Hidden Dangers: Be Aware Of Your Environment!

It will likely not come as a surprise to anyone that dangerous toxins are in the environment, both in the cities we live as well as our homes. We are careful to monitor where household chemicals are stored and do research on such toxins as carbon monoxide, lead and radon. What needs to be remembered is that there are many chemicals, dyes, and other potentially dangerous substances to examine as well.

These concerns have garnered controversy because many of these products have been deemed “safe”. However, the tests done by researchers indicate that at the very least there is cause for some caution. The good news is that more activists and groups are making people aware of what dangers exist. When there is awareness and education, changes can be made. Success in any type of production is reliant on consumers, and if enough consumers make their concerns known, changes can be made. Alternative products without harmful chemicals will become the higher demand.

We will be discussing some of the chemicals and additives that have been found to cause reactions as mild as a simple skin irritation to potential carcinogens, or cancer causing agents. Education about what is put into our environment will challenge those who are responsible to make changes as well as limit our exposure to these toxins when possible.

Air And Water Concerns

The Environmental Protection Agency has the job of locating and identifying superfund sites, or sites that are required to report their output of toxic chemicals. Cleanup requirements are monitored, and any violations are supposed to be reported and made public information. To find the chemical releases in any given area, simply go to the EPA website  and enter the zip code of the place in question. Click “go” to see a complete rundown of the toxic releases and offending sites.

According to the EPA, six pollutants fit the criteria for being toxic releases. These are sulfur dioxide, lead, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (including ozone). Sulfur dioxide is most often found in areas of refineries, steel mills, and power plants fired by coal or other fuel. The biggest daily offender of carbon monoxide are the areas of heavily congested auto traffic. Any industry that has combustion processes exposes us to nitrogen dioxide, which is suspected to be toxic to development and the respiratory system. The ozone layer, which is essentially the major component in the smog caused by traffic congestion and factory pollutants, has been a concern for many years because of the potential damage to even healthy lungs and cardiovascular systems. Particulate matter from the air pollution comes in varying sizes, with the smaller particles having the easiest time breaking through our defenses.

Many of these toxins can be found in the soil and water as well as in the air we breathe. Lead is often found in old water pipes. It is known to have  many potential health effects, especially on the cardiovascular system, brain development, and the kidneys. Old homes and furniture may have lead based paint, which was especially a concern with parents using older baby cribs passed down from family members. While many of these toxins cannot be completely avoided, education in knowing where they are and what might be causing that rash or persistent cough is important. Education gives a community a voice that can enact change if enough people speak.

Check Around The House!

There are a lot of things that come to mind with household dangers, most of which are simple common sense. Make sure outlets are covered, make sure wiring is updated, keeping the kitchen and the bathroom areas clean, and always keep cleaning products stored away from small hands. However, it’s important to note some of the dangers that might not come as readily to mind. Small symptoms such as unexplained stomach discomfort or a rasping cough might be eased if the offending products are tended to or removed.

One commonly used household item that can be a potential danger is the cleaning sponge. The very thing that is meant to keep our kitchen and dishes clean can also be the perfect environment for germs and bacteria. It’s a good idea to make sure and replace kitchen and household sponges often. Mold is another hidden danger that may not be obvious unless professionally checked. Upon buying a new home, there should always be an inspection for hazards such as mold and proper upkeep and maintenance to keep mold from forming is essential to protect the family against this particular danger. Mold can cause serious physical reactions such as skin irritations, respiratory issues, and even neurological problems.

Even more important to know are the concerns about the products that are deemed “safe” and yet are under fire by many environmental groups. Food dyes such as Blue 1 and Red 40 have been found to cause allergic reactions in certain people. The studies have been conflicting as far as the carcinogenic dangers of these food dyes, but the acknowledgement of triggering allergic reaction is concerning enough. Another component in many baby bottles and other products made of polycarbonate plastic is bisphenola-A or BPA. It has been deemed safe, however the concerns are due to the incidents of early-onset puberty in girls and other dangers such as obesity and breast cancer. There is a strong effort to make all pending products of this nature BPA free.

What Can Be Done?

It can seem very overwhelming to think of what can cause harm right in our own homes or in the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s important not to let that hinder the education that is needed. Being aware not only gives an edge in protection against these toxins, it lets the industries in question know that people are aware. Producers of these toxic chemicals will have to answer to more regulations if the people speak loudly enough. One thing that can be done is to keep up with the EPA website. They are constantly updating their data and will show what sites are superfund, or under regulation to report chemical outputs and means of disposal.

Prevention of such chemicals as BPA and food dyes/additives does require making sure that it is known exactly what is in  the products used at home. If plastic baby bottles and nipples are used, consider buying from some of the environmentally friendly stores and websites that offer BPA free products and natural rather than chemical dyes. Reading what is in the products around the house and researching their potential side effects is very important in knowing what is truly lurking in the cabinets and shelves.

Prevention of mold buildup in the home is greatly increased simply by making sure all appliances such as water heaters, washing machines and refrigerators are working and not  leaking anywhere. Mold thrives in wet, moist environments and the longer that it is unattended, the worse it will get. Rather than spend the money to clean and remove mold, prevention by simple household maintenance will go much farther in keeping the family safe.

We can’t live in a vacuum – at some point, we are going to be exposed to substances that can be harmful. The key is to reduce the chance of that exposure by knowing exactly what the dangers are and where they might be hiding in the home or environment.

For more information, check out the Environmental Protection Agency website at

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


Asperger Syndrome: Symptoms, Detection, Possible Causes and Therapies

It is true that we have become a world of politically correct speech and everything must have a name. However, it should also be noted that there truly are conditions which need to be understood. Autism is something that is having more education and awareness brought to the forefront of the medical community, and along with this education includes studying the spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders that fall into the autism scale. One of these conditions is known as Asperger Syndrome. To look at a child that has this condition, one would not see anything on the outside that indicates anything other than the norm. This is true with many of these psychological disorders that seem to have skyrocketed in diagnosis during the last half century. However, to look beyond the surface is to see a mind that is highly functioning and yet far from typical.

The term Asperger Syndrome, or Asperger Disorder, was first used in the early 1980’s by the psychiatrist Lorna Wing in a written case study. Dr. Wing is also the mother of an autistic child, so her interest in studying the symptoms and history of others who had previously studied was very strong. The name comes from one of the first pediatricians to actually start charting the behavior and study patterns of children that had atypical patterns of speech and social interaction – an Austrian doctor named Hans Asperger. One of his first studies was done during wartime in 1944. He wrote of four children who were patients of his that exhibited a sense of ‘disconnect’ with other children. They were unable to read simple body language cues and were often very uncoordinated physically.

By this time, autism had been recognized, and with no other condition that was comparable, Asperger referred to the disorder as ‘autistic psychopathy’. He also believed strongly that they not only had a place in society, but were indeed capable of great achievements under the right circumstance. The paper was not widely circulated and was written in German, but when Dr. Wing read it, she was inspired to write her own paper from this early study of high functioning autism. The official diagnostic name came about in 1992. Since then, more attention has been paid to Asperger Syndrome and how to detect the signs early on so therapies and treatments can begin.

Asperger Syndrome Symptoms and Early Detection

Asperger Syndrome often makes itself known to parents when their child starts any kind of pre-school or setting where peers are present. Children with Asperger’s are likely to have a lot of trouble adjusting and don’t interact well with others their age. There is a ‘blank’ effect when exposed to anyone else’s pain or discomfort – in other words, they lack any real empathy for others. They don’t react well to changes in routine and will often miss the cues of body language or a change in a person’s tone of voice. For example, if the child is misbehaving and the parent speaks in a firm, loud voice telling them to stop, the response will likely be to continue the behavior. They simply don’t ‘get’ that changes in tone can mean anything significant.

In a bit of a twist, while the child may not be developing at the typical rate socially, they often exceed in other areas. The speech of a child with Asperger’s is not the usual way children of their age group speak. They will often use old-fashioned, formal words that almost seem to be more appropriate for another time period. Rather than saying “I am here” they may say something such as “I have arrived”. Another aspect is the ‘one sided’ conversation. Children with Asperger’s will often be very knowledgeable on one particular thing such as space travel or a time in history. They will talk incessantly about that one subject, but when the attempt is made to divert the child’s attention, they will often stare blankly and not respond.

Motor skills in children with Asperger’s are often delayed. Simple tasks may take longer to learn such as handwriting and using food utensils, and the walking is often awkward and unbalanced. There is also the possibility that the child will have a more intense reaction to heightened stimulation such as bright lights or sudden loud sounds.

Possible Causes of Asperger Syndrome

When a parent hears that their child has any type of developmental delay, the first question is often “Why?” As with many pervasive developmental disorders, the actual cause is not known. There are many theories, one of the most prevalent being that there is a genetic link. When Hans Asperger was studying his patients that all had these similar traits, he also found that there were less obvious traits in family members, in particular the fathers. Research is being conducted daily, however at this time there has not been a specific gene determined that is a common link in children with Asperger’s. One of the reasons that the theory continues to be studied is because of the genetic links that have been found in some cases of autism spectrum disorder. While Asperger’s does fall into the spectrum of autism, it is considered unique in the way it manifests itself.

Along with the studies of genetic links, there are also the possible connection to teratogen exposure. These are the components that cause certain birth defects, usually within the first two months of conception. Environmental factors have also been theorized, but there is nothing conclusive at this time. The fact is, as much as we have learned about the brain and central nervous system, we are light years from truly understanding what can cause someone to be ‘wired’ differently. What is known is that it seems to show itself early on with speech and social development delays.

Until the answer of ‘why’ can be determined, what doctors and other medical professionals are focusing on is how to manage the disorder. Asperger’s children have their own unique set of challenges when dealing with the day to day routines. They will likely not share or play very well with others and will not react to another’s pain or happiness. Along with these challenges, many children with Asperger’s have areas where they not only excel, they can reach genius levels. Dr. Asperger noted that his students were ‘little professors’ and felt that they had every chance of success if given the right opportunities.

Asperger Syndrome Therapies and Management

Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

What is important to note with those who have Asperger’s is that ‘natural’ social skills that come from typical child development need to be taught on a consistent basis. As with any pervasive psychological disorder, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better. There is no one way to treat Asperger’s as it varies from each individual. The important thing is to remain on a routine that a child feels comfortable with and with the right therapy, many of them grow up to be fully functioning adults capable of relationships and successful lives.

Occupational therapy as well as physical (if needed) and cognitive behavior therapies are done on a daily basis, with consistency and structured routine in the early years. Structured routine is not to be confused with the repetitive routine of some of the obsessive behaviors in Asperger’s children. These behaviors keep them from being able to focus on other things they need to be learning. Their obsessions, such as building, designing, or learning about one certain subject can be channeled in their favor, but only if it is met with a balance.

Medications are sometimes given to Asperger’s children, but only if there is another diagnosed issue such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or debilitating anxieties. Medication should be monitored closely and should never take the place of the extensive therapies needed. Most importantly, the child needs parental support and encouragement. The parents should be working along with the therapists to keep the routine consistent.

In these days of over-diagnosis, especially with children’s behavior disorders, it is important to remember that there was a time when anyone who did not fit in with the norm of how people were expected to act were often outcasts. Perhaps some of the misunderstood geniuses of the past had some of the same traits as what we now call Asperger’s. Most likely it is our own need to give a name to something… and to try to understand it further once it can be identified. In the long run, it is much better to overdo it than to not do anything at all.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011

For more detailed information and resources about Asperger Syndrome:



What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

In the last couple of decades, we have been hearing more about the co-existence of chronic bronchitis and emphysema and the serious long term and sometimes fatal effects of these illnesses. The old adage that ‘smoking cigarettes is bad for your health’ is one that we all know, and sadly many don’t take seriously until there is no choice. While there are other causes that lead to COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, it cannot be argued that the number one offender is smoking. There are however other risk factors that will be discussed further in the article.

In simplest definitions, COPD is inclusive of both emphysema and recurring bronchitis constricting the airwaves and making it extremely difficult to breathe. Bronchitis is caused by a recurrent cough where there is over production of mucus in the lungs, causing the airwaves to become constricted. Emphysema is when the lungs have become so damaged that the air space walls become destroyed. Because of the lack of air getting through the passages, a person with these conditions are more susceptible to serious pulmonary infections as well as other illnesses. They will often complain of feeling tired or lethargic, as well as having deep, productive coughing spells along with periods of being very nearly unable to breathe. This is especially true after exercise or during periods of extreme stress. In contrast to other conditions of the air passages (such as asthma), COPD as a rule worsens rather than improves with time. The sad thing is, many blow off the symptoms to ‘smoker’s cough’ or simply having a worse than normal cold. For thousands of people worldwide, that choice is a fatal one.

The most important thing to remember if someone you know has COPD caused by smoking cigarettes – there is no need to constantly reiterate to them what caused their condition. Many end up being on oxygen which takes cigarettes out of the equation, and they are quite aware of what got them in this position. Of course, the obvious solution for many, many cases of COPD is to never have smoked in the first place, but to harp on that is not going to solve the issue at hand. As in all things, a little compassion goes a long way, and the important thing is to get diagnosed and take the steps to get better. The first step to that is to learn what the symptoms are.

Symptoms of COPD

Symptoms of COPD (Credit: Istockphoto/

Obviously, the number one sign that a person might be suffering from COPD is a chronic, productive cough. When there is simply something in the lungs that needs excised, a cough or two will get rid of it. However, in chronic bronchitis, the cough may be producing mucus, but the air passages have become so narrowed that it does not rid the lungs and instead builds up. This keeps exacerbating the problem, and the person is perpetually trying to cough up a never ending production of mucus.

Another symptom is a constant shortness of breath also known as dyspnea or ‘air hunger’. Chronic shortness of breath can occur over periods of weeks or even months. This can lead to acute exacerbation of the disease, which is when the ability to draw breath becomes so difficult that it becomes an emergency situation. This is often triggered by a bacterial infection.  Rattling of the lungs, also known as rhonci, is yet another symptom of COPD. This is when the breathing has a ‘rattling’ sound similar to snoring, that is constantly present.  If the flare-up is bad, it can cause a bluish discoloration to the lips.

If these symptoms are present, and medical attention is sought, one of the first things that will be done are pulmonary function tests. This will be to see how far the condition has progressed and if it is reversing or getting better as time goes on. If the condition gets progressively worse, with no signs of significant improvement, treatment for COPD is recommended. While it is true that the number one cause is cigarette smoking, there are also other risk factors which have to be taken into consideration. After all, you don’t want to assume that just because you don’t smoke cigarettes that there is no risk of having this disease.

Who Is At Higher Risk for COPD?

COPD was often referred to as ‘smoker’s cough’ because many of its sufferers are also smokers. The numbers are high – almost 90% – and the longer a person smokes, the more risk they put themselves for COPD. Smoking cigarettes has long been known to worsen pre-existing lung conditions, but COPD is thought by many in the medical field to actually be caused by smoking over a period of years. The high concentration of the many free radicals that are in tobacco smoke cause the air sacs to become damaged, and the overproduction of mucus to counteract the irritants compounds the problem.

While there is still long term research being conducted, there are indications that people living in urban areas where there is a lot of traffic congestion and factory smoke are more susceptible to contracting COPD than those who live in the country. There are significantly less cases from air pollution as well as occupational hazards (such as coal mining) than cigarettes, however the environment is a very real factor in cases of COPD, especially in non-smokers.

Genetics is another factor in cases of COPD, and it does once again come back to smoking. Quite simply, not everyone who smokes cigarettes gets this condition, and it is thought that there are genetic deficiencies which make the lungs more susceptible to the effects of tobacco smoke. Studies have shown that if the body makes an insufficient amount of the protein alpha 1 antitrypsin due to a genetic condition, it is possible that the lungs are more vulnerable to the effects of tobacco smoke.

Treatments and Living with COPDA

In the last ten years, there have been more treatments made available for COPD. Obviously, if smoking is the issue, then it is essential to quit.  Although COPD is a progressive disease, the flare-ups can be reduced with smoking cessation. There are also several medications that are now made for the treatment of recurring symptoms from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Bronchodilators are most often used in the beginning, which act as a quick relief to narrowed air passages. Anticholinergic bronchodilaters relax the air passages, giving way for more ease in drawing breath. They come in the form of aerosol containers or ‘puffers’, Atrovent being one of the most widely prescribed.  Other types of treatment are antibiotics for bacterial infections that can result with a flare-up as well as oral bronchodilater therapy such as theophylline.

Less often, inhaled corticosteroids, most often used for asthma treatment, have been somewhat effective for COPD. Since there are side effects with any kind of steroid, this type of treatment is reserved for when regular bronchodilaters are not being effective. Oxygen maintenance is often used, especially in advanced cases of COPD. This is when oxygen is administered  in metered doses from one of three devices – oxygen concentrator, liquid system or a cylinder. This is done either on a constant basis or as needed. Some people only need oxygen when they are actively exercising, while others need more full-time maintenance.

As with many long-term illnesses, COPD is something that is treated rather than cured. Early diagnosis can lead to effective treatment that will delay the disease from going any further and if caught soon enough, can even reverse some of the damage done. Pay attention to any symptoms that include a deep, productive cough, periods of exhaustion from simple exercise, difficulty in taking a deep breath, and constant wheezing or ‘rattling’ in the lungs, most especially if you are a smoker. COPD has the potential to not only take away the quality of your lifestyle, but also to take life – at any age.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Karen Witusik-Morfu, who sadly passed away in October of 2011 from a pulmonary infection stemming from COPD just a few days shy of her 39th birthday. She left behind her husband and two beautiful children along with many family and friends who cherished her.

Please, take heed of any symptoms and get medical attention. Not later – now.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


Risks and Dangers of Antidepressants

“I don’t know what’s wrong. I just want to be left alone.”

These are words that can fill a parent with a sense of helplessness. It is expected that teenagers will have periods of up and down moods, but when the mood stays in a perpetual state of “down”, it can be very concerning. Articles on the subject are filled with the saddest stories of young lives interrupted by suicide, leaving devastated family and friends to decipher the reasons why.

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of depression can range from agitation, fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, a drastic change in sleeping or eating patterns, no interest in activities that were once enjoyed, or complete withdrawal from loved ones and friends. No parent wants to see their child succumb to this, and many seek medical attention. This often includes intense therapy and a complete physical, which may lead to prescribing an antidepressant medication.

According to statistics, at least 20% of teens will be diagnosed with depression at some point. Many of those teens will be prescribed an antidepressant, which is of course intended to alleviate the feelings of despair. Antidepressants are said to work by adjusting the body’s serotonin levels, or the transmitters that regulate moods. The lower these levels are, the more prone a person is thought to be toward depression.


There are many different types of antidepressants on the market today, which generally fall into one of three classes: SSRI’s, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, TCA’s (trycyclic antidepressants) and MAOI’s (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors–made in the 1950’s, these were one of the earliest forms of antidepressants.)

Fluoxetine – Prozac


The most common one prescribed to teenagers is fluoxetine, or Prozac. This falls under the SSRI class, in which the serotonin is inhibited from overloading in the presynaptic cell where it is first transmitted and is increased to the synaptic cleft of the brain. This is supposed to regulate the levels, and ideally keeps the mood on an even keel.

Fluoxetine and its derivatives are the only antidepressants that are approved for children between the ages of 5 and 18. For the cases where it is well-tolerated, there has been relief to some degree for these teens who are in the depths of despair. The problem is, very often cases of depression are over diagnosed, especially in teenagers. Under the best of circumstances, the teen years are filled with an upheaval of emotions and feelings that often overwhelm them. It is important not to mistake the normal ups and downs of growing up with an actual chemical imbalance.

Antidepressants Risks Dangers and Suicidal Thoughts

Considering there are many schools of thought that have serious doubts about their effectiveness when it is warranted, it is essential to make sure your child’s health is in the hands of someone that will exhaust all other possibilities and will do a complete physical exam with blood tests if indeed an antidepressant is prescribed. The reason this should be taken so seriously is because antidepressants have been found to have an extreme side effect in children and young adults. Suicidal thoughts and actions have increased in many of the patients taking them, especially those in their late teens and early twenties. The warning falls under the category of a “black box”, which requires this side effect to be listed plainly in bold print on the prescription itself.

How does it happen that a medication which is intended to treat a disorder that debilitates people to the point of being unable to function has such a horrible potential side effect? One of the reasons may be related to a specific genetic marker. Researchers have found that the serotonin receptor 5H2A has different variations in people. Common variations have been found in those that have ceased medication due to side effects, which may answer why some people experience problems with antidepressants making the problem


Giving antidepressants to anyone who is not actually suffering from depression can take a temporary upset and turn it into a full-blown problem.

A reputable doctor will be cautious in prescribing medications and perform all necessary tests before doing so. If medication is warranted, side effects should be monitored carefully. This holds true of all patients, but especially those between the ages of 15-25. Whatever the reason, be it genetically related or otherwise, the fact is that many people react as badly to the antidepressant as they do the depression – in some cases, much worse.

Even with fluoxetine being approved, the warnings are still plainly listed. It is a very serious side effect to consider – the possibility that this pill may cause a young person to want to commit suicide. Depression is a genuine illness and should receive medical attention without a doubt, however the presence of medication should always be seriously thought out, examined, and carefully monitored. Remember, the pharmaceutical companies are a business. They are set up to make money, and new “wonder pills” are produced daily for us to “make it all better”. This is why it is so important to research any medication prescribed as well as its side effects and how much time has been spent in clinical trials.

Antidepressants and Withdrawal Problems

Another danger in antidepressants is withdrawal. If side effects are present, it is not as simple as “stop taking it”. These medications build up in the body and to suddenly remove them will cause the side effects to become worse. If side effects are present, the physician needs to be contacted immediately so a carefully monitored withdrawal can take place. This usually involves reducing the medication slowly until the body is no longer dependent. There is also the factor of the time it takes for the medication to take effect once started. It takes a few weeks for an antidepressant to have noticeable results, and in the meantime, the person is still left feeling hopeless. This is another reason that therapy must be accompanied with medical treatment.

Should Antidepressants be Avoided?

Should antidepressants be avoided altogether? No, not necessarily. They have been lifesavers for some people, but the fact is there are far too many of these medications coming out that have not had enough time to go through the testing to determine what side effects they have or if indeed they will work at all. For this reason, there are no antidepressants that are approved for teenagers other than Fluoxetine to treat depression. Lexapro, another SSRI, is the exception as it has been approved to treat issues such as Social Anxiety or Obsessive/Compulsive disorders in younger people. Other SSRI’s, such as Paxil have not been approved – and yet doctors prescribed these medications to younger patients until 2003 when the FDA specifically stated that paroxetine (Paxil) was not to be prescribed to children and teens.

The fact is, a pill does not make life better. If needed, it is a tool to assist someone in the ability to see the dreams. It is still up to the person to achieve them.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


Just Say "No" To Drugs (Unless of course we give them to you)



ADHD and Food Additives The Honest Information

Parents of children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are faced with many challenges. Often they have incredibly intelligent kids that won’t slow down, and behavior issues can make everyday life a battle of wills.

Far too often, medications such as Ritalin and Adderol are prescribed without first examining some basic dietary issues that possibly exacerbate the issue. One of these is food additives, in particular, food dyes.

ADHD and Food Additives The Honest Information

ADHD and Potential Dietary Connections

One of the possible causes or contributors to this behavior has been a child’s diet. Many parents have reported that certain foods seem to make the behavior and impulse control worse. There have been extensive studies done as to the effects of certain foods and especially food additives that may cause a child who is ADHD to have even more trouble paying attention and sitting still. While there is no definitive evidence that this is a cause for the disorder, the studies indicate that it does have a negative effect on the existing behavior.

Columbia University conducted a study in 2004 that examined and cross referenced the data from several controlled trials. The study couldn’t make specific recommendations due to lack of additional information about the test subjects, however it did show there was a distinct consistency with the responders and the research indicating artificial food colorings having a neurotoxic effect.

Food Dyes Are Bad!
Food Dyes Are Bad!

The food dyes in particular to avoid are FD&C Yellow No. 6 (also known as “sunset yellow”), FD&C Yellow No. 5 (or “tartrazine”), D&C Yellow No. 10, and FD&C Red No. 40. The best rule of thumb is to always read the labels for the ingredients and avoid an overabundance of food dyes altogether. The list continues to grow as to what is being tested, so the less processed food in the child’s diet, the better.

In another study done in 2007 at the UK’s University of Southampton showed in double blind placebo controlled testing that when sodium benzoate, a preservative in many processed foods was given to two different age groups, hyperactivity and inattentiveness increased. Considering the amount of processed foods in the modern diet, this is indeed a concern. Although this study indicates a particular preservative that may be making ADHD worse, more research is needed to determine what other food additives may have an adverse effect on behavior and impulse control. While it has not been determined at this time that these additives can actually cause this behavior, there is the possibility of pre-existing genetic factors that can make a child more prone to react adversely to these additives.

Another study done at Southampton in 2010 studied the effects of histamine degradation in test subjects of similar ages to the 2007 research. These genetic variations, which are still being researched, may contribute to the different reactions children have.


A Brief History of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils the Honest Information

Health conscious people search the news and the web daily to find out what new, horrible thing has been discovered about a food or food product.

In the last ten years, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils have received much international attention as more people are educating themselves on prevention of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Foods prepared with these oils are deemed harmful, and even fast food restaurants are responding to these concerns by placing restrictions on how much hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is used.

The process of hydrogenating oil was first marketed in 1911 when the company Proctor and Gamble introduced Crisco as a solid shortening that had a much longer shelf life than other oil products. Hydrogenation takes place by adding a hydrogen molecule to vegetable oil, which consists of hydrocarbons in its natural state. The molecule is forced in by applying heat (as much as 400 degrees) where the existing carbon molecules split and the hydrogen bonds to the split atoms from the existing organic material. This process transfers the liquid oil into a solid, making it a “trans fat”. This affects everything about the oil’s properties, changing fats that were once unsaturated (which are helpful to the human body) into saturated fat. This converted fat may last longer on the shelf and is certainly less expensive than traditional oils and fats as well as being very resistant to high heat temperatures – however the health risks far outweigh any benefits it may have.

Hydrogenated oil was first marketed in 1911 when Proctor and Gamble introduced Crisco
The process of hydrogenating oil was first marketed in 1911 when Proctor and Gamble introduced Crisco

One of the first people to research and publish the facts about how fats and oils affect the body was Dr. Joanna Budwig, creator of the controversial Budwig Anti Cancer Diet in the 1950’s. She maintained that while the body needs essential fatty acids to survive, one must take caution in the amount of fat consumed and in what form. Ideally, these essential fatty acids will work together to create important nutrients for survival, but our bodies need assistance in creating them. Omega-3, Omega-4, and Omega-6 are three EFA’s needed, and can be found in many nutritious foods. Oil rich fish such as salmon and mackerel, olive and flax seed oils, leafy greens (the darker the better), whole grains, eggs and leaner meats are excellent sources of these omega-fatty acids.

Dr. Joanna Budwig
Dr. Joanna Budwig

The saturation from the hydrogenation process continues to heavily load the arteries and the inside of our bodies. Long term use of these fats can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, stroke, and other harmful health risks. Saturated fats from animals and animal by-products have often been critiqued (and rightfully so) as being extremely unhealthy, but hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are even worse than these. They not only raise the “bad” LDL (liproprotein, or low density cholesterol) but the HDL (high density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) is actually lowered in this process. In other words, trans fat is a double whammy, and should be avoided especially in large quantities.

After hearing all of this about the hydrogenated oils, the question may be – what about partially hydrogenated oils? Are they any better due to not being a complete process? In actuality, they are worse! There is not only the potential harm from the consumption of these foods, but they end up inhibiting the body’s ability to absorb the fats that are beneficial. They differ only in that partially hydrogenated oils have a thinner base. Polyunsaturated fat is used rather than unsaturated fat. These processes essentially take perfectly good essential fatty acids that our bodies need and make them unhealthy, with the only benefit being economical. It’s bad for the body on every level, but the sales of these foods continue because of their low price, pleasing taste, and longer shelf life. More sales means more profit. Yes… it’s all about the money.

Some of the foods that people should severely limit or avoid altogether (unless specified on the label) are as follows: vegetable shortening, stick margarine, many processed frozen foods and dinners, non-dairy whipped toppings, microwave popcorn, pasta and sauce mixes, cake mixes, enriched bread, cocoa mix, french fries, commercial breakfast cereals, instant potatoes, and many others. This is why it is so important to read the nutrition label on foods which are now required to show how much hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is in the product. Anything that says “hydrogenated” should be looked at with caution and when possible, replaced with something that has more nutritional value. The hydrogenated cooking fats and spreads are not as high in hydrogenated fat as stick margarine, but should still be used sparingly.

Hydrogenated Oil Information Required on Food Labels

Toxic Trans Fat

Thanks to efforts by many activist groups who have years of medical research to support their statements, food companies and restaurants are now required by law in many places to reveal their information on what hydrogenated oils are used.

Since 2003, Food and Drug Administration regulations dictate that the exact amount of trans fats are shown in the nutrition labels on foods. It can be found directly underneath the “saturated fat” content. The higher those two numbers are, the more the food should be avoided.

It should however be noted that the words “0 trans fat” are misleading. The product may still contain more than half a gram of trans fat per serving size. Eating several servings adds to that number, and many people will do this thinking that the food is safer.

By law, the food companies are allowed to claim “0 trans fat” if there is one half a gram or under, but activists continue to push for this to be changed.

The important thing here to note is that there is no safe “number” or level set for these hydrogenated oils. The wisest choice is to look for alternatives to use a majority of the time.

A study done by The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 surmised that more than 200,000 cases of coronary heart disease could be avoided altogether by replacing these fats with healthier alternatives.

Believe it or not, one of these alternatives is butter.

Small quantities of butter are actually less hazardous than trans fat even though it is a saturated fat. As long as it isn’t overdone, butter as well as tropical oils such as palm and coconut are viable alternatives.

Restaurants have even begun advertising the use of trans fat free cooking. McDonalds as well as Wendy’s and many other commercial fast food places have switched to non-hydrogenated oils such as corn and soy blends, dropping the fat content of the food significantly.

Hydrogenated oils stop the body from absorbing the good fats necessary to stay healthy. Because these fats are inhibited, they end up as waste, and the “hungry” feeling remains – therefore, more is consumed.

It’s much better to eat a well balanced, healthy diet full of good fats such as nuts, avocado, and olive oil as well as generous helpings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

When buying snacks, look for the non-hydrogenated tropical oils on the ingredients, and always be aware that “0” trans fat does not necessarily mean that it is trans fat free.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


Autism the Honest Information

A mother struggles to comfort a toddler who won’t stop screaming. A father wistfully holds a football as he watches his son stare into space, wondering if he will ever play with other children. Two young parents sit in a doctor’s office stunned, as they are informed their child will face a lifetime of challenges. These are scenes playing out all over the world as cases of autism spectrum disorder are on the rise.

The diagnosis of autism often brings more questions than answers. Did I do something to cause this? If not, what did cause this? What can I do for my child? There is also the feeling of disappointment, as everyone has expectations when starting a family. Knowing that a child is going to have challenges is overwhelming, and it is essential for parents to know they did not cause it nor are they alone. There are therapies to assist with communicating and behavior control, along with good support groups.

What Is Autism?

Each case of autism is unique, and cannot be simply summed up. The spectrum is inclusive of a group classified as Pervasive Development Disorders, or delays in social and communication skills.


Funny Cures and Strange Folk Remedies

Folk medicine has been a part of every culture throughout our history. Many folk remedies have been found to be based upon truth. A lot of the medicines we have today were derived from plants. Unfortunately there were many more folk remedies that just didnt seem to make logical sense.

As folk medicine practices grew over the centuries many treatments were developed that were questionable at best. One may want to think twice about using some of these folk remedies as their adverse side effects could sometimes be worse than the condition they were supposed to heal.

As an example of one highly unlikely cure for lockjaw, one was supposed to make a tea with ground up insects and other bugs, cockroaches for preference, and then drink it. It is not mentioned whether the cure was contained in the drink or in the body´s need to forcefully expel the concoction.

Granny's XXX Tonic Remedy
XXX Remedy

A rather painful “cure” for stuttering was to take the shank bone of a freshly slaughtered calf and hit the stutterer in the mouth with it. One primitive culture´s answer to snakebite was to immediately rip a live chicken in half and place one side of the carcass against the wound. As the chicken meat turned green this was taken as a sign the poison was being drawn out. No one has bothered to test this for any possible real solution.

Then there is this dubious cure for warts. According to one folk remedy all one has to do is rub the wart with a piece of red meat and then bury the meat at the full moon. By new moon, two weeks later, the wart is supposed to have gone away.

As one can see, there are any number of strange and bizarre folk remedies that have been tried over the centuries. Many of them have such a sense of “quackery” and folk “superstition” that it is hardly any wonder that all folk remedies are suspect.

However, many folk remedies, and especially herbal treatments, have proven not only effective but are often the basis that modern medicinal practices have modified and improved upon. There are a wide variety of herbs that have proven effective in the treatment of mild to severe ailments, such as coughs due to a cold, rashes caused by poison ivy, or a bad case of nervous tension.

Source – Ezine Articles Written by Simone Mefford and used here with express permission.