Category Archives: Nutrient Dense Foods

In defense of butter.

Butter

Butter, not surprisingly, is many of our community member’s favorite traditional fat, myself included! See the full list of answers to the question we posed.

We recommend raw or cultured butter from pasture-raised cows.

When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930′s he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and fall. American folk wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with “pinched” faces.

Does butter cause disease?

On the contrary, butter protects us against many diseases.

Butter and Heart Disease

Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America’s number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.

Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant–containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ. Butter is also a good dietary source of cholesterol.

What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals–usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.

Read more about the reasons butter is better.

Read a guest article written by Heather Dessinger about how her son chose butter for dinner!

Feel free to eat butter off the spoon!

6 Comments

Filed under Dr. Price's Research, Nutrient Dense Foods

Should we eat bacon and if so what kind?

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Bacon Lovers.

I know from the positive responses to our bacon posts on Facebook, that by and large, we are a community of bacon lovers, myself included. However, I personally have not had bacon in some time, sadly! It has proven to be a fleeting experience in my life. Since I’ve had inquiries about whether or not I eat pork, I thought I’d address it here:

I was raised in a Jewish home where we didn’t eat it. While we didn’t keep kosher, bacon was simply not part of the nourishing traditions of Morocco where my mother was raised in a mixed population of Jews and Muslims. Neither have historically eaten pork based on the dietary laws in the Torah and Koran. Nonetheless, there was a period of time, in my late thirties and early forties, once I discovered the book Nourishing Traditions that I ate bacon, and needless to say, I loved it! I purchased Niman Ranch in those days by and large because it was readily available and appeared in the Weston A. Price Foundations’s Shopping Guide. Then I got married, my husband doesn’t eat pork and requested that I abstain, which was not problem for me. More recently, I have also taken the MRT food sensitivity test and pork was identified as a food I was highly sensitive to, even though it hadn’t been a part of my diet for years?!

So, despite the fact that I don’t personally eat it, I teach about the benefits and guide our community to recommended sources. I found myself a bit confused about the recommendations made in 2013 Shopping Guide issued by the Weston A. Price Foundation however and approached Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel and Sally Fallon Morell for clarification. They have fine tuned the recommendations as follows to reflect Dr. Daniel’s latest research, and will use these for the 2014 version:

Best: Sausage, bacon, ham and processed meats from preferably soy-free animals allowed to graze, processed without additives such as  mono-sodium glutamate – known as MSG. [Note: Products containing hydrolyzed protein, citric acid, “spices,” or “natural flavors” usually contain MSG.] Pastured meats cured with salt, a small amount of sugar and naturally smoked. Also fine, pastured meats cured with sodium nitrite and added sodium erythorbates or ascorbates, which are antioxidants required by the United States Department of Agriculture. An example would be bacon from US Wellness Meats.

Acceptable: Sausage, bacon and processed meats made with the help of celery juice, celery powder, celery seed, spinach juice, spinach powder, carrot juice, carrot powder, beet juice, beet powder or sodium nitrate but without MSG or other questionable additives.  An example would be bacon made by Niman Ranch.

Avoid:  Most commercial sausage, bacon and processed meats containing MSG, smoke flavoring, liquid smoke or high levels of additives; processed meats that are high pressure treated.

To flush out the reasons behind these recommendations, I am publishing an article by Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel, with her permission:

Still Fear Bacon? Here’s Why the Feel Good Food is Good for You

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Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, The Naughty Nutritionist™

Neal Barnard MD, head of the Physicians Committee for (Ir)Responsible Medicine, tried to round up an army of vegans to protest a Bacon Festival in Iowa a couple years ago but succeeded in recruiting only six volunteers1

Why so few? Probably fear of bacon! Not fear of death by bacon, which is what Dr. Barnard hoped to fuel with anti-meat rhetoric and billboards of skulls and crossbones, but vegan fears of succumbing to the lure of bacon itself!  Bacon’s smell and taste are so seductive that many vegetarians fear it as “the gateway meat.”

But what of those health risks? What about all that fat, cholesterol and sodium? And what about nitrites? It’s not just vegans after all who warn us against bacon. Indeed, the bacon question has been argued for years, now with most non-vegan internet bloggers concluding that bacon’s “not so bad” if used to add a bit of flavor and crunchiness to “healthy” foods such as salads and vegetables. Comedian Jim Gaffigan spoofed this on Late Night with Conan O’Brien when he described bits of bacon as “the fairy dust of the food community” and eating a salad sprinkled with bacon as “panning for gold.”

A bit more bacon—even a few strips—sometimes even gets the Food-Police stamp of approval; provided it’s a special treat, of course, and not a daily indulgence. But such recommendations usually come complete with a warning to stick with lean bacon, and then cook it so it’s firm but not soft. While that last sounds a bit naughty, it’s actually anti-fat puritanism—the goal being to render the soft parts into fat that can be poured or patted off.

But what if bacon is actually good for us? What if it actually supports good health and is not a mortal dietary sin after all? What if we can eat all we’d like? And feel better too? Naughty propositions to be sure, but ones The Naughty Nutritionist™ is prepared to argue.  And that promise is not just a strip tease!

Bacon’s primary asset is its fat, and 50 percent of that fat—surprise!—is monounsaturated, mostly consisting of oleic acid, the type so valued in olive oil, and three percent as palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturate with valuable antimicrobial properties.

About 40 percent of bacon fat is saturated, a level that worries fat phobics, but is the reason why bacon fat is relatively stable and unlikely to go rancid under normal storage and cooking conditions. That’s important, given the fact that the remaining 10 percent is in the valuable but unstable form of polyunsaturates.2

Pork fat also contains a novel form of phosophatidyl choline that possesses antioxidant activity superior to Vitamin E. and a reason why lard and bacon fat are unprone to rancidity from free radicals.3

Bacon also comes replete with fat-soluble vitamin D, provided it’s bacon from foraging pigs that romp outdoors in the sun for most of year.4  As we would expect, the good fat in bacon comes accompanied by cholesterol,  a “no no” according to the Food Police, but a “yes yes” when it comes to a “feel good” food.5

Even so, “everyone knows” bacon’s bad for us, and Dr. Barnard would have us think it’s a veritable risk factor for heart disease. In fact, bacon might be good for the heart. And not just because it makes us happy, though that’s surely a plus!

Monounsaturated fat is widely lauded for reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure, while antimicrobial palmitoleic acid can keep plaque at bay. Triglycerides too may improve because bacon fat is so good at helping us achieve satiety and stable blood sugar. Bacon can thus be useful for diabetics and prediabetics as well as everyone else coping with sugar cravings and carbohydrate addictions. Bacon’s signature salty and savory sweetness not only make it a treat that reduces feelings of deprivation and lack, but could help stabilize blood sugar sufficiently to prevent mood swings, reduce anxiety, improve focus and enhance coping skills.

Those not worried about bacon’s fat and cholesterol often fret about the salt, though low-salt diets actually increase the likelihood of heart disease, hypertension, cognitive decline, osteoporosis insulin resistance and erectile dysfunction. Clearly, salt plays a vital role in Naughty Nutrition™.

Finally, fear of bacon is wrapped up with fear of nitrites. These have been so associated with cancer and other ills that nearly all educated, health conscious consumers think they should either avoid processed meats altogether or choose “uncured bacons” that are advertised as “nitrite free.” Popular brands assumed to be healthy include Niman, Bieler, Applegate, Coleman’s and nearly every other bacon brand found at Whole Foods Market or other health food stores.

The question is, are these “uncured” bacons healthier?

The short answer is no. Dr. Nathan Bryan, University of Texas Houston Biomedical Research Center, pulls no punches when he states:  “This notion of ‘nitrite-free’ or ‘organically cured’ meats is a public deception.”

Traditionally bacon was cured by adding sodium nitrite salts directly to the meat. Today’s manufacturers of  “nitrite free” brands add celery salt, which is about 50 percent nitrate, plus a starter culture of bacteria. This transforms the nitrate found naturally in the celery salt into nitrite, which cures the meat.  Although manufacturers label this bacon “nitrite free,” this method actually generates more nitrite from the celery salt than would ever be added as a salt.  Indeed, “nitrite free” bacon can have twice the nitrite content of bacons cured directly with nitrite salts.   “Some convert 40 percent, some convert 90 percent, so the consistency of the residual nitrite is highly variable,”  he says.

Dr. Bryan’s biggest concern is not nitrite content but the possibility of bacterial contamination. “I think it is probably less healthy than regular cured meats because of the bacteria load and the unknown efficacy of conversion by the bacteria.”7 And plenty of studies back him up on the value of nitrates and nitrite for food safety..  Indeed, nitrite can convert to desirable nitric oxide in the body. 8-13

In the good old days, dry cure bacons were produced through hand rubbing with a mixture of herbs, sugars, salt, and the sodium nitrite curing salts.  Or going back even further without sodium nitrite but huge quantities of salt.  The bacon then cures for anywhere from a day to a month before slow-smoking it over applewood, hickory or other wood fires,  generally from one to three days. The extended curing time intensifies the pork flavor and shrinks the meat so that the bacon doesn’t shrivel and spatter as it cooks. Vitamin C in the mix helps form the nitrosylheme pigment that gives cured meats their wonderful red color.  Producers who use sodium nitrite are required by the USDA to add sodium erythorbate or ascorbate (forms of Vitamin C and antioxidants) to ensure most of the nitrites go down the beneficial nitric acid pathway and not turn into carcinogenic nitrosamines.   Flavor can vary quite a bit from producer to producer, and is determined by the ingredients of the cure, the method of smoking, and the timing. The age,  gender,  and breed of the pig, as well as its time outdoors, forage and feed all influence the final flavor of the bacon.

Supermarket bacon may also use sodium nitrite, but not in a traditional way. Instead, manufacturers opt for fast and cheap methods by which inferior quality factory-farmed meat is pumped and plumped with a liquid cure solution that includes sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite, along with “liquid smoke,” spices and flavorings heavy in MSG. After “curing” for a few hours, the pork is sprayed with more “liquid smoke” and heated until a smoke-like flavor permeates the meat. The pork is then quickly chilled, machine-pressed into a uniform shape, sliced, and packaged for sale. Pumped and plumped bacon may look big in the package, but shrinks, shrivels and spatters when cooked.

Researchers have consistently found carcinogenic nitrosamines in fried bacon,14,15 but the bacon studied almost certainly comes from factory farms where pigs are fed feeds that include inferior oils such as corn and soy. Fatty acid composition has a major effect on nitrosamine formation, with levels correlating well with the levels of unsaturation of the adipose tissue.16-20 Far riskier than frying bacon is consuming readymade sources of nitrosamines, such as occur in soy protein isolates, non-fat dry milk and other products that have undergone acid washes, flame drying or high temperature spray-drying processes.21,22

The takeaway?

Choose traditionally cured or simple salt-cured artesanal bacon, which truly has no nitrites added but depends upon proper refrigeration for safety. The newfangled celery salt “uncured” bacon is deceptively marketed, but still a far better choice than the pumped and plumped bacon-like products found in supermarkets or any of the supposedly healthy fakin’ bacons from turkey or soy. What we want is good old-fashioned bacon from pastured pigs cured with either salt or a precise amount of sodium nitrite curing salts.

If the idea of nitrite still seems scary, consider this:  Ascorbic acid is routinely added to cured meats along with the nitrite in order to promote beneficial nitric oxide formation from nitrite, and to inhibit nitrosation reactions in the stomach that can lead to carcinogenic nitrosamines.23 Bringing alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E) into the mix seems to further prevent occurrence of nitrosamine formation.24,25  Old-fashioned processing, involving leisurely time for curing and smoking, further enhances the conversion of nitrite to the beneficial nitric oxide (NO) molecule. And a growing body of evidence shows nitrates (which are in all plant foods) and nitrites (which we need to produce desirable nitric oxide) can be a very good thing.26,27

So what’s the last word on America’s favorite meat? Indulge bacon lust freely, know that the science is catching up, the media lags behind, and, as usual, our ancestors got it right.

*  *  *  *  *

© 2012 Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Dr. Daniel is the Naughty Nutritionist™ because of her ability to outrageously and humorously debunk nutritional myths. See Dr. Daniel’s bio and visit her website.

Questions and comments about bacon?!

Endnotes

1.  Neuman, Jeannette. Vegetarian Doctors Go Whole Hog to Burn Bacon in Iowa. Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204792404577227201273665554.html
2.   Enig, Mary G. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutriton of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol (Silver Spring, MD, Bethesda Press, 2000. p 135.) Note: Dr Enig’s figures are for the fatty acid composition of lard, not bacon fat, but the percentages should be very close.  Percentages of fat may also vary according to the animal’s diet and lifestyle.
3.   Koga T, Terao J. Antioxidant Activity of a Novel Phosphatidyl Derivative of Vitamin E in Lard and Its Model System J Ag Food Chem, 1994, 42 (6), 1291–1294. This study looks at lard, but likely applies to bacon fat as well.
4.  Daniel, Kaayla T. Save Your Bacon! Sizzling Bits about Nitrites, Dirty Little Secrets about Celery Salt and Other Aporkalyptic News. Posted March 12, 2012.    http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/kdaniel/2012/03/29/save-your-bacon-sizzling-bits-about-nitrites-dirty-little-secrets-about-celery-salt-and-other-aporkalyptic-news/. This article contains a full discussion of Vitamin D in bacon and other pastured animals, including reports in USDA and other databases.
5. The cholesterol debate is thoroughly covered on the Weston A Price Foundation’s website www.westonaprice.org, on Chris Masterjohn’s website www.cholesterol-and-health.com and in Gary Taubes’ excellent book Good Calories, Bad Calories (Knopf, 2007).
6.  http://www.feedstuffsfoodlink.com/Media/MediaManager/nitrites_and_nitrates.pdf
7.    Ibid.
8.   Skovgaard N. Microbiological aspects and technological need: technological needs for nitrates and nitrites Food Addit Contam. 1992 Sep-Oct;9(5):391-7.
9.   Pierson MD, Smoot LA. Nitrite, nitrite alternatives, and the control of Clostridium botulinum in cured meats. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1982;17(2):141-87.
10.   Jouve JL,  Calier V,  Rozier J. Antimicrobial effects of nitrates in meat products, [Article in French] Ann Nutr Aliment. 1980;34(5-6):807-26.
11  Christiansen LN, Johnston RW, et al. Effect of nitrite and nitrate on toxin production by Clostridium botulinum and on nitrosamine formation in perishable canned comminuted cured meat.    Appl Microbiol. 1973, Mar;25(3):357-62.
12   Hustad GO, Cervey JG et al. Effect of sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate on botulinal toxin production and nitrosamine formation in wieners. Appl Microbiol. 1973 Jul;26(1):22-6.
13.  Pierson MD, Smoot LA. Nitrite, nitrite alternatives, and the control of Clostridium botulinum in cured meats.   Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1982;17(2):141-87
14..   Fiddler W, Pensabene JW. Supercritical fluid extraction of volatile N-nitrosamines in fried bacon and its drippings: method comparison.  J AOAC Int. 1996 Jul-Aug;79(4):895-901.
15.  Havery DC, Fazio T, Howard JW. Survey of cured meat products for volatile N-nitrosamines: comparison of two analytical methods.  IARC Sci Publ. 1978;(19):41-52.
16.   Gray JL, Skrypec DJ et al. Further factors influencing N-nitrosamine formation in bacon. IARC Sci Publ, 1984;(57):301-9.
17.   Mottram DS, Pattterson RLS et al.  The preferential formations of volatile N nitrosamines in the fat of fried bacon. J Sci food Agric 1977 28, 1025-1029.
18.  Goutefongea R, Cassens RG, Woolford G. Distribution of sodium nitrite in adipose tissue during curing.  J Food Sci, 1977. 42, 1637-1641.
19.  Walters CL, Hart Rj, Perse S.  1979. The possible role of lipid pseudonitrosites in nitrosamine formation in fried bacon.  Z. Lebensm Unters Forsch , 168, 177-180.
20.   Canas BJ, Havery DC et al. Current trends in levels of volatile N-nitrosamines in fried bacon and fried-out bacon fat. J Assoc Off Anal Chem. 1986 Nov-Dec;69(6):1020-1.
21.  Daniel, Kaayla T. The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food (Washington DC, New Trends, 2005)  122-126.
22.  Hotchkiss JH. Sources of N-nitrosamine contamination in foods. Adv Exp Med Biol   1984;177:287-98.
23. http://www.feedstuffsfoodlink.com/Media/MediaManager/nitrites_and_nitrates.pdf
24.  Mergens WJ, Kamm JJ, et al. Alpha-tocopherol: uses in preventing nitrosamine formation. IARC Sci Publ. 1978;(19):199-212.
25.  Fiddler W, Pensabene JW et al.  Inhibition of formation of volatile nitrosamines in fried bacon by the use of cure-solubilized alpha-tocopherol.  J Agric Food Chem. 1978 May-Jun;26(3):653-6.
26.  Bryan, Nathan and Janet Zand with Bill Gottlieb.  The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution (Austin, TX, Neogenesis, 2010).    Although this popular book does not contain citations, a quick PubMed search will turn up Dr. Bryan’s contribution to at least 88 journal articles, establishing NO benefits.
27.  Hord NG, Tang Y, Bryan NS. Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):1-10.

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Filed under Guest Authors, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

Cravings: Follow your child’s lead.

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This is a guest post by Heather Dessinger of The Mommypotamus written for Nourishing Our Children.

We are offering her ebook Nourished Baby, on promotion, as well as a number of our own educational materials!

So, The Other Night …

My son lunged over a plate of pot roast to grab a stick of butter … for dinner. Did I snatch it away from him or run to check the CDC’s prediction regarding the likelihood he will develop heart disease? Um, no, I grabbed my camera!

You see, butter cravings are a milestone in my house.

They mark the midway point of my children’s transition from breast milk to pastured dairy products  Yep, I’m one of those. It’s more than just a difference in source, though. As all mamas know, we do not come with buttons that allow a child to select strawberry flavored milk. Though the flavor is influenced by what we eat, our bodies create without the child’s input. The same is true for babies who receive donated breast milk or homemade formula.

The thing about butter cravings – and most cravings during the toddler years – is that they are so much more than awesome slideshow opportunities. We are witnessing the awakening of our child’s internal gastronomic sage . . . their own inner wisdom about how to feed themselves for optimal nourishment. Chances are they will never wake up and say “I need 2000 IU of Vitamin D, stat!” – but they just might ask for bacon and eggs. Based on this post from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride you might say it’s the same thing.

Unfortunately, this inner wisdom is very often derailed by well-meaning (we hope) yet inaccurate advice. Back in the 1920′s doctors “began prescribing with bank teller–like precision what and when and how much a child should eat in order to be healthy.” Their choice? Bland, sieved vegetable soup. [ source ] Later on, we were encouraged to switch to MSG-laden baby food, which by it’s very nature alters the cravings of a child. More recently, deprivation seems to be the advised path. Consider this recommendation from Babycenter:

Your 2-year-old now

Time to trim the fat! Once your child turns 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you reduce her fat intake to less than 30 percent of her daily calories. You don’t have to zealously monitor fat intake. Just switch from whole milk to 2 percent, and look for low-fat versions of cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. For the rest of her diet, provide a balanced offering of whole grains, lean meats or beans, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t cut out fats entirely; your preschooler’s growing brain and body depend on them for proper development. And many dairy products that contain fat are also terrific sources of calcium.

Yikes! Fat is still where it’s at for toddlers and preschoolers! Most of us know that, but there is another issue here worth considering. When we as parents carefully assemble our panel of nutritional experts let’s not leave the most important one out – the child!

A Bold Feeding Experiment

What would a child do if given free reign over their own diet? Back in the 1920′s, Chicago pediatrician Clara Davis decided to find out. She gathered a group of babies – mostly breastfed orphans who had recently been weaned – for a bold feeding experiment. With the help of a team of nurses, Dr. Davis provided these little subjects with a range of food from which they could eat whatever they wanted.

Nutrient Dense Food Pyramid by Sandrine Hahn

Please do not use this photo without our express written consent. Copyright 2012 Sandrine Love.


“The complete smorgasbord included broiled ground beef and lamb, steamed and minced haddock, chicken, sweetbreads, brains, liver and kidneys; broiled beef and veal bone marrow; bone jelly (or reduced veal stock); raw and poached eggs; steel-cut oats, ground whole wheat, cornmeal, and whole barley (all boiled); raw oats and wheat; rye crackers; raw apples, bananas, oranges, pineapple and peaches; steamed apples; baked bananas; raw tomatoes, lettuce carrots, cabbage and peas; steamed beets, carrots, peas, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage and spinach; and baked potatoes. The babies could drink water, whole milk, cultured milk, and sometimes fresh orange juice. Each baby got his own dish of sea salt.”¹

“Each meal included grains, a couple of meats, and fruits and vegetables. Every dish was unseasoned and unmixed; that is, there were no recipes. Instead of meatloaf, babies got beef in one bowl and carrots in another, the better to measure consumption.” Over the course of the experiment (which lasted several months), the children were given no encouragement or discouragement regarding particular foods. They ate apart from the other babies to prevent copycat behavior, with only a nurse present that would refill dishes if asked.”²

[Sandrine's note - I found it interesting that the smorgasbord included many of the foods that are in our very own nutrient dense food pyramid!]

So what happened? “At a given meal, choices could be extreme. One baby ate mostly bone marrow; another regularly drank a quart of milk with lunch. One baby ate seven eggs in one day and another, four bananas, while one occasionally took handfuls of salt … But over time, all the babies ate a varied diet, including much more meat than doctors recommended.”

“Most revealing,” she continues, “all the children thrived … A nine-month-old boy with rickets drank cod liver oil until his rickets was cured, then ignored it.”³

What I love about Clara Davis’ experiment is how it demonstrates that different children are, well … different. Their little gastronomic sage is unlike anyone else’s, and by listening to it and helping them learn to listen to it we position them for a lifetime of healthy choices.

So What Does This Look Like In Real Life?

Well, I for one am not serving thirty items at every meal! However, there are several practical takeaways that I’ve implemented with my kids:

  • Only provide nutrient dense foods. That is the “trick” to Clara’s experiment – it was fail safe! She selected the foods and the child selected the portions. In my home the same is basically true, but as a realist I do limit some things. Most of us cannot say no to too much sugar … even the natural stuff like fruit and honey. In the past nature helped us with this by making these items scarce. These days we can fly things in from all over the world so we have to choose to limit our consumption and help our kids do the same. Also, items like bread are always served with a generous helping of butter.
  • Indulge healthy cravings. There have been times when my kids could eat their weight in smoked salmon, goat cheese and scallops. There have been brief obsessions with tangerines and mayonnaise. I try to supply as much of these items as my budget will allow, knowing that when their bodies have received the nourishment they need the cravings will subside.
  • Encourage adventurous eating. When I make something new my kids don’t have to eat it all, but they DO have to try it! The babies in Clara’s experiment had no notion of food . . . they gnawed on the trays that the food was brought on and the dishes, too! As we get older we tend to cling to the familiar and may need a little help getting outside of our comfort zone. So while I admire that her little charges were neither encouraged nor discouraged toward a particular food, I’m perfectly fine with giving my children a little nudge (especially toward liver).
  • Make sure they have good gut flora. Without it pathogenic microbes tend to take over the digestive tract and alter our cravings in destructive ways. [source] When this happens trusting our cravings is like trusting a faulty compass. Though gut flora is established at birth and can be affected by antibiotics, stress, and diet, it can also be positively influenced by probiotic supplements and yummy fermented foods like water kefir, probiotic-infused lemonade jello, yogurt and ketchup
  • Be okay if they say no. Part of learning to honor our internal wisdom is to know which foods are compatible with us and which are not. Children may refuse a food because it is something they don’t like or it doesn’t serve a need, but issues like food sensitivities may also be a factor. In general if my kids refuse a particular food consistently while eating well overall I rotate it out and try again later.

Then, of course, there is the most important “rule” of all …

If they go for the butter, grab the camera!


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¹ ² ³Source: Real Food For Mother And Baby, p. 186-188

About Our Guest Author

Heather Dessinger, aka The Mommypotamus, is a wife, blogger and mom to two amazing kiddos, both waterborn at home. She loves all things fermenty, talks to sock puppets, and dreams of owning her very own flock of backyard chickens. She is the author of two ebooks. Nourished Baby is a simple guide to introducing real food to little ones, and DIY Organic Beauty Recipes is a collection of 50+ beauty and personal care product recipes that really work.

If you would like to learn more about how to nourish your baby, we are  offering Heather’s ebook Nourished Baby, on promotion, as well as a number of our own educational materials!

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Filed under Nourished Families, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

How much fish is safe to eat?

Kipper

Guest Author Raine Saunders

This is a continuation of a post that answers the question, “Should we avoid fish because of mercury?”

Having concluded that we need not avoid all fish because of mercury, then how much fish is actually safe to eat?

Joint recommendations for fish consumption from the EPA and FDA as of 2004 are as follows:

  • Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of commonly eaten fish and shellfish found consistently low in mercury, including shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish
  • Limit albacore tuna to 6 oz. per week
  • Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury
  • From his research, Dr. Nicholas Ralston believes that since selenium provides our bodies with protective properties against mercury, eating one of the 16 types of ocean fish which has more selenium than mercury is perfectly safe. Previous EPA and FDA guidelines for consuming fish only take into account risk factors of mercury, but not the protective factors of selenium, eating more than the current recommendations is not only advisable, but safe. There should be no reason to limit our consumption.

Dr. James MacGregor, OBGYN, USC Keck School of Medicine says that ocean fish are an ideal nutrient package for nursing and pregnant mothers, to supply critical building blocks for health and development to babies. Susan Carlson, Nutrition Scientist, University of Kansas Medical Center believes any pregnant woman in the U.S. who chooses not to consume regular servings of fish in her diet is taking a risk for the safe development of the unborn infant, as well as possible issues for her own health.

Pregnant mothers and children should eat 2-3 servings of oily fish weekly, and up to about 12 ounces per week of low-mercury containing fish who have a comparable amount of selenium. As long as expectant mothers avoid the following 4 fish whose mercury levels exceed selenium content: swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king makerel, they should be safe eating a variety of seafood.

Some fish have more selenium than mercury, and some contain more level amounts of both. Seafood should be obtained from a fisherman who uses sustainable practices and catches fish wild, from the ocean (not farm-raised). According to Robert Disney, anything you catch on the line is safe to eat. Bigger fish are less safe not only due to the fact that they store more of the heavy metals in their fat tissues, but also due to the lower levels of selenium found in these fish.

For more information on which fish contain adequate amounts of selenium, visit Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Western.

For more information on mercury versus selenium levels in certain types of fish, see the table in the following section “How selenium content in fish counteracts mercury”.

How selenium content in fish counteracts mercury

Scientists have repeatedly observed how the mineral selenium binds to mercury and acts as a natural chelator of this toxic metal. The selenium found in many types of fish consumed in the U.S. exceeds mercury content of the fish, and actually protects us against mercury toxicity. The nutritional benefits of eating fish far outweigh existing potential risks.

Dr. Nicholas Ralston frequently refers to a study done with animals as long ago as 1967 where feeding them what was considered a toxic amount of mercury that could kill them could be prevented by also administering a similar amount of selenium.

A study performed at Cornell University reveals that adding selenium to the diets of quail “gave complete protection” from significant amounts of mercury. The fact that selenium provides this type of benefit to birds is a testimonial to the important role of minerals in the health of other species besides human beings.

Because most fish are one of the best and most natural sources of selenium and can counteract the mercury absorbed in our bodies, it makes sense to rely on this food source for nutrition and for natural detoxification to keep our bodies healthy.

This table is taken from the document “Selenium and Mercury, Fishing for Answers” from the Energy and Environmental Research Center and shows mercury versus selenium levels in certain types of fish.

For more details about mercury versus selenium content in ocean fish, visit Energy and Environmental Research Center.

What about fish from freshwater sources?

Selenium is not present in all freshwater fish. It is particular to geography and mineral amounts found in the area where the fish live. There is also a vast difference in evaluating fish based on mercury content alone and assessing the mercury versus selenium content. Again, most freshwater fish found to contain more mercury than selenium are those which are the larger species, and using the selenium-mercury assessment would eliminate most fish caught in rivers, streams, and lakes.

To be certain you are getting something safe, research the type of fish to determine the mercury to selenium levels for each type. Check with local fish advisories about those species which contain the most mercury.

Other nutritional benefits of fish

Overall, our population is greatly deficient in Omega 3 essential fatty acids because our modern diets have too many Omega 6s from the widespread presence of industrially produced vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, and canola oils commonly found in processed foods in the Standard American Diet. In addition to selenium and other minerals, fish are also an important source of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Some mainstream medical sources assume that consuming plants as a source of omega 3 fats to obtain fatty acids such as ALA are converted to to longer chain DHA and EPA. However, this is not a good way to make these fatty acids since the conversion is poor. Fish are a superior source of these nutrients for this reason, as compared to flax seed oil, as one example.

DHA is essential to brain development, and it cannot be manufactured by our bodies, so it must be obtained in diet. This Omega 3 is found in trace amounts in plants such as flaxseed, but long-chain fatty acids are only found in shellfish and fish.

Dark and oily fish are the richest sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. According to Joseph Hibbeln, Nutritional Neuroscientist, National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D and calcium, and a good variety of tuna and salmon, sardines, whitefish, shellfish and shrimp, can be eaten safely 2-3 times weekly.

In areas where more fish are eaten including the Mediterranean, Japan, the shoreline of Asian, and northern Europe, populations have less diabetes, stroke, depression, and cardiovascular disease, according to Dr. James McGregor, M.D., OBGYN from USC Keck School of Medicine.

From ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a large ongoing study in Britain which began in 1991):

“Mothers who consume less fish during pregnancy have children with significantly lower IQs and impaired ability to focus (ref 1). Similarly, another study revealed that children of mothers who ate more than three portions of seafood a week during pregnancy had better neurological function than children whose mothers ate little or no seafood (ref 2). Seafood is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids – essential for neural development – yet expectant mothers are often advised to limit their consumption, as seafood can contain trace amounts of contaminants.

Another study using information from ALSPAC found that persistent depression during pregnancy can increase the chance of a child suffering developmental delay (ref 3). While it was well known that postnatal depression can affect child development, little research into so-called antenatal depression had been carried out. In a different study, depression in fathers was found to be associated with adverse emotional and behavioural outcomes in children aged 3.5 years, and an increased risk of conduct problems in boys (ref 4).”

Chemical impact of mercury on the environment

Robert Disney points out that for thousands upon thousands of years, the earth has experienced seismic and volcanic activity, and scientists know volcanoes are one of the most plentiful and natural sources of mercury on earth. When a volcano erupts, the material goes into the atmosphere, water, land, and sea [23].

Mercury is also found in man-made substances as well: pharmaceuticals, switches, thermometers, power plants, factories, and many chemical applications including vaccines, fluorescent lights, and food additives like high-fructose corn syrup.

Today there are more chemicals than ever before in history in our environment. From the USEPA, more than 80,000 “chemical substances” are currently in legal use. From Jennifer Taggart’s Smart Mama’s Green Guide: “less than 10 percent have been reviewed for toxic effects.”

According to Environmental Health Perspectives, the high cost and lengthy times required for animal testing in which to determine the toxicity of any given chemical makes it impractical for testing tens of thousands of chemicals. Thus, there is an enormous inventory of chemicals in use which have not currently been tested.

The earth will always be able to rebound from chemical and environmental damage, but our species will suffer due to the amount of poisons we’ve introduced, says Environmental Scientist, Robert Disney. Thus, it is of particular importance that we find safer alternatives to the myriad chemicals we are using. That includes everything we use everyday such as safer soaps, cleaners, detergents, solvents, and many other products.

Because of the undeniably important role minerals such as selenium play in human health, it makes sense to consume the most natural foods containing these minerals. Mercury has been found to have a neuro-toxic effect leading to health issues. In laboratory studies, selenium treatments were shown to be nearly identical, whether mercury administration was discontinued or not. As we read about in selenium protection and therapy studies, observable consequences of methylmercury exposure are eliminated, despite high methylmercury exposures occurring in five-fold excess of selenium. In other words, just 1 selenium molecule would attach itself to 5 mercury molecules and remove it from the body.

Robert Disney believes a good example of how chemicals affect us is the marked increase in infertility in women trying to conceive. Now, just to be able to conceive, more and more women have to take medications and the result is that an increasing number of them have multiple children at once. Is this natural? Science makes definitive statements about health, and yet, time and time again, science also comes out with revisions to those statements. At one point, science told us that eggs were harmful because they were too high in cholesterol. Just a few years ago, that changed and suddenly, eggs were safe to eat again [23].

The government provides health advisories about consuming fish due to the mercury content. Some people aren’t confident enough to make decisions about their health unless it is validated by the government or larger health authority in some way. We only feel good about following what the “experts” say, and have been made to believe that they are the ones who should tell us what to do [23].

The protective properties of real, traditional foods

It is very easy to become overly concerned about the content of mercury in everything around us. Robert Disney believes this worry has caused us to avoid nutritious foods such as fish. People all over the world have consumed fish for millennia, and it has helped to ensure the survival of our species. We may have more mercury now than we did many years ago, but avoiding fish just to avoid more mercury doesn’t make sense when you consider all the nutritional benefits of fish, and how vital it is to our health. The bottom line is that we still have to eat to live.

This wisdom that has been handed down through time has enabled us to preserve knowledge of health and healing for thousands of years. In modern times we have become complacent of these teachings and instead give credence to scientific “proof” as being superior to this long-standing knowledge. And yet, it is these great bodies of traditional knowledge which have brought generation after generation of people along. If you wait long enough for science to prove that something is good for you, you will likely starve to death. Anything corrupted by politics and corporate interest will not give us the truth about what’s nutritionally beneficial unless they stand to gain something from it. [23, 24]

We need nutritional elements available in healthy foods like fish to maintain health. We should not stop eating fish because of mercury, which we have consumed since the dawn of time. Traditional foods have protective properties, and will give you greater health benefit than any other substances on earth. The choice is yours: will you risk the small chance of dying of mercury poisoning because you eat fish, or will you starve to death? It makes the most sense to eat the healthiest food you can while you are alive.

By removing chemicals from your environment, you can reduce your toxic load. At the same time, get more exercise and fresh air, sunshine, eat real food like fish, meats and animal products from healthy animals and birds on pasture, and view your health holistically. None of us will live forever. While you are here, do the things you know are right to make your health as good as it can be. [24]

About Our Guest Author

Raine Saunders is a writer, researcher, blogger, and Holistic Health Coach with an emphasis in the GAPS protocol. To read more, visit www.agriculturesociety.com where she blogs about real, traditional food, sustainable farming, food politics, eco-friendly choices and recipes, natural remedies, and more.

This document was prepared for the Green Pasture Products website, producers of the only raw, traditionally fermented cod liver oil on the market. Green Pasture’s signature product Blue Ice Royal combines the superior nutritional benefits of fermented cod liver oil with high vitamin butter oil (the “Activator-X” component discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price in his travels during the 1930s which was virtually missing from modern, processed diets) to bring you a food that contains the most natural and potent forms of Vitamin D and also Vitamin A for optimal health benefits and support.

Children, pregnant and nursing moms need the immense nutritional benefits found in nutrient-dense foods like fish (and other seafood). It is easy to become concerned about warnings and other cautions issued by health authorities about heavy metals like mercury. Hopefully this important research can put your mind at ease about this controversial topic and enable you to make decisions you are comfortable with for your family’s health.

Raine explains, “Every time I post this document somewhere, I get comments from those who are also concerned about radiation. My response is that we are exposed to radiation in our environment everywhere due to situations like the event that happened in Fukishima in March of 2011 and existing nuclear facilities. Most foods are said to be contaminated by radiation, so if we were to stop eating fish, should we then apply that same philosophy to all other nutrient-dense foods such as raw milk, grass-fed meats, and pasture raised poultry?

Fermented foods, bone broths, and other traditionally prepared foods from healthy, safe sources can provide our bodies protection against radiation damage.

For more information, read:
Safe Space Protection

Protection from Radiation Sickness, WAP, Dr. Thomas McCowan (right now WAP is having site access issues again, which I’m sure you are aware of, hopefully this will be resolved ASAP)

Radiation and Community Illness, WAP Joette Calabrese

References:

1.  Hodge, Linda, et al. Consumption of oily fish and childhood asthma risk. Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 164, February 5, 1996, pp. 137-40
2. Broughton, K. Shane, et al. Reduced asthma symptoms with n-3 fatty acid ingestion are related to 5-series leukotriene production. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 65, April 1997, pp. 1011-17
3.  Dry, J. and Vincent, D. Effect of a fish oil diet on asthma: results of a 1-year double-blind study. International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology, Vol. 95, No. 2/3, 1991, pp. 156-7
4.  Shahar, Eyal, et al. Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 331, No. 4, July 28, 1994, pp. 228-33
5.  Lawrence, R. and Sorrell, T. Eicosapentaenoic acid in cystic fibrosis: evidence of a pathogenetic role for leukotriene B4. The Lancet, Vol. 342, August 21, 1993, pp. 465-69
6.  Katz, D.P., et al. The use of an intravenous fish oil emulsion enriched with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with cystic fibrosis. Nutrition, Vol. 12, May 1996, pp. 334-39
7.  Schwartz, Joel. Role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in lung disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 393S-96S
8.  Simopoulous, Artemis. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 54, 1991, pp. 438-63
9.  Pepping, Joseph. Omega-3 essential fatty acids. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Vol. 56, April 15, 1999, pp. 719-24
10.  Uauy-Dagach, Ricardo and Valenzuela, Alfonso. Marine oils: the health benefits of n-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 54, November 1996, pp. S102-S108
11.  Connor, William E. Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 171S-75S
12.  Jensen, Craig L., et al. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation of lactating women on the fatty acid composition of breast milk lipids and maternal and infant plasma phospholipids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 292S-99S
13.  Makrides, Maria and Gibson, Robert A. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid requirements during pregnancy and lactation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), 2000, pp. 307S-11S
14.  Connor, William E., et al. Increased docosahexaenoic acid levels in human newborn infants by administration of sardines and fish oil during pregnancy. Lipids, Vol. 31 (suppl), 1996, pp. S183-S87
15.  Cunnane, S.C., et al. Breast-fed infants achieve a higher rate of brain and whole body docosahexaenoate accumulation than formula-fed infants not consuming dietary docosahexaenoate. Lipids, Vol. 35, January 2000, pp. 105-11
16.  Carlson, S.E., et al. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and development of human infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl, Vol. 88 (430), August 1999, pp. 72-7
17.  Mitchell, E.A., et al. Clinical characteristics and serum essential fatty acid levels in hyperactive children. Clin Pediatr (Phila), Vol. 26, August 1987, pp. 406-11
18.  Stevens, Laura J., et al. Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 62, No. 4, October 1995, pp. 761-68
19.  Levine, Barbara S. Most frequently asked questions about DHA. Nutrition Today, Vol. 32, November/December 1997, pp. 248-49
20.  Kalmijn, S., et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and cognitive function in very old men. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 145, January 1, 1997, pp. 33-41
21.  Kalmijn, S., et al. Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia in the Rotterdam Study. Annals of Neurology, Vol. 42(5), November 1997, pp. 776-82
22.  Yehuda, S., et al. Essential fatty acids preparation (SR-3) improves Alzheimer’s patients quality of life. International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 87(3-4), November 1996, pp. 141-9
23.  Robert Disney, Environmental Scientist, personal interview, February, 2012.

Robert Disney, Environmental Scientist, Mercury in the environment/Emerging waste water contaminants, live presentation, Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference, November, 2010.

How do you feel about eating fish and/or shellfish?! Did this article change your mind?

3 Comments

Filed under Fertility, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

Should We Avoid Fish Because of Mercury?

Guest Author Raine Saunders

Did you know there is an important trace mineral in fish that helps offset the mercury content you absorb when you eat it?

For the last several decades, many health and medical sources have recommended limiting consumption of fish due to mercury content. Mercury is a heavy metal, and when it accumulates in the body can cause health problems such as damage to the nervous system, brain, and digestive tract. Based on what we know about heavy metals in our bodies, it’s certainly wise to avoid them.

Exposure to mercury from fish has been greatly feared, but widely misunderstood. Fish are a traditional food with critical nutrients for human development and support. For thousands of years, humanity has consumed fish from freshwater sources as well as the seas and oceans as an important source of these essential nutrients for good health.

Mercury occurs naturally at low levels in nature: in rock, soil, and water all across the planet. It becomes liquefied with rain and binds with organic and inorganic molecules in the environment such as from industrial sources such as the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil. Some also comes from mining, waste incineration, and other commercial and industrial industries.

Mercury then flows into waterways, oceans, rivers, and lakes. Methylmercury pollution is taken in by both aquatic life and life on land. These molecules are absorbed by living organisms and into the tissues, and this is where the problem comes in. Mercury becomes part of the fat tissue of some animals and fish. When we eat these organisms we absorb it. Although there is no safe level of mercury that should be ingested, our bodies can handle lower levels of this toxin before we start to become aware of noticeable symptoms.

Vital nutrients for health found in fish

Fish are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals: A, B6, B12, D, cholesterol, iodine, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, and Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are important during pregnancy and lactation, as well as brain and nervous system [19-22], respiratory [1-7], and heart health. [8-11] Growing research also shows that Omega 3 essential fatty acids greatly reduce the development of degenerative disease such as atherosclerosis, depression, and cancer [8-11]. Children who eat fish receive nutritional support for brain and nervous system, and are less likely to develop issues such as hyperactivity [12-18].

Fish are also an excellent source for an important mineral many people are lacking which greatly affects the way our bodies store mercury: selenium. Not only is selenium a powerful brain nutrient, but what is now known is that selenium holds the key to avoiding mercury build-up in the body to toxic levels. So in addition to being a source for many other important nutrients, fish are one of the most bio-available sources of this key mineral.

What do the experts say?

Recent peer-reviewed data shows that trace mercury amounts in fish simply aren’t significant enough to warrant avoiding their consumption. What’s more, focusing

solely on mercury content blows the issue out of proportion, and fails to acknowledge the impact of adequate selenium intake on human health.

According to various health experts such as Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D. (cardiologist, Harvard School of Public Health), and Phillipe Grandjean of the Environmental Medicine Department of the University of Southern Denmark, fish should be a part of a varied diet because of the important nutrients found in them. Dr. Weston A. Price who traveled the world in the 1930s to learn about the profound effect of traditional diets on human health found that populations who had access to fish and shellfish from the sea had excellent bone structure and integrity.

Scientists at the University of North Dakota found evidence that mercury levels in fish are much less of an issue than what health authorities have thought in the past. Researchers at the Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks discovered that selenium present in fish is just as present as mercury, and that fish containing more selenium than the heavy metal are perfectly safe to eat. This is because mercury is attracted to selenium and will bind to it. This attraction results in mercury being excreted from the body.

Dr. Nicholas Ralston

According to Dr. Nicholas Ralston, an EERC Research Scientist: “Selenium is an essential nutrient in healthy brain development and protects the brain from oxidative damage. More importantly, selenium protects the body from mercury’s negative effects. The more selenium in the tissue, the less mercury toxicity occurs. Since fish in some areas have much higher levels of selenium than mercury, the consumer receives the healthy benefits of selenium and a natural defense against mercury.”

Dr. Ralston also works with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and has observed that (southern) Flounder and (wild Pacific) Salmon (including Sockeye, Coho, and Chinook) have much higher selenium content than mercury. The study also revealed that that most types of shark, Pilot Whale, and Tarpon should be avoided, with Grouper being about even in selenium/mercury content.

He wants to see new standards in place for fish consumption advisories. According to a recent study conducted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, a new standard is being proposed by researchers called the Selenium-Health Benefit Value or Se-HBV, as a method of determining the safety of seafood.

The following types of fish have very high Se-HBV, and have been found to contain 10 to 25 times more selenium than mercury:

Albacore Tuna
Mahi Mahi
Yellowfin Tuna
Skipjack Tuna
Wahoo
Yellowfin Tuna

High quality servings of these fish will show a net decrease of mercury levels in the blood when accompanied by a healthy amount of selenium. In the Western Pacific study, only the Mako shark showed increased levels of Mercury over Selenium, while the Swordfish showed an even, 50/50 ratio of selenium to mercury.

Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride

From her research and clinical observations, Dr. McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, has learned through her research that if gut flora in the digestive tract is healthy, it will remove or chelate mercury out of the body. If gut flora is compromised, the body tries to compensate and this results in allergies, asthma, and inappropriate reaction to environmental toxins – including retention of toxins in the body such as heavy metals.

When we eat a diet of processed food, use toxic chemicals in our daily lives, and compromise our lifestyles in a manner which doesn’t support health, we put our bodies into a condition of compromise. Our gut flora is then also compromised. This situation sets the stage for a lifetime of chronic health issues.

Sources of chemicals come from everything in our environment: paints, carpets, clothing, furniture, personal care products such as cosmetics, perfumes, toiletries, soaps, toothpaste, pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs, dish and clothing detergents, household cleaners, commercial cleaners and other products, swimming pools (chlorine and bromine), and processed foods. The more you eliminate from your environment and replace with truly natural substances and real food, the better your body is able to deal with detoxification and keeping healthy.

Robert Disney, Environmental Scientist

Robert Disney works for a state regulatory agency and deals specifically with waste issues. How to dispose of toxic material is usually a challenge, and detonation is his favorite method. He has spoken at conferences such as The Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference about how important it is to consider the prevalence of methylmercury in the environment, including seafood, and the reasons why it does not pose a health risk when we consume seafood.

In his presentations, he has explained how methylmercury is a compound that results from the combination of mercury in its elemental form with various organic and inorganic molecules from the environment. It is the most toxic form of mercury in the environment. It is created by sulfate-reducing bacteria found in low-oxygen environments in estuarine (partially enclosed coastal water bodies with one or more streams or rivers flowing into it, and free connection to the open sea) sediments of lakes or water.

Scientists recognize that selenium is critical for all normal selenoenzyme functions in the body. These enzymes are produced in the cells of all animals. The creation of selenide is necessary for selenocysteine synthesis. Brain selenoenzyme activities normally occur uninterrupted, but the presence of mercury will actually stop selenoenzyme activity.

Methylmercury has negative effects on selenoenzyme activity and is especially detrimental to the developing fetus. Mercury binds to selenium better than any other element. Methylmercury toxicity impairs selenoenzyme activities in the brain. It is quite common for a person with mercury poisoning to show silent latency, which is a delay in the appearance of signs and symptoms.

Studies showing the positive effect of selenium on methylmercury in the body

The toxic side effects of exposure to mercury are well-documented and observed in scientific studies. The protective effect of selenium against mercury in the body has also been well-noted in all species studied, such as in rats. Metabolic systems of rats are similar to humans, which is why they are used in laboratory studies.

Selenium treatments in groups of rats were nearly identical, whether mercury administration was discontinued or not. In selenium-protection and therapy studies, observable consequences of methylmercury exposure are abolished even when high methylmercury exposures occur in five-fold excess of selenium.

One selenium molecule will take care of 5 mercury molecules. In one study, two rats received an adequate amount of selenium. One received no mercury and the other received a toxic amount of mercury. Both rats did very well [24].

The importance of eating fish as a source of selenium to health

Many diseases are linked to the lack of sufficient selenium in our diets. Selenium is important for enzyme activities in the brain and endocrine tissues, has highly a significant but less understood role in preventing certain types of cancer, and improving many aspects of immune system health. Deletion of this mineral from the diet results in severe neurological issues such as mental retardation and delays in development.

The presence of methylmercury is fairly high in the gulf region of the U.S. By coincidence, selenium concentrations are highest in water ways including lakes, rivers, oceans, seas, canals, with the Gulf of Mexico being one of these regions. Although methylmercury in these areas is higher than other places, so is selenium. Robert Disney points out, “Nature knows what it’s doing.”

Selenium is one of the lesser common minerals found on earth, but is critical for sustained function of 20-30 important enzymes needed for biological functions. Brain, nervous system function, and protection against oxidative stress are just a few of the important functions of selenium in our bodies.

Maternal methylmercury exposure in excess of selenium intake

Conventional health information recommends pregnant women avoid fish due to mercury content. These recommendations fail to take into account the presence of selenium in fish which can counteract the effects of mercury.

Eating fish is important for the development of the fetus because they considered brain food for human beings, not only due to its content of Omega 3 essential fatty acid DHA but selenium as well. Selenium also has a therapeutic and protective affect against growth impairment (a sign of mercury toxicity). A deficiency in selenium during pregnancy can lead to developmental issues in the fetus. In various studies involving humans, children’s brain health, behavior, mood, and learning were shown to greatly benefit from eating fish.

From the Energy & Environmental Research Center, the University of North Dakota, and Dr. Nicholas Ralston:

The Conventional Hypothesis states that maternal methylmercury exposures from seafood consumption are directly associated with adverse neurodevelopment outcomes in children.

The following table illustrates how out of eight countries where studies were conducted, the last four done in the Seychelle Islands, the U.S., the U.K, and Denmark show children benefitted from fish consumption. Results of these major human studies of maternal methylmercury exposure do not support the conventional hypothesis, and the most appropriate studies are in conflict with it.

Another hypothesis, the Selenoenzyme Inhibition Hypothesis, states that maternal methylmercury exposures in excess of selenium intakes are directly associated with adverse neurodevelopment outcomes in children.

The following table shows how the Selenoenzyme Inhibition Hypothesis is consistent and shows nothing in conflict with the results of the same studies conducted in eight countries to determine whether maternal methylmercury exposure in excess of selenium intake was associated with adverse child neurodevelopment outcomes.

In the publication Mercury-Dependent Inhibition of Selenoenzymes and Mercury Toxicity by Dr. Nicholas Ralston, Alexander Azenkeng, and Laura J. Raymond, there is an in-depth analysis and discussion of how “Selenoenzymes prevent and reverse oxidative damage in the brain and neuroendocrine system, but these enzymes are vulnerable to irreversible inhibition by methylmercury (MeHg).

Selenoenzyme inhibition appears likely to cause most if not all of the pathological effects of mercury toxicity. This biochemically based understanding seems to explain why certain tissues are affected by mercury, why the latency effect is unique to mercury poisoning, why selenium status is inversely related to mercury toxicity, why fetal exposures are so much more harmful than adult exposures, and why prenatal inhibition of selenoenzymes by high MeHg results in sustained loss of their activities.”

These results reinforce that maternal exposure to mercury which exceed selenium intake in the diet lead to brain and neurological disorders for unborn children.

Selenium for detoxification and as an antioxidant

Not only does selenium promote detoxification which benefits the immune system to aid in the removal of heavy metals such as methylmercury from the body, it also acts as an antioxidant which has strong anti-cancer effects.

In the early 1970s, scientists discovered that Selenium is incorporated into proteins to create selenoproteins, important enzymes that act as antioxidants (they destroy free radicals and prevent cellular damage which can lead to cancer), and also regulates thyroid function.

According to Robert Disney, symptoms of metal toxicity line up with what scientists have observed in an organism with selenium deficiency. Selenium sequesters heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead and prevent them from embedding themselves into cells. Various metals can react with other compounds, and take selenium away from where it is needed. When they bump into each other, it causes the selenium to not be used where it is needed in the body [24].

That’s where eating fish comes in: of the top sources of selenium identified by scientists, 17 of those are from ocean fish and provide enough to pull out mercury and also provide the organism with enough selenium to maintain health.

Studies from the Faroe Islands showing where mercury toxicity was an issue from eating seafood included samples of human hair taken from individuals consuming seafood included a large amount of pilot whales. In other words, the bodies of these whales contain far more mercury than selenium. In general, the majority of ocean fish have more selenium than mercury. So while it is best to avoid eating larger fish, eating what you catch on a pole should be considered a safe practice.

How much selenium do we need for good health?
The average person receives about 65 micrograms of Selenium per day. Two-hundred micrograms is considered optimal, while 400 micrograms is the maximum allowable daily dose. Although too much selenium is toxic to the body, most people are deficient due to the nature of our processed diets and depletion of selenium in our soils.

Where is selenium found in the world?

In the modern world, consuming too much selenium is very rare. The most abundant plant-based source of selenium in the world comes from Brazil Nuts. Areas including South America, most of Northern Europe, North America, Africa, Russia and China have little or no selenium in the soil. Geographically speaking, a lot of selenium is found on hilltops and higher regions in the geography, and it is always flowing downhill due to erosion and other natural sources (wind, rain).

The most abundant plant-based sources of selenium in the U.S. are in the mid-western states such as Nebraska, Arkansas, northern Iowa, and some lower mid-western to southern states such as Mississippi, eastern Kansas, northern Missouri, and parts of Wyoming and Montana where a large majority of grains are grown.

Due the industrial processing of grains and nuts, lack of adherence to traditional preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting, and fermentation of those foods to improve digestibility of nutrients, poor digestive health of the average person, and increasing damage to soil due to toxic, commercial farming methods, these reasons collectively contribute to why our population actually absorbs much less selenium than is needed for health.

To be able to absorb selenium from grains and nuts, the source of the food such as organic instead of conventional, healing the digestive tract with nutritious foods, and proper preparation is essential.

According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, M.D., “The soil conditions everywhere on earth in regards to selenium availability are worsening due to several factors. First, acid rain has been created from increased levels of sulfur and nitrogen in the atmosphere (due to pollution). This changes the PH of the soil, making it more difficult for selenium to bind to plant roots. Additionally, heavy metals such as mercury in rainfall quickly bind to selenium and form insoluble compounds Both of these problems lower the amount of selenium entering the food chain.” These are more reasons why consumption of fish as a source of selenium is so important.

Symptoms of too little selenium include: cancer, neurological and brain issues, heart disease, fatigue, stunted growth, high cholesterol, compromised immune system function, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency and sterility.

Symptoms of too much selenium include: arthritis, brittle nails, bad breath, hair loss, irritability, liver and kidney problems, tooth loss, jaundice.

Read about how much fish we should eat.

About Our Guest Author

Raine Saunders is a writer, researcher, blogger, and Holistic Health Coach with an emphasis in the GAPS protocol. To read more, visit www.agriculturesociety.com where she blogs about real, traditional food, sustainable farming, food politics, eco-friendly choices and recipes, natural remedies, and more.

This document was prepared for the Green Pasture Products website, producers of the only raw, traditionally fermented cod liver oil on the market. Green Pasture’s signature product Blue Ice Royal combines the superior nutritional benefits of fermented cod liver oil with high vitamin butter oil (the “Activator-X” component discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price in his travels during the 1930s which was virtually missing from modern, processed diets) to bring you a food that contains the most natural and potent forms of Vitamin D and also Vitamin A for optimal health benefits and support.

Children, pregnant and nursing moms need the immense nutritional benefits found in nutrient-dense foods like fish (and other seafood). It is easy to become concerned about warnings and other cautions issued by health authorities about heavy metals like mercury. Hopefully this research can put your mind at ease about this controversial topic and enable you to make decisions you are comfortable with for your family’s health.

Raine explains, “Every time I post this document somewhere, I get comments from those who are also concerned about radiation. My response is that we are exposed to radiation in our environment everywhere due to situations like the event that happened in Fukishima in March of 2011 and existing nuclear facilities. Most foods are said to be contaminated by radiation, so if we were to stop eating fish, should we then apply that same philosophy to all other nutrient-dense foods such as raw milk, grass-fed meats, and pasture raised poultry?

Fermented foods, bone broths, and other traditionally prepared foods from healthy, safe sources can provide our bodies protection against radiation damage.

For more information, read:
Safe Space Protection

Protection from Radiation Sickness, WAP, Dr. Thomas McCowan (right now WAP is having site access issues again, which I’m sure you are aware of, hopefully this will be resolved ASAP)

Radiation and Community Illness, WAP Joette Calabrese

References:

1.  Hodge, Linda, et al. Consumption of oily fish and childhood asthma risk. Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 164, February 5, 1996, pp. 137-40
2. Broughton, K. Shane, et al. Reduced asthma symptoms with n-3 fatty acid ingestion are related to 5-series leukotriene production. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 65, April 1997, pp. 1011-17
3.  Dry, J. and Vincent, D. Effect of a fish oil diet on asthma: results of a 1-year double-blind study. International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology, Vol. 95, No. 2/3, 1991, pp. 156-7
4.  Shahar, Eyal, et al. Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 331, No. 4, July 28, 1994, pp. 228-33
5.  Lawrence, R. and Sorrell, T. Eicosapentaenoic acid in cystic fibrosis: evidence of a pathogenetic role for leukotriene B4. The Lancet, Vol. 342, August 21, 1993, pp. 465-69
6.  Katz, D.P., et al. The use of an intravenous fish oil emulsion enriched with omega-3 fatty acids in patients with cystic fibrosis. Nutrition, Vol. 12, May 1996, pp. 334-39
7.  Schwartz, Joel. Role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in lung disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 393S-96S
8.  Simopoulous, Artemis. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 54, 1991, pp. 438-63
9.  Pepping, Joseph. Omega-3 essential fatty acids. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Vol. 56, April 15, 1999, pp. 719-24
10.  Uauy-Dagach, Ricardo and Valenzuela, Alfonso. Marine oils: the health benefits of n-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 54, November 1996, pp. S102-S108
11.  Connor, William E. Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 171S-75S
12.  Jensen, Craig L., et al. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation of lactating women on the fatty acid composition of breast milk lipids and maternal and infant plasma phospholipids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 292S-99S
13.  Makrides, Maria and Gibson, Robert A. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid requirements during pregnancy and lactation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), 2000, pp. 307S-11S
14.  Connor, William E., et al. Increased docosahexaenoic acid levels in human newborn infants by administration of sardines and fish oil during pregnancy. Lipids, Vol. 31 (suppl), 1996, pp. S183-S87
15.  Cunnane, S.C., et al. Breast-fed infants achieve a higher rate of brain and whole body docosahexaenoate accumulation than formula-fed infants not consuming dietary docosahexaenoate. Lipids, Vol. 35, January 2000, pp. 105-11
16.  Carlson, S.E., et al. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and development of human infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl, Vol. 88 (430), August 1999, pp. 72-7
17.  Mitchell, E.A., et al. Clinical characteristics and serum essential fatty acid levels in hyperactive children. Clin Pediatr (Phila), Vol. 26, August 1987, pp. 406-11
18.  Stevens, Laura J., et al. Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 62, No. 4, October 1995, pp. 761-68
19.  Levine, Barbara S. Most frequently asked questions about DHA. Nutrition Today, Vol. 32, November/December 1997, pp. 248-49
20.  Kalmijn, S., et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and cognitive function in very old men. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 145, January 1, 1997, pp. 33-41
21.  Kalmijn, S., et al. Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia in the Rotterdam Study. Annals of Neurology, Vol. 42(5), November 1997, pp. 776-82
22.  Yehuda, S., et al. Essential fatty acids preparation (SR-3) improves Alzheimer’s patients quality of life. International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 87(3-4), November 1996, pp. 141-9
23.  Robert Disney, Environmental Scientist, personal interview, February, 2012.

Robert Disney, Environmental Scientist, Mercury in the environment/Emerging waste water contaminants, live presentation, Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference, November, 2010.

How do you feel about eating fish and/or shellfish?! Did this article change your mind?

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Filed under Fertility, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

The Optimal Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers

Breastfeeding in a field of grass

Not all breast milk is created equal

Due to the fact that we’ve so often heard that “breast milk is best”, some are actually surprised to learn that the quality of a mother’s breast milk can vary depending on her diet. A mother’s diet determines the amount and kinds of fat in her milk. Babies need fat. It is essential for growth, especially for the development of the nervous system and of the brain, which is 60% fat.  As Kerstin Peterson explains in her article Top-quality breast milk: “A 1999 study in the scientific journal Lipids showed that breast milk could have a very wide range of fat content. Depending on their mothers’ diet, some babies get 2% milk, and others get up to 9%, the equivalent of table cream. Which babies are getting better nutrition? Lactating women on high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets have been found to experience a decrease in their milk fat levels, which is associated with infant neurological problems and failure to thrive.”

Recommended Diet

Here is the diet the Weston A. Price Foundation recommends for pregnant and nursing mothers. For further reading, we highly recommend the books Nourishing Traditions and Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care, available via our Amazon affiliation.

  • Cod Liver Oil to supply 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day.  Read about why Nourishing Our Children recommends fermented cod liver oil.
  • 1 quart (or 32 ounces) whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows. Learn more about raw milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows. See our complete list of recommended traditional fats
  • 2 or more eggs daily, preferably from pastured chickens [and preferably soy free]
  • Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc.
  • 3-4 ounces fresh liver, once or twice per week. If you have been told to avoid liver for fear of getting “too much Vitamin A,” be sure to read Vitamin A Saga.
  • Fresh seafood, 2-4 times per week, particularly wild salmon, shellfish and fish eggs
  • Fresh beef or lamb daily, always consumed with the fat – preferably 100% grass-fed
  • Oily fish or lard daily, for vitamin.  For oily fish, we recommend Vital Choice’s canned sardines and mackerel via our affiliate program, and love this recipe.  Nourished Kitchen teaches how to render lard.
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil daily, used in cooking or smoothies, etc. We recommend organic cold-pressed coconut oils such as Artisana, Garden of Life and Barlean’s.
  • Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages – such as sauerkraut and beet kvass
  • Bone broths used in soups, stews and sauces
  • Soaked whole grains
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits – preferably organic

Avoid

  • Trans fatty acids (e.g., hydrogenated oils) – these are in many of the industrially processed foods found in packages, cans and boxes, even if labeled 0% because of labeling laws*.  As such, it is recommended that you stick with foods that have a single ingredient such as: apple.  Trans fats can be cleared from a mother’s system in about two weeks if she avoids eating them and consumes traditional fats instead.
  • Junk foods – perhaps the term is an oxymoron. “There is no junk food.  There is junk and there is food.”
  • Commercial fried foods
  • Sugar
  • White flour
  • Soft drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Drugs (even prescription drugs)

Nourishing Our Children adds:

Important Warning

The Weston A. Price Foundation publishes this warning with their recommendations, “Cod liver oil contains substantial levels of omega-3 EPA, which can cause numerous health problems, such as hemorrhaging during the birth process, if not balanced by arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid found in liver, egg yolks and meat fats. Please do not add cod liver oil to a diet that is deficient in these important animal foods. It is important to follow our diet for pregnant mothers in its entirety, not just selected parts of it.”

Have you followed these dietary recommendations while pregnant and/or breastfeeding? How have they served you?

 

*The FDA’s guidelines for trans fat labeling allows companies to list zero trans fats when there is actually as much as 500mg trans per serving. That could be a lot of trans fat to unwittingly eat, especially if that food is a frequent choice.
Sources
 I  believe these are the 2 studies referenced in this article that I link to above:  1. http://www.bancodelecheantigua.com/docs/lipidos%20en%20leche%20humana.pdf
2. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11745-997-0137-6
Disclosure
Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.

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Filed under Babies, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods, Raw Milk, Recipes

Would You Eat Your Placenta?

Placenta Art

The Placenta.  

Often called the tree of life, it is an increasingly popular organ for modern women to eat after childbirth, and some have made art with it. Pictured above is one mother’s Placenta Art.

Following is a article Ozzie Ozkay-Villa wrote for Nourishing Our Children.

Have you ever watched a dog or other family pet give birth?  Yes it is exciting and cute and beautiful and all that fun stuff.  And then, IT comes out … bloody, gooey red blob.  Just when you thought it was over … they eat it!

Yes, the placenta.  The organ that nourishes your baby while he is in your womb.  Some call it beautiful, some call it gross, some gag at the mere thought of it.  If you ever get the chance to examine one- it’s actually quite fascinating; it looks like the tree of life!  Above all, one thing is for certain, it plays a miraculous and vital part in growing a fetus.

My name is Ozzie, I founded Alternative Mothers Group and am a birth and post-partum doula serving Marin County.  Not only do I attend births but I also take home this amazing thing we call the Placenta, and bring it back to my clients in pill form all wrapped up in a pretty little bottle.

All other mammals in the wild eat their placenta after the birth of their young.  As with much of our modern world,  we choose not to question why so much has changed from our roots – after all, we are animals too aren’t we?  Ok, I’m not expecting you to pick up your placenta and eat it right after the birth of your beautiful baby (although I do know women that have done this).  Yes, the animals in the wild eat it partly to clean up all evidence of a birth but they also eat it for many other reasons:

  • It contains lots of nutrients and hormones
  • It can help to balance your hormones and eliminate postpartum depression
  • It can increase energy
  • It can reduce your postpartum healing time
  • It can increase your milk supply and make richer milk
  • It can reduce symptoms at menopause

Specifically, the placenta contains high levels of prostaglandin which stimulates involution (an inward curvature or penetration, or, a shrinking or return to a former size) of the uterus, in effect cleaning the uterus out. The placenta also contains small amounts of oxytocin which eases birth stress and causes the smooth muscles around the mammary cells to contract and eject milk. Read more about placentophagy.

How to Eat Your Placenta 

You have some options if you are considering eating your placenta.  For any of these options you want to make sure you clean it really well before you ingest it.  Wash off all blood, cut off the umbilical cord and get as much of the sac off as you can.

Raw/uncooked:

It takes a particular personality to pull this off.  As I said before, it’s not as popular, and if you are having a hospital birth, I can assure you they are not going to let you do this immediately after.  If you are having a home birth, this is completely your decision.  Often times a midwife may suggest it as an option to stop excessive postpartum bleeding, although she does come with other tools in her bags if this should ever happen to you.

This can be done two ways – you can either cut off pieces of the placenta into tiny bits and swallow them (just like a pill).  Or you can blend it into a smoothie.  I would suggest using strong ingredients to cover the taste  if you opt for the smoothie version.  It’s been said by moms that have chosen the uncooked option that they experience an immediate rush of energy, so that’s pretty cool!

Cooked:

Another option is to cook the placenta as you would any other piece of organ meat.  You can pretty much do anything from stews, to pizza topping.  Again, go for bold flavors and lots of spices.  Since you’ll probably have a lot of whatever you cook (and since you’ll probably be eating it on your own) you might want to freeze some of it so that you can continue to take it should you feel down or anxious at all those first several weeks.  I would suggest freezing it in smaller portions, as any other frozen food, you don’t want to pull it out of the freezer and re-freeze it afterward.

Encapsulation:

This seems to be the more popular choice and is when you would call a “Placenta Processor” (or doula) to take care of this for you.  It is something that you can do on your own but with the madness of a new baby at home – trust me it’s not worth your time or energy.  It can be a very tedious and messy task and the equipment alone can cost about $200 which is close to what most Placenta Processors charge anyway.

There are two methods to encapsulation.  The first, more traditional, Chinese method is to steam the placenta, stovetop with a variety of healing herbs.  You then slice it up and place it in a food dehydrator until it’s crispy, usually 8-10 hours (at this point you could also eat it like beef jerky). You then grind it up in a coffee grinder until it turns into a powdery consistency and  put it into capsules that you can find at your local health food store.  You can also buy a capsule filling machine but again, they can be pricey and it is still tedious nonetheless.  The second method is to skip the steaming process altogether and go straight to slicing, dehydrating, grinding and encapsulating (this is also a “raw” option).

Tincture:

This is usually done in addition to encapsulation as the tincture can last for years and years if stored in a dry dark place.  It can be taken during times of sickness, PMS or high stress.  To make the tincture, you blend a small chunk of the fresh placenta with some high quality vodka.  Store in a mason jar for 6 weeks (give the jar a swirl every day).  Strain off the placenta with some cheese cloth or an unbleached coffee filter.  Not only that but it can also be given to baby in times of high stress or sickness.

[Editor's note - here is a resource for further reading: The Placenta Cookbook.]

It is not rare anymore to hear from the most mainstream of mothers that she is choosing to encapsulate her placenta with her second child for fear of suffering from Postpartum Depression again.  And, when you can get it in pill form – it doesn’t really even phase you!

That said, this is a very personal decision and not everyone feels comfortable making this choice.  There have been reports of mothers taking their placenta pills and feeling jittery and wired.

As with all pregnancy, birthing and parenting decisions, it is important to remember we are all unique and what works for one mother, may not work for another.  The best advice anyone can give you is to be open minded, do your research, then make an informed decision – whatever that decision may be.

About Our Guest Author

Ozzie Ozkay-Villa is founder and president of Alternative Mothers Group and works as a birth and postpartum doula serving Marin County.  For more information, or if you are interested in Placenta Encapsulation please visit her website.

Editor’s note

Eating one’s placenta is not without controversy.  

Here are a few articles I encourage you to read which highlight that point:

“I regret eating my placenta”

Dr. Andrew Weil condemns placenta eating

Demanding that new mothers act like four legged animals is going way too far.

Where do you land on the question – “to eat your placenta or not”? Have you done it?  What has your experience been?

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Filed under Babies, Childbirth, Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

Got Goat’s Milk?

Goat at Chaffin Family Orchard

Goats are among the earliest domesticated animals.

Please note: the research I did didn’t specify raw or pasteurized goat’s milk, however we would recommend raw goat’s milk for all the reasons we would recommend raw cow’s milk.

65%-72% of the world’s population drinks goat’s milk.  In many countries in the world, goat’s milk is preferred to cow’s milk.  Goats are naturally immune to diseases, such as tuberculosis, and are used in some countries to actually cure tuberculosis because of their inherent antibodies. India, Bangladesh and the Sudan are large producers. Even in the United States, the goat is gaining popularity. Goats eat less and occupy less grazing space than cows, and in some families the backyard goat supplies milk for family needs.

What does goat’s milk give you that cow’s milk doesn’t? Goat’s milk is believed to be more easily digestible and less allergenic than cow’s milk.

Goats at Chaffin Family Orchards

According to the Journal of American Medicine, “Goat’s milk is the most complete food known.” It contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids that are utilized by your body with ease.  In fact, your body can digest goat’s milk in just 20 minutes.  It takes 2-3 hours to digest cow’s milk. It contains relatively high levels of tryptophan, calcium, Vitamin D, phosphorus, Vitamin B2, protein, and potassium.

Goat at Chaffin Family Orchards

Excerpt from “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan S. Rubin. ‘You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants’ (Proverbs 27:27).

The milk consumed in biblical times differed much from the milk we consume today. The milk of the Bible came from cows and goats and was consumed straight from the animal (it was not pasturized or homogenized), or it was immediately fermented. These ‘live’ foods provide excellent health benefits in contrast to today’s pasturized, homogenized, often skimmed and ‘refortified’ milk, which is not only less nutritious but also can be potentially harmful and a major cause of allergies and even heart disease. (pg 147)

Goats at Chaffin Family Orchards

Dr. Sears disassembles goat’s milk, nutrient-by-nutrient, to see how it compares with cow’s milk.

Different fat. Goat’s milk contains around ten grams of fat per eight ounces compared to 8 to 9 grams in whole cow’s milk, and it’s much easier to find lowfat and non-fat varieties of cow’s milk than it is to purchase lowfat goat’s milk. Unlike cow’s milk, goat’s milk does not contain agglutinin. As a result, the fat globules in goat’s milk do not cluster together, making them easier to digest. Like cow’s milk, goat’s milk is low in essential fatty acids, because goats also have EFA-destroying bacteria in their ruminant stomachs. Yet, goat milk is reported to contain more of the essential fatty acids linoleic and arachnodonic acids, in addition to a higher proportion of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids. These are easier for intestinal enzymes to digest.

Different protein. Goat milk protein forms a softer curd (the term given to the protein clumps that are formed by the action of your stomach acid on the protein), which makes the protein more easily and rapidly digestible. Theoretically, this more rapid transit through the stomach could be an advantage to infants and children who regurgitate cow’s milk easily. Goat’s milk may also have advantages when it comes to allergies. Goat’s milk contains only trace amounts of an allergenic casein protein, alpha-S1, found in cow’s milk. Goat’s milk casein is more similar to human milk, yet cow’s milk and goat’s milk contain similar levels of the other allergenic protein, beta lactoglobulin. Scientific studies have not found a decreased incidence of allergy with goat’s milk, but here is another situation where mothers’ observations and scientific studies are at odds with one another. Some mothers are certain that their child tolerates goat’s milk better than cow’s milk, and mothers are more sensitive to children’s reactions than scientific studies.

Less lactose. Goat’s milk contains slightly lower levels of lactose (4.1 percent versus 4.7 percent in cow’s milk), which may be a small advantage in lactose-intolerant persons.

Different minerals. Although the mineral content of goat’s milk and cow’s milk is generally similar, goat’s milk contains 13 percent more calcium, 25 percent more vitamin B-6, 47 percent more vitamin A, 134 percent more potassium, and three times more niacin. It is also four times higher in copper. Goat’s milk also contains 27 percent more of the antioxidant selenium than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains five times as much vitamin B-12 as goat’s milk and ten times as much folic acid (12 mcg. in cow’s milk versus 1 mcg. for goat’s milk per eight ounces with an RDA of 75-100 mcg. for children). The fact that goat’s milk contains less than ten percent of the amount of folic acid contained in cow’s milk means that it must be supplemented with folic acid in order to be adequate as a formula or milk substitute for infants and toddlers, and popular brands of goat’s milk may advertise “supplemented with folic acid” on the carton.

Goat at Chaffin Family Orchards

Goats at Chaffin Family Orchards

Sources

Ask Dr. Sears

Cow’s Milk vs. Goat’s Milk

Overall Benefits

Photographs captured by Sandrine Hahn earlier this month at Chaffin Family Orchards

Have you tried goat’s milk?  What do you think? 

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Filed under Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods

How Do I know If My Raw Milk Source Is Safe?

Photo of Raw Milk on Donkey

Krista of MamaMuse writes … 

My family has been drinking raw milk for more than 5 years. I weaned my first child on raw milk and drank it throughout my second pregnancy. We have never been slightly sick from the milk we got while we lived in Oregon including our own fresh backyard goat milk. On the other hand, in these last five years, I have had a strong reaction to pasteurized/homogenized organic milk while on vacation in Canada.

In the mid Fall of 2011 we moved to Mexico. At first we lived without milk at all until I found some raw goat milk through a neighbor. We knew very little about the farm it came from. I wasn’t sure what to do.

Drink it raw or boil it a little, or wait to test it or something?

After some research I decided to try it ever so slowly and monitor any ill effects. We started with a teaspoon and waited 12 hours. Then we tried a ¼ cup and waited 6 hours. Then a ½ cup and after that we just drank it freely.

At one point, even after my test, I got so paranoid, I switched back to the pasteurized/homogenized (but hormone free) milk available at the store. I breathed a sigh of relief from all the worry and my kids immediately suffered from digestive upheaval. We all had gas and my youngest had full blown diarrhea. As soon as we stopped drinking the store milk he recovered. We were then in a new town and looking for a new source of raw milk.

One morning as we left the house for Tuesday Market, Fia spied a donkey in the street and we watched as it approached. It had a large metal can attached to each side and I recognized the sight from my internet research. It was the milk man! We asked about his milk and he said yes, he was carrying our precious leche cruda (raw milk). Yay!!!

The question remained, how was I to know if it was safe without testing it for pathogens and making lengthy farm visits (we didn’t have a car)? Was it possible?

So, what are bacteria anyway?

Bacteria are microorganisms that live on every surface you can imagine. They literally cover the world. They live on our skin and inside our bodies. Systems thrive by maintaining biodiversity and when this biodiversity is compromised (by disregarding Traditional Foods or introducing bacteria killing pharmaceuticals like antibiotics) the bad bacteria get the upper hand and make the organism sick. That’s the simple story. We pasteurize milk in order to compensate for two things: 1) the loss of biodiveristy in the milk and 2) the loss of biodiveristy in the milk drinker. According to Stephen Harrod Buhner,

“Regular exposure to pathogenic bacteria teaches our bodies and our symbiotic bacteria how to respond most effectively to disease and produces higher levels of health in later life.”

“There is emerging  evidence…that human beings are supposed to have…one or more species of intestinal worms that co evolved with us living in our GI tracts. People in developing countries who usually have these parasites rarely develop inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers have found that the worms engage in an intricate modulation of the bodies immune system that positively affects bowel health. When Americans were given the worms by a physician, a majority…experienced complete remission of the disease. In past years in developed countries, these parasites were assumed to be evidence of disease and killed with the use of pharmaceuticals.” Language of Plants

Human beings (and every other living thing on the planet) are dependent on bacteria for health, vitality, and longevity. Drinking pasteurized milk is only one of the foods we’ve denatured in modern industrial society, but it is one of the most important ones to recover. So, wherever you are here is what you need to consider when you decide to switch to raw milk from pasteurized milk, or when you are looking for safe raw milk in your community.

There are 3 things to consider about your raw milk:

Diet:

What your milking ruminant eats contributes greatly to the quality of its milk’s antimicrobial properties. Mike McAffee of Organic Pastures added ecoli to his 100% grass fed milk and it was overcome by beneficial bacteria. Ecoli, and other pathogens, die in milk from healthy cows. The same is true with healthy bodies. There are layers of protection. What are your milk animals eating?

Sanitation:

While milking our own goats we used only a brush to clean off any loose hairs that might fall into the milk bucket and warm water to gently wash their teats. We never used soap, chlorine, or iodine on the animals and cleaned the milking bucket with our farm-crafted soap and water. However, this is a minimal level of sanitation.

Disease:

Tuberculosis & Brucellosis are diseases carried by ruminants that can be passed on to humans though consuming their milk. Here in Mexico, we have not found a farm that tests for this. So what’s a girl to do? Well, we considered the evidence: tuberculosis is not a problem in Mexico in general, and microdoses of it are actually beneficial for the immune system. We took our lives into our own hands and went ahead and consumed the milk after using the At home Tests I will describe later in this post.

There are 2 things to consider about the raw milk drinker:

Bacterial Balance – first line of defense:

Bacterial balance in the drinker’s system is an important factor in raw milk drinking safety. If a person does not have experience with difficult bacteria as a result of living a very sanitized life or if they have a weak intestinal flora from eating the Standard American Diet, they will need to restore balance before their system can benefit from a micro-immune challenge.

Immune Strength and Vigor:

People with compromised immune systems will have more trouble consuming anything with diverse bacterial load and will need to re-build their immune function before they will be able to eat freely.

Xoco and the Duck Poo:

My son, when he was 6 months old, persisted in seeking out bits of dried duck poo and eating it. At first I didn’t realize what he was doing so I didn’t intervene until he had already ingested quite a bit! I fretted for an hour or so until my husband mentioned, “Oh he does that all the time. He’s fine.”

I thought about it and weighed the risks of his dying from ecoli and how horrible I’d feel. I conjured up a taste of facing my kids death and decided that since he had already been eating it for 24 hrs with no ill affect, I would allow him to continue unfettered. His poo eating phase lasted about 3 months and he showed no sign of any problem.

2 Tests you can do at home:

The Teaspoon test:

Try a teaspoon and wait a few hours to see if there are any affects. If, after drinking the teaspoon of milk, you feel fine, try a little more each serving until you feel safe to drink it freely. This is a test, but it is also small inoculation. If you have any difficulties, either step back and build your immune system in other ways and return to the milk later, or if your reaction was small, occasionally give your body that same small amount of the milk to deal with and it will start a micro-immune response to anything funky about the milk you’re drinking and your reaction will decrease over time. Work on healing your gut and slowly increase your raw milk intake in order to develop your immune system resilience and increase health and longevity.

The Clabber test:

Set out a ½ cup or so of milk in a warm place (under 90º) and let it clabber. Healthy milk will smell and taste sour, but not rotten. A rotten smell can be a sign of an imbalance of bacteria (though we have drunk lot’s of milk that didn’t pass the clabber test but we knew was safe from other criteria). If it clabbers and smells wonderful, you have good milk. If you are sure your drinker is also strong, then go ahead and enjoy your milk!

Free Range Kids

At this point I want you to know about a woman who lets her 8 year old ride public transit alone. She blogged about it and found herself under attack and invited to appear on national TV.

Apparently her decision was that controversial. Now her blog is all about debunking the cultural myths that interfere with raising independent, savvy, and creative kids. Check it out, and start choosing the good over the safe.

In the end it is your decision and one that you have to live with. These are just some ideas and guidelines as counterpoint to an alarmist, death fearing, disconnected world. If you find yourself worrying about your decision, consider doing some healing work to clear a space for your own connectedness and instinctual (Soft Animal) knowing.

Krista – MamaMuse

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mister Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But Aslan is good. He’s the King I tell you.

~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
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Thank you so much for your guest blog, Krista!  I am excited to read the comments

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Breastfeeding Smoothie

“My Breastfeeding Smoothie” written by Katie Louderback

We know how essential it is to nourish ourselves while breastfeeding.  However … 

the reality of mothering sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions.  We are often pulled away from meeting our own needs in order to respond to the needs of our babies and/or children.  As the mother of two small children, I know this well.

I found myself able to make a nourishing breakfast but then I struggled to eat much of anything between breakfast and dinner.  I felt the resulting swings in my blood sugar and I wanted to nourish myself and my baby more completely.  I came up with this simple smoothie to give myself some nutritional insurance on really hectic days.

While the foods in the smoothie are simple, they are packed with nutrition to support a nursing mother.  The coconut oil, yogurt and eggs are all healthy sources of saturated fat to support a growing baby. The coconut oil also bestows boosted immunities for ourselves and our babies and its been shown to help our bodies burn fat and aids healthy weight loss.  That is certainly not why I drink it – but it’s not a bad side effect for a postpartum mama!  The ingredients also provide essential vitamins A and D and minerals including calcium and iron.

I make it (or on lucky days my husband makes for me) and drink it as a snack mid-morning and then again in the afternoon.  It keeps my blood sugar stable when my lunch gets delayed or just doesn’t happen for the day and I know it’s helping me nourish a growing baby.

Breastfeeding Smoothie Recipe:

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup of raw milk yogurt (homemade)
  • 1 raw pastured, preferably soy-free egg (these eggs taste delicious and since they come from a family farm 10 minutes from my house – I feel very comfortable eating them raw)
  • ½ a cup of aloe juice
  • About ¼-½ cup of fresh, organic seasonal fruit (or frozen if necessary)
  • Add any filtered water to make desired consistency

Optional: I have also added spirulina at times to give myself an added boost of greens for the day. I know many people that add cod liver oil to their smoothie. I take fermented cod liver oil separately and don’t like the taste mixed in my smoothie but if you’re finding it hard to get your CLO down each day it might be a good idea to add it in.

Nourishing ourselves as breastfeeding mothers is so important and sometimes it can be a challenge. I can get caught up in how much time it takes to prepare traditional foods especially when I feel my time is limited right now. I know this is a very simple recipe but I wrote this post as a reminder (to myself as well) that sometimes nourishing ourselves and our babies can be simple.

I am also curious if others have some great recipes they want to share!

About the Author

Katie Louderback, NC, serves as one of Nourishing Our Children’s volunteer presenters. She has spent most of her working life supporting families.  She began her career in the field of social work with families. Since that time she has shifted her focus into teaching prenatal yoga, being a birth and postpartum doula and a Certified Nutrition Consultant. She was a vegetarian for almost 10 years and it wasn’t until she experienced many health issues that she questioned the wisdom of that approach for her body. Dealing with her own health issues increased her interest in health and diet. However, it was preparing for her first pregnancy that she was introduced to the principals of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Since that introduction, her health has continued to improve she has dedicated herself to learning more, cooking traditional foods for her own family and sharing the wisdom of traditional foods with other families.

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Filed under Nourishing Our Children, Nutrient Dense Foods, Recipes