Posts Categorized: Health

Smart Lice and Your Families Health

Just the thought of bugs crawling in your hair is enough to send anyone racing to the bath tub armed with bottles of lice-killing treatments. But wait! Before you treat lice symptoms, take a seat, take a breath, and get the facts about head lice.

Head lice are a common problem with more than two million Canadians experiencing head lice annually, and around six million annual cases in the U.S. There is quite a market for treating lice mostly dominated by the sale of head lice treatments that contain pesticide or other chemical compounds. These are toxic to lice and pose potential danger to humans and the environment if over used or abused. Children who are still developing or those who may have an underlying health issue should not be exposed to high levels of pesticide. Although the levels in most of these over the counter remedies is low the potential risk comes from their over use and abuse when they fail to work as directed.

Why is this important information for your family to know? A recent study in the medical journal of entomology has shown that head lice are now 97.1% resistant to most of the over the counter head lice treatments containing permethrin, a common synthetic chemical widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent. It belongs to the family of synthetic chemicals called pyrethroids and functions as a neurotoxin, affecting neuron membranes by prolonging sodium channel activation. It is not known to rapidly harm most mammals or birds, but is dangerously toxic to cats and fish. In general, it has a low mammalian toxicity. Most popular head lice treatment products contain permethrin. When the product fails to perform people may over use or abuse them in a desperate effort to get rid of the bugs. I have personally spoken to many mothers who have told me they have used upwards of ten to fifteen applications without success.

Head Lice Removal Options

Shampoo and cleaning products made with preformed enzymes as the active ingredient are a great solution to products that rely on chemical or pesticide actions to kill bugs. These naturally occurring plants enzymes are safe for human use and are environmentally friendly. They are biodegradable and do not pollute the water system. Their action is mechanical and when used in combination with reduction combing and environmental cleaning offer superior results. The most important step in lice eradication with natural lice treatment is to systematically interrupt their life cycles by the removal of lice eggs. Systematic combing in combination with enzyme shampoo and environmental cleaning applications will ensure that the life cycle of the louse is broken and the case is completely eradicated. You may opt to hire a lice removal service. In this case a medical device called the Air Elle may be used. This utilizes heated air to kill all lice and their eggs in combination with reduction combing to remove the dead head lice and eggs. The DIY sect may also opt for the old fashioned oil smothering method whereby you saturate the scalp in olive or coconut oil and smother the bugs.

 

About the Author:

Dawn Mucci is a mother of three, writer and founder of Lice Squad Canada. Her vision is to dispel the stigma associated with head lice and to stop the overuse and abuse of pesticides on children and our environment.

Smoothies-Smooth or Stupid Move?

Should you be a smoothie monster? It’s true that you can hide a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables in any blender, even disguising spinach in this trendy drink. But while a few sips of this stuff may be worth a whole serving or two of fruits and vegetables, are they all they are still a healthy food?

It depends upon your goals.  While many weight loss regimes are touting smoothies as the holy grail amongst the myriad of weight loss tips, if you’re using a smoothie diet as your weight loss regime, you may actually be working against yourself.  Most contain 400 + of liquid calories and liquid calories are not processed by the brain as effectively as food that needs to be chewed.  You are made to sit down and work for your fuel, chewing sends the right satiety message to your body and brain.

Another issue with drinking your calories is that even healthy smoothies can be high in sugar.  Many have jumped on the green smoothie as a part of a healthy breakfast but most people put a high serving of fruits in their green drinks to disguise the taste of the veggies. All of that fruit equals sugar-(yes,even if it is all natural and from fruit). And fruit smoothies without veggies, can be high in calories and will spike blood sugar even higher. For healthy smoothie recipes, keep portions small and focus on proteins as well as nutrients from low cal vegetables.  Munch on handful of nuts to engage your brain and help beat the satiety odds, or add them to your smoothie.

If your goal is to smack as much into a kid’s mouth before rushing out the door, then the story is slightly different.  You still want to make sure they are only getting 1 or 2 servings of fruit, but because they can be very high in sugar you also want to focus on protein source.  Whey powder seems to be the most palatable for kids and many brands are now lactose free.  For vegetarian recipes, be sure to choose organic if you are using soy protein otherwise you are likely getting a genetically modified soy. Brown Rice and Pea protein are growing in popularity and are terrific sources too, albeit more expensive. Hemp protein can be gritty and green but it is a very nourishing option. It would be great to rotate your type of protein powder so you don’t get too much of a good thing, just be sure you choose a brand that doesn’t have sugar or other sweeteners since they add empty calories.

Another way to make healthy breakfast smoothies is to sneak in a few leaves of baby spinach, kale or even parsley or mint for some chlorophyll, fibre and phytonutrients. Add cinnamon for its anti-inflammatory properties and plain, unsweetened cocoa powder (great if you need to hide a color- if it looks chocolate, it is more likely to be accepted). Feel free to blend in some yogurt, Greek is best with its high protein count for protein smoothie recipes, but be sure to choose an unsweetened brand.

Here is a list of ingredients to make healthy smoothie recipes. Ask your child to circle their own concoction. You can’t really go wrong with mixing and matching fun and the process gives them some control over the outcome. And you know how I feel about giving the eating power back to the one who will have to manage it for life…right?

Follow these tips and a green smoothie really will be a part of a healthy breakfast. Bottoms up!

Liquid

Protein

Fruit

Veg

Flavourings

Milk Whey powder Berries Spinach Cinnamon
Almond milk Organic soy Banana baby kale Cocoa powder
Rice Milk Pea protein Pineapple parsley Vanilla extract
Greek Yogurt Hemp Protein applesauce carrot juice nutmeg
Coconut water Rice protein Cherries fennel fronds

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Back to School Healthy Habits That Last All Year Long

Dear whomever is in charge,

Please help me through another back to school season; I know that summer’s freedom and lazy ways are about to be replaced by the hectic juggle of school schedules, homework, making lunches, extracurricular activities, work and stress. If you have tips to keep my family on track without resorting to using words of the four letter variety, packing processed lunches and providing drive-thru dinners, I am all ears!

Signed,

Parenting is hard enough

 

Dear Parenting,

Yes, this time of year can be hectic, and it can be difficult to serve your family healthy lunches and dinners. As a nutritionist I am inundated with food products that sent to me by organizations who want my endorsement. And well many are convenient most of them get tossed because they are unhealthy, and I can’t in all good conscience recommend them. As a nutritionist, I know that there are shortcuts though when you’re pressed for time to rush out the door in the morning, and out in the evening for after school activities. Here are some of my tried and true back to school systems that will help you plan, and give healthy meals, all year long.

Back to School systems:

  • Get kids to make a chart of what they will enjoy for lunches. The chart must be filled in under these categories: Protein, Vegetables, Fruits, Carbohydrates. Dairy can be a protein in a pinch and carbohydrates must be whole grain otherwise they are “treats” and that is a different category. You can change this list monthly as the lunches begin to becoming boring.
  • Prep veggies and fruits on the weekends. This way, they are ready to be lunchbox loaded.
  • Double up on dinners. Baked chicken, barbecued pork or beef and grilled tofu are all great cubed as protein for the following day as leftovers or packed for lunch.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Fruit is best if it is whole but if you are looking for a packaged product, it should be sugar free. You need to know that even fruit juice or peeled fruit can spike blood sugar levels and that can create behaviour or fatigue issues. Be sure to serve these products with some kind of protein or good fat like cheese to slow them down.
  • Consider using ingredients other than bread for sandwiches and wraps such as: rice paper, sushi nori, lettuce leaves, steamed cabbage or kale leaves. They are just as good at holding fillings as bread but contain more nutrients and less sugar and salt.

Treats and Snacks:

  • Pure, unadulterated treats are fine once a week, like an ice cream on the weekends.  But, there is more evidence that daily sugar consumption isn’t just about cavities anymore. A diet too high in sugar can be directly related to diabetes, obesity but also dementia. In fact, the World Health Organization has reduced the recommendation of sugar consumption to about 6 teaspoons per day for an adult and less for children. One “fruit filled” snack bar can contain about 3 teaspoons if you don’t make the right choice.

 

  • I am frequently asked if there are any treat bars that I will endorse and I have discovered Nature’s Path Envirokidz line.  They are made with whole grain flours, natural sweeteners (like brown rice syrup, cane sugar and molasses) and are low sodium non-gmo, wheat and gluten free. These treats have an average of 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per bar, less than half of some of the more popular ones. Since they contain fibre and protein the sugar is slower on the uptake so your kid won’t be. Don’t be fooled by some products that say they are “naturally sweetened” but still contain too much sugar.

 

 

  • Consider using Xyla (often referred to as Xylitol) as a sweetener instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is a natural sweetener derived from the sugar molecule but only has one portion of the entire composition. The net result is that it is lower on the glycemic index which makes it safe for diabetics and it has 33% fewer calories.  Canadian born, Xyla is derived from hardwood and looks like sugar, tastes like sugar and bakes like sugar and can be swapped 1:1 in any recipe. Yet unlike sugar, there are actually benefits to its consumption. It blew me away to discover that Xyla actually protects tooth enamel by changing the PH of saliva. It has also been shown to prevent ear infections in children. Xyla is available in a free pour bag but it is also used in products like sugar free ketchup (the ubiquitous kid dip), toothpaste and mouthwash.

And finally here are some of my personal food rules I consider non-negotiable no matter what time of year it is as I believe they help kids to become adults that can feed themselves well!

  • Parents decide what gets served, kids can decide how much.
  • Food is the fuel for our cells allowing us to function, think and grow. It shall be respected.
  • We will not fight or finagle over food.
  • The goal is to get kids to grow into adults who can feed themselves well when they are on their own (in a few short years…believe me)
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