children

I tell my kids I am responsible for raising them in three areas: mind, body, spirit.

For their mind I encourage and support their education, and we also focus on reading. If children love to read, and read a variety of genres they will become life-long learners no matter the years they spend in school. Their success in school is important, but in multiple areas. We focus not as much on the score or grade but emphasize the need for doing your best, and building a relationship with their teacher. The grade measures their effort indirectly, but the discussion revolves around effort and then the grade is the result, not the pressure to make the grade. Well rounded kids are better at functioning in the real world, and this means they understand that academics are important but fit into the bigger picture of family and being well rounded. I encourage reading through the idea that in reading we can become godlike. The reader is privileged with knowing the inside of a character’s mind, with traveling to other worlds without leaving our home, with even time travel or non-reality.

For their body I encourage the pursuit of a sport and eating healthy, and getting the proper amount of sleep. Sport offers them a discipline and a work ethic and a sense of team while they get to see themselves succeeding in multiple areas. Eating healthy is about taking care of their body, and not just because Mom is a nutritionist and says so. They have to take ownership of their own desire to eat healthy otherwise they are just following rules instead of believing in the value of eating healthy. If they cannot take care of their body, their mind and their spirit will suffer.

For their spirit we focus on family, God, and stress management.  There is constant language in our house about the importance of family, and building and maintaining family relationships and that each of us is part of the team that is our family. This also allows for the focus to fall to one child on the day or time where they have an activity or are sick or in need and not insisting they are the center of attention each and every day.  I encourage a personal relationship with their higher self and a personal and private relationship with God in addition to a community relationship through Church—but the private and personal one is first not burden with the societal expectations of who God is and how we should act according to that notion.  And lastly, if we teach our kids everything they should do, but not how to react to life’s challenges, we have given them nothing.

Genetics: COMT and Risk Taking

COMT stands for Catechol-O-Methyltransferase. There are several genes/enzymes in this methylation process. COMT V158M polymorphisms (differences, i.e. heterozygous or homozygous mutations) is becoming one of the more popular differences associated with certain imbalances in mood and behavior and recently in decision making, but there are many COMT genes. Heterozygous or homozygous differences will either accelerate or decrease processes involved in dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and estrogen. When the alleles are a pair of A’s (also known as Met version) an individual may find their dopamine levels run on the high side with the processes happening at a slower pace, but the trade off in this scenario may be depleted serotonin levels leading to depression and other imbalances associated with low serotonin such as anxiety, carbohydrate and sugar cravings, sleeplessness and gut issues. Further imbalances happen when the MTHFR shows polymorphisms. Slow processes may contribute to a low tolerance to pain, but may be better at processing information. These individuals are more likely to learn from avoiding bad experiences and taking more time to make decisions.  When the allele’s are a pair of G’s (known as the Val version of the amino acid/protein coding) the process may be happening at a faster rate which may lead to low levels of dopamine. Low levels of dopamine may contribute to imbalances such as irritability, less risk taking, maybe even lacking in cognitive performance. Imbalances in dopamine levels may even correlate to a greater risk for addictive behavior.  Supplements that may help in the face of these polymorphisms are magnesium, l-theanine, and depending on the need for dopamine supplements such as l-tyrosine, and Vitamin D. Need for serotonin may be helped with 5HTP as long as the individual is not taking an antidepressant. Gut issues need to be addresses and other methylation pathways such as MTHFR to make sure a greater sense of well-being is achieved over the long run.

Genetics: MAO and Depression

MAO stands for Monoamine Oxidase A  and is one of several genes/enzymes responsible for the processing/digestion of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine. This methyl enzyme is dependent on adequate amounts of riboflavin (one of the B vitamins) to work correctly. When the gene is mutated there is an increased risk of mood and attention related issues such as depression, aggression, anger, ADHD, and maybe social personality disorder. Heterozygous or homozygous mutations can be an indicator of why certain chemical imbalances occur in an individual leading to mild to moderate to severe manifestations. Of course, genetic mutations are only a piece of the puzzle. The environment which your DNA makes copies is dependent on many factors. The chemical imbalances are influenced by many factors. For example, most of the serotonin is made in the gut. If there is bacterial dysbiosis, yeast overgrowth, overconsumption of sugar the body may experience challenges in making enough serotonin. Questions to ask yourself if you carry a partial or full mutation is whether or not your diet and lifestyle helps your imperfections or acerbates them? Are you supporting your unique genetic makeup?

Aloe Vera

The aloe “cactus,” actually a desert succulent, has been touted as a “miracle plant,” and its antibiotic activity is definitely a part of its reputation.  The gel in the leaves of the aloe plant contains a fairly long list of unique substances that account for many of its healing properties.

 

Functions:

Fighting viruses is not aloe’s only antibiotic activity, however.  It is also an antibacterial and antifungal.  Aloe is a known bactericide against a dozen or so different kinds of bacteria, including the pneumonia-causing bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae.  It has also been shown to inhibit the fungus Candida albicans, responsible for most yeast infections.

 

The common oral preparation of the aloe plant currently available is aloe vera juice, a partially refined and diluted extract of the active gel.  It is important to select a high-quality product that is as much like the inner gel of the plant as possible and that has not been subjected to high heat or unnecessary filtering during its manufacture.  Aloe also has a low risk of toxicity, enabling it to be consumed as a drink on a regular basis.

 

Many people start out with 1 ounce twice daily and increase to about 6 ounces per day.  Many users describe positive health effects from drinking aloe vera juice on this kind of routine basis.

Source: Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet &      Nutritional Medicine. New York, Ten Speed.

Genetics: DAO and Schizophrenia

DAO stands for D-amino-acid-oxidase and it is the gene/enzyme that helps break down d-amino acids such as D-serine, D-proline, D-tyrosine, D-Dopa, D-alanine, and D-phenylalanine. This enzyme depends on vitamin B2 to run properly. Mutations (polymorphisms such as heterozygous or homozygous) in this gene have been associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and Social Anxiety Disorder.  One speculation is because a disruption in D-serine activity has been associated with these two conditions. There is also a correlation between dopamine synthesis and this enzyme. Mainstream medical has been looking at using D-cycloserine to help stabilize D-serine. There is also the possibility that micronutrients such as GABA and Glycine are helping to balance the response in the brain along with a protocol for improving dopamine synthesis. Here is an interesting article talking more about the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) receptor and the correlation between schizophrenia and using glycine to help balance the brain http://www.understand-schizophrenia.com/schizophrenia-diet.html

Oats

In terms of quantity, the oat is the fourth leading grain in the United States, behind corn, wheat, and sorghum.  Although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ, allowing them to remain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients.  Different types of processing are then used to produce various oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods, and stuffing.

 

Health Benefits

Oat bran’s dietary fiber is high in beta-glucan, which helps to lower cholesterol.  Studies also show that oat bran has beneficial effects on blood sugar as well.  Adults with type 2 diabetes who were given foods high in oat fiber experienced a much lower rise in blood sugar than those who were given white rice or bread.

 

 

How to Select and Store

Oats have a slightly higher fat content than other grains and can go rancid more quickly.  As a result, we suggest you buy small quantities at one time.  If you purchase already prepared oats, look at the ingredients list to ensure there is no salt, sugar, or other additives.  If you buy oats in bulk, make sure that the bins are covered and the store has a fast product turnover to ensure maximum freshness.  Fresh oats have a clean, sweet or grassy smell.  Cooked oats are good for two to three days and can be frozen for one month.

 

Quick Serving Ideas:

  • For a healthy breakfast, cook oats and add ½ Tsp of organic butter, a pinch of salt, sliced dried prunes or fruit of your choice, 1 Tsp cinnamon, and raw walnut pieces.  Once the oats are in your bowl, finish with 1 TB of flax meal, and for sweetness add some maple syrup or raw honey.
  • Oatmeal is more than just a breakfast food; try adding chopped vegetables, miso, sesame seed butter (tahini), and fresh herbs and spices to make an easy, one-pot meal.
  • With or without raisins, oatmeal cookies are a favorite of kids of all ages.
  • Add some oat flour or whole oats to your next bread or muffin recipe.
  • Oat bran adds healthy fiber to any cold or hot cereal.
  • Try oat groats as the foundation of your next turkey, chicken, or quail stuffing.

 

Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.

 

Genetic Informational Testing

Do you know if you need extra magnesium for greater physical, mental and emotional well-being? Do you know if your body breaks down folate and folic acid which can greatly affect your risk of cardiac disease or miscarriage or tolerance to certain foods? Do you know if you have a tendency to have higher or lower dopamine levels which will influence addictive behavior or depressive disorders? Do you know if your body cannot recycle B12? This and more can be revealed to you when you have your genetic information in your hands and work with a  practitioner to interpret the data.  Genetic testing is the new map of information in biochemical individuality. Reviewing your personal genetic information with a nutrigenetic practitioner can help you understand how to improve your diet and lifestyle factors specific to your genetics.   Go to www.23andme.com and order your kit today. Schedule your appointment either in person or by phone to become a client and review your results.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has the unique distinction of being the first vitamin officially named, thereby earning it the letter A as its identifying mark.  It also has the distinction of being much more complicated that researchers originally thought in 1913, the year it was discovered.  At that time, the focus was on what we now call preformed vitamin A, or retinol.  Vitamin A is absorbed primarily from the small intestine.  Absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin is reduced with alcohol use, with vitamin E deficiency, with cortisone medication, and with excessive iron intake or the use of mineral oil, as well as with exercise.  Vitamin A is needed at a level of at least 5,000 IU a day, although this may vary due to many factors.

 

Sources:

The two forms of vitamin A come from different food sources.  Preformed A (retinol) is the main animal-source vitamin A.  It is found in highest concentrations in all kinds of liver and fish liver oil, which is a common source for supplements.  Egg yolks and milk products, such as whole milk, cream, and butter, are also good sources of vitamin A.  Provitamin A, mainly in the form of beta-carotene, is found in a wide variety of yellow-and orange-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy green vegetables.

Functions:

Vitamin A performs many important functions in the human body.  The following are the most common.

  • Eyesight
  • Growth and tissue healing
  • Healthy skin
  • Antioxidation
  • Lowering cancer risk and supporting immune function
  • Regulating genetic processes

 

Signs of deficiency:

  • Night blindness
  • Dry, bumpy skin
  • Lack of luster in hair and dandruff
  • Bone softness
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Decrease in appetite and some loss of smell and taste
  • Lowered immune function

Source: Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet &      Nutritional Medicine. New York, Ten Speed.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers are native to both North and South America, where indigenous people were the first to cultivate them.  Sunflowers have been cultivated for more than 5000 years by the Native Americans, who used all the parts of the plant for various purposes, such as oil sources and dye pigments.  The Spanish explorers took the sunflower back to Europe, from which it extended its beauty to adjoining countries.  Today, sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils in the world.

 

Health Benefits

The health benefits of sunflower seeds are similar to nuts that provide a high content of monounsaturated fat and arginine.  Research studies have shown that the important nutrients a sunflower provides are often in insufficient supply in the American diet.  Deficient intake of these vital nutrients has been shown to be linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and selenium in particular has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergenic properties as well.

 

How to Select and Store

Whenever possible, purchase organic sunflower seeds, shelled or unshelled.  It is important to make sure they are not broken, dirty, or limp nor appear yellow in color.  Sunflower seeds that are limp or yellow are probably rancid.  The highest-quality sunflower oil is cold-pressed (this should be clearly stated on the bottle).  Once the bottle has been opened, store it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.

 

Quick Serving Ideas:

 

  • Add sunflower seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal
  • Add sunflower seeds to any rice pilaf dish
  • Flaxseed dessert balls: Mix together ground flaxseed, ground sunflower seeds, ground sesame seeds, some carob powder, ground coconut, a pinch of salt, and some honey or maple syrup. Knead the mixture together and form it into balls.

Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.

 

January Newsletter

This month’s newsletter includes Mercury in your beauty products, Choosing the best butter for you and your family, and The many uses of lemons.
This month’s tip from Laura: 
Did you know that growth hormones in meat and dairy have been linked to early onset puberty? Did you know that early puberty increases risk of breast and prostate cancer?
(NaturalNews) Infamous for poisoning the kidneys and brain, mercury is a potent, silent destroyer of healthy cellular function. Mercury compounds can be readily absorbed through intact skin.
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Most people are familiar with the traditional uses for lemons to soothe sore throats and add some citrus flavor to our foods. However the diversity of applications for lemons far exceeds general knowledge and once you read the following list, you’ll likely want to stock at least a few lemons in your kitchen 24-7.
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Conventionally raised cows are most commonly fed GMO corn and soy, however, some farmers fatten up their feed with additional sugar from GMO sugar beets and cottonseed. Cotton is the most toxic crop because it isn’t treated as a food crop but as a textile (it has less regulation.) And then conventional dairy cow feed is sometimes fortified with additional protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA from GMO rapeseed (canola) because the cows are not getting these nutrients naturally from the grass. GMO alfalfa hay is also commonly fed to cows.
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