Archive for June, 2012

Why Delay Solids Until At Least 6 Months?

Unfortunately, many health care providers are not up to date on this. (Here is another example of why to not blindly trust your doctor since they may not be up to date!) There has been a large amount of research on this in the recent past, and most health organizations have updated their recommendations to agree with current research. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Health Canada all recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months).

Although some of the reasons listed here assume that your baby is breastfed or fed breastmilk only, experts recommend that solids be delayed for formula fed babies also.

Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.
Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown. One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. (Wilson, 1998) Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits (see Immune factors in human milk).

Delaying solids gives baby’s digestive system time to mature.
If solids are started before a baby’s system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies (see Allergy References). From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.”

20120628-102609.jpg
This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby’s first 4-6 months, while the gut is still “open,” antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby’s digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also. See How Breast Milk Protects Newborns and The Case for the Virgin Gut for more on this subject.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby’s iron absorption. Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia. See Is Iron-Supplementation Necessary? for more information.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood. (for example, see Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)

Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods.

(Source: http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/delay-solids/)

It’s cheaper too, which is a nice perk. We didn’t buy one jar of baby food because I exclusively nursed our first until close to seven months and by then he was old enough to feed himself spears of avocado, pear, etc. (“baby-led weaning“) which were things we already had because we eat them too! I went on to nurse him until he was 19 months and I think delaying solids was a huge reason for that.

Here’s some baby-led weaning in action!
Avocado spear:

20120629-160411.jpg
Sweet potato chunks gone before I could even get the picture:

20120629-160459.jpg

Advertisements

Doulas!

Prior to becoming pregnant with our first, i had never heard of a doula. As it turns out, hiring a doula for that birth was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was on the fence about having a doula until the last few weeks of pregnancy. The decision came to hire our Bradley Method instructor when I realized I would have a lot going on as it is, birthing a baby for the first time, let alone trying to remember everything she taught us at the right time. My husband would be there of course, but this was his first birth too. We weren’t going to pretend like we knew exactly what to do and that we had it covered.

In most cases, the default reaction of a mother-to-be (especially a first timer) is to just do whatever the doctor says. After all, it’s the first baby (or second or third) for the mom and the doctor has delivered presumably hundreds. I definitely can’t fault that way of thinking. Had I not learned as much as I did in that class, I would have just blindly trusted any old doctor as well. But I was informed and hopeful for a natural birth. I knew that our doula would remind me of the tools I had to self-advocate for that birth, and she did!

20120627-081301.jpg

Here’s the facts!

The word doula is a Greek word meaning women’s servant. Women have been serving other women in childbirth for many centuries and have proven that support from another woman has a positive impact on the labor process.

20120627-081756.jpg

They are professionally trained in childbirth to provides emotional, physical and informational support to the mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.

Most doula-client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this period, they develop a relationship where the mother feels free to ask questions, express her fears and concerns, and takes an active role in creating a birth plan. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone in order to respond to her questions or explain any developments that might arise during the course of the pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in many medical aspects of labor and delivery. Consequently, they can help their clients gain a better understanding of the procedures and possible complications of late pregnancy or delivery.

During delivery, doulas are in constant and close proximity to the mother. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain relief techniques that include breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and laboring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula provides the mother with the tools to self-advocate, encouraging and helping her fulfill specific desires that she might have for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth.

After the birth, many labor doulas will spend some time helping mothers begin the breastfeeding process and encouraging bonding between the new baby and other family members.

Benefits:
Numerous studies have documented the benefits of having a doula present during labor. A recent Cochrane Review, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, showed a very high number of positive birth outcomes when a doula was present. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience (Hodnett ED et al 2003)

Other studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%. Doulas also increase breastfeeding success and overall satisfaction of labor (Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus, 1993).

Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor. According to physicians Marshal Klaus and John Kennell, massage helps stimulate the production of natural oxytocin. The pituitary gland secretes natural oxytocin to the bloodstream, causing uterine contractions, and to the brain, resulting in a feelings of well being, drowsiness and higher pain threshold. By contrast, because synthetic IV oxytocin cannot cross into both the blood stream and the brain, it increases contractions without the positive psychological benefits of natural oxytocin.

Doulas are amazing!

They do NOT take over the husband/partners role (in fact they can support the husbands as well) and are NOT just for women seeking out an unmedicated birth or even those having a vaginal birth. The doula we used for our second child was there to support me throughout the gentle cesarean birth that brought him to us. She was worth every penny even though there was considerably less for her to “do” she did everything I could have hoped for throughout that birth.

I would without a doubt use a doula if I had to do it all over again and if we have anymore kids, there will be a doula!

For all the doulas out there!

20120627-081839.jpg

Source: American Pregnancy Association.

Healthy Baby Hip and Muscle Development

While jumparoos, walkers, and exersaucers can come in rather handy at times and baby carriers/wraps are ideal for deepening the parent-infant bond, be cautious of overuse and improper hip placement. It’s highly recommended to only use jumparoos, walkers, exersaucers and the like for 20 TOTAL minutes or less per day. Also when using baby carriers and wraps, as well as car seats, placements of baby’s legs/hips is vital.

20120623-114318.jpg

Here’s why (This is taken from a parenting forum where a pediatric physical therapist chimed in to the discussion):

“Saucers, jumpers, walkers, etc. do nothing to enhance development, and can actually delay the achievement of milestones by several weeks. Essentially, to give a quick summary, standing in a saucer is not the same as actively standing while say holding onto a couch. The muscles work in a different pattern that is less desirable. This has been backed up by EMG studies, where they read the electrical output of different muscles and look at the patterns in which they are activated. Babies in saucers tend to be pitched forward onto their toes, which isn’t a normal posture and can theoretically lead to tip toe walking down the road (an abnormal gait pattern). Their abdominal muscles aren’t activeley engaged like they would be while actively standing. Their gluteal (butt) muscles aren’t engaged the same way they would be while standing on their own. This allows them to stand with a sway-backed posture that isn’t particularly healthy.

There have been excellent twin studies showing that even in typically-developing kids, the twin that used a walker walked on average 6 weeks later than the non walker using twin. Most therapists would say this can be applied to saucer use as well. Studies have shown saucers to delay sitting, crawling and walking milestones. Many parents will say their child used a saucer and walked early, but that isn’t really a fair assessment, as their child may have walked even earlier if they *didn’t* use one.

In a typically developing kid, it is less of a concern than a child at risk of delays (preemies, low muscle tone, etc.) However, not all parents know if their child is delayed or at risk of delays either.

The recommendation of most pediatric PTs I’ve known is to limit their use entirely if you can. If you insist on using one, don’t use it for more than 20 mins a day, and be aware of how fast that time adds up (10 mins while you shower, 10 mins during a phone call, 30 mins while you make dinner, 10 mins while you clean up, 5 mins while you go to the bathroom…). It adds up more quickly than people realize. Also if the child shows any signs of fatigue (slouching over, slumping, leaning to one side) they should be removed before 20 mins total, and hopefully beforehand.

I know mamas need to shower and do things around the house…I can sympathize, believe me. Just keep in mind saucers are all marketing, and there is no real benefit to be had from your child using them. The manufacturers make parents feel like they really enhance development, when the opposite is true. The best “tool” for helping a child develop motor skills is floor time…supervised tummy time, just playing on the floor w/ your baby. If you need to contain them for safety, a playpen still allows them to practice their motor skills without getting into trouble if you are in the shower and can’t supervise, for example.”

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute says:

“The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time. Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.

Some types of baby carriers and other equipment may interfere with healthy hip positioning. Such devices include but are not limited to baby carriers, slings, wraps, pouches, car seats, exercisers, rockers, jumpers, swings, bouncers and walkers, and molded seating items. These devices could inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position, especially when used for extended periods of time. Any device that restrains a baby’s legs in an unhealthy position should be considered a potential risk for abnormal hip development. It is also important to assess the size of the baby and match the device and carrier to the size of the child so that the hips can be in a healthy position during transport. Parents are advised to research the general safety and risks of any device they wish to use. When in doubt, we recommend involving your primary health-care provider in any further decision-making that may be medically relevant.”

They also share some very helpful graphics, including a common incorrect way to wear baby:

Incorrect

20120623-113601.jpg
This is often called the “crotch dangle” and it is not good for baby’s hips as you see here:

20120623-115444.jpg

Correct

20120623-113642.jpg
Baby is supported all the way to the knee.

20120623-115614.jpg

They also show helpful pictures on car seats and ring slings.

Happy safe bouncing, saucering and wearing!

So Long, Blind Trust!

Blind trust in and of itself is not a bad thing, in fact, I wish we actually could just blindly trust our doctors! I wouldn’t have to think so much and do as much homework. Unfortunately the vast majority of doctors just do not have their patients best interests in mind. I can say that because “evidence-based practice” is growing among practitioners. The ones that have their patients best interests in mind lean heavily toward EBF (“Evidence-based medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.” (Sackett D et al. Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2nd edition. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2000, p.1)).

In the case of childbirth for instance, you will hear many things that are simply just NOT TRUE. Here’s a short list for starters:
-Epidurals do not affect the baby
-You cannot eat during labor
-You have to birth on your back
-You can only push when dilated to 10cm
-Going past 40 weeks is dangerous
-Labor starts when your water breaks
-Babies are often too big to birth naturally
-An umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s head is dangerous
-Inductions are safe

20120611-145651.jpg

Prior to becoming educated on birth (through our birth class and further self-study) “going past 40 weeks is dangerous” is the only one that I knew to be false. I believed everything else listed! Even without doing actual research, if you stop and think about some of these, it becomes clear that they can’t be true.
-Epidurals do not affect the baby – ok, we can’t take ibuprofen while pregnant but we can get an epidural?
-You have to birth on your back – women practically every where else in the world birth in a variety of positions so that one is just ignorant.
-You can only push when dilated to 10cm – I find this to be a doozy. How do they measure how many cm you are dilated? Finger widths. Last I checked not everyone on the planet has the same size fingers.
-Going past 40 weeks is dangerous – due date is estimated by the last menstrual period, not by conception date and some women have longer cycles

20120611-145822.jpg

Perhaps you are a man, or not with child. Let’s consider your own health then. Are you on prescription medications? Did you know COUNTLESS people end up going off their medications when they eat right? Long story short, eating right = whole foods plant based diet. That might not sound appealing, so it might depend on how serious you are about your health. Unfortunately America has not made it easy to eat right. AT ALL. So don’t feel bad if you’re in the fence. Do yourself a favor though and watch the documentaries that I mentioned the other day. You will hear about and see people whose severe melanoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma went away in a matter of a few months. You will learn:
-That there is only a very small percent of people who develop cancer due to something in their DNA
-That depression can (and is) treated with high doses of niacin
-That there is something called megavitamin therapy with research that’s not easily accessible to the general public
-That there is a study on the entire country of China that clearly shows less disease due to better nutrition.
-That cancer after cancer has been CURED with food (and subsequent detoxing of the body)

20120611-150047.jpg

The reason your doctor doesn’t tell you about these things is mostly because they don’t know. How could they not know?? I know! I mean, I hear you; it seems impossible…..until you continue to look into it!! Only 6% of doctors have any professional training in nutrition. It all comes down to who runs things. The drug companies have their hand in everything. These things are only the tip of the iceberg.

Do yourself (and your baby if you are expecting) a favor and do the digging. Of all the things in life to educate yourself on, shouldn’t your health and your child’s health and birth be one of them? I will be posting further information on almost everything mentioned in the months to come. Let’s leave blind trust up to our dogs and take our health into our own hands. You will be amazed at how much power you have!

Got Milk?

When I first learned I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It just made sense to me. As I learned more about it through our childbirth class I became fascinated with it.

One of the most amazing things I learned is the physical interaction between breast tissue and baby’s mouth. To this day I find this completely awesome. When you nurse your baby about a zillion things are happening through that priceless skin to skin contact. Perhaps the coolest is the interaction that takes place with the actual physical contact between tissues. There is an exchange of information about what the baby needs more or less of nutritionally. So the next time they nurse they have more and less of what they need. Your milk is designer milk! It is tailored to your baby’s needs throughout the day. Fascinating, yes? Yes!

20120608-170535.jpg

I am always curious about the facts about anything and it turns out that there is an excellent source for these particular facts, “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries” (April 2007) and it was prepared by a team of investigators at the Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center in Boston. They “screened over 9,000 abstracts. Forty-three primary studies on infant health outcomes, 43 primary studies on maternal health outcomes, and 29 systematic reviews or metaanalyses that covered approximately 400 individual studies were included in this review.”

Since this study is about health outcomes in developed countries, the claims that breast is only best if you don’t have access to clean water or enough money to buy formula can be confidently refuted.

Here is a summary of the scientific facts determined about breastfeeding:

Benefits for baby:
There are a number of health benefits to the breastfed child, some of them are significant and others are less significant. For full term infants the benefits include:

Acute otitis media (middle ear infections): Babies that were ever breastfed had a 23 percent lower incidence of acute otitis media than exclusively formula fed babies.
Atopic dermatitis (type of eczema): In families with a history of atopy, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months was found to have a 42 percent reduction in atopic dermatitis compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months.
Gastrointestinal infections: Infants who were breastfeeding had a 64 percent reduction in the risk of non-specific gastroenteritis compared with infants who were not breastfeeding.
Lower respiratory tract diseases: There is a 72 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract diseases in infants less than 1 year of age who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months or more.
Asthma: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma for those without a family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction for those with a family history of asthma.
Type 1 Diabetes: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months results in between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months (findings confirmed through multiple studies, but some cause for caution in interpreting results).
Type 2 Diabetes: Found a 39 percent reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes later in life for people that were breastfed as infants (some cause for caution in interpreting results).
Childhood Leukemia: Breastfeeding for at least 6 months associated with 19 percent decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15 percent decrease in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The meta-analysis found that breastfeeding was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to not breastfeeding. Another study completed since the meta-anlaysis was done found a 50 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS as a result of breastfeeding.

It turns out that IQ, obesity and risk of cardiovascular disease can’t be solely connected to breastfeeding, other factors seem to contribute.

Benefits for mom:
Let’s not forget that breastfeeding benefits the mother as well. Women that are having trouble breastfeeding and considering giving up should think about not only their child’s health, but also their own health and weigh the short-term issues they are having with breastfeeding against the longer term potential health benefits:

Maternal type 2 diabetes: In women with no history of gestational diabetes, each additional year of breastfeeding resulted in a 4 to 12 percent reduction in the risk of maternal type 2 diabetes (only nurses included in these studies though, so interpreting results for general population must be done with care).
Breast cancer: A reduction of risk of contracting breast cancer of 4.3 percent for each year of breastfeeding (one study) or 28 percent for 12 or more months of breastfeeding (another study).
Ovarian cancer: Breastfeeding results in a 21 percent decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer.

Weight-loss, osteoporosis and PPD haven’t been scientifically proven to be a benefit of breast-feeding.

There are some people who say there no or very few benefits to breastfeeding. After you consider the source, ask what information they have to back up that claim. If they reference Hanna Rosin’s “The Case Against Breastfeeding” then know that she only read a select few studies on breastfeeding, in particular those that would support her claim that perhaps the benefits were few and far between. Then point them to “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries” and tell them to call you when they’re done with it and you talk.
(Source: PhD in Parenting)

20120608-171535.jpg

However…

I find it important to point out that not everyone can breastfeed. Sometimes the milk just doesn’t come in, at no fault of the mother. Medical issues can also interfere. I recommend all mothers struggling to nurse get plugged to a support group like La Leche League as well as contact a lactation consultant if things just aren’t improving. I heard from someone in our Attachment Parenting group that the lactation consultant she called came to the house and didn’t leave until things were going smoother. Also, never underestimate yourself or your drive to nurse. I have a friend who’s twins were in the NICU and had feeding tubes. This determined mama rented the best of all breast pumps and those babies got nothing but her milk through those tubes. Go mama!

And don’t forget, breastfeeding is cool!!

20120608-212736.jpg

If you are having pain from nursing, as well as plugging in to a support group (this helps above all else in my opinion) check to see if your little one has a tongue tie or an upper lip tie. These are not automatically checked at the hospital or by a midwife. If you live in the Midwest, go to Dr. Margolis in Buffalo Grove, IL. He is one of two pediatric dentists in the country with Master Certification in laser dentistry. He fixed our second son’s upper lip tie and he was fantastic.

If you’re having a boy, have you thought about this?

Circumcision. This is one of those things that a lot of people just go ahead and do without thinking too much about it. We didn’t ask too many “why, really?” questions before making our partially informed decision. I’m very happy with our decision, but we were close to going the other route because we didn’t do enough research on it.

Therefore I wanted to share the best information I have found so far for anyone having a baby boy. This information is from a mom to be that found herself having a boy. She did a very good job researching the decision. She looked deeply into the reasons why “they” say it’s better to circumcise:

-better hygiene
-less chance for UTIs
-less chance for HIV/STDs
-needing to look like father/brother(s)
-less chance of penile cancer/HPV
-better to be done as an infant
-needing to fit in with his peers

It’s amazing what information you find when you ask questions and dig! To see her thorough findings, please go here. I also recommend reading some of the comments for some interesting perspectives.

Considering that “the majority of the males in the world are not circumcised. In fact, the United States is the only country to perform this procedure routinely for non-religious purposes.” (United States circumcision rates fell from 56% in 2006 to 32% in 2009. Bcheraoui, et al. 2010)
and that “there is not a single medical organization in the world who recommends circumcision- not even the American Academy of Pediatrics!”, this is worth looking into, right? Thats right, no national or international medical association recommends routine infant circumcision. For access to the actual position papers and guidelines of medical associations worldwide, go here.

20120605-150051.jpg

Drink your water. Just do it!

I go through phases where I really love drinking water and then other phases where I basically have to make myself drink it. So if you aren’t too big on drinking water, I feel your pain. HOWEVER, we really need to drink it on the regular for optimal health.

One of the healthiest habits you can create is to drink purified (flouride free) or spring water first thing in the morning. Begin with 12oz and work up to 1-2 liters every morning.

Why?

You have just been sleeping for 8 hours, the water invigorates your cells to do what they are supposed to do. Think of it as their morning coffee! Also, your stomach is empty, your small intestine is mostly empty and your large intestine is ready to eliminate what was moved down throughout the night. Imagine that volume of water swishing down to and through your stomach then into the intestines. It becomes a cleansing agent. The water reaches the large intestine and softens anything on deck for easier elimination. If you do this every morning it will help with regularity and therefore regular flushing of toxins. What a great and cheap way to cleanse every day!

Take it one step further and drink it nice and warm (The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving.) and with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. This simple added step is an Aryuvedic ritual and will bring you even more benefits:

– The warm lemon water helps purify and stimulate the liver. Lemon/lime water liquefies bile while inhibiting excess bile flow. The liver produces more enzymes from lemon/lime water than any other food (according to A.F. Beddoe, author of Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition.)

– Warm lemon/lime water aids digestion. It’s atomic composition is similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices.

– Lemons and limes are high in potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that works with sodium for smooth electrical transmission in the brain and nervous system. Depression, anxiety, fogginess, and forgetfulness can often be traced to low potassium blood levels. That same nervous system needs potassium to assure steady signals to the heart. So your heart health is improved from the lemon water’s potassium.

– Lemon/lime water has an alkalizing effect in the body as it is buffered. Even if you drink it just before any meal, it will help your body maintain a higher pH than if you didn’t drink it. The higher or more alkaline your pH, the more resistant you are to minor and major disease.

20120604-164227.jpg

Why stop there?

Throw some freshly grated ginger (we keep ginger root in the freezer) in there for even more benefits, and an even tastier drink:

Colon Cancer Prevention- A study at the University of Minnesota found that ginger may slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
Morning Sickness– A review of several studies has concluded that ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.
Motion Sickness Remedy– Ginger has been shown to be an effective remedy for the nausea associated with motion sickness.
Reduces Pain and Inflammation– One study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.
Heartburn Relief– Ginger has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy. It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.
Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment– Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu. Many people also find ginger to be helpful in the case of stomach flus or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects ginger has upon the digestive tract.
Migraine Relief– Research has shown that ginger may provide migraine relief due to its ability to stop prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in blood vessels.
Menstrual Cramp Relief– In Chinese medicine, ginger tea with brown sugar is used in the treatment of menstrual cramps.
Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy– A study done on diabetic rats found that those rats given ginger had a reduced incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage)

20120604-165941.jpg

For maximum results don’t eat breakfast right away, wait up to an hour if possible.

My husband just got home today with a bag of lemons, ironic. I have been inconsistent with my morning water, but now that I have all these lemons it’s time for a one week challenge! Who’s with me? Let’s drink like fish first thing in the morning and see how we feel in a week. Deal?

Bottoms up!

(Sources: http://www.naturalnews.com/033383_lemon_juice_digestion.html, http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-ginger.html)

UPDATE: I have rarely missed drinking 32oz in the morning since posting this. I started out with a mug of warm water with some lemon and sometimes ginger but it became easier to drink (chug) 32 oz of water first thing. I add juice of a lemon or lime if we have some. For a couple weeks now I just feel like I can’t start my day until I have had my 32oz! Its like my version of coffee to get going! I have noticed that I can now drink another 32oz here and there throughout the day as quickly as a regular glass. It used to take me forever to drink that much so this seems to be an unexpected perk to my new habit!