Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chlorine in Your Baby Carrots

Chlorine in Your Baby Carrots
The small cocktail or “baby” carrots you buy are made using the larger crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a machine which cuts and shapes them into cocktail carrots. You might have known that already. But what you might not know is that once the carrots are cut and shaped into cocktail carrots, they are dipped in a solution of water and chlorine in order to preserve them.

When a baby carrot turns white (“white blushing”), this causes the bags of carrots to be pulled from the shelf and thrown away. To prevent this consumer waste, the carrots are dipped in chlorine to prevent the white blushing from happening.
Chlorine is a very well-known carcinogen. Organic growers instead use a citrus based, nontoxic solution called Citrox.

About 3 billion pounds of carrots are sold each year in the U.S. Of these, about 20 percent are peeled and processed for sale as miniature “baby carrots,” carrot sticks, and other varieties of fresh, processed carrots.

Why are They Bleaching Carrots?
As described in the articles above, part of the processing of these mini carrot sticks entails submerging them in a bleach bath in order to keep them looking enticing longer by stopping the formation of so-called “white blush.” According to one U.S. patent for inhibiting white blush on processed carrots, freshly processed carrots begin to develop a white, chalk-like appearance after just a few days, as opposed to whole, unprocessed carrots, which may be stored in your fridge for several weeks without deteriorating. The rate at which the white blush appears depends on a variety of factors, such as:
The condition of the carrots prior to processing
The degree of abrasiveness of the processing
The chemical treatments applied to the carrots during processing
Humidity levels during storage

Additionally, carrots grown in poorly irrigated fields tend to form white blush discoloration faster than carrots grown in well irrigated fields.Although this white blush does not affect the nutritional value or taste of the carrots, many people find them unappetizing, and stores can’t sell them once they’re starting to turn. So, in order to prolong shelf life and reduce waste, chlorine has and is being used both for sanitation purposes and to curtail the development of white blush. The patent mentioned above calls for one or two chlorine baths during their processing, using a chlorine concentration between 50-150 ppm (parts per million).
Fifteen to 20 ppm of free chlorine is considered the typical amount experts say is needed to kill bacteria.

Is Chlorine Safe to Eat?
Chlorine is a chemical that companies use to make a variety of common products, including plastics, pesticides and paper. It’s also been used as the main disinfecting strategy for U.S. public water supplies since 1908. Water chlorination has virtually eliminated waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis. However, over the last 30 years a growing body of research has shown that chlorine and its byproducts are actually quite harmful to your health.
Over time, chlorine and disinfection byproducts build up in the environment, in your food, and your body. So although the amount of chlorine you ingest from cocktail carrots may be minute, it’s added to your overall toxic burden from a number of other sources – your water supply probably being one of the worst
However, just like in water, it is not the chlorine you have to worry about. When chlorine interacts with organic matter it will form dangerous disinfection byproducts (DBPs) which are many thousands of times more toxic than chlorine. Research has now confirmed that the byproducts formed when chlorine reacts with organic material in water are some of the most potent toxins out there. Among them are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). These disinfection byproducts are believed to be over 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine.
It is important to understand that the term “organic” is used two ways here. The strict chemical definition of organic is any compound that is carbon based. The other organic term is used to identify foods that were grown under healthier conditions, typically free of pesticides.
So please understand that the chlorine forms these DBPs in ALL carrots, organically and non-organically grown.Long-term risks of consuming chlorinated water and DPBs include excessive free radical formation, which accelerates aging, increases vulnerability to genetic mutation and cancer development, hinders cholesterol metabolism, and promotes hardening of your arteries.
Excess free radicals created by chlorinated water also generate dangerous toxins inside your body. These have been directly linked to:
Liver malfunction
Weakening of your immune system
Pre-arteriosclerotic changes in your arteries
In addition, chlorine destroys antioxidant vitamin E, which is needed to counteract excess oxysterols/free radicals for cardiac- and anti-cancer protection.

Chlorine has also been shown to destroy protective acidophilus that nourishes and cooperates with the immunity-strengthening "friendly bacteria" lining your colon.

So is it really realistic to say that carrots bathed in bleach are completely safe to consume?
I would say no, especially when considering that baby carrots are typically fed to young children.
The sobering fact is that in most cases science isn’t even close to understanding the potential short-term and long-term impact of chlorine and other chlorine-based chemicals on your body. There are hundreds of them. And science isn’t even close to understanding what levels of these chemicals can cause damage.

The chemical industry likes to point out that there’s no “sound science” to suggest that chlorine is dangerous and shouldn’t be used. Others strongly disagree.
In the book Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy, Joe Thornton of Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation contends there is enough sound science available to understand that chlorine can cause big trouble in your body, not to mention the environment, and that a range of alternatives to this chemical are readily available.

Are Chlorinated Veggies Really Necessary?
I recommend avoiding eating vegetables processed with chlorine. You’re already being bombarded with chlorine and other toxins from so many other sources, and the remedy, in the case of carrots, is so simple. Just buy whole, unprocessed carrots and wash, peel, and cut them yourself.

Your healthiest option, of course, is to locate fruits and vegetables that are grown organically and preferably locally. While this may be a challenge in some areas, it is clearly worth the effort and will go a long way toward avoiding the many health hazards related to the factory-farming and commercial processing methods used in producing conventional foods.

Wholesome Sources
Great resources to obtain wholesome food that supports not only you but also the environment include:
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Weston A. Price Foundation
Local Harvest
Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
Chicago-Area: Chicago's Green City Market (Chicago's only sustainable market with the highest quality locally farmed products. Wednesdays and Saturdays, May through October. Located at the south end of Lincoln Park, north of the Historical Society parking lot between 1750 N. Clark St. & Stockton Dr.)

The National Resources Defense Council (NDRC) also offers a great tool on their website that helps you determine what fruits and vegetables are in season in your state, and this previous article offers even additional helpful tips and guidelines for finding local food no matter where you live in the U.S.Related Links:
A Good Review on How Produce is Commercially Cleaned
The Negative Health Effects of Chlorine
Poisoning By Chlorinated Water

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dry Drowning

I wrote this blog back in February - but life got in the way of completing it. Since then I had a scare with dry drowning when my daughter aspirated a large amount of water while drinking from on open mouth water bottle. I was able to act quickly when she started to demonstrate symptoms due to the writing of this blog. To learn more about dry drowning go to

Most parents are aware of the potential of drowning many are not as familiar with dry drowning. Dry drowning hit the headlines last June (2008), a 10-year-old boy from Goose Creek, S.C., died several hours after being in a swimming pool ( His story has left many parents concerned about the risks of dry drowning and wondering how they can best protect their children from this health threat.

What is dry drowning?
Dry drowning is basically drowning without water. With dry drowning, you are not drowning from an immediate immersion in water; it is more of a delayed effect of a small amount of water in the lungs. This can result in laryngospasms, which minimize the amount of water aspirated into the lungs. Respiratory arrest may follow, leading to an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood, cardiac arrest, and eventually brain death.

How long after an incident is there a risk for dry drowning?
Dry drowning usually occurs between one hour and 24 hours after an incident. A person can have a drowning incident, be pulled out of the water, be OK, and then sometime within the next 24 hours, they can dry drown.

What are the symptoms of dry drowning?
Symptoms include persistent
coughing, shortness of breath, or pain in chest. All of those things are signals that something could be wrong. If someone comes out of the water and coughs for a minute, then calms down -- that is much different than if the child keeps coughing or complaining of pain. Like the child involved in the incident in South Carolina, a change in mental status and/or lethargy may also indicate that something is wrong. Remember, children can not compensate for very long like adults. They tend to "crash" quickly once these signs are present, so act quickly.

Can dry drowning be treated?
Yes. If it is caught early, dry drowning can be treated. The treatment involves supplying oxygen to the lungs and getting the breathing process restarted.

Tips to help prevent dry drowning:

Steps 1

Teach children proper water safety. Dry drownings occur when water that is swallowed pools in the bottom of the lungs. This causes a person to drown when she is out of the water. Teaching a child to keep her mouth closed and plug her nose when she is under water will help to prevent her from swallowing water.

Step 2
Set limits. Extreme fatigue is considered a sign that a dry drowning can occur within twenty-four hours of participating in a water sport. Setting limits on the amount of time children are in water can help to prevent dry drownings by ensuring that they aren't overly tired while they are in the water.

Step 3
Take regular breaks. If you are spending more than two hours participating in water activities, take at least a fifteen minute break every two hours. Use this time to have a snack and drink water. Children may swallow water when they are swimming if they are thirsty.

Step 4
Pay attention. Being vigilant when your
child is swimming can prevent dry drowning, as well as other water-related injuries. You should watch to ensure that your child isn't swallowing water or trying to breathe under the water. In addition to that, make sure that your child is fully alert.

Step 5
Have your child cough. When liquids go down the wind pipe, a person's
body coughs in response to the irritation of the fluid. Sometimes, this response fails. Once your child gets out of the water for the day, encourage him to cough every 15 to 20 minutes. If you notice a lot of fluid coming up with the coughs, contact your child's doctor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here is the lasted book that I have contributed my families story too. I just recieved my copy and am enjoying it already.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Taking it on the Road: Tip 2

Tip #2 Call or Google ahead to locate Health Food Store availability.

This tip might be in the wrong order and may be best as number one - that is because we won't go anywhere or plan a trip before we have this tip taken care of. Finding a good source for all your needs is vital to a successful vacation. We google and call the store directly with our list of needed items. If this is done with adequate enough time the store can order items that they don't normally carry. This is a great win-win for you and the store. You don't have to pack a whole lot of food from home and when you arrive at the store all your goods are packed and ready for pick up. The store wins with your business and your customer satisfaction.
This is a great source for locating a wide range of health food stores from the giants of Whole Foods to the tiny corner shop:

If you are one of the lucky ones who can do resturants without negative side effects you can check out this website to find a GF (not necessarliy DF) resturant for your family dinning pleasure.

I also recommend locating the local farmers markets. This has been a great money and time saver for our fresh produce, as well as a fun outing for the whole family.

Taking it on the Road: Tip 1

We are gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, egg-free, rice-free, and stress-free as we vacation in Nevada today. So what am I doing writing a post when I am suppose to be on vacation? I am having such a nice time with my husband and two great kids as they frolic in the dessert sun in the crystal blue pool water at the Cancun resort. Their smiles warm my heart more than the hot Nevada sun as they splash off the water slides for the 100th time. I think to myself how blessed we are to be on vacation despite the challenges of dietary implementation.
I think this is amazing that we are on vacation with a special needs child with severe food allergies, multiple nutricuticle needs and no predictable routine and we are having FUN!. We have come a long way over the past 8 years of biomedical and behavioral treatments and days like this are proof that consistant work pays off. This is our second family vacation (not including visits to family) where we take the show on the road. And I thought to myself...I wish others with kids with dietary and biomedical needs could experience the joy and thrill of making lasting family memories despite it all. For this reason I am writing - To share tips that may encourage families to take the show on the road. It will prove to be rewarding and freeing for the whole family.

Take the time to plan your vacation location and destination with your entire family. Post pictures of the location and talk daily about fun things you are hoping to do together (don't set anything in don't want to build false hopes and grounds for serious meltdowns). Talk about the plane trip. What kind of plane will you be traveling on, what to expect in the airport security, and who gets the window seat. Play airport, show pictures of the ports you will be passing through (direct flights are best). We always enjoy watching videos of possible attractions, airplane rides and vacation related things on YouTube (you will be amazed on the helpful things you can find. We spent a great deal of time watching subways and monorails for vacation preparation once).
If you are traveling by car, mark a map and highlight cities you will stop in along with the attractions. Look at pictures of each city on the internet as well as the hotels you will be staying at. We always make sure we stay at ones with pools (and in the cooler months indoor pools are a must).
Whatevery type of transportation you decided to take this vacation, preparation can help increase enthusiasm and reduce stress for most. It brings a sense of partnership and ownership to the entire family in regards to vacation planning.

Mark your calendar and start counting the days together. The anticipation can be half of the fun!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hope and Help for Picky Eaters

Julie Matthews: Autism Nutritionist Expert

Hope and Help for Picky Eaters

I know what you are thinking, "My child is picky and very inflexible with eating new foods. I'm never going to be able to get him to eat anything other than wheat and dairy, and never mind anything 'healthy.'" I also understand that you are really wondering if an autism diet will help your child and their symptoms.I appreciate these concerns. I have had some very picky eaters in my nutrition practice-many children ate only bread and dairy, others subsisted on just pancakes and fries. When the body creates opiates from foods, one can become addicted to them and thus crave nothing but those foods, or when yeast overgrowth is present, a preference for only carbs and sugars can result. Children eventually narrow their food choices to include only those that make them "feel better" (in the short term). It's worth trying diet (whether it's GFCF, SCD, or another) because once the child gets passed the cravings (a few days to a few weeks), they often expand food choices dramatically and it becomes much easier to do. Most of my clients with autism eat limited amounts of vegetables-if any. However, it's also very common that once they apply diet (and the cravings diminish and appetite increases), children begin eating more vegetables (or meat)-often for the first time. In fact, this is the experience with a majority of my clients. Now, there are some children that are very self-limiting, and it takes time to change their diet. But keep at it.

NOTE: Don't remove all foods with the expectation that "if they're hungry, they'll eventually
eat." While this may be true for many children, some have real feeding challenges and may stop eating altogether, which could be very problematic. Add new foods before removing others. Be sure to seek professional guidance from a feeding specialist or qualified clinician if your child won't add any new foods.Addressing picky eating is essential for expanding the diet and implementing an autism diet, but sometimes the diet won't expand until certain foods are removed. Don't let picky eating stop you from implementing an autism diet. Find a few foods your child will eat before implementing a new diet, then after the problematic or addictive foods are removed, expand little by little.

Here are solid reasons why children can be so one-sided in their food choices:

"Addictions" to opiates (gluten/casein) can cause consumption of primarily wheat and dairy containing foods. According to this theory, gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) when not broken down properly by digestion, create compounds that fit into opioid receptors in the brain and feed opiate (morphine-like) cravings/addictions. The child then becomes restricted to only the foods that fuel this addictive cycle, creating very limited and picky eating.

"Addictions" to chemicals (MSG, artificial additives) can cause restriction to one brand or a strong preference for processed foods. These chemicals can also be addicting like opiates. MSG is known to create "excitement" in the brain by stimulating the glutamate (excitatory) receptor, making food seem to taste much better. Artificial ingredients such as artificial colors and flavors can also affect similar cravings.

Nutrient deficiencies (such as zinc) can make all foods taste bad or bland. When zinc is deficient, a common finding in children with autism, sense of smell is reduced and food tastes boring or unappetizing. Texture can then become an even bigger factor, imagine eating mashed potatoes if you can't taste the potato flavor - a bland mouthful of mush.

Yeast, viral, and microbial overgrowth may cause focus on eating mainly high carb and sugar foods. Yeast and other microbes feast on carbohydrates and sugar. They can actually get their "host" to crave the food that feeds them by giving off chemicals that get kids to crave refined carbs and sugar. This can create self limitation to only these foods.

Sensory sensitivities can result in restriction of foods of certain textures. For children with sensory issues such as tactile and sound sensitivities, food texture can be a big hurdle. Crunchy foods can be too loud, and mushy foods can be intolerable. In these cases, it's advised to seek an occupational therapist or other professional that help you work through these sensory integration challenges. Once you've identified possible causes of your child's finicky eating habits, begin to look for creative ways to address them. Sometimes as occupational therapy or sensory integration begins to address food textures, a child begins to expand more. Until then, get creative and make foods crunchy or smooth based on their preferences. Begin to add new food options such as gluten-free pasta before removing the existing food. Be aware that brand preference, may be because of MSG or other additives that can be addicting and make that food "exciting." Add enough salt to make your versions of their favorites more flavorful--don't go overboard but don't feel you need to limit salt. Be creative with food. Begin to add vegetables where you can and slowly introduce foods slightly different than they have had before. See if you can make food a little different each day--not so much that they reject it, but just enough that they don't expect sameness--and to get in new nutrients. Add purees to pancakes, apple sauce, meatballs, or sauces. Make vegetables crunchy by making carrot chips, sweet potato fries, or vegetable latkes. Hide meat in pancakes. Try mixing or diluting a brand of food/beverage they like with a healthier version in very small amounts until the item is swapped for the new food-this works well for milks, peanut/nut butters, apple sauce and other foods that blend well.

The following are ideas to help picky eaters become introduced to new foods:
Always provide food child likes in addition to one "new" food.
Involve your children in food preparation of "new" food.
Introduce it to them on a separate plate. Don't require them to do anything other than get familiar with it. Consider incorporating the food into therapy or play time.
First have them touch it and lick it without eating it.
Inform them. Let child know whether it is sweet, salty or sour. Eat some yourself and tell them how delicious it is-enlist others at the table to do the same.
Let them chew it and spit it out.
Start with only a small taste ~ 1/2 teaspoon. Let child determine amount.
Try and Try Again! At least 15 times!
Get creative. Try new food in preferred texture - crunchy, smooth.
Avoid being emotionally "attached" - children sense anxiety. Keep mealtime calm. Visualize child eating/enjoying new food.
Avoid forcing or pushing - maintain trust.
Choose rewards or other encouragement.
Make sure whole family participates - serve everyone at the table.
Make it fun!Also, if one parent is or was a picky eater themselves, try having the spouse feed the child. I know it can be frustrating cooking food and having them refuse it, but make sure you don't project that energy of frustration. Children are very sensitive and pick up on these cues. If they don't eat it, don't give in and prepare something completely new. Instead, make sure the meal already includes something they will eat for the meal along with the new food. Or when they are hungry at snack time, try a new food. This is a good time to do so because while they may skip a snack, they will not be going without a main meal, and you won't teach them that if they hold out you will fix them something new. They will also be a little hungrier at dinner and may be more motivated to try something new.Applying healthy diet is an important step to health and healing. Try implementing diet and adding nutritious foods step by step. You can do it-and your child can too! I have seen countless children expand their diet. Once food addictions, texture, and exposure to a new food are addressed, you'll be surprised what your child may eat. Visualize that they can do it. Get creative. Try things in a texture they like. Taste it yourself and make sure it tastes good. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised when they eat that first vegetable!

The information expressed here comes from Julie's experience as a Certified Nutrition Consultant with clients that are picky eaters and their parents' experiences. Julie is not a feeding specialist. This information in intended to help parents find creative ways to feed their children healthy food. It is not intended to act as or replace professional feeding therapy or medical needs. Parents of children with serious feeding issues should seek professional and medical guidance.