Sunday, August 22, 2010

"So For God's Sake, Please Breastfeed"

That quote comes to us courtesy of one of three (male) researchers at the University of California, whose research on breastmilk has recently led to a fascinating discovery. Up to 21% of breastmilk consists of complex sugars which cannot be digested by babies. Scientists had no idea what these sugars were doing in there. As anyone who as ever assembled a piece of Ikea furniture knows, just because you can't figure out where it goes, doesn't mean it doesn't have a purpose. It turns out that these sugars are not meant for the baby, at least not directly. Rather, they are for helpful bacteria (which I'll shorthand as bifido), which take up residence in the baby's gut, and protect it from harmful bacteria. The sugars both feed the bifido bacteria, and also serve as "decoys" for harmful bacteria and viruses. In short, the indigestible component of breastmilk turns out to be vitally important to the infant's immune system. Hence the hortatory exclamation from the researcher, which, you must admit, is rather uncharacteristic of a scientist.

NY Times article re immune function of indigestible sugars in breastmilk

Now, it's all well and good to urge women to breastfeed, but to mandate it by law, that's another matter. That's apparently what the government in Indonesia is trying to do. Under a law passed in 2009, which is set to go into effect in October of this year, mothers who fail to provide 6 months of exclusive breastmilk for their infants face up to 1 year in prison, or a $15,000 fine (unless medical conditions which preclude breastfeeding are shown to exist). Other people, such as employers who prevent breastfeeding, will also be subject to punishment. I wonder if next year they'll tell people how many children they can have. 

bifidum longum

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ilene Now Teaching At Om Wellness

OmWellness is a new-ish facility on the west side of Manhattan offering a variety of health and wellness services. Foremost amongst these services is an intensive Holistic Nutrition Training Program. The directors, Tatiana Forera Puerta and Adam Elenbaas, are multi-talented, smart, enthusiastic people with whom I have been happy to work since the beginning of this year.  

As per their website, the training program is ideal for individuals who are interested in deepening their connection to food and nutrition while simultaneously studying a variety of holistic health modalities. Classes are held at their facility and include lectures, workshops, hands-on experiments, group and individual work. The primary topic is food theory and practice, including Ayurveda, macrobiotics, raw foods, veganism, whole foods, and food politics. And of course they consider the role of diet and lifestyle in sickness and disease prevention/treatment. Students enjoy small class sizes, lively discussions, unlimited yoga for the duration of the program, one-on-one health counseling, informative seminars, meditation, and hands-on work with doctors, chefs, and alternative health practitioners. Both weeknight and weekend programs are available. Graduates receive certification from both OmWellness as well as the American Association for Drugless Practitioners. 

Tatiana is passionate about Fertility Awareness, and wanted to make sure that her students were exposed to it as part of their training. Thus I was invited to teach there. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to reach future health care providers, and to provide the link to fertility & reproductive health that is so often missed when people embark on a more "natural" lifestyle.

If you are interested in participating in a training program at OmWellness, note that the next programs are coming up soon (at the end of August). Although it's not on their website, I believe that you can get a $250 discount if you sign up by 8/20/10. Of course they also offer a variety of other services, including yoga, nutrition counseling, cooking lessons, etc, so check it out, especially if you live in NYC:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Study Shows E. Coli in Urinary Tract Infections Comes From Meat

We already knew that the majority of urinary tract infections (UTI's) come from E. coli. A common scenario is this: you have E. coli in your digestive tract, it comes out via your anus, you have sex (or you wipe from back to front), and the E. coli gets into your urethra, where it causes problems. Now a researcher has shown that the strains of E. coli which are causing the infections are precisely those that are found in the local meat supply (and more specifically tied to chicken). Reaction to the study has been pretty uniform. As the lead researcher of the team, Amee Manges, puts it, we should "follow hygienic practices in the kitchen, prevent cross-contamination between raw meat and other foods, and cook meat thoroughly." Good advice, but I have a better idea. How about we stop raising animals in factory farms, where they end up being coated in feces, eating feces, eating the bodies of other animals, and being slaughtered in conditions which are impossible to keep free of pathogens?

Study re E. Coli in meat and UTI's

Factory Farmed Chickens

PS: You may have noticed that we have a new look for the blog. I was trying to figure out how to get the Sheri Winston video, in my last post, to fit properly, and along the way I decided to try a new format. It matches our website more closely, and gives the blog entries a bit more room to stretch out. I also added the "share this" feature, which I personally love and use a lot. I wasn't able to fix the video problem, but I hope you like the new format. Now share some blog posts!