5 scientifically proven ways to reduce the risk of your children developing allergies

We are often told that allergies and allergic asthma are inherited disorders and that there is probably nothing that can be done about our children developing them as they grow up. Well, the more we learn about genetics, the more we are coming to realise that genes can be switched on or off due to environmental triggers. When your baby is in utero their DNA is very susceptible to environmental signals, which is why it is so important that you understand how your choices will affect your children’s health down the track. 5 recent scientific studies looked at links between maternal food intake and environment and infant/child outcomes for asthma and allergies

 

  1. Taking the right probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and L. rhamnosus HN001 have both been studied and found to reduce the incidence of eczema in children born to supplemented mothers. L. Rhamnosus HN001 was also effective in reducing allergic disease (diagnosed by skin prick test) in children born to supplemented mothers. Probiotics are bacteria that when consumed send healthy signals to the immune system – discouraging a ‘rampant response’ like we see in allergic conditions. It is likely through this action that probiotic consumption by mums helps reduce allergic issues in children. Mum’s are advised to start with these specific probiotics at least 3 months prior to birth and continue through breastfeeding[i].
  2. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum – high maternal sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of allergy and allergic asthma. Children of mothers who consumed the highest amount of ‘free sugar’ (sugar added to cooked foods, honey, syrups and fruit juice), compared with the lowest amount had a 38% increased risk of allergy and 101% increased risk of allergic asthma[ii]. Women in the lowest group consumed 1.6-34.0 g sugar per day vs women in the highest group who consumed 82.4 – 345.1 g sugar per day.
  3. Avoid plastics – in mothers who’s urine was examined for phthalates, the concentration of phthalate found directly correlated to occurrence of allergic asthma in their children. Researchers think that the plastic chemicals switch off genes required for regulating the immune system and this might be how plastic exposure is linked to allergic asthma[iii].
  4. Get dad healthy before you start trying – Fathers who have been smokers have 3 times higher risk of having children with early-onset asthma than those who have never smoked. In this article, the authors suggest that the amount of time the father have quit for prior to conception does not necessarily influence the risk of the outcome for the child, but we do know that we can positively influence gene expression with a super healthy diet, lots of nutrients and stress reduction. This same article noted that paternal exposure to welding also increased the risk of asthma[iv]. Make sure that you have both of you on a comprehensive preconception program for 3-6 months before getting started with baby making.
  5. Eating nuts – research shows that eating peanuts (so long as you don’t have an allergy to them) during pregnancy may reduce the risk of nut allergies in your children[v]

So keep in mind that you do have an influence over your children’s health outcomes. We certainly do not know everything that will have a positive or negative effect on our babies, but we can use the information that we do have to make informed decisions to get the best possible outcomes for our little bundles of joys.

[i] Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi Het al. Lancet 2001;357(9262):1076-9.

[ii]  Bedard A, Northstone K, Henderson, JA, Shaheen SO. European Respiratory Journal. 2017:50; 1700073

[iii] Jahreis S, Trump S, Bauer M et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2017.

[iv] Svanes , Koplin , Skulstad AM, et al. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2016

[v] Frazier AL, Camargo CA, Maslpeis S, et al. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013

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10 ways to get better sleep

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be very frustrating and becomes draining over time. Here are some safe, easy and tried and true strategies for getting you the deep, restful slumber that your body so desires:

  1. Avoid stimulating activities at night time – this includes working (!), playing on your phone, watching TV and even vigorous exercise.
  2. Turn off your screens – aside from being mentally stimulating, the wavelength of light coming from your phone and computer screen tells your brain that it is wake time and will inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily
  3. Avoid stimulants later in the day. The magic time to stop drinking tea or coffee is different for everybody, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after midday. For some people that even means putting the chocolate bar away as these contain caffeine too. Try rooibos tea if you are used to a black tea or dandelion to replace coffee – it’s not the same but it is a great substitute. Also, be sure to limit your overall coffee intake to 1-2 single shots per day
  4. Get some exercise – burning up some energy during the day is a great way to allow your nervous system to relax and help you get into a healthy sleeping habit. For some people, night time exercise can be too stimulating, so getting your walk or run in the morning is probably best.
  5. Write lists of things you need to do tomorrow and leave them at work. Often we cant sleep because we are thinking of all the things we need to do at work (or at home). By writing a list, we are letting ourselves know that we have thought of the things that need doing and by leaving it where is belongs (at work), we don’t have to mentally take work home with us and think about it as we try to fall asleep
  6. Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts an essential oils. I recommend ½ -1 cup Epsom salts and lavender oil to calm the body and the mind
  7. Try some relaxing herbal teas after dinner – favourites are chamomile, valerian, passionflower and lemon balm – these help to calm your nervous system ready for sleep
  8. Switch your phone to flight mode – so that your sleep is not interrupted by text messages or emails and to reduce the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) coming from your phone sitting on your bedside table – EMFs are known to disrupt brain waves and sleep patterns
  9. Turn the lights down – bright lights tell the brain that it is day time and that you should be awake. Have you ever noticed how when you go camping, you fall asleep easily at 9pm even though at home you can stay awake till 11pm no worries? Part of the reason for that is the lack of artificial light when you are camping – try and recreate this effect in your home. After dinner and the clean up, switch off your overhead lights and use lamps or candles instead.
  10. Try some sleep hypnosis – there are hundreds of these on youtube and for use as aps on your phone. I suggest finding a hypnosis with a voice that you like and then downloading it to your phone so that you can listen as you drift off and still have your phone wifi switched off to avoid the EMFs. Hypnosis gives your brain something to focus on so that it can easily drift off into sleep without getting caught up with thoughts that could keep you awake.
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5 Possible Signs of Thyroid Trouble

Many people experience symptoms of low thyroid function despite their blood tests showing that everything is normal.  Generally, thyroid screening tests such as TSH will only pick up the more serious cases of thyroid disease, but even mild dysfunction and sub-clinical hypothyroidism can cause debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, low mood and stubborn weight problems. It is possible for your thyroid tests to read normal at the same time as your body making antibodies which attack your thyroid.  Below is a list of possible signs your thyroid could be in trouble.

  1. Weight Changes – Sneaky weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite a good diet and plenty of exercise is the most common complaint among people with an underactive thyroid or sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
  1. Debilitating fatigue, depression and anxiety are some of the most disruptive symptoms of poor thyroid health.
  1. Menstrual Irregularities & Fertility Issues – Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility as well as sub-fertility and menstrual problems such as absent or heavy bleeding.  In a recent study, a total of 394 infertile women visiting an infertility clinic for the first time were investigated for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Of 394 infertile women, 23.9% had an underactive thyroid. Int J App Basic Med Res 2012;2:17-9
  1. Hair & Skin changes- if you have started to notice your skin become dry or rough, your hair feeling course, dry, brittle or falling out more than usual, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some help.
  1. Family History – If you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.   Some older family members may refer to thyroid problems as gland trouble or goiter, or may suggest their weight problems are glandular.

Why should you be concerned?  Low-normal thyroid function is more of a heart attack risk than smoking, cholesterol or hypertension.  Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is linked with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Low-normal thyroid function contributes to 60% of heart attacks!

According to the Australian Prescriber, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs in 10% of the adult population and 90% of these cases are autoimmune. ie. where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.  Women are approximately 7 times more likely than men to suffer with hypothyroidism and it commonly occurs 2-12 months after childbirth or around menopause.

Feel more energetic and enthusiastic, lose weight naturally and reduce your risk of ongoing health problems with the professional help of your Naturopath.

Written by: Anne – Marie McDonald B.Nat

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