Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Honey -- Some Facts and Concerns

Truth is everything depends on what type oh honey are you giving to your kid. Don't look for big brands, look for quality. Most of the famous or infamous brands, whichever have honey, most of that honey comes from apiculture (bee keeping). Apiculture is an agro-based enterprise, which farmers keep bees in their farms to take up for additional income generation. You can also call them pet bees. This honey has very very high amount of insecticides and pesticides in it as the bees prefer to suck nectar from the crops grown in the farms and this honey is not good for anyone.

Also during rainy seasons, winter or during the times when there are no flowers, farmers or bee owners start feeding them with sugar. Honey produced during those days is almost near to sugar serum. This type of honey is then mixed with honey produced by bees when there was availability of flowers, is also not good for health. We think we are giving our kids honey but the truth is we are giving them sugar serum.

Apiculture bees are said to forage 12 km radius to collect nectar but studies have shown that average apicultures bees in India forage only about 4 km radius to collect nectar. This honey does not have good mix and quality of local area vegetation nectar. Also these bees live in almost same area for their entire life so their honey does not have that good quality.

People say honey acts as excellent antibiotic. It is wrong to say this. Honey manufacturing companies in India took advantage of it. They started adding antibiotics to sugar serum or to honey produced by apiculture. This honey acts as antibiotic not because it possess those properties but because it has antibiotics added to it. But is is good for our health? well, you know the answer. This honey weakens our natural strength of fighting against disease.

It is natural RAW HONEY which is true honey. Raw honey is antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer -- it never spoils

Raw honey is antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer -- it never spoils

Wild bees those make raw honey forage 100s km to collect best quality nector to make honey. These bees prefer to suck on wild flowers and vegetation. They are not like apiculture bees which will be like, ok, this is our area and this is what we have available, lets make honey out of this. Funny hmm. Or its not like the honey sold by many companies with antibiotics added to sugar serum.

If you are in western countries then its worth visiting to the natural health food stores. You will find raw honey there. This is the honey you should be giving to your kids.

If you are in India then you can get this raw honey in villages. If you have family, friends or relatives living in a village then give them call to help you get raw honey. Though this kind of honey is expensive these days but considering its health benefits and other uses its worth spending your bucks there. You will get this honey with much ease in villages.

Raw honey, due to its anti-biotic and anti-allergen nature is given itself or along with garlic/ginger/onion/citrus fruit nectar for cough, pollen allergies, rashes, burns, abrasions, ulcers and certain fevers. Garlic/ginger/onion/citrus fruit contain NATURAL ANTI-HISTAMINES. Antihistamines are anti-allergens. These natural anti-histamines are more nutritious, healthy and have no pesky side-effect.

If you are a victim of pollens then make a routine of taking about 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey everyday from about a month or so before the spring season. Raw honey contains a certain level of pollen in itself and will thus adapt your system to the allergen early on so that when time comes your immune system is super ready to deal with the drasted pollen.

Raw honey is the ultimate moisturizer. Smooth a small amount of Really Raw Honey lightly over the skin; easily remove later with splashes of cold water or comfortable warm water. It will leave your skin baby soft.

Raw Honey acts as bath and antibacterial soap. Facial blemishes and acne caused by cosmetics or allergies will clear up quickly using a nightly treatment of raw honey.

Raw honey is used for hair and scalp treatment.

It is also used for dental care and mouth sores. It cleans teeth, mouth and dentures and stops bleeding gums. Canker sores, blisters and mouth ulcers respond to application of well to its application.

Application of honey keeps foods fresh and moist longer and retards spoilage.

Few drops of raw honey mixed in a glass of warm milk taken everday prevents osteoporosis and arthritis.

Unprocessed honey found in ancient tombs was determined to be edible and was even used to preserve bodies.

Testing for purity
one way to test honey is to dip an unused matchstick into the comb honey. Then strike the match, if it lights up continuously then it is "pure honey" .If adulterated, the presence of water will not allow the honey to burn, If it does, it will produce a cracking sound. honey adulterated with water will moisten the tip of the matchstick thus getting it wet making it unable to light and burn.

***dip a cotton bud in honey and it should burn smoothly
***it takes some time to dissolve in water
***Pour a teaspoon of your honey onto a blotting paper. Unlike the impure honey, pure honey will not be absorbed by the blotting paper.
***pour the teaspoon of honey onto a piece of cloth and then wash the cloth. Pure honey will not leave a stain on the cloth.
***Pour a few drops of honey into a clear glass of water and we could see the drops settle at the bottom of the glass, . If the honey completely dissolved in water, it is impure, if it stays as a mass, it is pure honey.

*dip a spoon in the honey and raise it about 8 inches (or more). If it comes down in a steady, thin stream, it is likely pure.
*taste it to see if there is an unpleasant aftertaste. if Sugar or corn syrup is added to honey it will leave a fermented-like taste in mouth.

It is also said that if honey is pure a dog will not lick it; ants, flies will not sit on it (bees add some enzyme to the honey that keeps them awy) 
Organic Health Food

Natural health food stores like "Nutritional World", Nutritional Foods", "Grains and Greens", "Natural health" and many more. Organic food stores are different and vegetarian food stores are different and so are the natural health food stores. Those are different too.

Even at health food stores you will find two types of honey.
1. Bottled honey with company name.
2. Raw honey in open containers.

There is a big difference in organic and raw honey. Every natural thing is not organic, and every organic thing is not natural. Its not Google where every natural search engine position is labeled organic and organic links are called natural positions.

Every state in US or every country in this world has its own definition of organic. Like in my state is food is labeled as organic if the land where it is grown is not sprayed with any insecticides, pesticides, urea or any other chemical or such thing for 10 years. Plus the seeds those were sowed in the ground to produce the crop were organic and fed with only organic compost/manure. Few states have it to 8 years instead of 10 years.
Source:  Indian Parenting.. (Stay Cool).


Flat Head

Plagiocephaly in medical terminology and flat head for a layman is a cause of concern in infants... from too much of lying down in the same position to the same side, they may develop a soft spot and the shape of the head may become a little flattened.  A little of this is not a concern but obvious mis-shapening should be avoided... There is a lot more attached to it than a cosmetic problem.  Nothing about to raise your panic antennae up though.

Tummy time and keeping interesting things on 4 sides of the room to look at, consciously making it a point to divert the kid's attention to turn around and look in all directions, top, left and right... these are the simplest measures from day of birth.. :) Repositioning to ensure equal time spent on both sides is vital.. also while being cautious that the kid does not suffocate self, adequate tummy time is the key.

The babies are not born with a perfect round shape head, it gradually takes one shape as the skull hardens.. so, all we need to make sure is that the growth is uniform in all direction rather than one flat spot at one side which was not there earlier during birth.  simple!!  Most of this occurs during the early stages of life say first 3 to 5 months where the skull is very soft.  So changing the baby sleep position and side every 2 hours or so or after every feed between 3 to 4 hours if the kid tends to sleep just on one side should solve the problem.

A baby pillow serves two purposes in the infant.. one keeping the head a tad bit elevated and also holding the head in a proper position.

A traditional baby pillow made of mustard seeds

Dried yellow mustard seeds, a method traditionally used in India for hundreds of years to help preserve the round shape of the new-baby head. The mustard seeds mould to the natural shape of the new-born baby head and prevent the head from becoming flat at the back.  Yellow mustard seeds are preffered to black ones as they have a smoother surface and therefore slide more easily against each other, enabling the pillow to form more snuggly to the shape of the baby's head and therapeutically too mustard seeds are believed to reduce back pains, migraines and joint pains, so no harm making one for the kid.

Do not panic if there are signs of early flattening just focus on keeping baby's head position uniform in all directions and gradually it will go away.

PS:  The rai seeds/aavalu/mustard seeds should be packed loosely so they have moving space in the pillow rather than packing it tightly.. something akin to a micro bead pillow.  The size of the pillow actually is very small, a big notebook size, not very stiff, not very high... in short maybe about one and a half or double the size of the baby's head (length/breadth everything put together), not very big or fluffy just the correct size.

I used something like the one in the picture above, which we get in all the baby stores in India. A very tiny pillow. Preferably, stitch a cover for it so that you can wash it regularly and keep it clean for the kid.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Omega-3 supplements for Vegetarians

Are plant sources of omega-3 sufficient for human needs?

Vegetarians and vegans have no direct sources of EPA and DHA (long chain omega-3 fatty acids) in the diet; hence they must convert alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA in the body.

Scientific studies suggest that although the conversion is slow and incomplete, and although vegetarians tend to have lower blood levels of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, it is sufficient to meet the needs of most people

In addition, infants convert alpha-linolenic acid to DHA and EPA more slowly than adults. Studies have provided evidence that preterm infants do not have the capacity to form sufficient DHA, resulting in reduced visual acuity and brain function. Thus DHA must be considered an essential nutrient for these babies. Currently, infant formulas in the U.S. are not fortified with DHA, although several companies have patented DHA blends for this purpose and DHA-fortified formulas are expected to hit the U.S. market sometime this year. Several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Spain, presently produce DHA-fortified formulas

Breastfed infants generally receive ample DHA from their mother's milk, although amounts vary. Vegetarian and vegan mothers have lower concentrations of DHA in their milk, although infant levels of DHA appear to be only slightly less than that of infants of omnivorous mothers. A DHA supplement based on cultured microalgae (under the trademark Neuromins) is now available from natural food stores nationwide.

So, one thing is clear, if someone takes fish, no issues.

If someone is purely vegetarian, may be for preterm child, we need some supplements. For a full term child, who is otherwise well, I will not suggest any supplementation unless more guidelines are available.

Food Allergies

Food allergies affect about 3.5% of US population.
Around 6% of children experience food allergic reactions in first 3 years of life
Out of them 2.5% comprise of cow’s milk allergy, 1.5% egg allergy and 0.6% peanut allergy.
Other allergies are – fish, soy, wheat allergies.
Symptoms may be in skin, Gastrointestinal, respiratory or cardiovascular.
Diagnosis is done by skin testing (IgE mediated) and other by proper history, elimination trials etc, which may vary from 2-8 wks in different conditions.

Good thing about these allergies is that, almost half of these children with milk or egg allergies outgrow by 2-3 years of age, as their immunity improves.
But around 80-90% of children with peanut, sea food allergy retain their allergy for life.

So, in nutshell, be hopeful, things are bound to improve with time. Your concern about soya milk is not valid. We have used it in many children from years. It’s safe.

Fortunately, these food allergies in India are not that common as it’s there in developed world for many unclear reasons.