Why Cleanse BEFORE you get pregnant!

Are you planning on getting pregnant and starting a family? This is surely an exciting time for you! And I am sure you want to do everything you can do to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Which means that YOU need to be healthy FIRST before getting pregnant! It is not a question IF you have toxicant build up in your body, it is a question of how much. NOW is the time to “clean out”, not when you are pregnant!

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Over the last ten years, many women have joined my cleanse programs to detoxify before they get pregnant. Perhaps these women felt that they were not eating so healthy or drinking too much alcohol. Or they had been on a round of antibiotics or taking NSAIDs like Advil on a regular basis. Regardless, they intuitively felt like they needed to cleanse.

Studies back up these women’s intuition to cleanse before getting pregnant. You see, certain chemicals that are found in a mother’s serum get into the placenta, fetal cord serum, and amniotic fluid. In fact, the placenta barrier is no barrier at all for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In a study of 200 women, PAHs were found in all placentas!. You can be exposed to PAHs in the environment, in your home, and in the workplace. Fumes from vehicle exhaust, coal, coal tar, asphalt, wildfires, agricultural burning and hazardous waste sites are all sources of exposure. You can also be exposed to PAHs by breathing cigarette and tobacco smoke, eating foods grown in contaminated soil, or by eating meat or other food that you grill. Grilling and charring food actually increases the amount of PAHs in the food. Although more human studies are needed on the impact of PAHs on a developing fetus, animal studies showed that mice exposed to 308 parts per million (ppm) of PAHs in food for 10 days (short term exposure) caused birth defects.

A Swedish mothers’ study in 2003 found PBDEs in all samples of maternal blood, cord blood, and breast milk. Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jul;111(9):1235-41. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are organobromine compounds that are used as flame retardants. Like other brominated flame retardants, PBDEs have been used in a wide array of products, including building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were found in all samples as well. PCBs were banned decades ago, so why are they still around? PCBs are highly persistent, which means that they stick around for a long time in our air, water, and soil. PCBs can be carried long distances and have been found in snow and sea water in areas far away from where they were released into the environment. PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. PCBs are found in high amounts in farmed raised salmon and non organic butter!

A review article notes that the main focus of studies of neurological effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in humans has been on the effects in neonates and young children . “A great deal of concern exists that even low levels of PCBs transferred to the fetus across the placenta may induce long-lasting neurological damage. Because PCBs are lipophilic substances, there is also concern that significant amounts might be transferred to nursing infants via breast milk. Studies in humans who consumed large amounts of Great Lakes fish contaminated with environmentally persistent chemicals, including PCBs, have provided evidence that PCB s are important contributors to subtle neurobehavioral alterations observed in newborn children and that some of these alterations persist during childhood. Some consistent observations at birth have been motor immaturity and hyporeflexia and lower psychomotor scores between 6 months and 2 years old.” Effects of PCB’s  **Hyporeflexia is the condition of below normal or absent reflexes (areflexia).

Chemicals like organophosphate pesticides have been found in the cord blood of newborns and in the breast milk. A study of preschool children in Mexico suggests that this exposure may affect neurodevelopment of the children, such as eye-hand coordination, 30-minute memory, and the ability to draw a person. Choosing to eat organic produce, dairy, and meats can greatly decrease your exposure to pesticides!

We do not know exactly what causes autism. But we do know that the rate of autism has dramatically increased and that environmental factors play a role in autism. A great review article on this topic that included studies looking at exposure measures pertaining to pregnancy or the 1st year of life, found that “some environmental exposures showed associations with autism, especially traffic-related air pollutants, some metals, and several pesticides, with suggestive trends for some volatile organic compounds (e.g., methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, and styrene) and phthalates.” Many of these environmental exposures can be minimized! For example, phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes). Just by switching our your personal care products you can decrease your exposure to phthalates!

Getting educated on how to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals and how to get these toxins out of your body through dietary and lifestyle changes is key to a healthy pregnancy and baby!

Getting Back in Touch with Nature at the Farmers’ Market – Why you should go to your local farmers’ market weekly

Nothing like a coyote encounter while walking through the Presidio on an early Sunday morning. It is not the first time, but this time was different. The coyote was walking very slow and right to-ward me, watching me closely. And with no apparent intention of moving off the path. So I moved off the path, giving the coyote as much room as possible. Just a minute later I ran into a couple who informed me that there was a new coyote den and mama was of course very protective. Although coyotes usually go after chickens, rabbits, and sometimes dogs, they are wild and I felt the wild in this coyote.

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This made me think about a five part KQED series I watched called Earth, A New Wild, which explores the frontiers where man and wild animals meet. This is becoming more common as the human population grows and we lose land and forests to development. What I took away from this series is that we are a part to nature; we are NOT separate from nature. No matter how hard we try to separate ourselves from nature with our offices, vehicles, roads, technology, and grocery stores filled with processed foods, we still are a part of this huge ecosystem with all its delicate balances. And since we are a part of nature, we can also be a part of the solution when it comes to loss of forests, fish, animals, and clean oceans. And thankfully, there are so many great organizations dedicated to being a part of the solution.

There is so much that we CAN do, sometimes it feels overwhelming. Where do we start? What if we start simple with visiting a farmers’ market every week and shopping for fresh, local, organic produce, pasture raised eggs, local olive oil, and meats from pasture raised animals? Shopping at a farmers’ market has so many benefits for you and for our earth:

1. You get back in touch with nature by observing the seasons through the produce that is available in the summer, winter, spring, and fall. This is really hard to observe in a grocery store, since we import foods from all over the world!
2. You eat fresh and seasonal foods, which provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep you strong, smart, and healthy. Nutrients were not lost in a long transportation process from another country.
3. You eat organic, which means that your body does not need to detoxify high amounts of pesticides found in conventional produce.
4. By buying foods at a farmers’ market, you support farmers who use sustainable practices, which is good for our earth!
5. You engage your senses: especially visual, taste, and touch. Love the free samples!
6. You score great recipes from the farmers and other folks just eager to share their recipes.
7. Going to the farmers’ market is a fun social activity, whether with your mate, friends or your family. And did I mention all the samples? 🙂
8. The farmers’ market provides good people watching too!