Arsenic in your pantry?

Arsenic in your pantry?

When you hear the word “arsenic,” your mind probably thinks about secret poisonings and the stuff that a good plot line of a murder mystery saga would be made of.  However, in the past few weeks, “arsenic” and “infant baby cereals” have been in the same breath in news headlines.  How is it possible that these two things could even be related, and do you need to throw your infant rice cereal into a hazmat bag? Read on to find out. Arsenic is naturally occurring in the Earth’s crust and can be found in water, soil and air.  It is also, surprisingly to some, found in our food and water supply.  Arsenic can be found in two forms- organic and inorganic- and it is the inorganic form that is more worrisome as it has been linked with various cancers and decreased performance on developmental tests.  You may be wondering how a harmful substance such as arsenic could make it into our food supply, but the answer is quite simple…irrigation and rain! Drinking water is considered safe as long as the arsenic level is less than 10 parts per billion. Rain water run off and even water through irrigation systems can lead to arsenic getting into our crops.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been monitoring the level of arsenic in our water and food supply for decades, and with recent technology that can differentiate the types of arsenic in foods (i.e the testing can pick out the inorganic form), there has been some concerned raised about the level of arsenic in several common staple foods, most importantly, rice....
Picky about Protein

Picky about Protein

To continue my series of posts dealing with persnickety eaters out there (you can read the first two installments here and here), let’s talk today about those picky protein eaters.  Most kiddos are happy to eat their carbs with a side of fruit, but I often have parents tell me that their child doesn’t like to eat meat.  But before we get into my foolproof (well almost) means of bringing the protein lover out in your kiddo,  let’s discuss the importance of getting protein in their diets and why its worth the struggle. Protein is required for virtually every system of our body to function properly - whether you’re an adult or a child.  If you want to run faster, have an immune system that can fight off illnesses, and even have the right amount of oxygen floating around in your blood, then your body must have dietary protein.  Proteins are composed of building blocks called amino acids.  We know that there are 22 different amino acids that can combine in all sorts of ways to form many different proteins that are required by all of our body systems.  Our bodies are capable of making 13 of these amino acids, but the other 9 must be taken in through food sources.  These 9 amino acids are called the “essential amino acids” because it is “essential” that we ingest these in our diets. “This is why is it so important to have a variety of protein sources in your child’s diet.” Now, can you take in all of your “essential” amino acids with just one type of food?  Actually, yes,...
Picky Eaters…Getting Creative with Dairy

Picky Eaters…Getting Creative with Dairy

As the second installment in the series about picky eaters, we are going to discuss those kiddos who are not big fans of drinking milk.  If you think about it, milk in some form provides sustenance to children from the day they are born, and human milk or infant formula is recommended as the sole source of nutrition in the first 4 months of life.  Now, if your child is going to become picky about their intake of milk, it is usually not until at least 1 year of age (although my son, Mr. L, is trying to challenge that notion at 10 months old, but more on that in another post).  So before we talk about ways to get creative with dairy, let’s understand why milk is such a vital part of the diet. “There is an intricate relationship between calcium and vitamin D…your body requires vitamin D in order to absorb the majority of dietary calcium.” Just as concrete provides the foundation for our homes, bones are the living structure of our bodies.  Bone mineral deposition begins in utero, and by 18 years of age, 90% of bone mass has been accrued with approximately half of this coming during the adolescent years.  While a great deal of our bone health is determined by genetics, nutrition, especially calcium and vitamin D intake, is one of the greatest modifiable factors of bone mass.  There is an intricate relationship between calcium and vitamin D…your body requires vitamin D in order to absorb the majority of dietary calcium.  While there are various foods that contain calcium and vitamin D, dairy is...
Picky Eaters…What’s a parent to do?

Picky Eaters…What’s a parent to do?

Picky eaters…do you have one?  This is probably one of the biggest concerns I hear from parents during well visits, especially during the toddler and early childhood years.  Children may become persnickety when it comes to their meals beginning around 18-24 months of age as this is the time when they realize they do not get to control a lot in their little life except what goes in their mouth. I hear parents explain how they only make certain foods (most typically mac and cheese, chicken tenders, etc.) because they know their child will eat those foods.  These are what we call “food jags” meaning when children will only eat one single food meal after meal.  Parents worry that if they venture from these staples that their child will not eat and then be hungry.  For most healthy children, I can assure you that kiddos will not starve! “This variability in a child’s appetite is very normal.” If your child nibbles like a baby bird at one meal, they will usually make up for it at another meal and eat like a bottomless pit.  This variability in a child’s appetite is very normal.  It is also common that children may eat better in certain situations. For example, I know my children eat far more in amount and variety at school or daycare than they do at home sometimes.  This is one instance where “peer pressure” and wanting to be just like their friends can be a good thing.   Parents should make sure that they are in the role of “executive chef” when it comes to meal preparation and...
The World of “Biotics”

The World of “Biotics”

Diarrhea…perhaps one of those things that I, as a parent, dread the most. Well, vomiting may come in first place, but they are pretty close. In children, diarrhea is most often seen with viral infections, but can also be a common side effect of antibiotics. Medications that stop diarrhea are not recommended in children since we want them to “get rid of” the virus that is usually causing this most unpleasant symptom. But what if there was something that could safely improve diarrhea or shorten just how many days you will be held up at home fearing an outing could bring the next “blowout?” Well, you are in luck - say hello to pre- and probiotics.  “When infants are born, their intestines are sterile or basically like a blank canvas waiting to be “painted” by the nutrients they ingest.” So, first, a quick biology primer. While the word “bacteria” typically conjures up thoughts of infection and illness, there are certain places in our body where we need beneficial bacteria, and the gut happens to be one of those places. When infants are born, their intestines are sterile or basically like a blank canvas waiting to be “painted” by the nutrients they ingest. Within the first few hours to days of their life, an infant’s gut becomes colonized with various forms of healthy bacteria that will aid in digestion, absorption and overall gut health. Now, this is probably not the first time you have heard of the “biotics” as they have become quite popular not only in the medicine aisle, but also down the main grocery aisles. Prebiotics are a...
When Your Baby is Sick (from “Baby Grand” @ Woman’s Hospital)

When Your Baby is Sick (from “Baby Grand” @ Woman’s Hospital)

I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in Woman’s Hospital Baby Grand Extravaganza this morning!  I really enjoyed getting to “meet and greet” with many expectant parents, and it was great to teach the class “When Your Baby is Sick.”   I have included my presentation below for those that are interested. As always, please let me know any questions or comments you might have!...