Mommypotamus 2015-08-28T03:24:00Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/WordPress Loriel Adams http://www.naturallyloriel.com/ <![CDATA[Trail Mix Poppers (Nut-Free)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35843 2015-08-26T17:19:33Z 2015-08-26T17:04:19Z Note from Mommypotamus: More and more schools are going nut-free due to anaphylactic allergies, which can make snacks and lunches tricky for families who are grain-free. Even the potami, who are homeschooled, face this challenge at our once-a-week Classical Conversations meetups. That’s why I’m so excited to share this recipe from my friend Loriel – you can [&hellip

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nut-free-trail-mix-poppers-in-lunch-box

Note from Mommypotamus: More and more schools are going nut-free due to anaphylactic allergies, which can make snacks and lunches tricky for families who are grain-free. Even the potami, who are homeschooled, face this challenge at our once-a-week Classical Conversations meetups. That’s why I’m so excited to share this recipe from my friend Loriel – you can check out more of her delicious ideas at Naturally Loriel

You know what goes perfectly together?

Little chubby fingers and bite-sized finger foods.

There really is nothing cuter than seeing your baby’s little fingers start grasping for foods, then watching as their skills evolve over time. You don’t realize how quickly they move through this developmental stage until you turn your head and find someone has swiped some morsel off your plate that you were so looking forward to eating. Either it’s your cat or your kid and both of them look equally suspicious.

One thing you quickly learn about little fingers and bite-sized finger foods is that they tend to go everywhere. No matter how many mini-sized containers you give them to hold all the little bits and pieces of food, they always ends up on the floor mushed between your toes, in between the seats in the car, in your bed, and yes, sometimes even in your hair.

Not like I have any experience in any of those, especially the last one… 😉

Even though the mess is not totally containable, there are ways to help reduce it by combining favorite finger foods into one piece, i.e., these nut-free trail mix poppers – these no-bake oat bitescherry pie energy bars, and sour gummy snacks are, too.

It’s basically your favorite — and totally customizable — trail mix compounded together with honey in cute little “popper” balls and rolled into shredded coconut. Little fingers + little poppers = super cute.

nut-free-trail-mix-recipe

Since the school year has started for many of us, I thought this would be a perfect time to share this dual-purpose recipe. Dual because it works great for little ones at home but it also makes a fantastic snack to pack in school lunches. It’s low in sugar, has nourishing fats like coconut, and the dried fruit can be substituted for whatever your kids enjoy eating. Also, I created this specific trail mix recipe to be nut-free due to the huge number of children that now have anaphylactic reactions to nuts. Because of so many kids being allergic to nuts, many schools are becoming nut-free to keep everyone safe.

If there is no worry about nuts in your school or if you’re going to keep these snacks at home, you can easily substitute the sprouted seeds for almonds. You’ll still want to follow the directions as if you were using the seeds, but with nuts instead. To get even more mineral absorption out of your nuts, you’ll want to soak and dehydrate them first.

Please be mindful of what types of foods may serve as choking hazards to your little ones and never give your child any food that they are incapable of eating safely.

One last thing, these poppers also work as a quick and easy breakfast! Add a little bowl of full-fat yogurt and you’ve got yourself a yummy, fuss-free way to start your day.

nut-free-trail-mix-poppers-snack

Trail Mix Poppers (Nut-Free)

Makes 15 one inch poppers

Ingredients

Instructions

Place seeds in a food processor and pulse 10 times. Add coconut chips and fruit to the food processor and process until dried fruit and coconut are minced. Add honey; pulse 5-10 times or just until blended.

nut-free-trail-mix-poppers-mixture

Using a shallow bowl, add shredded unsweetened coconut to it and set aside. Using your palm and fingers, shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Roll balls into shredded coconut. Store in an airtight container.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Himalayan Salt & Vitamin C Adrenal Tonic]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35819 2015-08-26T06:25:07Z 2015-08-24T19:00:26Z If you had a superhero name, what would it be? Me? I’d be a villian – the Salt Bandit. Ask anyone in my house, and they’ll tell you that when the salt shaker goes missing all eyes turn to me. It’s no surprise, really. As I mentioned in 15 ways to be kind to your adrenals, salt can [&hellip

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adrenal-fatigue-drink

If you had a superhero name, what would it be?

Me? I’d be a villian – the Salt Bandit. Ask anyone in my house, and they’ll tell you that when the salt shaker goes missing all eyes turn to me.

It’s no surprise, really. As I mentioned in 15 ways to be kind to your adrenals, salt can be helpful in supporting optimal adrenal function, which is something I’ve been working on for the past year.

Today I’m going to share a tip from Dr. James Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. I can’t really call it a recipe since it’s so simple, but I’ve found it incredibly helpful in my journey.

Are you ready? Here it is: Lightly salt your water. Yep, that’s it. 

I also add vitamin C and will explain why later, but for now let’s stick with the salt. You see, “one of the main functions of the adrenal glands is to retain salt,” and that’s an important job because, historically, we didn’t always have easy access to it. (source) These days, though, we can provide the body with a steady supply, which keeps salt levels in the blood at the proper levels while reducing the workload on the adrenals.

So how much salt, and when?

Here’s what Dr. Wilson has to say:

“Water poses a specific problem for people with adrenal fatigue because they tend toward dehydration but can easily over dilute the circulating electrolytes (sodium, potassium and [chloride]) in their blood by drinking too much water. The balance of sodium and potassium significantly affects the symptoms experienced by people and drinking plain water alters this balance . . . To help balance the ratio of water to sodium try adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (sodium chloride) to every glass of drinking water. You will probably find that the lightly salted water actually tastes better than regular water if your adrenals are low because the salted water is more beneficial to your body. If you are feeling especially draggy or fatigued, add more salt to the water. If you have an aversion to salted water, then you probably need less salt or no salt in the water. Too much salt in the water will make you nauseated so adjust according to taste.”

As you can see, a lot of it is based on your body’s response. When I began my healing journey I put a heaping 1/4 teaspoon in just about every glass of water, but over time I intuitively started using less. These days, I typically drink salted water or bone broth first thing in the morning and around lunch time, plus a pinch when I happen to remember.

What about potassium?

With adrenal insufficiency, potassium tends to be high while sodium tends to be low. The adrenals have to work to keep these two in balance, so practitioners such as Dr. Michael Lam, author of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, suggest avoiding high potassium foods. (source)

While certain electrolyte-rich drinks – coconut water for example – are wonderful in general, they are not generally recommended for individuals with adrenal insufficiency due to their high potassium content. Other foods that are high in potassium are bananas, dried figs, raisins, dates oranges and grapefuit. (source)

cure-for-anything

Why Himalayan salt?

Unlike table salt, and even sea salt that is produced by evaporating sea water, Himalayan sea salt contains trace minerals that act as “spark plugs” for the adrenals.

“Many trace minerals act as coenzymes, so-called catalysts in chemical reactions. That means they function as spark plugs, getting chemical reactions going without actually being changed in the process. That’s important, because our bodies are giant laboratories, where billions of chemical reactions are taking place all of the time.

Trace minerals play roles in your body’s production of neurotransmitters, biochemicals that send messages through your nervous system; in the production of major hormones secreted by your thyroid and adrenal glands; and in your body’s ability to burn carbohydrates and fat for energy.” (source)

Other varieties that also contain trace minerals, such as Celtic sea salt or Real Salt, are good options as well.

Optional Add-In: Vitamin C

“Of all the vitamins and minerals involved in adrenal metabolism,” writes Dr. Wilson, “vitamin C is probably the most important.”

Though they don’t necessarily have to be taken simultaneously, I’ve personally found it convenient to incorporate Vitamin C into my Himalayan Salt Adrenal Tonic.

But not just any vitamin C. “Vitamin C, as it occurs in nature, always appears as a composite of ascorbic acid and certain bioflavinoids. It is this vitamin C complex that is so beneficial, not just ascorbic acid by itself. Bioflavinoids are essential if ascorbic acid is to be fully metabolized and utilized by your body.” (source)

Opinions are split on how much is optimal – some recommend mega doses for those who need adrenal support, while others suggest that excessive doses could deplete other nutrients in the body. Conservative recommendations usually run in the 500-600 mg range, which is what I take. In times of stress or illness I may increase my intake for a few days, but most of the time it’s in that range.

What kind of vitamin C?

As I shared in my post on making creamsicle gummy snacks, many vitamin C supplements that claim to be “derived from sago palm” or something else may sound like they’re natural, but often they contain at least some synthetic C.

For a truly food-based source, I rely on dried fruit powders, preferably those that have been dried at low temperatures to preserve vitamin content. One of my favorites, acerola powder, has substantial levels of vitamin C and bioflavinoids plus naturally occurring pantothenic acid and magnesium, which aid in absorption. However, because I feel it’s important to rotate supplements every once in awhile, I also use baobab fruit powder and a few others. You can find the brands I buy on my shopping page.

Now, as I said at the beginning of this this is pretty much an UNrecipe, but here’s how I pull all these recommendations together in my daily life.

Himalayan Salt And Vitamin C Adrenal Tonic - It's so simple it can only be called an un-recipe, but this tip from Dr. Wilson's book - Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome - has been SO HELPFULl for me.

Himalayan Salt Adrenal Tonic

Ingredients

  • tall glass of water (about 8 ounces)
  • ¼-½ teaspoon Himalayan or other unrefined sea salt (adjust to taste, less is fine)
  • Whole food-based vitamin, optional (you can find the dried acerola powder I use on my shopping page)

Instructions

Many practitioners suggest lightly salting every glass of water, which I did in my early days of healing. Now I typically add salt and vitamin C in the morning when I wake up and at midday, plus a pinch throughout the day when I remember.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[15 Ways To Be Kind To Your Adrenals]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35732 2015-08-23T21:40:38Z 2015-08-19T17:50:28Z Do you ever secretly wonder . . . If elves have found a way to siphon energy out of you – like gasoline smugglers out of a tank – while you sleep? Are you already wishing for a nap by the time you finish breakfast? I get it. As a mom of three and do ALL THE THINGS [&hellip

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Last year my DO ALL THE THINGS approach to life caught up with me, and I shared with you that I was struggling with adrenal fatigue. I promised to update you as I discovered tips for helping the adrenals thrive - here are my top fifteen.

Do you ever secretly wonder . . .

If elves have found a way to siphon energy out of you – like gasoline smugglers out of a tank – while you sleep? Are you already wishing for a nap by the time you finish breakfast?

I get it.

As a mom of three and do ALL THE THINGS kind of person, I sometimes try to take on more than I should. Last year that approach caught up with me – I began to notice that I wasn’t recovering from stressful moments as well as usual. I was snippy, sleepy in the afternoons, and easily overwhelmed by little things. 

I thought it might be due to adrenal fatigue – also called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction – so I took this this at-home test suggested by Dr. James Wilson in his book, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. That  led me to see a holistic doctor and confirm my suspicions, and then of course I promised to share with you anything I learn about taking good care of the adrenals.

Well, after a lot of experimentation (and a few trips down paths that didn’t really go anywhere), I’ve found some things that work really well for me. Now, as I’ve said before, “boo boo kisser” is about as official as things get for me. I am not a healthcare provider, which is why I sought help from a professional in determining what adrenal fatigue treatment protocol is right for me. That said, Dr. Wilson (mentioned above) says that adrenal patients are their own best advocates, and encourages them to take steps toward self care. So, without further ado, here are fifteen ways to give your adrenals a big, squishy hug:

Last year my DO ALL THE THINGS approach to life caught up with me, and I shared with you that I was struggling with adrenal fatigue. I promised to update you as I discovered tips for helping the adrenals thrive - here are my top fifteen.

1. Make sleep a priority

Ahhh, if only it were that easy, right? I admit I am totally counting the days until my kids can wake up and make ME breakfast, but I’m not waiting until they let me sleep in to get good rest. Instead, I use these 18 science-backed tips to get deeper, better sleep. I don’t do all of them at once, I do incorporate most of them daily. Feel free to pick and choose what works for you.

2. Get your groove on

Or more accurately, your rhythm. One of the amazing things your adrenal glands do is release hormones to the beat of your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. One adrenal hormone in particular – cortisol – helps the body wake up and get moving in the morning. Except when it doesn’t, because someone played a trick on your internal clock. (I’m looking at you, Thomas Edison!)

You see, our circadian rhythms are tied to light and darkness, which can be a challenge now that we have artificial lighting and blackout curtains. Instead of becoming sleepy at night, some of us experience a flood of cortisol which leaves us feeling wired. We find it difficult to get to sleep, then wake up exhausted instead of refreshed.

Tips #1 and #2 in the sleep post are helpful for getting back on track, but I wanted to share something else I started doing last winter as well. When it got too cold to go outside for 15-30 minutes of sun, I bought this daylight lamp and put it on the kitchen table. My kids sat under it and worked on art projects while I started breakfast, then Daniel and I joined them and got in our “light time” while we ate. It made a pretty big difference for me, so I still get it out when I’m feeling off. We’ll be using it daily when we start spending more time inside this fall/winter.

coffee-tea-adrenal-fatigue

3. If you drink coffee or tea, be strategic

Most practitioners will tell you to avoid caffeine entirely, but one of the foremost experts on adrenal health – Dr. Alan Christianson – says it’s okay for individuals who have mild (not moderate to severe) adrenal fatigue. Christianson, who authored The Adrenal Reset Diet, suggests the following ground rules:

“Caffeine does have an effect on cortisol, but where you get your caffeine and when you have it can make all the difference. Avoiding caffeine is always an option, but not a realistic one for everyone. But if you have never lived without caffeine, you might be surprised by how calm and focused you can feel as a result. Try a two-week break from coffee or tea and afterwards make the use of caffeine a conscious choice, as opposed to a daily habit.

Another option is to switch your source of caffeine, and favor tea over coffee. Tea has caffeine like coffee, but it also has a calming compound called theanine that coffee does not have. Tea is also lower than coffee in theophylline, which stimulates the heart. For most people, consuming tea lowers their cortisol or else has little effect on it. Coffee tends not to raise your cortisol level, but it does prevent its reduction. In short, caffeine is most problematic after 9am. Those who are stressed can do better by limiting their coffee consumption to early in the day. Owing to the theanine, tea can be a better fit for later in the day or to assist with mental energy.” (source: The Adrenal Reset Diet, pages 115-116)

I’ve found that I do much better with caffeine if I mix it with gelatin and a healthy fat, like this.

Also, here’s a quiz from Dr. Christianson that can help you determine how your adrenals are doing. “Stressed” is considered mild, “Wired & Tired” is moderate, and “Crashed” is severe.

4. Don’t forget about adaptogens

Unlike caffeine, which is a stimulant, adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to stress and nudge it back toward balance.  I could write a whole post about supplements that nourish the adrenals, but for now I’ll focus on just a few. As I wrote about in this post, maca powder and other adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to stress.

As the name suggests, adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt. Unlike caffeine, which is a stimulant, they do this by gently nudging the toward balance in whatever way is needed. Here’s what Chris Kresser has to say about them:

“With adrenal issues, I’ll almost always start with adrenal adaptogens, botanical adaptogens like ashwagandha and rhodiola, eleutherococcus, which is Siberian ginseng, and some micronutrients that are good for general adrenal support, like pantothenic acid and vitamin C, because that’s kind of the lowest level of intervention and has the least potential for causing any adverse effects. And if you can fix adrenal problems just by doing that, that’s fantastic and that’s preferable, so that’s the good starting place. And people can really just do that stuff on their own. They don’t need a healthcare practitioner, really, to help with that stuff. ” (source)

One adaptogen I’ve found helpful that wasn’t mentioned is Peruvian ginseng, also called maca. You can find some recipes for incorporating maca here.

Kresser also recommends a good B-complex and vitamin C. You can find the brands I use on my shopping list under Superfoods and Supplements.

5. Cycle Carbs

In The Adrenal Reset Diet, Dr. Alan Christian outlines a plan for “carb cycling” that helps keep the adrenals on track. In it he recommends a very high protein meal with resistant starch and some carbs for breakfast, followed by a lunch with a moderate amount of healthy carbs and then dinner with even a little more. Carbs – which should be paired with fat and protein to help balance blood sugar – help to balance excess cortisol. That’s why we typically crave sugar and bagels when we’re stressed. (Binging on carbs is actually not a good idea because it causes blood sugar to surge, but a reasonable amount is considered beneficial.)

When consumed in increasing amounts toward the middle and end of the day, they can curb cortisol and allow melatonin to begin building up. That helps us keep our circadian rhythm on track and prepare for good sleep that night. Please note that Dr. Christianson does not advocate carb binging, just cycling a healthy amount of carbs in a way that positively influences cortisol production.

I really loved the lifestyle suggestions in The Adrenal Reset Die along with the carb cycling idea, although I wasn’t able to successfully implement the actual portions and recipes recommended. Though several components of the diet are very similar to what I typically eat, Dr. Christianson recommends less fat than I am accustomed to and suggests avoiding dairy, eggs and a few other things I personally embrace. I’m nursing so maybe that explains things, but I felt hungry all the time and did better when I simply applied carb cycling principles to my usual diet.

good-laugh

6. Laugh (No joke!)

“You’ve heard it said, ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ Nothing could be truer for the adrenal glands,” writes Dr. Wilson, adding that “When you laugh, stress decreases and all the mechanisms in your body relax. When the body is relatively free of stress, even during those brief moments of levity, the adrenals are much freer to recover and rebuild.” (source: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)

Here, I’ll help you get started.

Sorry not sorry. As you may have noticed, I love goats. :)

7. Meditate (Cheater’s Guide Below)

Is it just me, or does the thought of meditating conjure images of sitting in lotus position while children shove peas up your nose and teepee the house? I’ve to to admit that when Dr. Christianson recommended meditation in The Adrenal Reset Diet, I nearly dismissed the idea.

I’m so glad I didn’t, because as it turns out meditation and a few other techniques stimulate the relaxation response, which can profoundly improve our well-being. According to Dr. Wilson:

“The body shifts from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system dominance; breathing, heart rate, and oxygen consumption slow down; muscles relax; the brain predominately generates the slower alpha waves; and blood pressure may drop. These changes occur within a few minutes of beginning an activity that produces the relaxation response, whereas they happen very gradually over hours while sleeping and often not at all while engaging in a leisure activity. Of particular relevance to adrenal fatigue recovery is that during the relaxation response, stimulation of your adrenal glands diminishes so they can rest, and, in addition, all the tissues in your body become less sensitive to stress hormones secreted by your adrenal glands. This means that every part of your body has a chance to return to normal instead of being constantly on red alert.” (source: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)

Two simple options for stimulating the relaxation response

1. Dr. Herbert Benson, the Harvard professor who coined the term relaxation response, gave specific instructions for activating it. You can find them explained here, and a simplified version here.

2. Another option for “lazy meditators,” according to Dr. Christianson, is to use light/sound machines or binaural beats. “When you see lights or hear sounds that pulse in certain frequencies, your brain waves mimic those frequencies. During meditation, the brain goes into what is called and alpha state.” 

Light/sound machines use both visual and auditory components to help the brain achieve an alpha state, while binaural beats use only sound. The light/sound machines are pretty pricey, but I decided to invest in one because I knew I would use it regularly. I have, and it works really well as a “reset” button when I’m tired and not thinking clearly. (You can find the one I use on my shopping list page.)

A more affordable option by far is to listen to binaural beats on headphones. Because alpha waves are encouraged by pulsing sound alternately into each ear, headphones are a must. Dr. Christianson likes Brainwave, which you can find on Amazon.

8. Don’t skip meals (especially breakfast)

It can cause your blood sugar to crash, which stresses the body and calls on your adrenals to release hormones that balance things out. On the flipside, eating sugary or super high-carb foods cause blood sugar to soar and also stress the body. Dr. Wilson recommends eating regular meals with snacks in-between to keep blood sugar stable.

9. Speaking of breakfast . . .

Good, high-quality protein first thing in the morning is the hallmark of an adrenal-friendly way to start the day. Unlike cereal, pancakes, bagels, juice, and other “breakfast foods” – even fruit – that raise blood sugar, protein keeps blood sugar stable. This allows the body to keep its precious early morning surge of cortisol (which is produced by the adrenal glands) for more important uses.

change-it-2

10. Take charge

According to Dr. Wilson, “Being in charge is important for adrenal health; researchers have found from earlier experiments that rendering an animal helpless is one of the most rapid ways to deplete its adrenals” He then goes on to say that “putting yourself in charge does not mean doing it all yourself.”

Instead, he describes an approach to dealing with stressful “energy drains” by changing them, changing the way we respond to them, or eliminating them. His book gives some great suggestions for how to do that.

11. Opt for downward dog instead of Iron Man

According to this PubMed article,”There is a direct link between stress and the adrenal glands, and the physical stress of overtraining may cause the hormones produced in these glands to become depleted.”

Walking, yoga, tai chi or qigong plus weight training 1-2x’s a week are typically recommended for individuals needing to boost adrenal function.

12. Take things with a grain of salt

“Salt craving is a common symptom in all stages of adrenal fatigue,” writes Dr. Wilson in his book, adding that “this is your body’s way of crying out for something it needs. Our salt-phobic society has deprived millions of people struggling with adrenal fatigue of something that would decrease their symptoms and speed their recovery.”

Why do those with tired adrenals crave salt? Without getting into the complex details, it’s because the adrenals release the hormones that regulate salt, potassium and water in the body. According to Wilson, the body’s craving for salt are an attempt to lighten the load on the adrenals, so it’s important to salt food to taste.

Concerned about salt possibly causing high blood pressure? Check out this series.

bone-broth-adrenal-fatigue

13. Drink bone broth

It contains “spark plugs” (also known as minerals) that your adrenals need to thrive. Here’s how to make it.

14. Take mini-siestas

“During the day, you will probably notice that you have particular times when you feel more lethargic, cloudy headed, or have other symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Try to schedule your breaks so that when these occur, you can physically lie down for 15-30 minutes.” (Source: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)

I have done this and it really helps. I usually set my kids up with an activity and watch them from the couch. :)

15. Optimize your magnesium levels

According to this study, magnesium deficiency can induce anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation (also called adrenal fatigue). From my post on getting good sleep:

How To Improve Your Magnesium Levels

There are many kinds of magnesium, and getting a variety is important because they have different functions in the body. For sleep, I rub this magnesium oil onto my skin before bed. Because Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and a little calcium are essential for magnesium absorption you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got adequate amounts of those as well. (Note: According to Kristen Michaelis’ book, Beautiful Babies, magnesium levels show more improvement when Vitamin D is obtained through sun exposure rather than oral supplements.)

Want more tips and info on supporting the adrenals?

Stay tuned, I’ve got more to share!

Resources mentioned in this article

The Adrenal Reset Diet by Dr. Alan Christianson

Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson

Tea photo credit: Daniel Villar Onrubia

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Homemade Solid Deodorant For Sensitive Skin (Without Baking Soda)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35684 2015-08-21T04:17:16Z 2015-08-11T16:03:25Z What do chickens that cross the road and stinky armpits have in common? They’re both illegal, of course! Not, everywhere, but in Quitman and San Luis Obispo Counties, respectively. (source) And it’s not just armpits – offensive body odor of any kind is outlawed in San Luis Obispo County libraries. Yes, libraries.  Some things though are perfectly legal, though, like [&hellip

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how-to-make-deodorant

What do chickens that cross the road and stinky armpits have in common?

They’re both illegal, of course! Not, everywhere, but in Quitman and San Luis Obispo Counties, respectively. (source) And it’s not just armpits – offensive body odor of any kind is outlawed in San Luis Obispo County libraries. Yes, libraries. 

Some things though are perfectly legal, though, like putting questionable chemicals in personal care products without always disclosing them. (source) In a previous post I shared five ingredients to look out for in deodorant – including one that has already been banned in one state – along with alternatives like this man-stink killer deodorant recipesensitive skin recipe and my fave pre-made deodorant.

However, several of you have asked about how to make deodorant that doesn’t need to be applied with your fingertips, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes! Instead of baking soda, this solid deodorant recipe relies on kaolin clay and magnesium to keep you smelling fresh. If you have sensitive skin – or even if you don’t – I hope you love it as much as I do!

About The Ingredients

Shea Butter

Rich in skin soothing vitamin E, raw shea butter is a non-oily moisturizer that absorbs quickly when applied – super important if you are getting dressed in a hurry!

Cocoa Butter

Known formally as Theobroma cacao (Food of the Gods), cocoa butter is rich in Vitamin E and minerals such as manganese, calcium, iron and zinc. It improves the “glide” of your solid deodorant while nourishing skin.

Kaolin Clay, Bentonite Clay or Diatomaceous Earth

Each of these compounds help neutralize odor. They’re much more gentle than baking soda, which some people find irritating.

Magnesium

In addition to blocking odor, magnesium is an essential co-factor for over 300 enzyme driven reactions in the human body. When applied alone it can sting a little, which is why I prefer to incorporate it in this formula.

Beeswax

Provides a barrier of protection while still allowing skin to breathe. Also, it’s what keeps the deodorant bar solid. :)

Essential Oils (Optional)

A couple of my favorite blends are:

  • 20 drops tea tree essential oil and 16 drops orange essential oil
  • 20 drops tea tree essential oil and 16 drops lavender essential oil

However if your skin is very sensitive, you might want to skip essential oils or stick to ones that are considered very soothing, like lavender.

A Note On Transitioning To Natural Deodorant

If you’re transitioning to natural deodorant for the first time, you may find that it doesn’t work for you right away. As I wrote in this article,

“Though our primary detox pathways are through the liver, kidneys, colon and lymph system, our skin and lungs also assist with detoxification. It makes sense that if we’ve been applying a deodorant containing parabens, aluminum, propylene glycol, and/or triclosan, our body may begin working to eliminate it once we switch. If you think this might be your issue, my friend Katie of Wellness Mama has a great article on how to detox your armpits.”

how-to-make-deodorant-sensitive-skin

Homemade Solid Deodorant For Sensitive Skin (Without Baking Soda)

Ingredients

Equipment

To Make

1. Melt all ingredients (except essential oils) in a double boiler over low heat.
2. Allow the mixture to cool for one to two minutes – it will separate if it is added to the deodorant tube while still very hot. While it is still liquid, add essential oils and pour into deodorant tube. Store out of direct sunlight.

To Use

Apply a thin layer – not much is needed!

Clean-Up Tip

After you’ve poured your deodorant in your container, place your pot back in the double boiler so that the thin layer of remaining deodorant heats up. When it’s hot, wipe it out with old newspaper or paper towels.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Water Kefir (Video Tutorial)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=23169 2015-08-09T11:37:32Z 2015-08-07T13:39:05Z Do You Miss Cherry Limeades? Or are you looking for a healthy alternative to soft drinks for your kids? Homemade soda pop to the rescue! Not only is it delicious, water kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria that support digestion and healthy immune function. The best part? It only takes about five-minutes of hands-on time to [&hellip

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how-to-make-fizzy-water-kefir

Do You Miss Cherry Limeades?

Or are you looking for a healthy alternative to soft drinks for your kids? Homemade soda pop to the rescue! Not only is it delicious, water kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria that support digestion and healthy immune function.

The best part? It only takes about five-minutes of hands-on time to make, and kids love it. 

How To Make Water Kefir (Video Tutorial)

How To Make Water Kefir - Fizzy and sweet and rich in kid-friendly probiotics, this is one of my favorite ferments! It only takes about five minutes of hands on time to make, too.

How To Make Water Kefir (Photo Tutorial)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rapadura/sucanat or organic white sugar – avoid honey because it does not have the right composition of sugars to feed the kefir grains (where to buy rapadura, where to buy organic cane sugar)
  • 3 cups purified water – no fluoride or chlorine – these will kill the grains. I’ve had success with water from a Berkey filter, spring water and reverse osmosis water with minerals added back in
  • 2-3 tablespoons kefir grains (Where to buy kefir grains)
  • 1 squirt Concentrace minerals or unsulphured blackstracp molasses – optional. Water kefir tends to do better in mineral rich water. Both of these are good sources of minerals, but I’m not a fan of the flavor of molasses in my kefir. (where to buy Concentrace minerals, where to buy blackstrap molasses)

Optional flavoring ideas:

  • A few slices of ginger – I’ve found this makes my kefir extra fizzy for some reason
  • 1/2 lime and fresh mint – so refreshing!
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract for a creamy soda experience
  • Dried fruits like mango or pineapple – make sure they aren’t preserved with sulphur
  • You can find recipes for cherry limeade, mango colada, blackberry lavender and more here

Supplies Needed

  • 1 quart jar
  • plastic mesh strainer (metal will harm the grains)
  • cloth with rubber band to cover jar
  • measuring cup or bowl with pouring spout
  • swing top bottles – like these or these

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-1

Step 1: Dissolve Sugar In A Small Amount Of Hot Water

Add 1/3 cup sucanat/sucanat to a quart-sized mason jar. Place 2/3 cup of water in a pan and heat until warm enough to dissolve the sucanat/sugar, then pour the water in the jar and stir until fully dissolved. (Or if you prefer, add the sugar to the pan and dissolve before transferring to the jar.)

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-1a

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-1b

Add the remaining 2 1/3 cup water. Make sure the water is cooled to room temp before continuing to the next step.

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-3

Step 2: Strain Kefir Grains

Whether your gathering your grains from a previous batch (as shown in the photo above) or using new grains recently hydrated in sugar water (instructions will be included when you order from the source above), you’re going to need to strain them. My favorite method is to place my mesh strainer over a measuring cup and pour. As the cup fills I pour it into swing top bottles for the second fermentation, which I’ll cover later in this tutorial. Make sure to use a plastic mesh strainer as metal can harm the kefir grains.

Here’s what they look like up close:

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-2a

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-3a

Step 3: Add Grains To Your Sugar Water Mixture

Boy do these things love converting sugar into probiotic goodness! Pictured on the right is a brand new batch of kefir that hasn’t fermented yet. On the left is a finished batch – the color tends to lighten when they’ve done their magic.

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-3b

Cover your new batch with a cloth secured by a rubber band. Place in a warm area of your kitchen (away from direct sunlight) and allow to ferment for 24-48 hours.

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-3c

After one or two days, strain your kefir. Drink it right away, place in the fridge for later, or go on to add flavoring or ferment a second time to create a bubbly, soda-like fizz. Details below!

how-to-make-flavored-water-kefir

Optional Step: Add Flavorings To Water Kefir

If desired, now is the time to make your soda a cherry limeade, cream soda, mango colada, etc.  You can add the flavorings to your finished (single ferment) kefir and let them infuse in the fridge, or add them and ferment for a second time to create carbonated, bubbly goodness. See above in the ingredient section for a link to flavoring ideas.

how-to-make-water-kefir-step-5

Optional Step: Ferment A Second Time For Extra Fizziness

In order for your water kefir to become carbonated you need to place it in tightly sealed bottles. As the beneficial bacteria and yeasts continue to consume the sugar they release gases which carbonate the drink. As a side benefit, this kind of carbonation benefits digestion!

I let mine sit for 1-3 days, depending on the temperature of my kitchen. Personally, I like to allow most of the sugar to be converted before serving, but you can pour a glass whenever the flavor develops to your preference!

Special Notes

Make sure to check on your bottles often while you’re getting a feel for how quickly the fermentation process goes in your environment, because if the pressure builds up you may end up spraying fizz all over yourself and your kitchen. Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything.

Also, it is possible to ferment with freshly pressed juices, but they yield a higher alcohol content than regular kefir, which contains a tiny amount. Please use caution when serving them to children, perhaps by fermenting them for a shorter amount of time. Also, second ferments are not recommended with juice kefir – pressure may build up very quickly, causing the bottle to burst.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Resistant Starch Cookie Dough Bites]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35564 2015-08-13T01:18:07Z 2015-08-05T15:57:25Z These delicious, chewy, slightly addictive . . . Cookie dough bites – or raisin and cinnamon dough bites for littles ones who don’t eat chocolate yet – have a secret superpower. The potami and I dreamed them up one Friday night during a debate on whether to play superheroes or make cookies. Obviously we had to do both, [&hellip

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recipe-resistant-starch-cookie-dough

These delicious, chewy, slightly addictive . . .

Cookie dough bites – or raisin and cinnamon dough bites for littles ones who don’t eat chocolate yet – have a secret superpower. The potami and I dreamed them up one Friday night during a debate on whether to play superheroes or make cookies. Obviously we had to do both, so we made the cookies part of the team.

We saved the world, and they saved us.

I should probably back up here. Lately I’ve been reading up on the benefits of resistant starch, which are prebiotics that feed our gut microbiome – aka the bacteria that live in our digestive tracts.

Just like with rainforests and other ecosystems, experts believe that gut microbiome diversity may contribute to our overall health and resilience. Unfortunately, as Michael Pollan notes in this article, “Researchers now speak of an impoverished ‘Westernized microbiome’ and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of ‘restoration ecology’ — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut.”

To bring back diversity, researchers are turning their attention to . . . well, not exactly cookies, but what the cookies are made of – resistant starch.

Not A Tiger. Not A Nut. What Is It?

In addition to consuming fermented foods and a good probiotic (you can read about the ones I use here), lately I’ve been making an extra effort to incorporate more resistant starch into our diet. That’s because according to Stanford microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg, “The safest way to increase your microbial biodiversity is to eat a variety of polysaccharides.” (source) Resistant starch is a primary source of polysaccharides.

These cookie dough bites are made with tigernut flour, which is an odd name given that, uh, it’s not made from tigers or nuts.

Tigernuts are actually tubers, like potatoes, only they’re much sweeter and delicious raw. You can actually snack on them whole like you would almonds or cashews, or make “nut” milk out of them. And as you might have guessed, they’re a good source of resistant starch – the best we know of in fact.

Because tigernut flour is type 2 resistant starch, which loses most of its benefit when cooked, I try to incorporate it raw when possible. This no-bake cookie dough it the perfect snack, and you can even dress it up by dipping it in chocolate or using it to make ice cream sandwiches. As I mentioned earlier, the flour is sweet so all you really need is a tablespoon of maple syrup, but if you’d like to you create a more decadent treat you can dip the dough in fair-trade dark chocolate or use it to make ice cream sandwiches.
resistant-starch-chocolate-covered-cookie-dough-recipe

resistant-starch-cookie-ice-cream-sandwich-recipe

A word of advice . . .

Changes in gut flora (whether from probiotics or resistant starch) can cause gassiness if too much change happens too soon. Gut health experts typically recommend starting slow and working your way up. Also, according to Dr. Amy Nett:

“If you choose to try supplementing with RS, start with small doses of about ¼ teaspoon once daily, and very gradually increase the amount as tolerated. Some increased gas and bloating is expected as your gut flora changes and adapts, but you do not want to feel uncomfortable.  If you experience marked discomfort, then decrease the amount you’re taking for a few days until your symptoms resolve, and then try increasing again gradually.

Studies indicate that the benefits of resistant starch may be seen when consuming around 15 to 30 grams daily (equivalent to two to four tablespoons of potato starch).  This may be too much for some people to tolerate, particularly in the setting of gut dysbiosis, and going above this amount is not necessarily beneficial.

If you experience marked GI distress with even small amounts of RS, this may be an indication of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or microbial dysbiosis, and you may need to consider working with a healthcare practitioner to establish a more balanced gut microbiome through the use of herbal antimicrobials and probiotics before adding RS or other prebiotics.” (source)

Each of these cookie dough bites contains two teaspoons of resistant starch, so you may want to divide them further when starting out. They freeze well so you can make a batch and work your way up slowly if desired.

Have you ever heard of tigernut flour? It's a naturally sweet flour that, ironically, has nothing to do with tigers or nuts. :)  It's the most potent source of resistant starch we know of, which is a type of prebiotic that encourages gut microbiome diversity. It's best consumed raw, so I made into a cookie dough!

Resistant Starch Cookie Dough

Makes 12 with two teaspoons each resistant starch.

Ingredients

Instructions

Place tigernut flour, cashew/almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a food processor and blend well. If your cashew butter is on the dry side, add one tablespoon of melted butter (or a little more if needed). You want it to be pretty soft/oily so that the dough doesn’t dry out in the fridge. Remove dough from the food processor and place in a bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips, then roll the dough into twelve balls and place in the fridge or freezer to enjoy as desired.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Crayons With Food Grade Ingredients]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35214 2015-08-08T16:01:14Z 2015-08-03T15:55:27Z Technicolor Diapers Chances are that if you love them as much as I do, it’s because the color is on the OUTSIDE where it should be. Smeared on the inside because a toddler is tooting rainbows after an art project turned into a crayon tasting? I don’t think any parent loves that. While it’s true [&hellip

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how-to-make-crayons

Technicolor Diapers

4103956435_37596b118f_mChances are that if you love them as much as I do, it’s because the color is on the OUTSIDE where it should be.

Smeared on the inside because a toddler is tooting rainbows after an art project turned into a crayon tasting? I don’t think any parent loves that.

While it’s true that crayons are labeled as non-toxic, certain colors may contain up to 2-5 ppm of lead. (source 1, source 2) That’s below the amount allowed in toys, but above the 0.1 ppm amount the FDA has set for candies likely to be ingested by small children. (source) Obviously crayons are not candies, but some kids seem to think they are!

Now, as you may have noticed from these posts on completely edible finger paint, play dough, face paint and moon sand, I’m a big fan of making art/play supplies out of food grade ingredients. Though the older potami have been great at keeping their little brother from taste-testing our store-bought crayon stash, he did go through a period where he would try to sneak a few in. That inspired me to try to come up with a food grade recipe, which flopped . . .

how-not-to-make-crayons

and FLOPPED . . .

crayon-recipe-fail

And flopped a few more times before it finally worked!

The secret, as it turns out . . .

Is a blend of beef tallow, fruit/veggie pigments and carnauba wax, which I learned about from Kresha at Nourishing Joy. It’s made from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree, known as the “Tree of Life,” and it’s a food grade wax similar to beeswax. (source 1, source 2)  The difference between the two is that it holds color a little better. Let me explain . . .

Beeswax Vs. Carnauba

Crayons made with beeswax take longer to cool than carnauba-based crayons, which causes the pigment tends to settle more on one side than the other.

beeswax-crayons-homemade

Also, after a few days beeswax crayons tend to form a white powdery layer on the outside. If you rub them in the color returns, though, so if you want to use beeswax instead of carnauba it will totally work.

homemade-beeswax-crayons

beeswax-crayon-recipe

Either way, these crayons are perfect for little hands that are still developing fine motor skills! The yellow, orange, light green and brown are as smooth as store-bought crayons, while the pink and dark green are less smooth, but still totally usable.

What about a substitution for tallow?

If you don’t have tallow, you can use cacao butter. Not the stuff you find in the beauty section – only food grade, like this. It’s pricier than tallow, but will work in a pinch.

how-to-make-non-toxic-crayons

Now, I want to be clear . . .

That I supervise my little ones when they color, which is usually at the kitchen table while I am making lunch or dinner. Though the most popular crayon companies do sell crayons for toddlers (egg-shaped ones for children under two and sticks for children over two), they do so while recommending that parents keep an eye out for safety.

Alrighty then, moving on!

How To Make Crayons With Food Grade Ingredients - When my toddler started trying to taste test our crayons, I decided to dig a little deeper into the "non-toxic" label. Turns out, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that crayons can contain up to 2-5ppm lead depending on the pigment used, even when the box is labeled non-toxic.  That's less than allowed in toys, but more than is allowed in food, so I decided to create a food-grade version using dried veggie powders and spices.

How To Make Crayons

One quick note: With the exception of the carnauba wax I pretty much used ingredients I had around the house to create these recipes. I’m hoping you’ll have at least a few on hand because it would be pricey to purchase them all just for this project. However, I have included resources for where to find things in case that would be helpful.

Each of these recipes makes 5 gingerbread boy crayons or 10 star shaped crayons.

Ingredients

All measurements are by weight.

Pretty Pink

Sunshine Yellow

Creamsicle Orange

Moss Green

Forest Green

Brown Earth

Instructions

Gently melt carnauba and tallow in a double boiler. If you don’t have one (I don’t), place stainless steel bowl set inside a pot of boiling water. When both are completely melted, whisk in your pigment. Quickly pour the mixture into your crayon mold – allow to cool completely before removing.

A couple of things you need to know:

First, if as you pour the pretty pink crayon mixture in the mold you notice that there are some large beetroot particles in the bottom of the pan, don’t pour them in the mold. Each time I made pink/red there was a little sludge left in the pan that I didn’t add to the final crayon because it would make them gritty.

Second, annatto and other spices that make orange contain tiny compounds that settle onto one side and discolor it slightly. I have no idea why, but it happened with cayenne and paprika too!

homemade-crayons

Cleaning Tip

After you’ve poured your crayons, place your pot back in the double boiler so that the thin layer of remaining wax heats up. When it’s hot, wipe it out with old newspaper or paper towels.

Pre-Made Crayon Recommendations

While researching materials to make crayons with, I came across a couple of alternatives to petroleum/paraffin wax-based crayons that I thought I would pass along.

Crayon Rocks are made from soy wax and mineral pigments. I called the founder and asked if their soy is non-gmo, and learned that she’d been trying to source non-gmo soy for quite awhile with no success. Apparently there are only a few processors in the U.S. that make wax from soy, and they refuse to separate gmo and non-gmo varieties during processing.

(FYI, according to the company the crayons are choking hazards for kids three and under.)

Clear Hills Honey Company makes 100% beeswax crayons that are tinted with mineral pigments.

Diaper cover photo credit: Miss Messie

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Easy Breakfast Sausage Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35524 2015-08-08T16:16:15Z 2015-07-30T16:52:23Z Touted in the comments as “Holy, delicious Batman!” . . . and “Worth making again and again and again,” my friend Loriel’s recipes have been a staple around here for awhile. You may know her from this simple coconut custard, frozen mocha cappuccino, or smoked salmon dip – all delicious! But in her hometown, Loriel is most famous for [&hellip

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breakfast-sausage-recipe

Touted in the comments as “Holy, delicious Batman!”

. . . and “Worth making again and again and again,” my friend Loriel’s recipes have been a staple around here for awhile. You may know her from this simple coconut custard, frozen mocha cappuccino, or smoked salmon dip – all delicious!

But in her hometown, Loriel is most famous for one thing: her spice blends. From her French Onion Dip to her Taco Seasoning, Loriel’s blends put just the right zip into many scrumptious dishes. After many requests from friends to offer her spices for sale, Loriel finally opened up shop this week.

Today I’m thrilled to share her recipe for sweet and savory maple breakfast sausage with you. It’s made with her Italian seasoning blend, which you can make yourself with this recipe or pick up from her shop here. As you can see, it was a hit with the littlest potami, and the rest of the family loved it too!

homemade-breakfast-sausage-recipe

Want To Try Loriel’s Blends?

Her new line – Naturally Free – is made with certified organic, fair trade, ethically wild harvested, & Kosher certified spices. In other words, all the stuff you want and none of the junk. (Maltodextrin and other fillers I’m looking at you – even in organic brands!) 

naturally-free-blends

You can get your hands on them by clicking here and entering coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS10 to save 10%.

And now, how about that recipe?

SUPER EASY sweet and savory Italian maple breakfast sausage recipe!

Maple Breakfast Sausage Recipe

Ingredients

* If using whole pork, you’ll need a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec

Instructions Using A High-Powered Blender

In a high-powered blender, put half the meat followed by all the spices/ingredients and top with the other half of the meat. Pulse about 6-8 times (you want it lightly mixed but not pulverized. Form into patties and fry in a lightly oiled skillet until golden brown on each side.

Instructions Using Ground Pork

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into patties and fry in a lightly oiled skillet until golden brown on each side.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[5 Benefits Of Delayed Cord Clamping]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35492 2015-07-30T18:36:21Z 2015-07-28T15:38:47Z Cut The Cord Before it was a catch phrase used to describe ditching cable companies and cutting off allowances, it was a moment. A touch point in every single one of our lives. After baby is born we usually think of the umbilical cord as a relic – part a life support system that is no [&hellip

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5 Benefits Of Delayed Cord Clamping - "“It’s incredible to see what a difference an extra three minutes and one-half cup of blood can have on the overall health of a child, especially four years later,” Dr. Ola Andersson told CNN.

Cut The Cord

Before it was a catch phrase used to describe ditching cable companies and cutting off allowances, it was a moment. A touch point in every single one of our lives.

After baby is born we usually think of the umbilical cord as a relic – part a life support system that is no longer needed. But the reality is that the cord has one last job to do, and it’s a big one.

You see, the cord and placenta are a sort of external circulation system: one vein carries oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from the placenta to the baby, and two arteries carry carbon dioxide rich blood and waste away from baby to the placenta for purification. (source 1source 2) When baby is born, about 1/3 of its blood is in the external part of the circulation system, but quickly makes it’s way to the baby via the umbilical cord. Unless of course, the cord is cut before the transfer is complete.

Why cut the cord early?

Great question. Early cord clamping became standard practice in the 1960’s because it was believed to reduce the likelihood of postpartum maternal hemorrhage. Later research revealed that it does not reduce hemorrhaging or offer any other clear benefit, but the practice continued anyway. (source)

The reluctance to change, which doctors said in this poll is due to “Difficulty with implementation in clinical practice,”  – yes, really – has been frustrating for many birth advocates, especially in light of a growing number of studies suggest that delayed cord clamping has compelling benefits. We’ll cover the top five today, but first . . .

What is delayed cord clamping?

It depends on who you ask. According to the World Health Organization, delayed clamping is when the cord is cut 1-3 minutes after birth – a practice they recommend for all births. (source)

However, some practitioners think the one minute mark is too early, and recommend extending the time to approximately three minutes. In this statement, the Royal College of Midwives says that “delaying for even one minute is a welcome change . . providing all babies with one minute of transition from inter-uterine to extra-uterine life. However as transfusion is known to continue during the first 3-5 minutes of life, it is suggested that this process is allowed to complete without being interrupted.”

And then there’s the perspective expressed by the International Childbirth Education Association, which is that “Delayed cord clamping (DCC) is a practice by which the umbilical cord is not clamped or cut until after it stops pulsating. It may also include not clamping or cutting the umbilical cord until after the placenta is delivered.” (source)

So what do they agree on? Why, that delaying is worthwhile, of course!

5 Benefits Of Delayed Cord Clamping - “It’s incredible to see what a difference an extra three minutes and one-half cup of blood can have on the overall health of a child, especially four years later,” Dr. Ola Andersson told CNN.

5 Benefits Of Delayed Cord Clamping

#1: Neurodevelopmental Benefits

“It’s incredible to see what a difference an extra three minutes and one-half cup of blood can have on the overall health of a child, especially four years later,” the lead author of this study, Dr. Ola Andersson, told CNN. (source)

In the study, researchers found that “A couple of extra minutes attached to the umbilical cord at birth may translate into a small boost in neurodevelopment several years later . . . Children whose cords were cut more than three minutes after birth had slightly higher social skills and fine motor skills than those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds. The results showed no differences in IQ.” (source)

There is one caveat to these findings: The benefits only applied to boys. “We don’t know exactly why, but speculate that girls receive extra protection through higher estrogen levels whilst being in the womb,” Dr. Heike Rabe, a neonatologist at Brighton & Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom, told NPR. (source)

#2: Decreased Risk Of Anemia

Breast milk is naturally low in iron, which has led some to suggest that breast fed children need to be supplemented with iron to prevent anemia. “At first glance, this seems like an error, given that all living things need iron,” writes Nina Planck in Real Food For Mother And Baby.

She add that “we must suspect a deliberate strategy on nature’s part. Sure enough, there is logic to the missing iron. E. coli, the most common source of infant diarrhea in all species, depends on iron, as do other pathogens.”

Now here’s where things get really interesting. Though excess iron in the digestive tract may not be a good thing, iron stored elsewhere in the body is critical for healthy brain development. (source) The natural transfusion of blood via delayed cord clamping delivers a substantial amount of iron – one study found that waiting two minutes increased iron stores by  27-47 mg! (source)

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, waiting  three minutes may prevent iron deficiency during the first year of life:

“Physiologic studies in term infants have shown that a transfer from the placenta of approximately 80 mL of blood occurs by 1 minute after birth, reaching approximately 100 mL at 3 minutes after birth (16, 31, 32). This additional blood can supply extra iron, amounting to 40–50 mg/kg of body weight. This extra iron, combined with body iron (approximately 75 mg/kg of body weight) present at birth in a full-term newborn, may help prevent iron deficiency during the first year of life (33).” (source)

Can I just say that I am blown away by the intrinsic wisdom of our bodies? For the past few decades, we’ve assumed that nature made a mistake and therefore started children on iron fortified foods early. Meanwhile, we left polysaccharides out of infant formula because they’re indigestible to baby and therefore useless. Only it turns out they’re not, they feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts, while excess iron may feed unwanted E. coli. So interesting!

#3: Increased Blood Volume / Smoother Cardiopulmonary Transition

According to Mark Sloan, M.D., whether a baby “is premature or full term, approximately one-third of its total blood volume resides in the placenta. This is equal to the volume of blood that will be needed to fully perfuse the fetal lungs, liver, and kidneys at birth.

In addition to the benefits that come with adequate iron stores . . . babies whose cords are clamped at 2 to 3 minutes—and thus, who have an increased total blood volume compared with their immediately-clamped peers—have a smoother cardiopulmonary transition at birth.” (source)

According to this article, “Another potential benefit of delayed cord clamping is to ensure that the baby can receive the complete retinue of clotting factors.” In other words, the increased volume of blood will naturally increase blood platelet levels, which are needed for normal blood clotting.

#4: Increased Levels Of Stem Cells

Delayed clamping also results in an infusion of “stem cells, which play an essential role in the development of the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems, among many other functions. The concentration of stem cells in fetal blood is higher than at any other time of life. ICC [immediate cord clamping] leaves nearly one-third of these critical cells in the placenta.” (source)

Stem cells may also “help to repair any brain damage the baby might have suffered during a difficult birth,” Dr. Rabe (mentioned above) told NPR. (source)

#5: Better Outcomes For Pre-Term Infants

“Preemies who have delayed cord clamping tend to have better blood pressure in the days immediately after birth, need fewer drugs to support blood pressure, need fewer blood transfusions, have less bleeding into the brain and have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening bowel injury,” continued Dr. Rabe. (source)

Is Delayed Cord Clamping Possible For Cesarean Births?

In some cases, yes. According to The American College of Nurse-Midwives,

“The usual practice at cesarean delivery is immediate cord clamping; however, infants born by cesarean can benefit from placental transfusion resulting from delayed cord clamping or umbilical cord milking. Researchers initially reported that placental transfusion did not occur at the time of cesarean delivery, but this was most likely associated with uterine atony and the use of general anesthesia.(21) In a small observational study, Farrar and colleagues recently demonstrated that a full placental transfusion does occur at cesarean delivery, but the optimal timing of delayed cord clamping remains unclear.(22) Ogata et al. reported that a 40-second delay in clamping provided the infant with a partial placental transfusion.23 Concerns were raised that blood would flow back to the placenta if the cord was clamped after 40 seconds, but this reverse flow has not been demonstrated.(23)

Another approach at the time of cesarean delivery is to milk the umbilical cord. This approach is ideal for cesarean birth when time and speed are important factors. In a small, randomized controlled trial, Erickson-Owens et al. compared immediate cord clamping with umbilical cord milking. They found less placental residual blood volume and higher newborn hematocrit levels at 48 hours of age in infants who received umbilical cord milking. (9) Delayed cord clamping and umbilical cord milking are approaches the clinician may consider at the time of cesarean delivery to facilitate placental blood transfer to the newborn.” (source)

What About Babies Who Need Intervention?

According to several sources (like this one and this one), resuscitation is less likely to be needed if cords are left intact. Many practitioners, such as neonatologist Anup Katheria, are actively looking for ways to resuscitate when needed without prematurely cutting the cord in order to move the baby. (source)

“The practice of helping babies breathe while waiting to clamp the umbilical cord has been around for a long time; it makes sense for the sickest infants,” she told CNN. “We’re focused on producing evidence that shows the benefits. We think this could become the foundation for practice changing resuscitation techniques, transforming outcomes for the most critical of newborns nationwide.” (source)

Regarding this trend toward keeping the cord intact when resuscitation is needed, Midwifery Today writes:

“The requirements of medicalized neonatal resuscitation are warmth, a firm surface, suction and access to the umbilicus. Other priorities include comfortable position for staff and the ability to draw umbilical blood for cord gas analysis. A warm firm surface can be the bed or surface where baby is born. In this author’s 2011 poll of 34 midwives from around the world, most reported that they perform resuscitation with the cord intact using the bed, side of a pool designed for waterbirth, part of an adult human body (mother or midwife) or a portable board with a warm pack.

Suction can be from a main hospital line, resuscitation machine or a portable unit such as those used at homebirths. The umbilicus is accessed to provide drugs and fluids. If the cord is left intact, then fluids are already being provided. Drugs are rarely required for resuscitation, and it’s likely they would be required far less often if cords were intact. Since extensive resuscitation is rarely required, can we not be uncomfortable once in a while, bending over the baby rather than performing resuscitation at our standing height? Even if one requires cord gases for medical reasons rather than protection from litigation, they can wait. Cord gas results don’t change significantly if taken immediately after birth or after two minutes of delayed clamping (De Paco et al. 2011; Asfour and Bewley 2011).” (source)

Are there times when providers need to cut the cord to initiate lifesaving interventions? Yes, says one of the most respected researchers on delayed cord clamping. (source)

However, some care providers believe that the cord and placenta have innate “resuscitation equipment” qualities worth considering as well. You can read about some of them here.

Are There Any Risks Of Delayed Cord Clamping?

One analysis found a very slight (2%) increase in jaundice among babies who received delayed cord clamping. However, according to the Thinking Midwife, “The only studies available involve the administration of an artificial oxytocic (syntocinon or syntometrine) in the ‘delayed clamping’ group. IV syntocinon is associated with jaundice. Therefore, it could be the oxytocic making a difference here – not the clamping.” (source)

Other studies, such as this Cochrane analysis, found “that the difference between early and late cord clamping for clinical jaundice did not reach statistical significance.” (source)

Another concern sometimes mentioned is polycythemia, or blood that is too thick to properly oxygenate tissues. Researchers also looked at this issue in the Cochrane analysis just mentioned and did not find anything statistically significant.

What About Cord Blood Banking?

“Delayed cord clamping is not often compatible with cord blood donation or storage. The reason being is that in order for them to collect the amount of blood they want to store, some collectors will say that they need the cord cut immediately, and some (as confirmed by one of the biggest Australian cord blood collection companies, as recently as September 2013) will only allow up to 60 seconds before they want the cord clamped. This is not long enough for most of the benefits to reach your baby. If you would like your baby to have it’s full supply of cord blood, you may need to reconsider you plans to donate or store cord blood.

From the above recent study (2010) the following comments were made on cord collection:

‘There remains no consensus among scientists and clinicians on cord clamping and proper cord blood collection,’ concluded co-author and obstetrician Dr. Stephen Klasko, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF College of Medicine. “The most important thing is to avoid losing valuable stems cells during and just after delivery.” So prevention is clearly better than cure – your baby will be better off keeping what is rightfully theirs.” (source)

Adding Delayed Cord Clamping To Your Birth Plan

As birth advocate Diana Korte once wrote, “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”

Here is a birth plan template that you can customize to fit your desires. Because cord clamping is often done automatically, care providers sometimes forget and cut the cord as a reflex despite previous conversations. It’s often a good idea to have an advocate such as a spouse or doula present to keep an eye on the cord just after the baby is born and remind the doctor if necessary.

HHC Fan Final

Looking For More Info On Birth Choices?

Happy Healthy Child: A Holistic Approach is a DVD childbirth education course that shares insights from over 30 world-renowned OB/GYNs, midwives, pediatricians, scientists, psychologists, childbirth educators, sleep experts and lactation specialists that can help improve the birth experience and overall outcome mama’s and their babies.

If you read through this site much you’l find many of the same names mentioned – these are the people I turned to when I was researching things like routine ultrasounds, co-sleeping, natural birth and more. People like:

  • Dr. Bob Sears, who received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto — the largest children’s hospital in the world. Dr. Sears is the author of over 30 books on childcare and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Royal College of Pediatricians.
  • Ina May Gaskin, who has been called “the mother of authentic midwifery
  • Dr. James McKenna, head of the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep LaboratoryThis post and this post are based on his work.
  • and Dr. Sarah Buckley, who was the first to make me dig deeper into routine ultrasounds

Topics covered include:

  • Optimal nutrition for you and your developing fetus (I did not agree with all the recommendations in this section. Beautiful Babies is a better resource for dietary recommendations in my opinion.)
  • The best ways to prepare for your labor and birth
  •  Building your birth team
  •  Overcoming the intensity of labor
  •  Common interventions and how to avoid the unnecessary ones
  •  Taking care of your new baby (bonding, breastfeeding, infant sleep, etc.)

(Read my full review here)

Did you/would you delay cord clamping? Why or why not?

Gorgeous cord photos published with permission from Monet Nicole Photography (based in Colorado if you’re looking for an amazing birth photographer) and the mama photographed. ♥

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Resistant Starch: Why We Need It (And How To Get It)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=35453 2015-08-05T01:32:49Z 2015-07-25T15:12:05Z Table for one trillion, please It may seem like a funny way to request a spot at your favorite healthy restaurant, but it’s actually pretty accurate.In this New York Times article, Michael Pollan describes the one trillion, er, one-hundred trillion, microbes that sit down to dine with us at each meal. More than just creepy freeloaders, these guys have [&hellip

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Table for one trillion, please

It may seem like a funny way to request a spot at your favorite healthy restaurant, but it’s actually pretty accurate.In this New York Times article, Michael Pollan describes the one trillion, er, one-hundred trillion, microbes that sit down to dine with us at each meal. More than just creepy freeloaders, these guys have a profound impact on our health – maybe even more than genetics. Here’s how Pollan explains it:

“for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens.

To the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this ‘second genome,’ as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome.”

That’s good news, because modern life has not been kind to this second genome – often called our microbiome. Factors like processed foods, the overuse of antibiotics, environmental toxins and less time spent outdoors have drastically reduced the diversity of microbes we carry.

That’s a big deal, because as Pollan explains “Disorders in our internal ecosystem — a loss of diversity, say, or a proliferation of the ‘wrong’ kind of microbes — may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections.”

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Now it’s easy to gloss over this . . .

And think “yeah, yeah, lots of factors go into metabolism.” That’s true, but get this: In this study, researchers “took two groups of mice whose digestive tracts had been sterilized. In the first group, they colonized the mice’s intestines with flora from an obese cage mate. In the second group, they colonized the intestines with flora from a lean mouse. They then fed these two groups of mice the same diet for 2 weeks.” (source) The mice who received the microbes from the obese mouse gained more weight, despite comparable food intake and intake levels.

Other studies have demonstrated that microbes implanted from lean mice into overweight mice caused the mice to lose weight. To me, this research is not really about weight loss or gain, but rather a reminder that our lifestyle choices are impacted by the health of our internal microbiome.

So how do we encourage a diverse microbiome?

By serving up hearty meals for our one-hundred trillion, of course! According to Stanford microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg, “The safest way to increase your microbial biodiversity is to eat a variety of polysaccharides.” (source)

In case you are wondering, that’s smart guy speak for the things that nourish our gut bacteria – fiber and resistant starch for example. Now, you already know what fiber is, but chances are you are asking yourself . . .

What is resistant starch?

Unlike probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that we take internally through supplementation or fermented foods, resistant starch is a prebiotic – aka food for our bacteria.

Dr. Amy Nett explains it this way:

“Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates, or at least indigestible to us, that reach the colon intact and selectively feed many strains of beneficial  bacteria. Prebiotics are generally classified into three different types: non-starch polysaccharides (such as inulin and fructooligosaccharide), soluble fiber (including psyllium husk and acacia fibers), and resistant starch (RS). Each of these types of prebiotics feeds different species of gut bacteria, but among these, RS is emerging as uniquely beneficial.” (source)

When beneficial bacteria feed on resistant starch, they produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which help to increase metabolism, decrease inflammation and improve stress resistance. (source)

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How I incorporate resistant starch into meals

Bacteria have favorite foods just like we do, so I incorporate a variety of resistant starches to nourish different populations. There are three basic types of naturally occurring types:

Type 1 RS is “physically inaccessible, bound within the fibrous cell walls of plants. This is found in grains, seeds, and legumes.” (source)

Type 2 RS is “Starch with a high amylose content, which is indigestible in the raw state.  This is found in potatoes, green (unripe) bananas, and plantains.  Cooking these foods causes changes in the starch making it digestible to us, and removing the resistant starch.” (source) Tigernuts also belong to this category. They’re very sweet and can be eaten as a snack whole, or ground into a flour to bake with. (For info on the brand I use, check out the Pantry Staples section on this page.)

Note: We don’t eat raw potatoes, but raw potato starch (not flour) can be consumed in smoothies. However, even after cooking potatoes there’s still a way to benefit from the resistant starch they contain. More info in the next paragraph.

Type 3 RS is “Also called retrograde RS since this type of RS forms after Type 1 or Type 2 RS is cooked and then cooled.  These cooked and cooled foods can be reheated at low temperatures, less than 130 degrees and maintain the benefits of RS (6).  Heating at higher temperatures will again convert the starch into a form that is digestible to us rather than ‘feeding’ our gut bacteria.  Examples include cooked and cooled parboiled rice, cooked and cooled potatoes, and cooked and cooled properly prepared (soaked or sprouted) legumes.” (source)

In my kitchen, the preferred sources of resistant starch are cold potato salad with homemade mayo, tigernut milk (recipe coming soon), tigernut flour cookies (recipe coming soon), rice and bean salad, dehydrated green banana chips, and smoothies made with green bananas or plantains – sometimes with an additional resistant starch flour added in. (Options are tigernut flour, green banana flour, plantain flour, and organic potato starch.)

We take care to vary the sources so that we don’t overfeed any particular population, and we include both soluble and insoluble fiber from lightly cooked, raw or fermented vegetables. Research suggests it works synergistically with resistant starch to encourage a diverse microbiome, and is especially important to include with RS2 starch found in green bananas, plantains and raw potatoes.

Of course, I also include high quality probiotics (you can find info on the two I take here) and fermented foods to increase the number good guys in my gut.

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Is resistant starch for everyone?

Not necessarily. According to Dr. Nett, “If you experience marked GI distress with even small amounts of RS, this may be an indication of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or microbial dysbiosis, and you may need to consider working with a healthcare practitioner to establish a more balanced gut microbiome through the use of herbal antimicrobials and probiotics before adding RS or other prebiotics.” (source)

Her advice: “If you choose to try supplementing with RS, start with small doses of about ¼ teaspoon once daily, and very gradually increase the amount as tolerated.  Some increased gas and bloating is expected as your gut flora changes and adapts, but you do not want to feel uncomfortable.  If you experience marked discomfort, then decrease the amount you’re taking for a few days until your symptoms resolve, and then try increasing again gradually.

Studies indicate that the benefits of resistant starch may be seen when consuming around 15 to 30 grams daily (equivalent to two to four tablespoons of potato starch).  This may be too much for some people to tolerate, particularly in the setting of gut dysbiosis, and going above this amount is not necessarily beneficial.” (source)

My personal approach is a little less methodical. Though we did start slow to minimize the chance of discomfort/bloating, we now simply incorporate resistant starch into recipes when it makes sense. When I make tigernut flour cookies I don’t measure how much each one contains to ensure that everyone is getting the “ideal” amount. We just enjoy the cookies! And the potato salad, and the other goodies we include to feed our 100 trillion. So far it has worked well for us!

Have you tried adding resistant starch to your diet? Why or why not?

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