Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phthalate - hard to even begin to pronounce, so what is it?

"The Phthalate Syndrome"

Most of us by now (I hope) have heard of BPA (Bisphenol A) a toxic chemical used in plastics, including, of all things babies bottles, which I'm pleased to announce Canada has actually done something about, banning BPA from babies bottles (Go Canada!). Australia on the other hand, "keeps a close eye on issues related to the migration of chemicals from packaging and into food" (Food standards Australia New Zealand, link -

BPA is an "endocrine disruptor" - something that mimic's the bodies hormones and has been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage.

Phthalates (Pronounced - THAL-ates) are organic chemicals produced from oil and predominantly used in PVC to make it soft and flexible (think children's toys, the soft, squidgy plastic type). Phthalates look like a clear liquid, much like oil, and have little or no smell and as such are ideal for adding to nail polish to help reduce chipping, perfumes to help the aroma linger longer and are, disturbingly, also used in pharmaceuticals to create an enteric coating on capsules or tablets, and this is just a few examples.

So you may be asking why I'm telling you about Phthalates? Mainly because, like BPA, phthalates are believed to be "gendeer bending" chemicals, chemicals that alter the hormone balance in our children and especially our little boys. See below for a description on phthalates;

Also please have a read of the following two articles written about phthalates and the effect these chemicals are having on our boys, basically feminising them;

The reason I write about these things is to help make people aware of the detrimental affects of the "Industrial age" not only on the environment but on us humans. Knowledge gives us power, power to make choices. Choices that are definitely better for our children. Of the 80,000 chemicals we use today, 85% of them have NEVER been tested on the human body. That's staggering, and as a result we're starting to see the effects of that. The largest effect will be on us as a species, already there's a significant decline in male fertility, in women having male children and an increase in male babies being born with genital defects.

So please, if you have a male in your life (and we all do), watch the doco "The disappearing Male" it's FREE to watch online -

Thanks Rachael

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GLUTEN - An Introduction.

I have to tell you that I am always surprised when I meet people who don't know which foods contain gluten, but that's only because my life revolves around which food contains gluten and which doesn't. Sometimes I feel like there's a secret sub culture existing beneath the gaze of the rest of the world - the "Gluten Free" sub-culture of which I am a part.

My son, Adam, developed eczema at the grand old age of 6 weeks and for the next, almost, 2 years we spent time trialling both myself (whilst breastfeeding) and then Adam on elimination diets. Gluten is tricky, on our initial "Gluten free" elimination diet his eczema didn't improve and it was only on the second trial about a year later that we noticed a difference, the reason, gluten can take about 6 weeks to leave your system, and for some people it may take longer.

So what is gluten?

Gluten is the main protein found in many grains (see list below) and can be broken down into two parts: glutenin and gliadin, it is the gliadin, a prolamin, (simple protein) that causes adverse reactions in certain people. An intolerance to gluten may result in an inability to absorb essential nutrients in the small intestines.

Some of the initial signs and symptoms displayed by sufferers include; diarrhoea, constipation, cramping, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, gas and bloating. As damage to the intestinal lining continues through the continued consumption of gluten and lack of treatment allergies may appear and poor digestion and malabsorption can worsen potentially leading to a condition called "Leaky gut". Leaky gut is where the sensitive lining of the bowel wall is eroded allowing a passage of microbes, toxins and undigested food (including allergens) into your system which may again lead to further illness and immune disorders.

Many people associate Coeliac Disease with a gluten free diet and this is correct, Coeliac's disease is an auto-immune disorder caused by a digestive reaction to gluten, but, not everyone with a gluten intolerance has Coeliac disease, like my son. Adam has a gluten intolerance but does not have coeliac disease. A gluten intolerance for him displays as eczema predominately, along with pain in the belly and loose stools. His symptoms increase the longer he is exposed to gluten.

So what do you do if you discover you are gluten intolerant or have Coeliac disease, well the best thing to do is eliminate gluten from your diet, and, reading food labels is essential. Gluten is found in many common foods including bread, slices, pizza, cakes, pasta, biscuits and flour, and, can be found in a multitude of pre-packaged foods, condiments, sweets, drinks and even some supplements and vitamins. Eliminating gluten from your diet is the first step in the treatment, seeing a natural therapist to help repair the lining of your gut is also recommended.

Following is a list of grains that contain gluten -
- Wheat
- Rye
- Kamut
- Barley
- Couscous
- Bulgar
- Spelt
- Oats and Oatbran
- Malt
- Matzo
- Triticale
- Udon
- Semolina

Gluten, part 2, will continue with recommendations on food alternatives, dietary advice and recipes.