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All About Food Allergies in Infants and Children

Food allergies in infants and children are a growing problem in the US. The prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise as well. Recent research is alarming with a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013 that reported food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. As a parent, food allergies and sensitivities can make life challenging for you and your child but being informed about the topic is one of the best tools in your toolbox. This blog post is a little technical but it is great info to wrap our heads around when we are talking about and trying to understand food allergies.

What are Food Allergies?

With a food allergy, the body’s immune system creates IgE antibodies to certain food proteins. These antibodies attach to mast cells and basophils which release the histamine, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, tryptase and other inflammatory cytokines that increase allergic inflammation. This inflammation impairs the intestinal barrier function and increases intestinal mucosal permeability which contributes to an ongoing inflammation. This intestinal permeability allows even more potential allergens into the bloodstream and the vicious cycle repeats itself. The allergic inflammation can also travel through the bloodstream and affect places that haven’t even come in contact with the food. For example, inflammation from a food allergen can cause diarrhea and swollen lips from direct contact with the allergen but the allergic inflammation can travel in the bloodstream causing nasal congestion as well.

IgE isn’t the only immune response in food allergies or sensitivities. An IgE allergic reaction is more immediate while the non-IgE allergic reactions have more delayed reactions. The severe allergy to wheat seen in celiac disease is an IgA response. Other disorders like eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders are marked by high eosinophils, and T lymphocytes are responsible for the allergic reaction in food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome. IgG food sensitivity testing is becoming more popular with alternative health practitioners and patients report symptom relief after elimination of the IgG food trigger. Though still controversial the research behind IgG food sensitivity looks promising and it should be considered when looking for the cause of your child’s allergic symptoms. 

Food intolerances like lactose or mild gluten intolerance as well as the intolerance to yeast, sulfites, certain food colorings/preservatives, fructose or histamine in foods are not considered true allergic responses. Food intolerances do not directly activate the immune system but rather create allergic symptoms because the body cannot digest or tolerate the food. While not necessarily a food allergy, food intolerances offer another avenue for pinpointing the source of your child’s symptoms.

Food allergies may be a trigger for or associated with other allergic conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Children with a food allergy are 2-4 times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. 

What are the most common food allergens?

The eight most common food allergens, which are responsible for 90% of problems, are the proteins found in milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts), peanuts, wheat and soy. However, it is not uncommon for children to be allergic to other foods or have multiple food allergies. Infants and young children are more sensitive to these proteins and are more prone to food allergies/sensitivities in general. The intestinal tract of infants and many children, especially those with food allergies or sensitivities, is more vulnerable to permeability.

How can I tell if my infant or child has food allergies or sensitivities?

Some allergic reactions are immediate and severe, while others are less severe and may take days to appear. We still don’t fully understand why there is such a range from severe to mild symptoms in food allergies but it is believed to be genetic. Severe reactions could appear instantly after eating just half a nut or the reaction could take days to appear.

Common food allergy/sensitivity symptoms:

Tingling or itching in the mouth.

Rash, hives, itching or eczema.

Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body.

Wheezing, nasal congestion, cough or trouble breathing.

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas/bloating, nausea or vomiting.

Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

Infant with runny mucusy poop, severe spitting up 

Recurrent respiratory infections

Behavioral changes


Developmental delays

How can I be sure my baby or child has food allergies/sensitivities?

If you suspect your child has a food allergy or sensitivity, your healthcare provider can best guide you to the appropriate test. There is the skin prick test which involves placing liquid extracts of food allergens on your child’s forearm or back, pricking the skin, and waiting to see if red raised spots appear within a few minutes. A positive skin test to a certain food only shows that your child could be allergic to that food and usually additional tests for confirmation are needed. Your provider might also perform blood tests, called RASTs (radioallergosorbent tests), which check the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods or the ELISA test for IgG or IgA mediated reactions. An oral challenge to the suspected allergen can be done in your doctor’s office as well.

The best test for food allergies is an elimination diet. Although it can be challenging to change eating habits, this is the best way to test for reactions to food in infants and children. Dairy and gluten are usually the most problematic foods, followed by soy and eggs, and should be eliminated first to see if your child’s symptoms resolve. Many skin, digestive, and behavioral symptoms in infants and children can be partially or fully resolved by avoiding these top allergens. Allergy testing in infants under 1 year is not accurate and should be reserved for infants with a suspected severe allergy such as a parent or sibling with a severe allergy. Approaching infant colic as a food allergy or sensitivity by removing the top two or three allergens from the infant’s diet or from the breastfeeding mother’s diet is the best first step to determining the source of your baby’s discomfort. You can reserve the more expensive and invasive skin and blood tests for when your child’s symptoms do not resolve after removing the suspect allergen or if a severe food allergy is suspected.

Another promising test is component food allergy blood testing. This test can help predict the severity of future food allergy/reactions, whether the allergy will be outgrown and to which forms of foods (cooked or unprocessed) your child will have reactions to. This test offers a promising avenue to help parents navigate their child’s food allergies.

Are food allergies preventable?

There is a lot we do not understand about the cause of food allergies and sensitivities. While studies have been mixed surrounding the prevention of food allergies, research has also turned up some promising approaches. We do know that exclusive breastfeeding is associated with reduced risk of food allergy. Breastmilk is rich in many different immunological components including mucosal IgA that helps create tolerance, rather than allergy, to foods. Exclusive breastfeeding for 4-6 months has been associated with a protective effect of reducing the incidence of asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema by 27% in a low-risk population and up to 42% in infants with positive family history. Research also shows us that introducing gluten while breastfeeding reduces the risk of celiac disease by 52%. It seems that introducing a food during a time when the infant is otherwise solely breastfeeding offers some protection from allergic reactions. Recent research also highlights the protective advantage of supplementing with fish oil and probiotics during pregnancy can have in decreasing overall allergic inflammation. 

Food introduction can be confusing and frustrating for the parent of a child who has a suspected food allergy/sensitivity. Old advice used to warn against early food allergen introduction, urging parents to wait until a year of age to introduce top food allergens. Three recent large studies provided compelling evidence that early introduction of peanut, milk, and egg into an infant’s diet may decrease the risk of IgE-mediated allergy to those foods. Research released in February of this year reported an 81% decrease in peanut allergies in children who continuously consumed peanuts in their diet from an early age compared to children who avoided eating peanuts. Recent research also shows that mothers with mild to moderate food allergies/sensitivities who had avoided cow’s milk while breastfeeding produced less mucosal IgA which actually increased the rate of cow’s milk allergy in their children. When it comes to food introduction unless you suspect a severe life threatening reaction you should start to introduce food after 4-6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. Allergenic foods should be introduced slowly and in the presence of breastmilk. Cereals and packaged baby foods are not the best choice, infants should be introduced to one whole food at a time while continuing to breastfeed if possible.

Are food allergies/sensitivities treatable?

Although there is no cure for food allergies several interventions can help the symptoms of food allergies/sensitivities. The first line of defense in the treatment of food allergies is an elimination diet. In elimination diets you remove the foods you think most likely to be causing the allergic reaction. There is a lot of label reading involved in elimination diets as there are several ingredients to be wary of and avoid when on an elimination diet. 

Depending on the severity of the reaction, prescription epinephrine pens are used to resolve severe anaphylactic allergic responses. Studies with humanized recombinant anti-IgE antibodies have shown a decrease in sensitivity to peanut allergens in some patients. Exciting new research demonstrates how allergen-specific immunotherapy may help the body tolerate food allergens. Recent reports have demonstrated partial success with oral, sublingual, subcutaneous and epidermal immunotherapy in the treatment of food allergy. Probiotics, fish oil and digestive enzymes also have promising research in the treatment of food allergies. Preliminary research on the antioxidant quercitin shows that it is a powerful mast cell stabilizer, inhibiting the release of histamine that creates the allergic reaction in food allergy. While research is not conclusive, alternative treatments for food allergies provide encouraging results. Talk with your healthcare provider today if you suspect food allergies or sensitivities in your child or infant.

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

Introducing Solid Foods- The When, What, and How to Introduce Foods to Baby. Pt 1

Food introduction can be such a fun time in your child’s development. Sweet, little, messy fingers and faces make introducing food to your baby a fun and playful time. It can also be a confusing and daunting time for parents concerned about food allergies. Plus, with the gut health so clearly tied to overall and lifelong health, it’s important to give your baby a good start. In this three part series we’ll look at the when, what, and how to introduce solid foods to your little one. In this first post we’ll explore the when of food introduction.

There are really two main factors in baby’s readiness for solids. The first factor that should be considered is their overall development. There are certain developmental signs that show you your baby is ready for solids:

• Baby sits upright well without support.

• Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (the automatic pushing solids out of the mouth with the tongue)

• Baby is ready and willing to chew.

• Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. 

• Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and might try to grab food.

When your little one has reached these developmental milestones she is much more likely to safely and effectively start exploring with solids. This does not mean that all babies are ready 

to start solids at this point but we should definitely be waiting for these milestones before considering food introduction.

The second factor to think about is the maturation of the gastrointestinal tract. Most pediatricians recommend introducing solids at 4-6 months. I recommend waiting until the 5-6 month mark to start solids and I recommend doing it in a specific way- but more on that in part two of this series! At around 6 months the gastrointestinal tract changes from a semi-permeable membrane to a lining with more integrity and less permeability. Babies are born with digestive tracts that are slightly permeable to microscopic particles of food that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and promote an allergic reaction or inflammation. This is similar to leaky gut or intestinal permeability that we see in older children and adults, but the intestinal permeability in infants serves a purpose. The microscopic openings in the gut allow immunoglobins and other immune stimulating molecules from breast milk to enter into baby’s circulation. As the infant gut matures it becomes less permeable and secretes more mucin, both of which help ensure a healthy digestive lining. Allowing this evolving gut to develop and mature before the introduction of food is essential to proper immune, neurological, and digestive health. Numerous studies have shown that introducing solids before 3-4 months can increase the risk of eczema, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, childhood wheezing and increased body weight in childhood. (1,2,3,4,5)

After reading the studies mentioned above it is easy to jump to the conclusion that waiting longer to introduce food or potential food allergens is better. However, new research shows that delaying the introduction of certain foods can actually raise the risk of allergy to that food. One study found that children first exposed to wheat between 4 and 6 months versus after 6 months had a 4-fold decreased risk of wheat allergy. (6) Another found that children who first had cooked egg at 4-6 months had the lowest incidence of egg allergy, whereas those starting egg at 10-12 months had a 6-fold increased risk of egg allergy. (7) Research from earlier this year showed a clearly decreased risk of peanut allergy when peanuts were introduced after 4 months but before 11 months of age. (8)

Research seems mixed when we look at studies with gluten and celiac disease. Earlier studies show that infants who ate gluten after 3 months of age but before 6-7 months had lower risk of celiac disease. (9) Recent research from 2014 showed that age of introduction of gluten at 4 months, 6 months, or 12 months didn’t affect the development of celiac. (10, 11) Trying to glean conclusions about food introduction and celiac disease is confusing and not clear cut. It seems that other factors, in addition to gluten intolerance, that change the gut flora are playing a role here. These factors may include cesarean births, antibiotic use, infections and other medications.

Putting aside the confusing research about gluten and celiac disease, recent studies point to introducing solids to your baby no sooner than 4 months but before 12 months of age. Does that mean we should hand baby a peanut butter sandwich on wheat at 4 months? Absolutely not. But it does point to a way to introduce food that’s more nuanced than the standard advice to start solid foods at 4 months. The how to introduce foods is as important as the when and is exactly what we will be exploring next week so stay tuned!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

1 Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J. & Shannon, F. T. Early Solid Feeding and Recurrent Childhood Eczema: A 10-Year Longitudinal Study. Pediatrics 86, 541–546 (1990).

2 Norris, J. M. et al. Risk of celiac disease autoimmunity and timing of gluten introduction in the diet of infants at increased risk of disease. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 293, 2343–2351 (2005).

3 Norris, J. M. et al. Timing of initial cereal exposure in infancy and risk of islet autoimmunity. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 290, 1713–1720 (2003).

4 Wilson, A. C. et al. Relation of infant diet to childhood health: seven year follow up of cohort of children in Dundee infant feeding study. BMJ 316, 21–25 (1998).

5 Cohen, R. J., Brown, K. H., Dewey, K. G., Canahuati, J. & Landa Rivera, L. Effects of age of introduction of complementary foods on infant breast milk intake, total energy intake, and growth: a randomised intervention study in Honduras. The Lancet 344, 288–293 (1994).

6 Poole, J. A. et al. Timing of Initial Exposure to Cereal Grains and the Risk of Wheat Allergy. Pediatrics 117, 2175–2182 (2006).

7 Wells, J. C. et al. Randomized controlled trial of 4 compared with 6 mo of exclusive breastfeeding in Iceland: differences in breast-milk intake by stable-isotope probe. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 96, 73–79 (2012).





Delay the Clamp!

In the U.S. it is common practice to clamp the umbilical cord within seconds of  birth but recent research out of Sweden shows the benefits of delayed umbilical cord clamping. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and iron deficient anemia has become commonplace in pediatric offices across the country. Infants and young children are at particularly high risk for this problem due to their high iron requirements during rapid growth. Since iron is essential for proper neurodevelopment, iron deficiency is a serious concern in babies. While iron supplementation is one way to treat this deficiency, one easy way to help prevent it is by delaying umbilical clamping after birth.

Earlier research showed waiting for at least three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord in healthy newborns improves their iron levels at four months and decreases the occurrence of infant anemia. A new study was released earlier this year that looked at the outcomes of delayed clamping four years after birth. Researchers found higher social and fine motor skills. Other studies have shown waiting three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord at birth can boost a newborn’s blood volume by one third leading to higher blood perfusion, which has many of benefits for both full term and premature infants. Babies rely on a burst of blood from the placenta to help expand their lungs and jumpstart vital functions as they begin life outside the womb. The extra iron from the delayed clamping is stored as the baby uses it for development until around six to eight months when these stores run out and the infant can get their own iron intake from food. Delaying the clamping not only allows the placenta to continue to deliver a large dose of blood and iron, it also allows for the transfer of red blood cells, immune cells and stem cells. 

Immediate cord clamping has become the standard because of the belief that it will reduce the mother’s risk of excess bleeding and the baby’s risk of jaundice or polythycemia. However, with mounting evidence that the risk of these conditions is very low or the health impact over the long term is benign, minds are changing. With such clear evidence supporting delayed umbilical clamping organizations like the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics advise against early clamping. Delaying clamping by three minutes after birth is a valuable tool in non-emergent births. The option of delayed cord clamping could have a powerful impact on the health of your little one and is an important discussion to have with your healthcare provider.

-Dr. Catherine Clinton

Chia Seeding Pudding

Chia seeds are a wonderful addition to any diet. They are packed with nutritious antioxidants, calcium, omega 3s and even some protein which makes them ideal for adults and children alike. This chia seed pudding is an easy baby food as well. For our dairy free household chia seed pudding is a healthy treat I can feel good about giving the whole family!

Chia Seed Pudding

This recipe is super versatile too. You can boost the protein by adding chopped nuts for more protein or more fruit or choose a different milk (cow, goat, almond, soy or hemp) to hydrate the chia seeds. Chia seeds become a gelatinous seed after 5-10 of soaking in liquid. The outer gelatinous coating is easy to digest and allows access to the nutrients the chia seed pudding offers. You can also choose the texture of the pudding. Our house loves the texture of the whole seed pudding but you can also blend the pudding for a smooth texture closer to traditional pudding.

You can also play around with different flavors, gut healing ingredients like collagen or L-glutamine, vitamins or probiotics. I usually add our WellBelly probiotics and some liquid vitamin D3 to give our pudding a boost. Play around with this recipe to tailor it to your specific tastes and health needs!


2 cups coconut milk 

½ cup Chia Seeds

¼ cup (or less) honey (not suitable for infants under 1 year of age)

½ cup of blueberries

¼ cup sliced strawberries 


For Blended/Smooth Version: Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth. 

For Whole Chia Seed Version: Blend all ingredients except chia seeds in a blender until smooth (including any added flavors, fruits or chocolate). Whisk in chia seeds until fully incorporated.

Put the whole seed or blended pudding in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to let gel and enjoy!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

Where Do We Stand in The Current Vaccine Debate?

With the current debate surrounding vaccinaton we have had numerous questions about our stance on vaccine decisions and mandatory vaccination. We, at WellFuture, spend our days thinking about and working towards the health of our children and our communities.

We don’t take this responsibility lightly. So many decisions that we must make as parents are difficult ones; we must constantly assess what is right for our children and that is no easy task, but it is an essential one. The current debate erases a valuable viewpoint, our viewpoint, that there is a middle ground. We acknowledge the importance that vaccines play in our healthcare and also support a parent’s right to choose what is best. Since starting our company in 2010, we have stood in support of a family’s right to decide what is best for their child. With a deep respect for the care and intelligence of our community we will continue to support the diverse range of parental choice when it comes to vaccinations.

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

One Of Our Favorite Cold and Flu Remedies!

It is a pretty brutal cold and flu season this year and we are right in the middle of it! Early on in naturopathic medical school we learned a hydrotherapy technique that helps supports the immune system, helps relieve nasal congestion and coughs while also inducing a relaxing state perfect for a good night’s rest. Wet socks, or warming socks as some call it, is an easy, inexpensive and safe way to help fight this years’ nasties. While the name sounds a wee unpleasant this is one of my favorite ways to treat the cold and flu. The treatment works by stimulating the body’s natural defenses. By putting cold, wet socks on the feet the body responses by increasing circulation to warm the wet socks.  Wet socks stimulate the body to increase circulation to the feet, relieving congestion from the head, regulating immune response, aiding in the elimination of waste and at the same time inducing a relaxing,sedating effect. 

It is best to start the warming socks treatment on the first day of an illness and repeat it for three nights in a row. It is most effective as part of an integrated treatment plan including rest, hydration, proper nutrition and immune-boosting botanicals or supplements.

Wet Socks Treatment

What You Need:

1 pair white cotton socks-preferably ankle length

1 pair thick wool socks -wool is ideal but the thickest sock you have will do


1. Wet cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. 

2. Warm your feet. This is a very important part of the treatment. A nice warm bath or foot soak is a perfect way to warm your feet. 

3. Dry the feet off completely.

4. Place cold wet socks on feet. Cover with thick wool socks. Go directly to bed. Avoid getting chilled.

5. Keep the socks on overnight. The cotton socks should be dry in the morning.

Hope this helps you and your family this cold and flu season!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

A Detox for the Whole Family!

This time of year people are looking to get healthy. There’s lots of talk about detoxes or cleanses and the talks range from nonsense to important steps you can take to address environmental pollutants. Industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides are major contributors to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and neurocognitive diseases in children and adults. (1) Some detox programs use strong metal chelators that pull toxins out of tissues while others restrict calories with juicing or fasting, making certain detoxes inappropriate for the part of society that are most vulnerable to toxins- children. A study from 2005 showed over 200 industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. (2) Industrial toxins are everywhere and something we should all be addressing in a healthy lifestyle. Here are some easy steps to help detox that the whole family can do:

Do a Cleanse

An important piece of any cleanse is getting rid of toxins in the body. Common food additives and packaging contain chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to everything from hormone disruption to cancer to behavioral issues in children. (3) Whether a short term cleanse or a daily meal selection, your choices in food can have a dramatic effect on the toxic burden of your family.

Eating fresh food and avoiding packaged, processed food is an easy way to reduce the toxin burden of the whole family. A recent study showed that avoiding food packaged in plastic and canned food for as little as three days can dramatically reduce the levels of BPA and DEHP (chemicals associated with hormone disruption and cancer) in the body. Participants avoided packaged foods in their diets for three days and saw a reduction in these chemicals by over 50%. (4)

We know that an organic diet decreases exposure to chemicals and pesticides. A diet based in organic fruits, vegetables and grains helps avoid these toxins. Organic dairy and wild fish are also important choices when trying to reduce your family’s toxic burden. The Environmental Working Group analyzes Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. The group estimates that people can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when buying these 12 foods: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce, kale/collard greens. (5)

Detox Your House

Several things can be done around the house to lessen the toxic load in your home and personal care products.

There are low emission options for carpets, bedding, paints and furniture that can reduce your family’s exposure to chemicals. 

Choosing cosmetics and personal hygiene products that are free of mineral oil, paraffin, propylene glycol, parabens and phalates limit your family’s contact with these toxins. There are many natural, organic cosmetic and personal hygiene lines for the whole family.

Adding certain plants to your household can help filter toxins out of the air making house plants a beautiful way to detox your house. (6)

Green Your Clean

Tackling toxins by minimizing dust and avoiding harsh chemical cleansers are important tools in detoxing your family.

To green your clean, start by choosing green products or making your own. Many cleaning products on the market today contain harsh chemical cleansers but there are many green cleaning products available as well. Making your own cleaners can be as simple as utilizing the power of vinegar, baking soda and water. 

Cleaning out your air ducts, changing your furnace filters regularly with high quality pleated filters and not wearing shoes inside can decrease the amount of dust in the house. The toxins we want to avoid are actually in the dust. (7) Using a hepa filter for vacuuming can also reduce the amount of dust and therefore limit toxin exposure in your family. 

Sweaty Is Good

Whether you want to rid the body of heavy metals or manmade chemicals, sweating is an easy and natural way to make sure you are getting rid of those toxins. While some detoxification programs call for saunas and profuse sweating that would not be suitable for the entire family, gentle sweating is a safe and easy way to boost the body’s detoxification processes.

There is a ton of research showing that simply sweating can be one of the most powerful ways to detox. Drink plenty of water to replace any fluid lost while sweating. (7, 8, 9)

Regular exercise helps rid the body of toxins as well so some exercise and a little sweat is a great way to detox. (10)

Whether it is a three day cleanse with fresh food or choosing green cleaning products the next time you buy supplies, these simple tips can help lower your family’s chemical burden today!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

(1) Environmental Determinants of Chronic Disease and Medical Approaches: Recognition, Avoidance, Supportive Therapy, and Detoxification. Margaret E. Sears and Stephen J. Genuis J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 356798.


(3) Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature. Rochester JR. Reprod Toxicol. 2013 Dec

(4) Plastics and Food Sources: Dietary Intervention to Reduce BPA and DEHP. Kellyn S. Betts. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jul 1; 119(7): a306. 


(6) Planting Healthier Indoor Air. Luz Claudio. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Oct; 119(10): a426–a427.

(7) Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review. Margaret E. Sears, Kathleen J. Kerr, Riina I. Bray. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 184745

(8) Human Elimination of Phthalate Compounds: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. Stephen J. Genuis, Sanjay Beesoon, Rebecca A. Lobo, Detlef Birkholz. Scientific World Journal. 2012; 2012: 615068.

(9) Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. Stephen J. Genuis, Sanjay Beesoon, Detlef Birkholz, Rebecca A. Lobo. J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 185731.

(10) Effect of physical exertion on the biological monitoring of exposure to various solvents following exposure by inhalation in human volunteers: II. n-Hexane. Tardif R, Nadeau V, Truchon G, Brochu M. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 2007;4(7):502–508.

DeStress Your Child Today!

The other day I was giving a talk about food allergies and gut health to a group of mothers. I began explaining the immune system and gastrointestinal tract and how stress impacts that relationship. I was talking about how stress negatively impacts the gut flora which negatively impacts the immune system. Not one mom had heard about this connection and I’m not surprised. In a society crammed full with stressors around every corner, we rarely acknowledge the damage that stress has on ourselves, our children and our society.

Stressed out kids

When we are stressed, one of the main hormones released into the bloodstream is called cortisol. Cortisol is secreted from our adrenal glands which sit on top of our kidneys. Cortisol is a fight or flight hormone. So if a bear jumps into the room, your adrenal glands release cortisol so blood flow can be redirected away from the internal organs to the limbs and you can run away from the bear. Cortisol is essential to help us survive these emergent fight or flight moments. Luckily, encounters with bears aren’t an everyday thing for most of us. The problem is, your body doesn’t know the difference between a bear and an angry boss or an overdue bill or a looming deadline and we are constantly surrounded by these bears. We are always faced with stressors. We work with bears, live with bears, these bears cut us off in traffic or we go to school with bears. The consistent release of cortisol in response to these daily stressors negatively impacts gut health and not only for adults. Prenatal stress and stress in early life are associated with negative impacts on health, behavior, emotional and cognitive development and even issues with employment. 

We are not meant to constantly be in fight or flight mode. Stress is a reality that comes with our modern life, but there are things we can do to help ourselves and our children destress. A healthy lifestyle with a nutritious whole food diet, exercise, and plenty of rest go a long way in helping us and our children manage stress. Try to remember the balance between activities and rest and avoid over-scheduling. Time outside in nature is particularly stress relieving and is an important thing for the whole family to join in.

Stress management techniques like deep breathing, yoga and mindfulness can be started at virtually any age. While nature walks and deep breathing aren’t the new, flashy miracle pill we are all looking for, they really can have big impacts on our stress response and lasting effects on our health. Today is the right day to start de-stressing yourself and family!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton

5 Easy Tips to Beat Cold and Flu Season

Here are five easy tips to help you and your family navigate this year’s cold and flu season:

1. Get Ample Vitamins

Both vitamin D3 and vitamin A are powerful players against infections like viruses and bacteria.  Research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin D3 supplementation in children decreased the rate of influenza infection by 50% which is far better than the effects of vaccines or antiviral drugs.  Research released in 2011 showed that vitamin A is necessary for a multitude of different immune responses to both bacteria and viruses.  Vitamin A was shown to inhibit the replication of the measles virus, demonstrating its powerful anti-viral ability. 

Winter is the perfect time to add more vitamin A to our diets with sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens and butternut squash. Both vitamin A and vitamin D3 are fat soluble vitamins that can accumulate over time, so you want to be sure to have the right age appropriate dose for you and your child if you choose to supplement.

2. Consider Supplements

Recent studies demonstrate that elderberry extract has immune-modulating and antioxidant properties that offset the activity of viruses so they can no longer enter the cell and replicate.  The berries also contain vitamins A and C, and the flavonoids quercetin, anthocyanin and rutin, all of which boost immune function. Elderberry comes in a great tasting liquid syrup form making it an easy option for kids. We put a teaspoon or so in seltzer water and the kids think elderberry sodas are a total treat!

Probiotics have also been repeatedly shown to help prevent infection and decrease the duration and severity of symptoms during the cold or flu. Several studies have shown how probiotics prevent and decrease the duration and severity of symptoms of a cold or flu in children who supplemented with probiotics.

3. Get Enough Rest

With our hectic schedules, stress is a part of everyday life but excessive stress can decrease immune function and make it easier to come down with an infection.  While regular exercise helps bolster immune function, scheduling down time or rest into you and your family’s day can actually help the immune system fight infections. 

Adults need an average of 7 to 10 hours of sleep nightly while children, depending on their age, need anywhere from 9 to 14 hours of sleep each night to rejuvenate for the next day.  Not getting enough sleep lowers the body’s defenses needed for fighting infections. 

4. Eat Healthy

There’s no better medicine than food. Our bodies require many essential nutrients to function properly and they come in abundance in a variety of foods. A diet rich in quality proteins, organic fruits and vegetables help ensure you and family are getting all the vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy immune system. 

Studies have shown that eating a sugary snack or meal can depress the immune system for several hours, creating a window of time during which it is easier to get the flu.  Avoiding excessive sugar can keep the immune system working at the level needed to fend off infections.

5. Wash Up

Washing your hands is one of the best ways for you and your family to limit exposure to the germs that spread colds and flu.  If your child is older frequent hand washing should be encouraged as well.  Remember, antibacterial soaps are no more effective at killing germs than soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.  In fact, antibacterial soaps may contribute to the bacteria’s resistance to antimicrobial agents in the soap, making it harder to treat the germs in the future. Many antibacterial soaps and sanitizers contain the chemical triclosan which can interfere with hormone regulation in the body. Good old soap and water are still the best option!

Hope these tips help you and yours have a healthier Fall and Winter!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton