The Children’s and Teen Health Summit

I am so excited! My friend sent me a link to some free presentations around children and teen health and parenting issues, although many of the topics would be of interest to non-parents too! There are new presentations available every day for a week and we are currently on day 3. Each talk is available to watch for 24 hours but there is also the option to purchase all 30 presentations. I started listening to a couple yesterday and just had to share. I feel that parents can be so easily convinced to do things a certain way to make sure they are seen to be doing a good job and bringing up well-behaved children, or simply because they lack the confidence to follow their own judgement, but really, we need to look deeper within ourselves and question what is really best. We must be responsible for our own lives and health and be aware of the impact our choices have on our precious children which means questioning the brainwashing information that is all around us that we often blindly accept. Many of the talks discuss hot parenting topics such as unconditional love, our expectations of our children, learning and education, relating to our children, attachment, family life, diet, pregnancy and health and well-being. Yesterday I listened to Naomi Aldort, author of “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves” and found very much in line with my existing attitudes. It talks about how to change our behaviour as parents in order to change our children’s behaviour. However, she points out that this is not about manipulation but about allowing the child’s natural unfolding of the mind through nurturing, which results in natural co-operation without the need to control. Parents who say their children are behaving “badly” are more likely to behaving in a way that is provoking this “bad” behaviour due to their own experiences as a child or their idea of what it means to be a parent. When we address this our children will show dramatic shifts in behaviour and life is more harmonious all round! She also touched upon the topic of household chores, which I found quite amusing being subject to a rota of chores myself as a child! Could you stop telling your child to do chores completely? This morning I listened to another discussion, “The Fearless Parent” with Louise Kuo Habakus. This particular talk touches on plenty of health issues including illness, homotoxicology and vaccinations, but the theme is that as parents we should be making informed choices and educating ourselves on ours and our children’s health. It is about putting you in the driving seat and making confident choices without fear. One topic which really interested me was wifi. I have known for a while now that EMF radiation can be damaging but it really hit home just how damaging it could be and how much more vigilant we need to be with reducing our exposure. Children absorb up to 10 x radiation than adults due to immature skulls that facilitate absorption. There have been links to leukemia, brain tumors, infertility and neurological problems. Other countries in Europe are starting to ban wifi in schools whilst we are ignoring the warnings and exposing our children to more and more of this radiation, through mobile phones, tablets, wifi and more. It baffles me why a toddler needs to play on a smartphone anyway but sadly I see it all the time. If I told you that EMF radiation from these devices has been classified as a group 2b possible carcinogen (cancer causing) and that this classification is the same level as exhaust fumes, lead and DDT pesticide, would you think about taking steps to reduce your child’s exposure? You can switch off the wifi in your house, turn off your mobile phone and set limits on their own time on these devices and you WILL be making a positive change and reducing their exposure levels. Yes it is all around us, but we can take measures to reduce their direct exposure. Just like you wouldn’t want them standing behind a car exhaust breathing in all the fumes 24/7 but you would probably be happy for them to walk around a busy town with lots of cars…the closer they are to to point of radiation the more effect it will have, so start in their home environment.

Having a look at the schedule it looks like there are loads of interesting topics coming up that I am desperate to hear. Day 4 there will be a whole talk regarding the EMF radiation I have discussed. To access the presentations click here. If any of the talks resonate with you I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Why we won’t be wasting our holiday money on sun cream

SL270745I have always loved sun bathing, I could literally lie in the sun all day long. Luckily I rarely burn, but having Poppy has, once again, made me swot up on my knowledge, in this case with regards to sun exposure and what our safest and healthiest options are.

I already knew that I wouldn’t want to be using a regular high street brand sun cream on Poppy, due to the endless chemicals they were bound to contain. But for those of you who are unfamiliar with these chemicals I urge you to go and check the labels, and make better choices. That is, if you decide to use sun creams at all; I will explain why we will be using very little sun cream during our holiday to Italy and why we have only used it once or twice during the hot English weather we have been so lucky to have had recently.

What is the problem with regular sun creams?

Where do I start? Increasing research is indicating that rather than protect against skin cancers, sun creams can actually increase your chances of getting cancer. There is more than one reason for this.

IMG_0597First of all it is simply the chemicals that are used in sun creams, many of which have been found to form formaldehyde and other cancer causing substances when mixed with other ingredients. I am not going to list ingredients here or reference studies, but there is loads of info out there, so if you don’t believe me go and have a look yourself. Some ingredients in your sun creams may be linked to cancer and others produce free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which I am guessing is highly likely if you are applying SUN cream?! Vitamin A is in many sun creams, look out for retinyl palmitate and retinol, and when exposed to sunlight this speeds up the development of skin tumours and lesions. On top of this, considering the skin absorbs 60% of what is put on it, I don’t like the idea that sun cream contains parabens, which are not only suspected carcinogens but also disrupt hormones, increasing your risk of breast cancer and altering male sperm count. Artificial scents added to sun creams also contain hormone disruptors which can accumulate in breast milk! No thanks! All of the nasty ingredients in sun creams can be absorbed into the blood, as well as potentially causing allergic reactions and skin irritations.

Some creams are worse than others, and the next paragraph may surprise you. Hands up if you use higher SPF’s if you are going to hotter places? Or if you know you will be in the sun for a long period of time? I used to! Research shows that first of all a lot of these high SPF’s didn’t actually live up to their claims during testing, and offered much lower protection than they advertised. But, more interestingly, the SPF number is not a good indication of the UVA protection. To understand what this means you need to understand the science of the sun a bit better.

There are two types of rays which we are interested in; UVA and UVB. Both are capable of causing damage but we know less about the dangers of UVA rays. What we do know is that they penetrate much more deeply than UVB, and as I will talk about in a minute, UVB can actually be incredibly beneficial to us in that it is the best source of Vitamin D we can get. In fact until recently sun creams only offered protection against UVB rays, so we were blocking the good stuff (Vit D) and letting in the bad. Sounds pretty scary to me! So back to these high factor sun creams which we all assume offer higher protection. They actually still allow many UVA rays through, because these are very difficult to block. However, in order to increase the protection against UVB these creams must contain larger amounts of chemicals. So ultimately the increase in chemicals could increase your risk of skin cancer, and seeing as there is absolutely no evidence that high SPF’s reduce your chances of cancer at all compared to lower ones, surely you are better off choosing a lower concentration of chemicals to smother all over your skin, aka lower SPF creams. Better still, opt for a more natural sun cream, or only use one if you absolutely cannot avoid staying out in the sun without covering up. If you can avoid it, there are much better options.

Better protection against harmful rays:

Covering up with loose clothing provides very good protection against the suns harmful rays. We are planning on taking plenty of light clothing that we can cover Poppy up with whilst we are away, for the times that we feel she has either had enough sun or when we know we will be out in it for a long time. Of course there will definitely be a sun hat on that list too. As well as that, the most sensible thing to do is to seek shade when you feel you have had enough sun, which I admit is something I never used to see as an option. I wanted the best possible tan, but was unknowingly putting my health at risk because I felt safe with my high factor sun cream on. In fact, research suggests that people who use sun cream the most are more likely to develop skin cancer, perhaps because of this false sense of security. SPF 50 does NOT provide double the protection of SPF 25. Please don’t be tempted to stay exposed for twice as long, you are only letting more harmful UVA rays through and are more likely to burn because of your trust in the product that just can’t live up to expectation. Even if you don’t burn, do not assume that no damage has been done! You may find that your children will naturally seek shade and allowing your eyes to measure the strength of the sun accurately, i.e. without sunglasses may help you and your family instinctively know when it is time to get under the umbrella or go inside. For the time when we really cannot control sun exposure we do have a more natural sun cream, which we will apply to our faces and anything that cannot be covered up. However, this is the last resort rather than our number one essential. There are plenty of alternatives to sun cream, which I have not had the chance to research properly. Oils that have naturally high SPF’s, for example raspberry seed oil, can be an excellent, 100% safe alternative that I will definitely switch to in the future.

Having said that, there is another method of sun protection that can be very effective in preventing the damaging effects of the sun. A sun tan! So do not lose all hope, you can still come back from your holiday with a healthy, sun kissed glow. A sun tan is our bodies natural mechanism to protect its cells from UV radiation. But the way in which you get this sun tan is key. You must build it up gradually, which we have been doing ever since the sun decided to shine down on us this Spring. As soon as you are exposed to the sun, you produce melanin, the pigment that makes you darker, which collects on the sun-facing side of the cells, acting as efficient little umbrellas and protecting the cells against UV rays; in other words preventing mutations that could cause skin cancer. It makes perfect sense to me. Our bodies are amazing machines, and surely we are able to cope with being out in the sun, we used to be hunters and gatherers! Interestingly, people who work outdoors have a decreased risk of melanoma, compared to those who work inside and are exposed to sun rays through glass, which absorbs UVB and lets most UVA pass through. It is true that once you have a sun tan it is less likely that you will burn, at least that is certainly the case for me. But because we have less exposure to sun these days, it is important that you do not go from no sun at all to an exotic holiday where you stay out in it all day before your body has built up it’s protection. Even with a tan you must still be careful. The sun is stronger than ever and whilst there are many benefits to sun exposure, you must treat it with respect.

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Major benefits of sun exposure: 

As I have already mentioned, UVB rays are the best form of Vitamin D available to us. Unfortunately many people are severely lacking in Vitamin D, and Vitamin D deficiency is often found in sick children and associated with the worst outcomes. Vitamin D is good for balancing hormones, boosting your immune system, fighting disease and loosing weight. That’s right, loosing weight! Have you even noticed how you just don’t feel as hungry when you have been in the sun, like when you are on holiday? That is because Vitamin D regulates the hormone that is responsible for appetite control. By applying sun cream BEFORE we go out in the sun we are preventing ourselves from getting any of the amazing benefits of Vitamin D that we all so desperately need. In fact, we are making our bodies far less able to fight the very cancers that we are all so wary of getting in the first place. Higher levels of Vitamin D have been linked to better survival chances amongst cancer patients. For this reason, we have decided that we will expose Poppy, and indeed ourselves, to direct sunlight with no protection whatsoever for a certain amount of time at every opportunity. Now, the amount of Vitamin D you are able to produce will vary according to the time of day, where you live and your own body, so I cannot tell you how long you should stay in the sun unprotected. The best thing to do is cover up or seek shade as soon as you notice even the slightest hint of pink on your skin. This could be 5 minutes or it could be 45; everyone is different. After this point your body will not be able to produce any more Vitamin D. It is worth noting though, from what I have read, that it may be unwise to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm as we are so often told to do, as this may mean you miss the window for optimum Vitamin D production.

Other benefits of sun exposure are probably more familiar to you. A release of endorphins, which may be particularly welcome if you suffer from SAD, an increase in energy and effective treatment of skin diseases (my eczema always clears up on holiday), amongst many other things. It seems backwards to me to believe that something that can make us all feel so healthy on so many levels is going to kill us. So whilst I will be much more careful than I was before, I will never stop worshipping the sun completely!

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Gradually Going Green – Part 3 – My Make Up Bag

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It has been a while since my last gradually going green post! Today I am going to tell you what basic natural make up I use. Not all of my make up is natural or organic, but that is because I have a lot that I don’t want to throw out! There are some things that I only wear on special occasions, such as eye shadows, so I am not too worried about these. I was also given some gorgeous nail varnishes and lip gloss for Christmas, and seeing as I don’t wear these on a daily basis either it doesn’t matter that they are not natural. The only make up that I wear every day is foundation, blusher and mascara. And as foundation covers your skin I made this a priority! You can’t change everything immediately, and that would cost a fortune, so it is best to choose the most important things to you.

So here is my every day make up:

P1030397Foundation: Lavera Natural Liquid Foundation, available online. I love this foundation. It isn’t as heavy as other brands I have used, so might not be good if you like thicker foundations or very good coverage. It blends well though and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry like every other foundation I have ever had! It cost about £10 so it isn’t even more expensive than good high street brands.

Mineral foundation, blusher, bronzer: Color Revolution, an American brand. I got this set of 3 mineral powders from TK Maxx for about £7, and I’m not sure if you can find it for sale elsewhere in the UK. But there are loads of mineral make ups out there! I personally didn’t want a powder foundation, so I use this as a powder after applying my liquid foundation, which works well. I love the blusher and the bronzer and they are all lasting for ages. They are easy to blend too.

Mascara: Green People, Volumising mascara, available online. I love love love mascara, I couldn’t live without it! And this is actually one of the best I have had, and I have tried a lot! It isn’t as thick and so doesn’t give you a really dramatic look, but it highlights every single lash and you never get any clumps! It wasn’t expensive either.

Eye liner: Beauty without cruelty, natural mineral soft kohl pencil in carbon black, available online. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Doesn’t smudge and is a good price.

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Fake Tan: Lavera, self tanning lotion. I have only used this two or three times so far. It was good, didn’t streak at all or smell bad. But it wasn’t that dark either. If you want instant bronzed goddess look for a night out this probably isn’t the best option, but if you are looking for a natural, gradual tan it does the trick.

And that is it for my green make up! I got most of mine from naturisimo online which has a huge variety and I got 10% off my first order!

 

Cloth Conundrum!

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I have edited this post after realising I really was thinking out loud and it was mostly a load of irrelevant rubbish! The (mostly) important bits:

We have come to the point where we need to invest in some new real nappies, as Poppy’s covers no longer fit her. At first I was excited to get shopping! I waited for the Little Lambs sale because I had seen some pocket nappies, but for some reason I thought were 100% bamboo inside with the waterproof cover, but when they came they were full of microfiber and it would have been the only material touching Poppy’s skin! If you use cloth nappies you may already know that you want to try and avoid microfiber close to the skin as it can dry out their sensitive skin and cause god awful rashes, and you probably guessed by now, I really wanted all natural material in the most important places. Bummer. Time to start again!

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I have thought. I have googled. I have thought some more. I am totally stumped. All of the one size fits all, pocket nappies or all in ones contain microfiber or other synthetic materials, and it is usually touching the babies skin. So I started searching ‘bamboo nappies’, ‘organic nappies’, ‘natural nappies’, ‘nappies made with unicorn hair and rainbows’ …you get the idea. Unfortunately we are not rich. Right now we are quite the opposite! So when I had another facebook notification to say that Little Lambs would be having another sale later this month, which is going to include a bamboo kit for £99 (20 nappies and 6 coloured covers plus extras) I decided that could be an option. These are shaped bamboo nappies, so they go on just like a disposable but then you put the cover over the top, which is where you get to give your babe a nice colourful bum!

So I asked about the bamboo material in their bamboo kit, thinking I had cracked it, only to be told that to make a better quality, non-pull nappy, the bamboo is woven into polyester. Doh!! They said it was a miniscule amount…but even so. Polyester is bad, microfiber is bad, can’t I just wrap her up in a cloud?! And then it suddenly occurred to me, for the first time ever, that although I have been using bamboo and cotton inserts, Poppy’s covers are all synthetic materials and seeing as the prefold’s don’t cover her whole bum, her skin will be touching a fair amount of the cover as well. I honestly don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, I am so careful about what I put on her skin. With all of the major nappies out there being made with nasty materials, it is difficult to realise there is any other option. But of course some of the most water resistant, absorbent, comfortable, hygienic and breathable materials are natural. If I am going to invest in new nappies, shouldn’t I use it as a chance to switch to the best possible nappies for my precious girl, and for the environment? Yes, that’s what I thought, and so my quest began.

As I said before we are not rich, and this route is not the cheapest. But I have a problem, it is something I am working on; when I know there is a healthier choice, I cannot knowingly chose anything less, even if it means digging in to my savings, and especially when it comes to Poppy. I am trying to remind myself how much money we are saving by using washables, and the fact that I will use them with number 2, and who knows, number 3, means that they are definitely cost effective in the long run.

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So my options are:

  • Continue using the cotton prefolds we have – but these do go stiff when washed, they were second hand and have probably seen better days and they could be more absorbent. We will never be able to use these at night.
  • Keep the bamboo inserts (these are 100% bamboo) that came with the pocket nappies from Little Lambs (and try and sell the pockets if anyone is likely to want pockets without inserts?!) – they are very soft and I like the bamboo inserts we have been using on the Close Parent Pop-in’s, although I have now read that apparently the ‘naturalness’ of bamboo materials is questionable due to the processes it goes through. Sigh.
  • Replace my prefolds with organic prefolds…cotton, bamboo, hemp?
  • Mother-ease organic nappy, all in one and does up much like a disposable. But these would cost a fair amount as I would be starting a brand new collection. In comparison to the bamboo kit Little Lambs are offering for example, at £99 for 20, that is a fiver per nappy. These are the same concept, but no nasty’s, for roughly £12 each.
  • Buy terry nappies – I am sure that our grandparents really did have the right idea! People are scared of them but I have watched a few YouTube videos and they look easy enough. Especially now you can get Nappi Nippa’s, so no need for safety pins. You can buy them in cotton and bamboo. Can you buy hemp terry’s?
  • Learn how to sew and make my own….

Clearly the last one is not an option, and all of the others will then require some cover consideration! Do I go for:

  • Isme Visme or other organic cotton covers (I can’t find many!) – do these go over terry cloth nappy’s or prefolds or both?
  • Use a full nappy, such as the Mother-ease, with a synthetic cover, knowing that at least it won’t be touching the skin. I could buy Little Lambs wraps for about £35 for 5. This isn’t my favourite option, and seeing as I don’t need tons of covers, maybe 3 to start with, I would rather just spend that £35 on 3 organic ones and build up my collection if and when I need to.
  • Wool covers, usually handmade on ebay or etsy, beautiful and expensive. I am intrigued by these, and would love to know people’s experiences, because to be honest I am a little daunted by them! I know that wool is an amazing thing. They say these covers do not even need washing for weeks at a time?! This would be incredible!! But how about prefolds, I guess you can’t use them with these as they are more pull on pant style? I have seen some Disana ones which are more wrap style, would a bamboo prefold work in there? And what is that process, lanolising? It all sounds very complicated to me, but I would love to hear that I am wrong. I think wool would be my first choice if it was simple and a little cheaper…as it is I am really on the fence. At around £20 per cover if I didn’t get on with them I would be pretty miffed. Having said that if they really don’t need washing often maybe I would only need two? HELP!

Maybe I could knit my own covers, if I took a few more lessons off of my Nan. At least I would know exactly what they were made of!

I feel totally overwhelmed and rather frustrated that by trying to do what is best for Poppy and the environment I am in fact met with more chemical conundrums. When I was pregnant we just bought the first I saw for sale, Bambino Mio, because someone was selling them dead cheap. In hindsight I am relieved they were cotton and not synthetic, and maybe it is a good thing that we are now so used to prefold’s whilst other people find them fiddly. Yes I love the funky designs and yes inserts that pop in place or slip into pockets are simple. Having tried the Close Parent Pop-in’s for a few weeks and seen my friends using modern cloth nappies, I was starting to steer in that direction. But the whole concept of cloth nappies is based on greener living, and surely by keeping up with trends and consistently aiming for an easier, more convenient real nappy, we are actually producing more and more synthetic nappies…isn’t that how disposables came about in the first place?

Which makes me question the whole philosophy. It is real nappy week and we are all being told to ‘Go Real’, so tell me, how ‘real’ do you go?

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Super Saturday Breakfast

ImagePoppy’s tooth still hasn’t cut through, and she was up a lot in the night. Nothing will settle her, not even Mummy’s milk, so I was feeling very sad for her. She woke up this morning in a slightly better mood. I, however, am feeling rubbish! This lack of sleep definitely isn’t helping my body fight the ickyness, so I needed a good breakfast to give it a helping hand. I am hoping this fresh juice and delicious porridge will do the trick, with the juice boosting my immune system and the porridge pushing me through my day of studying!

Immune boosting juice:

1 or 2 apples

1/2 cucumber

A good chunk of ginger (for all it’s immune boosting super powers!)

1/2 a lemon

2 or 3 carrots (for their vitamin C)

Put all of the ingredients through a juicer and enjoy! The ginger is very strong so if you are not fighting illness you can use less of this, but I needed it’s goodness today.

Super Porridge:

Organic porridge oats (I blitz mine in a mini blender because I prefer them finer which makes a creamier, comforting porridge!)

Coconut milk

1 big teaspoon coconut oil (melted in when heating)

1 tablespoon honey

2 dates and 2 dried apricots, chopped

Cacao nibs

Chopped pecans

Shelled hemp seeds

Milled flaxseed

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Put all of the ingredients into the pan and heat slowly, stirring often. I haven’t put quantities as you can just put as much or as little as you like and of course you can leave out anything you don’t like or add extras such as different dried fruits or nuts.

But this combo was absolutely delish!

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Gradually Going Green – Part 2 – Bathroom

I promised I would write a post about our natural bathroom products, but I have been so busy time has disappeared. Poppy was poorly too, which was horrible and then I was fighting it. Now she is teething and crying 90% of the day, so I have barely had a chance to sit down and write. I should be doing my essay now, and considering I just wrote this post once and it deleted all by itself, I am feeling pretty fed up, so I am going to write this quickly. Apologies for any typos and a lack of creativity in my writing!

When buying bath and shower products try to make sure they are certified organic or at least read and understand the labels well. Many mainstream brands claim to be natural and use enticing phrases such as ‘Plant power’ and ‘Mother nature’ but they are still full of the nasty chemicals you want to avoid. Call me sad but if I am unsure on an ingredient I google it!

P1020575Shower gel: I use Urtekram Brown Sugar shower gel and I love it. I was bought 2 bottles for Christmas and have just under 3/4 of one bottle left. It is more expensive than average shower gels but a little goes a long way. It feels lovely, smells good and produces a good lather. 500ml costs around £7.50. Again I am ashamed to say I usually look on Amazon for good prices, but natural shower gels are available all over the internet or in health stores.

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Shampoo and conditioner: I have Urtekram shampoo and conditioner too, but have recently bought some Faith in Nature shampoo because it was a ridiculously good price at the time (£2.50 for 500ml). The Urtekram comes in 250ml bottles and you can find those for around £4.50, whilst the Faith in Nature is usually only slightly more expensive for double the amount. However, I must admit I prefer the Urtekram shampoo! It lasted me 3 months so I don’t think cost is too bad.

Bath smellies: There are natural bubble baths out there I’m sure, I just haven’t got round to trying them. But I do love love love natural bath melts! Tim got me some for Christmas and I have been addicted ever since. My Christmas ones were relaxing lavender and gorgeous patchouli. They leave your skin feeling amazingly silky, but they are oily so you might not want to wash your hair in the bath when using them. Alternatively you could just add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your bath. This is a great idea for baby, it will create a stronger association between bath and bedtime, especially if you put a drop on their pillow at night too. I also love this idea because when you can’t fit in their bedtime bath the familiar scent on their bedding will ensure they still understand it is time to drift off because of that association. Use lavender or chamomile to relax them and send them into the peaceful land of nod.

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Toothpaste: We use green people toothpaste. It contains no fluoride, no nasties. It is more pricey than big brand toothpastes; I managed to get 2 tubes for £3.50 but it is usually £3.50 per tube, and they are not that big. It doesn’t taste half as minty as normal toothpastes but your teeth feel just as squeaky clean afterwards. I have also started oil pulling, which is a way of eliminating toxins from you mouth. You basically swish oil (coconut is good) around your mouth for a good 15 minutes and then spit it into the bin, rinse with salt water and clean your teeth. Sounds bizarre but apparently it is a brilliant way to detox with people claiming all sorts of amazing results, it can whiten your teeth and can even cure a hangover!!!

Hand soap: Our local health food shop stocks loads of natural hand soap and I picked some up the other day for £1.90. Before this I had some seaweed and dead sea salt soap from Wikaniko which I really liked. I chose it because I used to use dead sea salt for my eczema as a child, and now the only place I ever get eczema is my hands so I thought it might help. Despite my expectations the soap was surprisingly creamy. It cost £4 a bar so was quite a lot but I would still recommend it.

P1020588Deodorant: Deodorants are awful. There are strong links between deodorants and breast cancer, and the chemicals inhaled from spray deodorants or anti-perspirants are scary. In fact I was interested to discover after Tim had been in hospital with an irregular heartbeat, that the ingredients of his daily anti-perspirant was known to cause heart problems and even heart attack. Needless to say he no longer uses it. There are a few brands that do crystal salt deodorants. It is roll on but you apply it to wet skin, or wet the stick first and it lasts for months and months! It is unscented which takes some getting used to, but I will be making my own natural perfume when I have the time!

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Moisturiser: I use coconut oil on my skin and Poppy’s too. I even use it to remove my make up! Ocassionally I pinch a bit of Poppy’s organic baby lotion if I need to get off stubborn eye make up, but I will be doing a separate post on baby products soon. You can invest in all sorts of lovely natural lotions, but in my opinion it is unnecessary when coconut oil has a million and one uses!

I think that is it for bathroom. When cleaning the bathroom I use all of the same stuff I posted in my kitchen post! I will be writing posts on my beauty products and baby products soon so stay tuned! For now it is time for me to open a bottle of…I mean open my textbook!

 

 

Gradually Going Green – Part 1 – Chemical Free Kitchen/Utility

I am going to be writing several posts about the everyday products we use in our house. The things that most of us use on a daily basis are full of nasty chemicals, and it can be overwhelming trying to make the change to a greener lifestyle. I have done it one step at a time, replacing things when they run out, with healthier, organic or chemical free versions. I hope these posts will make it easier for you to do the same, without feeling totally confused. There are loads of organic cleaning products out there, but you really don’t need to spend a fortune on anything special. So here is my list of kitchen essentials for the beginner:

ImageWashing up liquid: This is one I am thinking of changing. I have been using Ecover, which is a better option for a beginner, however it does contain SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate) which is something you really want to avoid. Apparently it hasn’t always contained this and people who have used their products for a long time are very disappointed as it is clearly advertising itself as an eco friendly green product. Once I have replaced it (soon as we have almost run out!) I will let you know. But if you want to make a better choice than your standard options this is available at major supermarkets and is good value.

 

All surface cleaner: I use white vinegar for every surface in the house. Because it is acidic it kills germs and bacteria and despite what you may think it won’t leave any scent after a few minutes. It is really cheap and I just pour it into a spray bottle to use all around the house. For a quick wipe down of kitchen work tops I will just use vinegar on it’s own, but you can add other things listed below for a more substantial clean. I also use vinegar to clean the fridge, and wash the shelves in hot water with washing up liquid.

Stubborn work top grime and cooker gunk: White vinegar with bicarbonate of soda. You can sprinkle the bicarb onto the muck first and then spray the vinegar over. I leave it to fizz for a few mins before wiping clean. Use a scourer for more stubborn dirt, but bicarb is very effective at cutting through grease and grime. I found it hard at first to find large boxes of bicarb but you can buy bigger boxes from Wikaniko (online or through a distributor) and it is cheap. The stuff you buy for baking works exactly the same though! Image

Sink: Again I often use more of a paste on the sink by mixing the vinegar and bicarb. This also works well on taps with limescale. For the plug hole you can get rid of nasty smells using half hot water and half bicarb. It should be quite thick to help unblock the pipes.

Floor: White vinegar, hot water and lemon juice. Lemon is another great natural cleaner as it is a disinfectant, is acidic so kills germs, has a mild bleaching effect and smells lovely! Neat lemon juice is great for stains (even on fabric with a little salt!) and grease. There are plenty of uses for lemons in your cleaning regime, and I would use them more but to keep costs down I keep things simple.

Essential oils: If you want to make your house smell nice then adding essential oils to your cleaner is a brilliant idea. Lavender or orange are both lovely, whilst tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and may be preferable if you like that familiar clinical clean smell that comes with chemical filled cleaning products!

Oven: For inside your oven, where it gets really mucky, bicarb is a must. I hate to think of using oven cleaning products from a bottle,  which will leave a chemical residue which will then be heated along with your dinner, not nice. Again a nice thick paste with white vinegar and a scourer does the job. I told you that you really don’t need much variety in your cleaning cupboard!

ImageWashing machine: I have recently started using soap nuts and I am very impressed. They release a natural soapy residue and are also a natural softener, so you don’t need to use a separate fabric softener (although I never did anyway.) No, they don’t get every single tough stain out, but you can find instructions on google for making your own detergent with them and using that on stains before washing as normal. I haven’t tried yet but will do soon. They are about £9 for 1kg, and you only need 4-6 soap nut halves in each wash. I think it works out as something like 350 washes, so excellent value. They do not give your clothes that freshly washed smell, but again we have only become accustomed to that because of all the rubbish in normal detergents. You can use essential oils in your wash if you miss the smell, but I have got used to it quickly.

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Soap: I like a liquid soap in the kitchen, and because of the fact that you are preparing food it should be naturally antibacterial. So once again tea tree comes up trumps. This soap is by Faith and they have a great range of products, at reasonable prices. I always recommend looking online, because as much as I hate to admit it amazon do usually have the best prices. You can get these products in good health shops but you may pay a little bit more.

Coming up next will be part 2 – Chemical Free Bathroom! All of you everyday bath and shower products, but greener!

EASY Homemade Natural Baby Wipes

I was so excited when I saw someone comment on another blog that I follow, with instructions on how to make your own baby wipes with coconut oil. We have always just used cotton wool on Poppy, but now that she is starting to eat it would be really useful to have some wipes handy to clean those sticky fingers (and face, arms, legs, back, feet….the joys of BLW!) However, the organic wipes are rather pricey and not often available on the high street as far as I know.

I am definitely not going to start covering my baby in nasty chemicals and already swear by coconut oil for its million and one uses, so I just had to give this a go. Honestly, it is so simple, I urge you to have a go too! Your baby’s delicate skin will be grateful!

1. Cut a strong kitchen roll in half so that you have two smaller rolls (This was the hardest part of the whole thing!). Put one aside to use another time.

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2. Warm 15 fl oz water in a pan and melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil in. (Do not boil!)

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3. Pour the mixture into a container with a lid, big enough to squeeze the kitchen roll into without leaving too much room. I used these glass jars I had lying around which I think came from Tesco for about £2 each, but they were probably a bit big. Image

4. Place one half of the kitchen roll into the container, close the lid and tip the container upside down to cover the whole roll in the liquid (or turn it round a few times if like me you used a big container). Leave to soak in for a while.

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5. Remove the cardboard inner tube from the roll, and pull out your first wipe from the centre.

That’s it! You can add essential oils if you want to but you wouldn’t need a lot. Leave the wipes in the container with the lid on to keep them fresh. I will let you know how long ours lasts for, but I have read that they can go moldy and so don’t make too many at once and store in a cool place.

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Holy cow!

If I were to offer you some of my breast milk what would you say? I mean I would put it in a glass first. Or I could mix it with some fruit and whack it in the freezer to make some ice cream? Still a no? And yet no one seems to bat an eyelid at the fact that we consume the equivalent from a cow on a daily basis! Dairy is not designed for humans and the more I read, the more convinced I am that we shouldn’t be consuming it on such a large scale. 

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Since eliminating dairy from my diet over 5 months ago I have noticed a lot of positive changes. The biggest of these is the improvement, in fact complete eradication, of my chronic eczema on my hands, as well as much clearer skin on my face. I only really appreciated this when I tried reintroducing dairy for one day over three weeks ago; my hands are still healing as a result. I had dry cracked skin, open wounds that would not heal and tiny blister type things all over my right hand. I also broke out in spots. On top of that after consuming dairy I noticed stomach cramps and a severe headache, as well as feeling very lethargic. Having read up on the subject it seems I am not alone, and worse still dairy may increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other ailments.

Interestingly Poppy didn’t seem to react in the same way she used to, (crying in pain, struggling to pass stools and breaking out in severe nappy rash were a few symptoms) which was initially a relief, but I still believe that dairy will probably do more harm than good to us both if I do decide to reintroduce it permanently. Unsurprisingly our bodies struggle to break down the milk that is designed for the baby of a different species, a species that has a different digestive system, diet and nutritional needs to us. Cow’s milk contains way over double the amount of protein than human milk. If we look at the two proteins found in milk, casein and whey proteins, we see that cow’s milk contains a vast amount more casein than human milk, and a lower ratio of whey proteins. Casein is difficult to digest, it is even used to make glue, and it is linked with a range of diseases and allergies, including type 1 diabetes. Excess protein causes changes in a babies blood PH balance, weakening their immune systems and making them more prone to infections. It is clear too see why we are advised not to give infants cows milk. Cows secrete rennin which breaks down casein, but most adult humans do not, which helps to explain why many adults also suffer digestive problems due to dairy.

Let’s move on to lactose. Around 75% of the worlds population is lactose intolerant, which to me says a lot about the suitability of dairy for human consumption. Yes there is lactose in breast milk (so be careful if you are told that your baby is lactose intolerant, it is more likely the proteins causing problems), but most of us stop producing the enzyme that breaks down lactose at around 5 years old, suggesting that we should no longer be including lactose in our diets.

milkYou may still feel that dairy is perfectly good for you but then perhaps more worrying is the way in which cow’s milk is now mass produced. Like most types of non-organic farming you can bet your bottom dollar that these animals are not having the happiest of lives. Once you get past the disgusting living conditions that many of the animals are subject to, you are then faced with the reality of exactly how these animals continue to produce milk month after month after month. Well first of all they have to continue to be pregnant, and so are pumped full of hormones and artificially inseminated. They spend most of their lives pregnant, which you will know if you have ever been pregnant yourself, is going to put a massive strain on their bodies. They become exhausted from the weight and producing ridiculous amounts of milk which makes their udders unnaturally heavy, putting pressure on their legs. To counteract the problems that are obviously going to arise from this process, the cows are then pumped full of antibiotics to treat a long list of inevitable infections including mastitis. In the end the cows are rendered useless and killed at about 4 or 5 years old, many years before their natural lifespan. Cows today can give 25 times more milk per year than they did 50 years ago. This is achieved with drugs, hormones, antibiotics, forced feeding plans and specialized breeding. Would you be happy taking drugs, antibiotics and hormones regularly whilst breastfeeding your baby? Probably not, but we are consuming another mammals milk which potentially contains plenty of them.

Of course I’m not saying it easy to cut out dairy completely. I spent at least a month feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I was overwhelmed by food labels and going out to eat anywhere was a no no. But gradually I got used to it, I purchased a great recipe book, and found lots of dairy free versions or alternatives to our regular shopping basket items. I will write a post about these soon. The most common concern when eliminating dairy is where you will get your calcium from. Contrary to popular belief the calcium in cows milk is much less easily absorbed than calcium in other foods, and some people even believe dairy increases the likelihood of osteoporosis. I haven’t felt the need to supplement my calcium intake in any way; my healthy, balanced diet already contains plenty of easily absorbed calcium.

I admit I miss chocolate and cheese, I used to eat so much cheese! And no doubt when we are in Italy later this year I will indulge, but aside from the odd holiday I can see this being a permanent lifestyle change which I feel very positive about. I have enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, I feel healthier and happier than ever before and am slimmer than ever before despite eating like a horse. A couple of my dairy free treats can be found here and here. I am curious to see if my hay fever is reduced this year on my diary free diet.

For more information I found this very interesting, but a bit of a long read, or look here for simple facts.

A note for breastfeeding mummies: The proteins in dairy do go into your breast milk, despite what your doctor may tell you, just like alcohol and other substances do (of course your doctor and health visitor may warn you about consuming too much alcohol, but dairy, no way, must be colic!) If you suspect that your baby has intolerances then trust your instinct and do your research, it is well worth the effort. Also, a lot of babies with this intolerance are also intolerant to soy which we soon discovered was the case with Poppy. This is called Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI). 

Credits image (top right): Jelle (CC) Credits image (bottom left): saltaylorkydd (CC)

TLC: With no additives or artificial sweeteners because your baby is sweet enough!

With Poppy suffering from her first cold at 6 months old, I wanted to share some information about a very popular children’s medicine, which could do more harm than good. I think people often turn to medicine unnecessarily to simply feel like they are doing something. The truth is that a lot of the time all your baby needs is a little TLC.

Ingredients (straight from the label today) in a very popular children’s medicine (you know the one!):

  • E420 (Sorbitol): It’s use is prohibited in infants under 1 as it may cause severe diarrhoea. (note that use of any sweeteners is prohibited in foods for infants and young children, clearly they are considered unhealthy and yet we give them in medicine at the very time we want to help make our child healthy again)
  • E214 (Ethyl parahydroxybenzoate): suspected hormone disruptor, Banned in France and Australia. Not recommended for consumption by children.
  • E216 (Propyl parahydroxybenzoate): A preservative commonly found in lotions, shampoos etc. Suspected hormone disruptor and allergen. Possible contact allergen. Banned in France and Australia. Not recommended for consumption by children.
  • E218 (Methyl parahydroxybenzoate): A paraben preservative that is a suspected hormone disruptor and allergen. Banned in France and Australia. Can cause asthma, insomnia and skin problems. See next ingredient for more information on this
  • E122: This chemical compound gives the medicine that pink colour and strawberry flavour but it is a suspected carcinogen (cancer causing). Banned in Austria, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the US. Can cause allergic reactions , water retention and rash and is also associated with asthma and insomnia. Not recommended for consumption by children. Both E122 and E218 have been linked to hyperactivity, and the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group identifies them as likely causes of hyperactive behavioral disorders in children.
  • Maltitol (E965): This is an artificial sweetener, and is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhoea and excessive gas.
  • Paracetamol: I haven’t even taken painkillers myself for a very long time. I found this on another website, “One of the commonest causes of liver failure in the UK. If it were submitted for licensing today it would not gain the approval of the UK’s Committee on Safety of Medicines as an over-the-counter drug. It has been associated with kidney damage and asthma. Some researchers caution against using drugs to block fever in case it interferes with normal immune development in the brain, resulting in neurological disorders in susceptible children” (Green Health Watch News).

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Credits image: donnierayjones (CC)

If you need more reason to stop using this medicine then please take a look at this interesting article highlighting the shocking results of a recent study into this over used children’s medicine: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2421533/Babies-given-Calpol-just-month-times-likely-develop-asthma.html

“Those in the younger age group who were given the medicine at least once a month were 5.4 more times likely to have asthma and those given it just once a year were 70 per cent more at risk.”

Of course there are many things you can do to help your poorly child naturally, such as homeopathic remedies, plenty of fluids and good foods. I will post more about this another time, but just remember that in almost all cases a fever is a GOOD thing. It shows that your child’s body is working hard to fight the illness. By using over the counter meds to bring that temperature down you will only mask the symptoms but prolong the illness as you prevent the body from fighting the infection. If the fever is particularly high you may want to try and reduce it by cooling the child down. Of course all other symptoms should be taken into consideration and a very high fever in a baby under three months should be taken seriously. For more information on child illness and fever, Dr Robert Mendelsohn’s ‘How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor’ is a good, common sense book.

Disclaimer: The above advice is my personal opinion, based on my own research. Whilst I am confident with my research and our decision not to use these products, I am not a doctor and you should make an informed decision on what to do if your child is unwell.