Healthy Habits to Teach Your Kids During the Pandemic

two toddler playing letter cubes

The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in significant ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid down some guidelines to help keep populations healthy. Everyone, including children, needs to practice these guidelines. Parents must teach their kids these guidelines to protect their health during the pandemic. Nutrition and health go hand in hand. Find out the 4 foods to boost immune system here!

Frequent hand-washing

Wash your hands often

Your child should practice frequent hand washing habits during the pandemic and maintain them after. This is because the hands are a common source of infection. Hands easily pick up dirt and microorganisms from the environment and contaminate other body parts like the mouth and eyes. One way in which the coronavirus spreads is through the hands. The hands can pick up the virus from surfaces like public benches and doorknobs. You then get infected when the hands touch any part of the face. Children are more likely to touch their face and put their hands in the mouth. As such, hand washing is a crucial healthy habit to instill in kids to prevent coronavirus and other infections transmitted orally. Teach your child how to wash hands properly. The CDC recommends washing hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If your child cannot access a hand-washing facility nearby, teach them about sanitizing. Have your child carry a sanitizer everywhere they go.

Social distancing

people walking on pedestrian lane during daytime

One of the CDC guidelines that everyone needs to follow during the pandemic is social distancing. Teach your child the importance of maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people. Social distancing may not be necessary around the house unless a family member is infected. However, it is important when in public settings like schools. Teach your child that they should maintain a safe distance from people who experience signs of the disease, like sneezing and coughing. With schools now open, teaching your child on social distancing can provide you with relief that the child is safe in school.

Wearing a mask

woman in black long sleeve shirt holding white face mask

Teach your child on proper techniques of wearing a mask. Any child above the age of two should know how to wear a mask in public. Reinforce these techniques as much as possible; once is never enough. Your child should know the appropriate mask to wear and how to put them on. The most effective mask that every child should be aware of is the n95 masks. If you are wondering where to buy a n95 mask, try online stores or pharmacies. Some online stores have CDC-approved N95 masks to keep you and your children safe during the pandemic. They do deliveries to your doorstep, saving you from the need to go to public places to buy masks. Surgical masks are also similarly effective. Children can also find it hard to have the mask on for the entire period they are in public. Therefore, emphasize having the mask on at all times, except when the child is eating or in your car.

Social connection

person holding white and blue textile

Do not get too caught up with other healthy habits that you forget one crucial health aspect; mental health. The pandemic period is difficult for everyone, including children. Kids can no longer play with their friends as much as they want. They can also hardly interact with their friends because every parent is trying to protect their child. As a parent, preventing your child from going out to socialize or play is challenging. Entirely preventing the child from social interaction due to fear of the pandemic is also not mentally healthy for your child. Check out our article on the negative impacts of long term isolation. You can organize with other parents in the neighborhood on indoor playdates now and then. Additionally, you can teach your child how to use platforms like Skype. Skype enables the child to interact with friends and family virtually. These will help distract the child from the stress of staying indoors with as little interaction as possible, which can lead to mental illnesses like depression. For additional information, check out more ways to look after your mental health here!

Conclusion

group of women standing on green grass field during daytime

These healthy habits are important for children. They will help protect the children in the pandemic and protect the elderly who are susceptible to the disease. Kids should also be taught to maintain practices like washing the hands frequently after the pandemic. These are not the only habits that parents should instill in their kids. There are a plethora of health habits that every child should be taught.

Heavy Metals in Your Baby Foods Cause Irreversible Brain Damage

selective focus photography of baby holding wooden cube

“Baby products used to hold a special position of public trust,” however, this is no longer the case. The House Oversight and Reform’s Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee released a report stating that baby foods are “tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. These toxic heavy metals are declared dangerous to human health, according to The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. Children and babies are most vulnerable to the effects of toxic heavy metals, and even low levels of exposure can cause “serious and often irreversible damage to brain development”.

Effects of exposure to toxic heavy metals

person wearing gray shirt putting baby on scale
  • Permanent decrease in IQ
  • Diminished future economic productivity
  • May danger infant neurological development and long term brain function

Where does toxic heavy metals come from?

brown farming equipment harvesting on rice field during daytime

Naturally occurring toxic heavy metals contribute to the unsafe levels of toxicity in baby products. Crop fields contain varying levels of toxic heavy metals in the soil, due to metal containing pesticides and ongoing industrial pollution. However food manufacturers may also voluntarily add ingredients high in toxic heavy metals such as vitamin / mineral pre-mix.

Following allegations of high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby foods, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy requested internal documents and test results from seven of the largest manufacturers of baby food in the United States. Out of the seven, only four of the companies responded to their request, suggesting that companies (Walmart, Campbell, Sprout Organic Foods) had something to hide. Independent testing conducted confirmed that baby foods sold by these companies contain concerning levels of toxic metals, which is a huge problem as their products are marketed to babies as young as 4 months.

Toxic heavy metal results:

Arsenic, lead and cadmium was present in all baby foods from all responding companies, while Mercury was detected in baby food for the only responding company that tested for it. The results are multiples higher than the maximum allowable levels dictated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the report by the subcommittee, test results far exceeded those limits and were “up to 91 times the arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to 5 times the mercury level, ” resulting in a higher level of contaminants.

Other things to look out for:

woman in teal tank top drinking milk from feeding bottle
  • Nurture (HappyBABY) created its own internal standard for toxic metals, which exceeds the FDA limit by 15%, while Hain (Earth’s Best Organic) exceeded its internal policies under the guise of “theoretical calculations”.
  • A secret slide presentation from Hain (Earth’s Best Organic) was ignored by the Trump Administration, which revealed that corporate policies test only ingredients and not final products. Inorganic arsenic in Hain baby foods were found to be “28%-93% higher in finished products. “
  • Food producers may be adding ingredients that have high levels of toxic heavy metals into their products.

Advisory:

kid sitting beside round cake close-up photography

Parents: To this day, there is no warning label on toxic heavy metals on baby products. The Subcommittee urges parents to keep up with the news and avoid baby products containing ingredients that test high in toxic heavy metals. (Check out our article on determining if diapers are toxic for your baby.)

Manufacturers: Manufacturers should take responsibility and label their products transparently, and to report the levels of toxic heavy metals on food labels. Furthermore, manufacturers should voluntarily find substitutes for ingredients that are high in toxic heavy metals.

FDA: The FDA should set maximum levels toxic heavy metals allowed across all forms of baby foods and make mandatory testing to ensure that baby food products adhere to FDA regulations.


References:

 “Leading baby food manufacturers knowingly sold products with high ….” 5 Feb. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/04/health/baby-food-heavy-metal-toxins-wellness/index.html. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

 “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead ….” https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2021-02-04%20ECP%20Baby%20Food%20Staff%20Report.pdf. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

 “Parents Erupt Over FDA Failure To Regulate Toxic Metals in Food ….” 28 Feb. 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/agenda/2021/02/28/fda-toxic-metals-food-471757. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Dangerous Effects of Eating Frozen Foods

After a long day of work, we’re all guilty of throwing frozen foods into the microwave for a quick fix. Although frozen foods are quick, and affordable, a tiny part of us just knows that it certainly isn’t the healthiest dinner choice. However, what is wrong with eating frozen foods? Why are they bad for us?

frozen blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries

Frozen foods may increase blood pressure?

The US Food and Drug Administration defines processed foods as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.” This defines nearly all food served in restaurants and grocery store products as processed. Food processing process involves the addition of sodium containing additives, hence increasing the sodium level in food products.

white and red labeled pack on shelf

This is an issue as according to the CDC, up to 70% of sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure, hence increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans to consume less than 2300 milligrams of sodium each day. But here’s a more important question: How do we cut down sodium in our food?

  • Similar products may vary in sodium content, hence, compare food labels and opt for foods with the least amount of sodium.
  • Use fresh ingredients instead of processed ones
  • Request for lower sodium options when dining out
  • Reduce portion sizes can limit salt consumption
dish on white ceramic plate

Frozen food may clog arteries

In processed / frozen food, trans fat is known as “partially hydrogenated oils” on ingredient labels which is notorious for clogging arteries and increasing the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and developing type 2 diabetes. Trans fats raises bad (LDL) cholesterol, while lowering the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Trans fat is created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, according to Heart Organization.

pizza with berries

Why do companies use trans fats? Besides being inexpensive and giving food a desirable taste and texture, trans fats can be reused a number of times. However, its undesirable health effects have trumped its usefulness, leading countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, and several jurisdictions of the US to restrict or reduce the use of trans fats in food service establishments. In November 2013, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.

Unknown chemicals in frozen foods

A report from Environmental Working Group estimated that up to 2,000 synthetic chemicals can be found in conventional packaged foods. Furthermore, the chemicals may not be approved by the FDA but as it is approved by industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, it is used in products while not being required to be labeled on the package. This is disturbing as these added chemical preservatives may cause long term effects such as increase the risks of diseases ranging from hormonal problems to cancer.

woman holding fork in front table

The EWG has conducted their research and summarized some common synthethic preservatives found in packaged foods:

Synthetic PreservativesConcerns
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)Listed by the state of California as a carcinogen and classified as a potential endocrine disruptor by the European Union.
Sodium NitrateDetermined by the World Health Organization to be probably carcinogenic to humans.
Sodium BenzoateWorld Health Organization reports hematologic effects in laboratory studies
t-ButylhydroquinoneWorld Health Organization reports hematologic effects in laboratory studies.
Diacetyltartaric and Fatty Acid Esters of GlyceroWorld Health Organization reports inflammation of the heart in laboratory studies.
Propylene GlycolWorld Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report blood effects in laboratory studies.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)Causes lung and liver tumors in studies of laboratory animals.
Disodium InosinateWorld Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have determined can increase uric acid levels, increasing the risk of kidney stones or gout.
Disodium GuanylateWorld Health Organization determined can increase uric acid levels, increasing the risk for kidney stones or gout.
Polysorbate 80Environmental Protection Agency reports potential to be an endocrine disruptor in studies of cells. Disrupts gut microbiota in laboratory studies.
Polyoxyethylene Sorbitan MonostearateAffects reproduction and lactation in laboratory studies.
NatamycinWorld Health Organization reports gastrointestinal effects.
Source: EWG, from EWG’s Food Scores database
mixed fruits served on ceramic plates

Try to reduce the consumption of frozen foods as there are too many synthetic chemicals that may cause long term health problems. Furthermore, trans fat and sodium contained in frozen foods may increase the risk of one developing heart diseases, strokes and other complications. Instead, try to use natural and organic foods as all synthetic chemical compounds has to be stringently approved by the FDA. If you really suffer a lack of time, try to ask your server for dishes with the least amount of sodium when dining out, and to check nutrition labels carefully before purchasing frozen foods.


References:

 “Get the Facts: Sodium’s Role in Processed Food – CDC.” https://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sodium_role_processed.pdf. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

 “Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Frozen Foods, According to ….” 26 Dec. 2020, https://www.eatthis.com/news-side-effects-eating-frozen-foods-experts/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

“Organic: The Original Clean Food – EWG.” 5 Mar. 2019, https://www.ewg.org/research/packagedorganic/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

 “Trans Fats | American Heart Association.” https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/trans-fat. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

World’s AIDs Day: Myths about HIV/AID

World’s Aids Day (December 1st) has been made as an International Day to raise awareness about AIDs. To raise awareness, let us get informed and break down the myths!

Did you know the red awareness ribbon is the symbol for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as prevention of drug abuse and drunk driving?

What is AIDs?

According to Mayo Clinic, “Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDs) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the statistics for AIDs of 2019:

38,000,000 – estimated number of people living with HIV

1,700,000 – number of people that were newly infected with HIV

690,000 – number of people that died of HIV related causes

The origins of HIV/AIDs

HIV came from a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa. These chimpanzees had the HIV-like virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The SIV later infected humans as hunters would either eat infected chimps, or the blood of infected chimps would infect the hunter’s wounds or cuts. It is believed that the first transmission of SIV to HIV came from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1920. And later on, the spread started during the 60s across the Caribbean, and to the States during the 70s. Which later became a spread of the whole world.

Symptoms and Effects of HIV/AIDs

According to the New York State Department of Health, symptoms like fever, sore throat, swollen glands or a skin rash would appear after being infected with HIV. These symptoms would still go away without being treated. However, the HIV stays in your blood, without treatment, it gets worse. The immune system becomes weak and overtime, it could develop into AIDs if left not treated.

So how does HIV attack the immune system? In the immune system, there are white blood cells which are CD4 cells. HIV gets inside these CD4 cells, makes copies of them and then kills the cell. So the virus in the body increases and CD4 cells decrease, making the body vulnerable.

Based on Mayo Clinic, the progression to AIDs means that the immune system is severely damaged. Therefore the body will be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers. Infections such as Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), Tuberculosis, Toxoplasmosis e.t.c And cancers such as Lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

How is HIV transmitted and Myths/Misconceptions

Before writing this, I asked my friends what they knew about HIV/AIDs, and shockingly, they knew nothing at all.

HIV is a transmitted disease from one person-to-person through sex (as a Sexually Transmitted infection, STI) and when sharing injection drug needles; via bodily fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucous and breastmilk.

So let’s explore the Myths

  • Only adults get HIV

Everyone can be a victim of HIV, it is not limited to sexual partners or drug users. HIV can be transmitted from mother to babies during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.

  • You can get HIV from kissing

HIV cannot be spread through saliva. As HIV is a STI, it is no surprise that this is a misconception. However, HIV from kissing is not impossible, but rather extremely rare. It only becomes possible if the blood of a HIV positive partner gets into the bloodstream to the other, as both have sores or bleeding gums.

  • You can get HIV from oral sex

This is only possible if there are open sores on the genital area or bleeding gums/sores in a partner’s mouth. Though not impossible, it is extremely rare.

  • Contraceptive pills, washing after sex and pulling out can prevent HIV

False. The only contraceptives that are successful at preventing transmitting HIV are proper use of condoms and the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medicine PrEP is prescribed to HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at high risk for getting HIV.

  • You can get HIV from sharing food

As mentioned, you cannot get HIV through saliva. However, it is also not impossible and is extremely rare. Food will only be contaminated if a HIV positive persons’ blood mixes with the food when chewing. But don’t be fearful, HIV cannot survive exposure to the air or heat from cooking.

  • You can get HIV from water

HIV cannot survive in water.

  • You can get HIV from insect and pet bites

Theoretically, this could only be possible if an insect e.g. a mosquito bites a HIV positive person, then transmitting it to another person when biting the other person. But this is all myth, because HIV cannot infect insects or pets in the first place. The reason being that HIV cannot live with them due to difference in genetic build-up, hence the H in HIV stands for humans.

  • If a couple are both HIV positive, they don’t need protection

This myth is extremely dangerous as it is false and promoting unsafe sex. HIV is a virus of many strains, therefore, different people can have different strains of HIV. Unsafe sex between HIV positive couples means that the partner(s) can contract a strain they didn’t have, worsening their health.

  • You can get HIV from Tattoos and piercings

This is only possible if the needle being used is contaminated with infected blood. As regulations require professionals to sterilize needles before use, the cases are rare. However, you must be aware.

Click this to read our article about Tattoos and their poor regulations

HIV/AIDs Stigma

When HIV became recognized publicly during the 80s, the topic of HIV was very controversial. This is because HIV is transmitted through sex which is taboo in some countries. According to UNAIDS, The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, 50% of people report having discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV. 2 additional myths that can be very stigmatizing are :

  • Only gay men get HIV

As mentioned, everyone can be a victim. This misconception comes from the fact that anal sex has a higher risk of transmitting HIV than vaginal sex. This myth has effected many gay men. In the beginning, HIV had a nickname called the “gay plague”. There are also surveys by Lambda Legal that shows LGBT individuals getting denied of HIV/AIDs treatment or be discriminatorily treated, also over 32% of LGBT individuals were also told that they were to be blamed for their health status

  • You can get HIV from touching a HIV positive person

Since HIV can only be transmitted through specific bodily fluids, this is false. Paige Rawl, who contracted HIV since birth was interviewed by Vox and shared her experience.

“The coach made a joke to my mom that the team could use my HIV status to our advantage, because the players on the other team would be scared to touch me, and I could score goals.”

Avert, an international HIV and AIDS charity pointed out why it is important to debunk myths. They explained that incorrect HIV information stops people getting tested.

“My daughter refused to go hospital to receive medicines. My daughter died because of the fear of stigmatization and discrimination”

World AIDs day 2020 – How COVID-19 affected HIV patients

WHO has participated in this International Day by rallying for ‘global solidarity’. They explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the services for HIV, especially in countries that have weak health care, hence they suspected that HIV/AIDs related deaths are rising. Global solidarity would “to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 and beyond – and to ensure continued provision of HIV services for children, adolescents and populations most at risk for the disease”. If this is successful, WHO could potentially reach their 2030 goal – to end the AIDs epidemic.


References:

“HIV/AIDS – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic.” 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

“World AIDS Day 2020 – World Health Organization.” https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-aids-day/2020. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

“About HIV/AIDS | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC.” https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

“History of AIDS – HISTORY.” 13 Jul. 2017, https://www.history.com/topics/1980s/history-of-aids. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

 “How Is HIV Transmitted? | HIV.gov.” 24 Jun. 2019, https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/how-is-hiv-transmitted. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

“Myths about HIV and AIDS | Avert.” 14 Apr. 2020, https://www.avert.org/hiv-transmission-prevention/myths. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

“Myths about HIV and AIDS: Transmission and misconceptions.” 24 Sept. 2020, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323832. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

“Why are gay and bi guys more prone to getting HIV?.” https://www.nzaf.org.nz/media/1757/150327_why_are_gay_and_bi_guys_more_prone_to_hiv.pdf. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

“Facts about HIV Stigma | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC.” https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-stigma/index.html. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

 “HIV Stigma and Discrimination | Avert.” 10 Oct. 2019, https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-social-issues/stigma-discrimination. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

 “When Health Care Isn’t Caring – Lambda Legal.” https://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/whcic-report_when-health-care-isnt-caring.pdf. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

“People living with HIV still face enormous stigma and hate – Vox.” 1 Dec. 2015, https://www.vox.com/2014/8/10/5956765/this-is-what-its-like-to-have-hiv-in-2014. Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

Are diapers toxic for your baby?

Do you know the chemical composition of the diapers used by babies every day? When I was pregnant with my baby girl, I started to think of this question, as I definitely don’t want to put bad chemicals against my baby’s skin 24 hours a day. Some of the chemicals in the diapers are irritants that may cause diaper rash and many parents will inevitably worry about whether the chemical components in the diapers will affect the baby’s skin. Let’s look at their ingredients and find out if they are safe.

Overview of diaper parts

The basic structure of all diapers are the same. The outermost layer of the diaper is a polyethylene film, which is the same material as the plastic film. The inner layer that touches the baby’s skin is usually polypropylene, which is also a common substance you can find in thermal undergarment. These two substances are harmless to the body. Some brands of diapers use aloe vera and vitamin E, both of which are common ingredients found in diaper rash creams.

The middle absorbent layer of a diaper contains wood pulp (usually chlorine for bleaching) and a polymer water-absorbing resin (SAP). The polymer resin is a compound of sodium polyacrylate, which usually absorbs water up to 30 times its own weight. It has been used since the early 1980s, and it has made the diaper thinner while effectively keeping the baby’s buttocks dry.

Watch out for perfumes and dyes in diapers!

Many cartoon characters and other images on the outside of diapers are made with dyes. Some diapers have a perfume smell, which usually contains citral, and this compound is made from lemon and orange oil. These chemical components in diapers generally do not cause any harm to your baby’s health. However, some babies are allergic to dyes and perfume scents of citral or other perfumes, so there will be some discomfort for babies. If your baby have these allergic problems, you can try a different brand which does not have too much dyes and chemicals.

It is the parents’ responsibility to choose harmless products for our babies, if you want to know more about ingredients in diapers and other babies products, I highly recommend you to visit 1Source or other health apps to analyze your baby’s products. 1Source database has over 500,000 products and ingredients in their database, and it uses Potential Risk Index ranking 1 to 10 (1 is good, 10 is bad) to guide you easily before buying any products. Be wary of advertisements conducted by companies and it is always better to review products ourselves!