A Deliberate Life

The past six weeks or so I have been doing a lot of self examination. Externally and internally. Sometimes in life you have to deal with what is dealt. Put out fires as they pop up and just do the next thing because nobody else is and it must be done.

The past few years this has been how most of my life has been lived. It hasn’t been very deliberate and it definitely hasn’t been planned or structured.

One of the things I’ve done was take an inventory. What things do I do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that are enjoyable, productive, and helpful to my family and myself? What things do I do that encourage personal growth and restore my energy reserves instead of drain it? Something that has been very sad to me for the past 3+ years is that I have had neither the mental space, physical energy and most of all no time to read for personal edification or enjoyment. Reading used to be as much a part of my life as eating and breathing. I literally inhaled books. Recent years reading has been purely centered around self education in the realm of health. Studies, books, nutritional certifications and more studies and more holistic health and healing books.

In an effort to live more deliberately and to start making changes in my life that are positive this past month I started two books that were not in the least health related. And made time to read on them a little bit every day. It’s been wonderful. Part of my brain is awake and alive again. It just so happened that the first book I started was Benjamin Franklins Autobiography.

One of those brain niggles that had been bugging me for years is seeing some conservative Christian friends of mine quote Ben Franklin and put some sort of a disclaimer to the effect “I know he was an atheist but I thought this was really good” then followed by one of his many quotes. Rather startling to me since nothing I had ever read of his years ago back when I read historical stuff all the time had ever led me to believe he was an unreligious man much less an atheist. His autobiography explains a great deal about why people may have gotten that impression about him but how it is absolutely incorrect. More on Ben Franklin and his religious beliefs in his own words in a future post.

For now what I want to talk about is his personal edification program. The old geezers (I use the term geezer with the utmost respect and fondness) memoirs could not have come at a more fortuitous time for me. He spends quite a bit of time outlining some of the structures he used in his own life to build the life and legacy that he left to not only his family but to our Country as well.

Since he says it all ever so much better than I could and I would venture to guess cares very little that he be quoted now and would in-fact probably be a bit flattered to know that people still care all these many years later I am going to present it in his own words without my muddled interpretations of it.

Excerpt from the second part of Benjamin Franklins Autobiography written when he was 79 years old and living in France.

It was about this time I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. 

While my care was employ’d in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the following method. 

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. 

Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by others it was extended to mean the moderating of every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I propos’d to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex’d to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express’d the extent I gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. TEMPERANCE: Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 

4. RESOLUTION: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 

7. SINCERITY: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 

12.CHASTITY: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. 

13: HUMILITY: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

He follows this list at length detailing how he began to incorporate and discipline himself in these areas of his life one at a time and gives an example of a gardener attacking a weed infested garden. The gardener would start with one bed at a time and restore it before moving on to the next bed that needed tending and care. As he reflects back over his life he mentions that he never successfully implemented his ORDER point and that since he began this as a young man with an excellent memory he allowed himself slack in this area, something he regretted as an older man with poor memory and lifelong habits of disorganization.

Lest anyone be tempted to equate this list of morals life disciplines with a legalism based religious structure, or even so far as to assume that this code that he implemented in his life was even close to suggesting a path of salvation or anything like that. In the full context of his writings it is not in the least presented that way. Merely life-style habits along the lines of how we would discipline ourselves to make up our beds when we get up in the morning, or work out X number of times a week to maintain cardio health. This was his structure to help him maintain lifetime relationship health with his family, business and eventually political realms.

I have found his perspectives refreshing and incredibly timely at this juncture in my life. It was worth sharing. Hope you got some value or insight out of it as well.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Randomness

1) I love coffee. Good coffee. Have become quite the coffee snob in recent years. Or so I thought. Tonight a friend bought me a cup of coffee from a Shell gas station. It was a late night at work and I was feeling mentally stressed out with my poor brain fritzing out and going in a million different directions. Coffee always has a stabilizing effect up on my brain (Proof some would say that I am most certainly ADD) Fully prepared to deal with the bitter dregs of an hours old brew from acidic and burnt tasting beans I was startled by the smooth mild flavor of the coffee. Now I’m wondering if my snobbishness is slipping or if that gas station truly had coffee that was really that good.

Home roasted coffee beans

Home roasted coffee beans

 

2) Boy, times have changed. When Beeyoutiful was a young fledgling company with only one Probiotic blend to it’s short list of startup products we had a LOT of customers call in and ask us what a probiotic was. And even more be baffled as to why we would suggest it as a followup to recent antibiotic use in themselves or their children. Nowadays customers don’t ask those questions hardly ever. We used to suggest ways to get a Dr. to be Ok with probiotic supplementation and a handful of times had customers come back and relay that their Pediatrician had read them the riot act about how worthless and pointless probiotic supplementation was.  These days we hear “My Dr. told me that it’s a good idea to give my kids probiotics to help their digestion and especially since we had to use an antibiotic” I can’t tell you what a cool thing it is to have witnessed the turning of the popular opinion tide on this crucial bit of health maintenance.

Doodles and Bean

Doodles and Bean

Another thing our customers used to encounter LOTS of resistance from the medical community over was Vit. D supplementation. Dr.’s spouted warnings about Vit. D toxicity and the risks they were taking if they dared supplement themselves or their children. Times have drastically changed on this front with every Pediatrician we (and apparently most of our customers) encounter recommending Vit. D supplementation for even very small babies.  Again, I think it’s an incredible thing and am so happy that what was once viewed as a dangerous practice is now understood and enthusiastically recommended by the experts many trust their healthcare management to.

Doodlebug Spring 2012

Doodlebug Spring 2012

3) Bean snores. And it’s hilarious. Sometimes I stay up later than I should just to listen to his little tiny baby snores. And gaze at his chubby cheeks and little chiseled mouth. He’s four, almost five months old but the baby-wonder hasn’t worn off even a little bit for me.

Sleeping Chubby Cheeked Bean Boy

Sleeping Chubby Cheeked Bean Boy

4) I am tired. Oh.so.tired. Makeup project is feeling like it’s never ever going to end. Which means of course the end is right around the corner.  Had a sad realization today that instead of me hitting my walls of utter exhaustion after a project is finished…these days I hit the wall BEFORE the end of the project and end up muddling through the last bits of it in a very ineffective manner. Brain fog today from sheer mental exhaustion = a frustratingly imperfect video shoot. Trying to summon up excitement that all signs point to the end being near and then we can start actually making the fruit of all of our efforts and hard work available to people! Yaaay!

Mineral Makeup Color Tester Packets for Evaluation

Mineral Makeup Color Tester Packets for Evaluation

5) We are going camping this weekend. God willing and if the creek don’t rise. And it doesn’t storm. Or flood. Or get bombarded with space aliens. We do what I call “Civilized Camping” Uncivilized camping is what my husbands family specializes in. I’ll let you in on the specifics: uncivilized camping does not involve running water, electricity or bathrooms. The civilized camping trip we have planned is at an award winning state park complete with bathrooms, showers, laundry mat, running water at the campsites and power at same said campsites. <<happy sigh>> Yes, that is camping that even this modern day life comforts person can handle.

Campfire from camping trip in 2010

Campfire from camping trip in 2010

6) Despite the fact that it is two AM now I am going to bed with the goal of getting up and going into work tomorrow. Knocking out the laaaaaast bits of MUST DO projects before the weekend and then scurrying home to get us all packed up for the camping trip. So let it be written, so let it be done. Here’s hoping sheer strength of will can summon the needed umph to make that happen. If not I’ll be spending half the day on the couch trying to pull out of my sleepy fog.

May you have a productive and happy day and a weekend full of rest and fellowship with those you love. ❤

Doodlebug

Doodlebug

 

Full Disclosure

In my last post here I promised to share more about what I have been learning about the cosmetic industry and how it pertains to us as consumers. An important step in becoming an informed consumer is to understand not just what is listed on the labels (more on that in later posts) but perhaps even more importantly what may not be on the label. To go along with these potentially missing items we should also understand why they are allowed to be left off under the current regulations of cosmetics.

Read Labels!

Read Labels!

The company that boldly confirmed the years worth of rumors about companies using bi-products of aborted fetal tissue in skincare products is a company based out of Switzerland by the name of Neocutis. They were the first, and to my knowledge the only company to openly disclose and even use it as a positive marketing point of their products the fact that they use PSP® (Processed Skin Cell Proteins) and openly discloses that it is derived from fetal skin cells.

This can leave one wondering why and how a company could have used ingredients like this and even had the option to leave it off the label. It seems like a pretty important thing to know about a product before you use it.

Here’s something you need to understand about almost all skincare and cosmetic companies.

Ready for it?

They are not Full Disclosure companies.

As a matter of fact, most are anti-disclosure companies.

From a business perspective it does make sense. If you disclose everything you put into a product it means your competition can knock off your product faster and easier than perhaps they could otherwise. Understandably there is a desire to protect ones unique, usually costly to develop and have tested product.

So how is it legal to do this though? As any business owner can attest, just because something makes good money making sense it does not mean it’s legal. Aren’t our rights as consumers supposed to be protected by laws and policies set in place by Government Agencies? And shouldn’t our rights to be informed consumers supersede a companies money making interests?

Cosmetics marketed in the United States, whether they are manufactured here or are imported from other countries, must comply with the labeling requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), and regulations published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the authority of these two laws. That seems like a lot of supervision and a lot of accountability for the Cosmetic industry.

Upon closer inspection however a less comforting picture begins to appear.

The FDA does not have the authority to pre-approve the labeling of cosmetic products before they are placed on the market, the manufacturer and/or distributor have the responsibility to ensure their products are labeled properly. This means that if somebody in the FDA happens to get around to testing and reviewing a cosmetic product and finds that what is on the label does not add up with what is actually in the product the company can be in big trouble. However, unless someone blows the whistle on them in a big enough way to attract the FDA’s attention many companies can go years and years without their products coming up for testing and review. This means that the actual accountability offered by the FDA for cosmetics is loose and randomly enforced at best.

Under the FPLA, if a product is sold on a retail basis to consumers, the ingredients must conspicuously appear on an information panel and be displayed in such a manner that it is likely to be read at the time of purchase. More importantly, the ingredients must be listed in descending order of quantity used, with few exceptions. One such all important exception includes the listing of trade secret ingredients. If the FDA pre-approves a company’s request for trade secret exemption, then that “trade secret” ingredient does not need to be declared on the label, and in lieu of declaring the name of that ingredient, the company may state the phrase “and other ingredients” at the end of the declaration of ingredients. The cosmetic company must first obtain FDA approval for trade secret exemption through a confidential application process before the cosmetic company is exempt from publicly declaring all ingredients.

If a company has applied for this trade secret exemption from the FDA they are excused from disclosure obligations on their label no matter what quantity these “trade secret ingredients” may be in the end product. I used to be under the mistaken impression that as long as these undeclared ingredients stayed below a certain total percentage of the product that is what determined whether it had to be disclosed or not. For example, it had to be less than 3% of the total whole of the product. Under this trade secret exemption however that is not true. No longer can I comfort myself upon reading the phrase and other ingredients on a label “Oh well, at least it’ll only be a little bit of the total product…” The fact that it is listed last in the ingredients means nothing  in regards to quantities and percentages used on a cosmetic product label.

So where does that leave us? Hopefully examining our current cosmetic labels to satisfy personal curiosity. But if the label isn’t required by governing agencies to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth how can we even trust what the label says? This is the time to pick up the phone, hop on-line and shoot off an e-mail, chat up a live support person or whatever venue of communication you find easiest and ask a very simple question of the companies that provide your makeup and skincare cosmetics.

This one question should enlighten you as to whether or not you can trust the labels produced by their companies.

“Are you a full disclosure company?”

If the answer is no, balking, obfuscating or excuses making (aka explaining how they have a moral obligation to protect their proprietary ingredients) then it is probably time to find a new company. Seek out Full Disclosure Companies. Ask before you buy.

You may not like everything they disclose but at least they’ll be doing the courtesy of being honest to you as the consumer so you can CHOOSE to put those ingredients on your skin or not.

For all the criticism and flack Neocutis has received from organizations around the world for revealing their “secret” ingredient to their highly successful products I feel like they should in some way be applauded. They have had the courtesy to you as the consumer to freely disclose what they use and how they use it. On their website they openly share the process of how their product was developed. Whether you like it or not, morally and ethically agree with their ingredient sourcing they have put the freedom of being an informed consumer back into your hands when it comes down to evaluating their business and products. There are more than 100 other large cosmetic companies out there that manufacture similar anti aging products as Neocutis. To date, as far as I was able to verify not a single one of them have agree to go on public record with a full disclosure of all their ingredients so that pro life organizations can whole heartedly endorse them as being fetal skin cell free.

Neocutis has put the freedom of informed choice back where it belongs and has taken the hailstorm of criticism and boycotts as a result but has not back pedaled or faltered in it’s open policy marketing. Demand the same courtesy of full disclosure of other companies before you give them business and have the courage to withhold your business if they refuse.

Coming up soon: Common ingredients in cosmetics and skincare and what they do…for the makeup and to you.

Baby Skin

Precious baby fingers

Precious baby fingers

This blog post was started several days ago. It was supposed to be an introductory and probably rather dry educational piece on the components that many cosmetic companies use in their products. Including in some specific anti aging products components grown and cloned from the cells of an electively aborted baby.

But, I got bogged down in research. Not unusual. This time though I kept putting off digging back into it too deeply. I’ve been a mainstream makeup consumer since my teens. Although thankfully, due to my still on the mid-range to young age  most of those products have not been anti aging specific. But, there is still a chance that I have unwittingly used one of these products. Every time I pulled up a new article to read or news report a lump would grow in my throat, my eyes would fill with tears and I’d inwardly cringe and scoop my precious 3 month old little baby closer. The tab would be closed with a mental promise to myself to go back and read it later.

You see, a friend of mine just had a little baby this week. With a chubby little newborn body and a shock of black hair to top off a scrunchy little face he looked perfect. They named him Caleb.  The whole pregnancy they had been told that he was a she based upon sonograms so the fact that he was indeed very much a he upon arrival was a surprise. Friends from around the world celebrated his arrival. A few hours after birth he was whisked away for emergency surgery. Although all seemed to go well he quit breathing unexpectedly and had to be medically revived and then passed away a few hours later.

The grief I have felt for my friends has been indescribable.

Maybe it’s because our babies shared names.

Maybe it’s because my own worries for the health of our little guy is still so fresh in my memory.

Maybe it’s because he was so real and so alive and everything was supposed to be Ok and it wasn’t.

Maybe it’s because it just feels so wrong that a baby so loved, prayed for and wanted was taken.

Intermingled with sheer grief over this tiny babies death has been an underlying outrage at what seems to me an abuse of the resource represented by an infants body. That this topic of necessary research has coincided with the loss of my friends precious baby C has thrown all shred of neutrality or pragmatism in my perspective out the window.

The data laden info post will have to wait. My visceral reaction to the concept of a baby being electively killed is too strong. One account I read said that the Dr.’s told the parents the baby had defects and it would not live long if allowed to go to term.  So the parents made (what I would assume to have been a very difficult and painful decision) to terminate the pregnancy at 14 weeks. A cell bank was created in Switzerland from the infants 14 week old body and cosmetic companies have bought cells from this “bank”  and used them as a base to grow some of the most effective skin rejuvenating components available on the market today.

The concept of companies profiteering off of the body of a dead baby leaves me grasping for words strong enough to convey the depth of my horrified reaction.

Those things we all love about baby skin. It’s smoothness, sweetness, how fresh and new it is with that marvelous ability to rapidly heal are the very precious components that make the cells from a very young baby so valuable. For this reason human placentas are also at a premium. The rich base of concentrated healing and growing power is literal gold amongst our societies eager for anything resembling the fountain of youth. For the pursuit of beauty and youthful appearance there are virtually no ethical bounds that cannot be crossed or readily justified.

In the coming days and probably weeks I will be blogging and attempting to offer information that I wish I had access to years ago. My hope is to help educate you as a consumer so that you can choose cosmetic products that are pure and safe enough for your baby…without being sourced from a baby bi-product.

My hope is that you will take the time, effort and energy to become an educated consumer. That you will not be satisfied to just not know for sure what is in the makeup  and skincare products you put on your skin on a weekly if not daily basis. As careful as many of us are trying to be with what we consume with our mouths, wanting to make sure what food we buy is grown, raised and processed in a respectful, responsible and ethical way it is the worst of double standards to give next to no care to what we purchase for use on our skin.

I am personally committing myself to this new learning curve even if it makes me cringe, wince, get frustrated and at times want to cry. There are no excuses for being an ignorance consumer anymore.

Hopefully I’ll be able to be less emotional and get some data together for you in the next post. Just to get you started here is an interesting article on this topic published in the Washington Times.

Please pray for my friends as they continue to mourn the loss of their sweet son and also for their other two children who are grieving the loss of the brother that didn’t get to come home.

Stop breastfeeding because it’s….too effective?

A friend linked me to an article written by a well known alternative health “educator” I use quotes because this particular gentleman does a certain amount of fear mongering in a rather deliberate way as part of his very successfully monetizing marketing campaign. Fear for sales is not something I am a fan of. Reading his article I couldn’t help but think that this was like many other articles I have read of his…overblown with conclusions drawn that were a stretch at best. To satisfy my curiosity about whether or not researchers had actually gone on record suggesting what he said was suggested I went digging for source materials.

Interestingly enough in his “sources” he did not link to the actual source of the information from which he wrote such a disturbing article, which is a fascinating study performed by several researchers at the National Centers for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is part of what we commonly know as the CDC. The title of this study is Inhibitory effect of breast milk on infectivity of live oral rotavirus vaccines Or, in plain English: Why breast-milk would make live oral rotavirus vaccines ineffective or less effective.

The abstract of this study can be read here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442687

The study begins with a statement about how the Rotavirus vaccine has proven less effective among children in poor developing countries compared with middle income and industrialized countries for reasons that are not yet completely understood. The scope of the study was to determine whether the neutralizing activity of breast milk could lower the titer of vaccine virus and explain this difference in vitro.

Just incase you are wondering here’s the definition of in vitro:  In vitro comes from the Latin term “in glass” and refers to studies of biological properties that are done in a test tube (i.e. under glass) rather than in a human or animal. As opposed to in vivo (“in life”) studies which are done inside an organism. In vitro studies allow scientists to isolate specific cells, bacteria, and viruses and study them without the distractions of having to look at a whole organism.

With that clarified we’ll move onto the next section which is the methods used for the study.

Breast milk samples were collected from mothers who were breast-feeding infants 4 to 29 weeks of age (ie, vaccine eligible age) in India (N = 40), Vietnam (N = 77), South Korea (N = 34), and the United States (N = 51). We examined breast milk for rotavirus-specific IgA and neutralizing activity against 3 rotavirus vaccine strains-RV1, RV5 G1, and 116E using enzyme immunoassays. The inhibitory effect of breast milk on RV1 was further examined by a plaque reduction assay

IgA can be read about in all it’s geeky detailed glory by clicking the name.

Now onto the part that I found the most fascinating.

Breast milk from Indian women had the highest IgA and neutralizing titers against all 3 vaccine strains, while lower but comparable median IgA and neutralizing titers were detected in breast milk from Korean and Vietnamese women, and the lowest titers were seen in American women. Neutralizing activity was greatest against the 2 vaccine strains of human origin, RV1 and 116E. This neutralizing activity in one half of the breast milk specimens from Indian women could reduce the effective titer of RV1 by ∼2 logs, of 116E by 1.5 logs, and RV5 G1 strain by ∼1 log more than that of breast milk from American women.

Now, the researchers do not venture a speculation as to why this antibody action would be so much less in American women as compared to the breast milk of women from other countries. My best guess would be that it pertains to our deplorable nutrient deficient SAD diets. The lack of nutrients means a lack of reserves for a woman’s body to use to create these immune beneficial properties to then pass along to an infant via breast-milk. How’s that for motivation and encouragement to eat nutrient dense foods while we are nursing eh Mamas?

And now for the part that had my jaw hitting the floor and a feeling of incredulity washing over me.

The lower immunogenicity and efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in poor developing countries could be explained, in part, by higher titers of IgA and neutralizing activity in breast milk consumed by their infants at the time of immunization that could effectively reduce the potency of the vaccine. Strategies to overcome this negative effect, such as delaying breast-feeding at the time of immunization, should be evaluated.

Allow me a bit of incredulous reaction. We are speaking of specifically poor, developing countries. One of the things about poor countries is that well…they are poor. Poor means they don’t have much money or access to heavily refined products. Products like oh, let’s say formula for example. Most women in poor countries can neither access or afford high quality infant formula. When the researchers suggest the possibility of delaying breast-feeding at the time of immunization are they suggesting perhaps that a baby be forced to “fast” for a matter of hours during the time of the administration of the vaccine? Or for a matter of days without access to breast milk to assure the vaccines greatest opportunity to work? If it is a matter of hours you run into the potential of lactating mothers becoming engorged. Unlike their industrial country counterparts women from poor un developed countries do not have easy or affordable access to such conveniences as breast pumps. If it is a matter of days they are suggesting a lactating woman to simply “take a break” from nursing and a) find alternate means of nourishment for her baby and b) managed to maintain her milk supply without becoming engorged or having her supply disappear due to lack of demand seems utterly ludicrous to me.

As it is commonly asserted by leading immunologists infants do not have much if any immune system of their own before they are a year old. I talk about that in this post. It seems as though something these researchers are suggesting is that they think it might be a viable and perhaps even healthier choice to restrict an infants access to the nourishment that is providing it’s sole source of immunity in order to give it a live vaccine that works by stimulating the immune system. Am I the only one that sees this experiment ending with a lot of sick babies? It’s like Ok, let’s take away the one thing that is protecting these infants, perhaps a little too well, to the point that it’s messing up our standard protocol of vaccinations, and introduce a live disease element to their young bodies and expect this to provide optimal health to these children. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I for one hope their desired followup ideas are not explored. Sounds like a miserable thing to do to nursing Mamas and Babies at best and potentially catastrophic at worst for the ‘subjects’ submitted to follow up testing.

But my takeaway point isn’t that some group of scientists that seem oblivious to the logistics involved in the real world want to try something out that seems futile…It’s the suggestion and reminder from the data that came back in the study that American’s women’s immunity they are passing to their breastfed babies is not as “potent” as that of their unrefined countries counterparts. I’m off to eat a nutrient dense, whole foods breakfast and take some basic immune support supplements. My body is my babies immune system protection right now and I’m gonna start taking that responsibility a whole lot more seriously.

I’ll close with a short message from Caleb, on behalf of all nursing babies out there. “We thank you Mamas of the world for sacrificing vanity, personal comfort, convenience and at times public approval to attempt to feed us all too often ungrateful little chubby things food manufactured from your body. Eat good food!”

"Eat Good Food Mamas!"

“Eat Good Food Mamas!”

Infant Immune Systems and Vaccination

I promised myself I would not start another blog post talking about how long it’s been since my last post. So. This is me NOT talking about my gross negligence as a blogger-wanna-be. 😛

DaMan and I spent a lot of time talking. Not nearly as much these days as in times past. We used to work together in the same house/space/office all day long in the early days of Beeyoutiful. This provided ample opportunity to talk through anything and everything. These days Beeyoutiful has it’s own building and he leaves in the morning and goes to work like most other men do while I attempt to work and keep up with the two kids at home. Now we try to make the  most of our evenings and weekends. Sometimes we sneak in the occasional IM conversation over the course of the day or touch base via texts. But, it just isn’t the same as the good ol’ hours long discussions that were once part of our daily lives.

 

DaMan and I

DaMan and I

Talking with him is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Part of the reason we both like to converse so much is that we rarely have the same opinion about anything. Well, that isn’t completely true. It would be more accurate to say that while we may hold many (even most) of the same opinions and positions on a variety of topics its safe to say that they are for almost totally different reasons. What he finds compelling and persuasive I find far fetched or dry or unappealing and on it goes. We’ve joked that on the topic of artists if you drop us into any art museum in the world we will instantly be drawn to different artists and radically different styles and wonder why on earth the other is so impressed with that uninspired work. This is why we were so elated to find a local artist that we both loved…We now have several of her canvases gracing our home. But I digress…

One of the topics that has received a lot of “air time” in our conversations both before marriage and after is the topic of immunizations. It’s such a complex topic. So heated and people are so adamant on both sides and instead of there being a strong “moderate” middle ground represented it’s mostly just confused people who don’t have any clue where to start in sifting through the literal MOUNTAINS of written material on this topic. And, once they do start sifting the conflicting assertions is enough to nearly drive a person batty.

Screen shot 2012-09-29 at 3.01.02 PM

It’s been a years long process but both of us have read and sifted. Sifted and read. Argued and debated. Shifted and re-shifted. Our opinions have changed and changed again the more we learned. It isn’t a topic I’ve ever written much about because honestly, I don’t like writing on topics that are charged with conflict. DaMan says it’s my uncontrollable inner compulsion to please everybody and there is probably more than a small amount of truth to that. But, I’ve come to the place where I feel like it is important to share what I consider to be one of the most *pivotal* points of information that every parent should know and understand when educating themselves on the topic of vaccines.

babymark

On a personal level I find the immunizations given to very tiny babies to be the most concerning of all of the generally recommended and accepted vaccination protocols. DaMan has heard me rant for years now the following or some variation of it “I just don’t understand…The very organizations that recommend these vaccine schedules and vaccine effectiveness also assert that young babies have no immune systems of their own until about a year old. It makes no sense to me how a vaccine can even work to be effective in an infants body if there is no immune system to be able to build immunity in the first place!” I have tried to find a logical explanation for why this has become accepted and strongly recommended practice by a group of experts who don’t even believe that is how an infants body works in the first place. If anybody has an explanation for this please share, I would truly like to understand.

Screen shot 2012-09-29 at 3.11.03 PM

I have been left with a gigantic question mark over this particular vaccine protocol. Today a friend posted a link to a very interesting post about this very long standing sticky point. It is written by Michael Gaeta, a holistic health activist and educator. He shares how he was recently at a conference of traditional health care practitioners and had the opportunity to give a presentation to them as well as listen to a panel discussion of medical experts later in the day. He posts a recording of a question posted to a PhD Immunologist about Infant Immune systems and Vaccines.

You can listen to it on his site here: Immunologist PhD answers Question about Infant Immunity 

His post in it’s entirely can be viewed here: Michael’s post about Dr.’s Conference

The Excerpt from the panel interview with the PhD Immunologist confirmed what I have long thought. The transcript of it is below:

Q. So the science seems fairly clear that for the first year of life, probably, that the immunization is not stimulating the kind of response we expect it to stimulate.

A. True.

Q. So what’s the rationale for continuing to do that if it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be [doing]?

A. The vaccines are given at pediatric wellness visits, and the idea is that you are training the parent to bring their child in at all the pediatric wellness visits, and that it’s only the year visit that actually is truly important. But that for most parents you are not going to get them to bring their kid in if they don’t come in at two months, four months, and six months. And so it’s actually more of a training thing.

It’s interesting, I was on the phone with [?] county public health last week, with one of their vaccine nurses. She was like, ‘Oh, you’re talking about vaccines? Make sure you tell them they have to do that year shot because the first three [the 2, 4 and 6 month shots] don’t work.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ [laughter].

It really speaks for itself. Assuming that vaccines work as they are theorized to do (there is a certain wing of experts who say that it doesn’t in every case but that is a separate issue in the paperwork mountain) They still will.not.work. in tiny babies. If any vaccines are to be declined in a child’s life I would highly recommend you consider making it the ones administered in that first year of life. Injecting foreign substances into perfectly healthy infants is something that I find cringe worthy on a deeply personal level. My personal squeamishness aside, I just don’t get the point of it on a purely analytical level either.

If you believe vaccinating your children is the wisest course of action, and particularly feel that adhering to the CDC’s recommended schedule is important I would implore you to consider giving your infant 1 year of life to build a very healthy immune system without any vaccines at all introduced to their very young and tiny bodies. Take lots of probiotics yourself if you are breast feeding. 6 Months on up can safely be supplemented with Colostrum, Cod Liver Oil and probiotics directly. Help your baby build a very healthy gut flora and which in turn will support a very healthy immune system. The better established and healthy an infants immune system is the more effective the future vaccines will be, assuming they do indeed work as they should.

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Happy Tin Tin baby!

To all my fellow parents out there, the fully vaccinated, the partially vaccinated and the not vaccinated at all…A big hug of encouragement from me. It takes courage these days to choose any course of action on this topic and stick with it. There will be criticisms, threats, warnings and dire prognostications from both sides and head shaking from the two extreme positions over the compromising “middle road” stance as well. Pray for wisdom, do your due diligence in research and education and go forward confident that God will have you do what is best for your particular children. I personally believe this will look different for different families and that it *should* Every circumstance and situation is so unique there is no universal one size fits all perfect protocol to be followed.

Insomnia = Chicken Research

So in addition to a new baby making my sleeping times sporadic I’ve had an awful case of insomnia. Nothing like being a literal walking zombie so tired your bones ache yet not being able to sleep. So, while my baby is sleeping and I’m *not* and my ability to concentrate on things I should be concentrating on is nill I fill my time with randomly selected research projects.

Tonight it was all things chicken. We really want to get a couple of hens so our kitchen scraps can go to good use. Avoiding roosters right now because our subdivison neighbors would probably be very displeased with us if a Rooster started welcoming the very early morning loudly the way they like to do.

One of my research items was to find a Soy Free grain recipe that I could make at home. It can be difficult to find soy free chicken feed and even when you can find it is usually very expensive. We hope and plan to feed our future chickens mostly on our kitchen and household scraps but occasional grain supplementation will be needed.

I came across this recipe that looks very useful. Original credit for the recipe goes to the Weston A. Price Foundation. Figured this might be helpful for other future or current chicken owners out there who would like a soy-free alternative.

Soy Free Chicken Feed

Heirloom Breed Chicken

Heirloom Breed Chicken

7 parts wheat
2 parts whole or cracked corn
2 parts kamut
1.5 parts sesame seeds
1 part hulled barley
1 part millet
1 part oat groats
1 part quinoa
1 part sunflower seeds
1/2 part flax seeds (soaked and dried)
1/2 part kelp granules
1/4 part finely ground eggs shells (make sure they’re dried/cooked first)
fraction of non-iodized salt

Has anybody ever use this recipe or any other homemade chicken feed formulation?

 

CoQ10: The Crucial Component

Beeyoutiful recently added to it’s line a supplement I’ve long wanted the company to carry. We had a hard time finding a product that was ether not in a bad oil (usually soy), or made with less than desirable processing methods.  The few that we found that were high quality had also *very* high price tags. After years of looking around we finally found one that met our quality criteria as well as being reasonably affordable.

Although it is a very well known supplement in many circles I’ve been surprised at how many people have only ever heard of it but don’t really understand what it does or how it works.

First of all let’s summarize what it is exactly. CoQ10 occurs naturally within the part of our cells that are responsible for energy production. CoQ10 plays a major role in the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the basic energy unit and the major energy source for the execution of a large variety of different body functions, such as muscle contraction and protein production. The human body can manufacture CoQ10 but production slows down and even halts as we get older. There are dietary sources for CoQ10…it is found in whole grains, oily fish and organ meats. This is an item that the body requires fats in order to fully utilize. This makes organ meats and fatty fish the best dietary sources of it in terms of optimal utilization. If you take it in a concentrated supplement form like what is offered via Beeyoutiful I *highly* recommend you eat it with a meal that is high in good fats or take it with a fat based supplement like Omega 3-6-9 or Cod Liver Oil.

So what situations or health issues does it help with specifically?

First of all, allow me to point out that this is one supplement that is of benefit to anybody. Especially if you are like me and do not eat enough (cough cough) or any organ meats to speak of. Because it does it’s work on a very basic cellular level it’s a tool the body will utilize in maintaining good health in addition to repairing or healing from a specific problem.

There are however some very specific health situations it is especially beneficial for.

Diabetes: CoQ10 can help control blood sugar and the possible long-term complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Two studies have found that 100 mg of CoQ10 twice daily improved A1c levels, a measure of long-term blood sugar control.

Heart Health: One clinical study found that people who took daily CoQ10 supplements within 3 days of a heart attack were less likely to have subsequent heart attacks and chest pain. They were also less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not take the supplements. Clinical research also indicates that introducing CoQ10 prior to heart surgery, including bypass surgery and heart transplantation, can reduce damage caused by free radicals, strengthen heart function, and lower the incidence of irregular heart beat during the recovery phase.

High Blood Pressure: Several clinical studies  suggest that CoQ10 may lower blood pressure. However, it may take 4 – 12 weeks to see any change. After reviewing 12 clinical studies, researchers concluded that CoQ10 has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg, without significant side effects.

Parkinsons, Huntingtons and other Neurological related age associated disorders: An initial study has indicated that CoQ10 slows the disease progression in early on-set Parkinson patients. The group in the study that supplemented with the largest amount of CoQ10 (1,200 mg per day) experienced a 44% less decline in mental function, motor movement and ability to maintain normal daily activities than the placebo group. Some improvements were seen in the groups that received 300 mg and 600 mg per day but were not nearly as significant as those who received 1,200 per day. There have also been studies using CoQ10 in Huntington patients with measurable improvements noted.

Because of the way CoQ10 works within the body it is a valuable supplement for anyone who is suffering from age related mental struggles. For this same reason it is also helpful for special needs children and adults.

Take away points:

1) It’s good for everybody. From Children to the Elderly. Even if only used because of it’s powerful antioxidant properties to help the body “clean up” it’s act. It is most important to consider supplementing if the diet does not include organ meats or other foods naturally high in CoQ10.

2) Dosages vary greatly depending on what the compelling physical or dietary need is. Research to find out what dose would be ideal for you and take it accordingly.

3) Because of it’s powerful antioxidant and “clean up” actions within the body it has been shown to reduce the negative side effects of some prescription medications but also to mess with how other prescription medications are able to work. Check with your prescribing Dr. or Pharmacist before supplementing with CoQ10 if you are on prescription medications.

4) Take it with fat. Either in a meal or in a supplement form such as Evening Primrose Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Omega 3-6-9 etc. Failure to take it with a fat source will seriously impede the bodies ability to utilize it at all.

CoQ10 in Capsules from Beeyoutiful

CoQ10 in Capsules from Beeyoutiful

Kids Room Project: Decorate 2 Fabric on the Walls!

I covered the first phase of the kids play-room transformation in this blog post along with a recipe for making your own homemade super cheap fabric starch. The following fabric creations are all adhered to the wall using that homemade starch.

The idea was to create a woodland forest for Calebs side of the room and a magical fairy tale twist for Noelle’s side. There were two sections of fabric I had selected as a low wall-paper-like border for both sides of the room to help set the themes.

After cutting the fabric in half down the middle to get the usable prints needed the next phase was to saturate them in the liquid cornstarch. Once thoroughly soaked the excess was squeezed out and operation plaster the wall in fabric began. The fabric stuck fairly easily to the wall and I used a sponge soaked in extra starch to smooth out bubbles and make sure the wet fabric was in full contact with the wall all the way across. For these lower sections I left the “ends” sticking out and came back with a razor knife after the fabric was dry to trim the edges. I rough cut out the fabric to go over the outlets once it was up on the wall but waited until the fabric was dry to trim tightly around the outlet with a razor knife. Wet fabric doesn’t cut very well fwiw and it is much easier to trim excess fabric or stray strings etc. after it has dried.

Caleb's fabric wall border

Caleb's fabric wall border

Detail of Calebs fabric wall border after it dried showing fabric trimmed around outlet

Detail of Calebs fabric wall border after it dried showing fabric trimmed around outlet

First section of Noelle's fabric wall paper border while still wet. You can see the rough cut-out for outlet that will be trimmed later after it is dry.

First section of Noelle's fabric wall paper border while still wet. You can see the rough cut-out for outlet that will be trimmed later after it is dry.

Second section of Noelle's fabric wall border. Neatly trimmed after drying.

Second section of Noelle's fabric wall border. Neatly trimmed after drying.

With the large sections of fabric wall-paper borders out of the way it was time for the fun and really creative part. Using brown paper bags from Whole Foods I sketched some templates to use as patterns for the various odds and ends of fabric I either had on hand from previous projects or bought specifically from Goodwill for this occasion.

Whole Foods paperbag sketched Fox Pattern

Whole Foods paperbag sketched Fox Pattern

brown paper bag template for owl

brown paper bag template for owl

Dragon Fly sketched template

Dragon Fly sketched template

squirrel template

squirrel template

Bird templates as sketched by a friend on Whole Foods paper bags

Bird templates as sketched by a friend on Whole Foods paper bags

Important side note: I did discover via trial and error that lighter weight fabrics work better-faster and easier for sticking to the wall than heavier fabrics. Some of the following was made out of heavier fabric but it took a LOT more work and may have to be repaired with additional starch to stay “stuck” where they are supposed to for the long haul.

Armed with my handy sketched templates I proceeded to cut various creatures out of fabric. Using cheap craft paint from Hobby Lobby accents and features were added to the fabric base. Once Paint was thoroughly dry fabric was saturated in corn starch and pressed to the walls. These smaller fun accent pieces went very fast and were not nearly as tedious as the larger pieces of fabric for the wall border.

On the back wall a bright and happy sun was attached.

Mr. Fabric Sunshine

Mr. Fabric Sunshine

Two fabric trees were created out of strips of cloth cut from a brown tablecloth.

Two fabric trees from brown tablecloth

Two fabric trees from brown tablecloth

Details on the trees were all cut out of cloth. The leaves were made out of an old pair of Camo pants. Accents on details were painted on with craft paint.

Caleb's Forrest Side of the room over Changing Table

Caleb's Forrest Side of the room over Changing Table

Fabric Squirrel perched in painted tree

Fabric Squirrel perched in painted tree

Cloth Owl  starched in Calebs Tree

Cloth Owl starched in Calebs Tree

On Noelle’s side of the room I wanted to keep it fun and light with an underlying fairy-tale like theme. The flowers were cut out of cloth and accents painted on.

Noelle's fabric Flowers, birds and butterflies

Noelle's fabric Flowers, birds and butterflies

On Noelle’s side of the room is the alcove that we painted blue. I found some paper and wire butterflies and dragonflies on clearance at HobbyLobby. These were hung from the ceiling and the walls decorated with fabric butterflies cut from the old sheet obtained at Goodwill. Over the alcove window I hung a fairy painting I did last Winter.

Alcove Painting and suspended butterflies

Alcove Painting and suspended butterflies

Other side of alcove with butterfly/sky theme

Other side of alcove with butterfly/sky theme

One wall was especially meaningful to me. Butterflies came to symbolize hope and restoration in a lot of ways to me as I emotionally processed our lost babies. This wall is in memory of our kids who won’t play in this room and in honor of my friends who are still in the process of hoping and praying for babies of their own to hold and love.

Butterfly/Memory Wall

Butterfly/Memory Wall

The painting in the middle was done as a gift by one of my dear friends. It’s a veritable sea of butterflies floating out of a mist. The wall is not particularly special or significant except to me. It makes me smile every time I come into the room though. 🙂

Detail of butterfly painting/memory wall

Detail of butterfly painting/memory wall

When you come into the room this is the scene. Hoping to get a comfortable chair that will hold me, Noelle and Caleb to create a reading nook.

View of wall as one enters the room

View of wall as one enters the room

All in all it has been a totally fun project. Once I get past having this baby in a few weeks I have a few more ideas brewing for the rest of the house. It was SO easy, so much fun and unlimited potential for creative expression. Have I mentioned the best part of all? Once the fabric is dried to the wall it can be pulled off in less than a second and any residual corn starch wiped off with a damp cloth. No damage to paint whatsoever. Super-easy.

Tell me what you think! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Projects: Anemia

One of the most carefully monitored aspects of pregnancy is a healthy blood supply. It can be very frustrating for women who chronically struggle to keep those numbers where they need to be. There are a lot of good dietary modifications that can be taken and for women who have “borderline” issues they may be sufficient to reverse an iron deficiency.

Some women can follow allll the dietary recommendations; Choke down Spinach salads and fresh juiced greens 3x a day, cook their grass-fed red meat and everything else on cast iron, drink herbal teas and gag down liver. (Yup, seriously, liver. Kudos to any pregnant woman who is able to eat liver *and* keep it down.) and still not see the numbers budge very much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking amping up all the iron that you can via diet in pregnancy just being honest about the reality that it may not be enough for some women.

If you are dealing with a case of anemia that is not responding to diet improvements it may be time to bring in some serious supplements. Supplementing with *most* iron supplements on the market = constipation and other side effects which can be a whole ‘nother pregnancy nightmare. Not to mention that iron in prescription form are often not very bioavailable. Soooo, short of having iron clad poops many peoples bodies do not respond well to pure iron supplements/prescriptions as far as seeing the bloodwork numbers get up where they need to be.

First of all, in my experience researching and talking to women and hearing what has worked and what hasn’t worked over several years now it seems like the most effective course of action is a multi-front attack. One of the most common mistakes I see women make in trying to reverse a low iron problem is to tackle it with only supplements or only diet. The most effective is to increase the iron intake in the diet from both plant and animal whole food sources to go along with quality iron rich supplements.

On the supplement front there are only three that I would personally recommend simply because these three, or some combination of the three are the only ones that seem to consistently produce fast and effective results for women who really need significant improvement.

1) Spirulina is a single-celled fresh water, blue-green algae that has been seen in history to be used as a staple in diets and is known to provide nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin B-12, iron, and chlorophyll, as well as RNA, DNA and important GLA fatty acids. Although unusually high in iron for a whole food supplement it does not contain a sufficient amount of iron in and of itself to correct a significant deficiency without other sources being present for the body to utilize. However, part of it’s magic and efficacy when used seems to be in how it enables the body to absorb and utilize iron that is being consumed via diet and other supplements. This is the single best iron-enhancement-absorption aid product I am personally familiar with. You can purchase it in a loose powder and add it to smoothies or slug it down in water or juice. Consider yourself forewarned: It tastes and smells like fishfood. For this reason I personally prefer tablets because they are far easier on the tastebuds to get down.

A side comment on Spirulina quality control: This is a product that is very vulnerable to environmental contaminants. Unfortunately buying it “Cerified Organic” is less than ideal because in order to meet the stringent certification processes the Spirulina has to be grown in an artifical environment. The Spirulina produced from this certified organic growing operation has less nutritional and mineral content than it’s wild-ocean grown counterpart. The solution is to make sure that the Spirulina you purchase is batch-harvest tested for heavy metals, environmental toxins etc. as it is harvested. Hawaii is considered one of the purest and safest sources for Spirulina. The two resources I link to above are “safe” sources I have already personally vetted out. Wanted to pass the quality control info along though so you can be an informed consumer if you shop for it from other venues and companies.

2) Liquid Chlorophyll This liquid green goodness is a powerhouse of multi function benefit to the body. Rich in magnesium, iron, protein, potassium, calcium, Vit. E. Phosphorus, zinc and a slew of other essential nutrients it is a jack of all trades in providing nutrient based healing resources for the body. Chlorophyll helps to stimulate the red blood cells, and improves oxygen circulation in the blood. It aids in the rapid delivery of magnesium, a highly alkalizing effect that helps the blood to transport oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body. Liquid chlorophyll also possesses anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The primary benefit to a person struggling with anemia is that it directly supports the production of hemoglobin. As a very safe, non-toxic supplement this can be taken as often as needed.

I did a short video demonstrating how I have used liquid Chlorophyll in this pregnancy.

3) Encapsulated/Dessicated Liver You know how I mentioned before that I have the utmost respect for any pregnant woman who is able to down liver in it’s cooked form? Well, for those of us who are not able to summon the will-power to overcome the pregnancy gag reflex at the very thought there is another option. Dessicated liver in capsules can allow you to get it down without having to eat or smell it. Some of you may be wondering, why is liver good to help with anemia? The simple answer is that most animals bodies “store” extra iron reserves in their liver making it one of the most iron rich parts of their bodies to eat. It is also a form of iron that seems to be easily assimilated by most. This “Animal” based of iron for whatever reason seems to work especially well in women who have not noticed improvement with their plant based iron-increasing measures. Supplementing with liver as an addition to other supplements is a really good idea for anybody who needs a multi-front-rapid iron improvement.

Now, because we are talking about liver, one of the major filtration systems of the body it is very important to make sure that *any* source you get of it is as pure as possible. You want grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free and a company that sources well and does quality control testing.

That pretty much sums up what I know about supplementing for anemia in pregnancy. It’s a topic I want to continue to research because it seems to be an increasingly common problem for many women.