Friday, March 3, 2017

Promoting Your Toddler or Young Child’s Motor Development

By Dr Orly Zuker, Chiropractor works at Restore Health in Frankston, Melbourne
(B.App Sci: Comp Med, Masters: Clin Chiro, B.Nursing, Webster Certif)

Our complexly designed nervous system was designed with movement in mind. In fact even bone density is maintained with movement. This is why young children love to move and why you can't keep a 1-year-old still for even a quick photo. With very little scientific knowledge in those days, in 1895 D.D Palmer, the founder of Chiropractic also stated that; “movement is life, and life is movement”. We can learn a lot from observing children. They innately know that is it important to interact with others and develop a social network and they know that activities that involve movement will promote and encourage their motor development. 
Sometimes babies and children need a helping hand to development their gross and fine motor skills and we as parents and health practitioners can assist. The following activities/games may be used to promote and encourage motor development, neurological integration and brain development in young children.

1.       Chasing Bubbles   
      
     Who doesn’t remember enjoying this!! Take your child outside and invite them to catch the bubbles you blow (when they are a little older they can try to do it themselves). When they appear tired or bored the game is over. This activity is not only good for their gross motor development, but also fine motor skills, eye sight, patience, perseverance and fitness.

2.       Jumping                          
                                                           
     Place your infant/ or have your child stand on the bottom of a step / edge of a low sandpit/ or a curb, and stand facing them. Assure them that they won't fall and that you are there for them and then encourage them to jump. Repeat the process as long as they remain interested. When they are ready for something more exciting, use a sturdy plastic crate or something similar. This activity encourages motor development as well as neurological development (accuracy/aim, courage, reaction time & judgment).

3.       Ring-around-the-Rosy               
                                          
     This is a fun good old fashion game. You may like to change the lyrics of the song to be more positive too! If there are at least three people available (two children and an adult), you can play this game for the practice of sitting & standing movements (proprioception/ spatial awareness).

4.       Follow the Leader                 
                             
     This game offers a great opportunity for practice of various motor skills. 1+ people are required (it can just be parent & child too). Take this opportunity to go outside and enjoy some fresh air and vitamin D. Make sure you perform as many different locomotor skills/ actions as you know your child can replicate. Don’t’ forget to vary your movements with the elements of movement, including changing direction, and also including; twisting, stretching, bending. jumping and shaking the body.

5.      Supine (on back) bicycle                                          
     
     This is a great activity for facilitating/ moulding the neuroplasticity of a child’s brain. It requires co-ordination, exercise of the spinal and core muscles for stabilization. This activity can be made into a game where you (the adult) plays and stops music, directing your child to ‘stop’ and ‘go’ with the music. They will enjoy this and if your child is a boy, more than likely they will end up being quite competitive!

6.       Crawling like an animal                                                 
      
      This is a lovely game as it utilizes the imagination, gets you (the adult) out of your comfort zone and allows both you and your child to express yourself. For all the hours that we (including children) sit today, crawling around on the ground using your voice to animate different farm, zoo or jungle animals will facilitate neuroplasticity, promote gross motor skills and build self-esteem. Perhaps after this activity pay a visit to a farm or zoo, your child will love visiting the animals!

7.       Piggy back rides                                                            

      If you have 'grown out' of loving a good-old piggy back ride, then you’re not telling the truth! This is a fun activity for all ages and requires balance, co-ordination and spinal muscle activation. You can't help but belly laugh when trailing on someone's back.


      Other activities which are helpful in promoting fine and gross motor development:

-    Climbing and balancing (with  trees, stairs, and anything really)
-    Kick-to-kick/ throw-to-throw
-    Reading laying on your tummy (to activate spinal muscles and proprioceptors/ equilibrium receptors which are found in the neck)
-    Dancing
-    Jumping on a small trampoline
-    Skipping (when older)
-    Cross crawling activities (when older)

Healthy Tips to Remember:

1.   Meet your baby, toddler or young child where they are at in terms of milestones: If we encourage and push them to perform any activity that they are not ready to do we are essentially interrupting & possibly hindering their physical development and neurological evolution. This means no ‘Jolly-Jumpers’ or ‘baby-walker’ devices. Encouraging your baby to sit, stand and walk prematurely (whether they love and enjoy it or not) can have devastating effects on their musculoskeletal system and posture in the future. The overuse of ‘jolly-jumper’ devices has in fact lead to achilles tendon contracture, requiring surgical correction. Just remember that a baby will roll, sit, crawl, stand and walk when they are neurologically ready, they don’t need force, only love, nurture and encouragement.
2.   Limit Screen time:  This includes TV, computer and video game devices of all kind. With today’s technologically driven society our children are being exposed at too early an age to a complex array of radiation emitting devices and sitting far too long with terrible anterior head and slouched posture. The good-old-days of climbing trees, digging holes and outside play are now being dominated by inside activities. For their health and development, we as parents have to encourage our children to get outside!
3.   Ensure optimal nervous system, spine, pelvis and cranial function: Birth and the early years of development (with all of the bumps and falls) can cause great stress to a baby’s delicate spine and may lead to dysfunction of the nervous system. Chiropractic doctors are highly trained in assessing the spine & nervous system and correcting dysfunction (vertebral subluxation) from birth to old age, to allow full health potential.
4.   Love, touch and nurture are essential. Research suggests that when baby mammals are not touched frequently or nurtured that they fail to thrive and develop poorly. Loving touch is like oxygen to a baby, toddler and child. This may include fun wrestling and tickles for an older child, cuddles with an infant or toddler and baby wearing within the first year.

These activities can be practiced daily or twice daily, however a minimum 3 times a week is highly recommended. A child up to the age of 6 or 7 has a brain like a sponge… They can learn, unlearn, form habits, change habits, have preferences, change preferences and adapt. As a child’s caregiver, it is you that has to be committed and dedicated to these activities, because a child needs no excuse to play and interact.

For further information or support, feel free to discuss the topic of milestones and motor development with your chiropractor or chosen healthcare provider.

Dr Orly Zuker practices within Restore Health in Frankston, Melbourne.


Restorehealth.net.au

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dry Needling

Dry Needling
Many of our patients (in particular those seeing our Myotherapist Tim) have asked about dry needling and wonder; What it does? Why, and If it hurts? What are the benefits? Dry needling is highly effective for muscle pain, chronic tight muscles, joint restriction and injury recovery, and here is how it works (in an easy to understand manner). 
 
Is it safe?

Dry needling is a very safe treatment. Our Myotherapist Tim, undertook 12 months of intense training of varying dry needling techniques and developed a deep understanding of the relevant anatomy. The needles used are very fine (0.1- 0.3 mm), and very rarely does bruising occur at the insertion site.
Side effects are uncommon, however some clients report muscle soreness in the treated area which can last from a few hours to a few days due to muscle tightness and physiological changes in the tissue.
How does it work?

Dry needling involves stimulating a twitch response within a target muscle(s) in order to alleviate muscle tension and pain/restriction. This allows the body’s biochemistry to produce natural analgesic chemicals such as endorphin's (for pain relief).
 
The tiny needle causes micro-trauma which signals the brain to initiate a sequence of events which include increased blood flow to repair the 'damaged tissue'. When dry needling is used in a ‘trigger point’ (tight muscle band) a 'twitch' response is frequently elicited in the muscle. This is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic, because healthy muscle tissue will not 'twitch' when stimulated by the needle. Once a 'twitch' response has been elicited, the muscle fibres in that area relax, inflammation is reduced and circulation improves. As a result of these physiologic processes, dry needling can purposely address musculoskeletal issues.
What are the benefits of dry needling?

Dry needling can reduce chronic tightness in muscles which can allow the Myotherapist to work with more ease on the muscle. This means treatments may be more pain-free. Dry needling can also minimize the referred pain symptoms that some trigger points can cause and therefore treat your musculoskeletal pain effectively. Complaints that respond well to dry needling include:
  1. Neck pain – including headaches or migraines
  2. Back pain– musculoskeletal pain and restriction
  3. Jaw pain/TMJ dysfunction
  4. Sporting and repetitive strain injuries
  5. Shin splints
  6. Shoulder injuries
  7. Tennis elbow
  8. and many other conditions.
 
What will I feel during my dry needling treatment?

Generally, needle insertion is not felt. The local twitch response can cause a sudden quick contraction in the muscle and may cause very brief pain. A therapeutic response occurs when the twitch response is achieved. If muscle soreness is experienced in the following 24-48 hrs heat application is recommended. Drinking plenty of water is also a helpful way to reduce post-treatment soreness.

For more information about dry needling, or if your interested in an appointment with our Myotherapist, contact our friendly reception team or respond to this email.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New practice location

Our new clinic is now located in Frankston, 3199, VIC.

restorehealth.net.au

info@restorehealth.net.au

Friday, November 13, 2015

Welcome to my "Health, Wellness and Lifestyle" blog. Enjoy the information and if it interests you please 'follow' this page and if the information inspires you, please share the it with your friends and family, so they too may benefit.


If you have any questions, please feel free to email me on info@chelseafamilychiro.com.au

I wish you great health & happiness.
Dr Orly Zuker, Chiropractor

PART 2: SOAP, SUDS & BUBBLES, A CHEMICAL COCKTAIL (BABIES AND CHILDREN)

By Dr Orly Zuker, Chiropractor
(B.Appl.Sci: Comp Med, Clin Chiro: Masters, B.Nursing, Webster Certif)


 
When we find out that we are pregnant, most women are very particular about what they put in their body, what they put on their body and what they breathe in. Needless-to-say, this is an innate act of preservation and survival where a mother-to-be wants nothing other than for her foetus to grow and develop in the healthiest possible environment… Unfortunately some people only reform their health and lifestyle during their pregnancy, whereas others try to adopt this new and healthier lifestyle for years to come. The more you read and learn, the harder it is to return to your previous lifestyle of chemical based home cleaning, hygiene products and even non-organic food (but that is a whole other topic!).

During pregnancy (and assumingly during the early days with a newborn), there are particular drugs, medications and chemicals that may either hinder, retard or cause fatal damage to a growing foetus and a new baby. The Thalidomide tragedy of the 1970s is a constant reminder of this and therefore making every effort to avoid potentially harmful substances (and question everything) during pregnancy and with your new baby is vital.

During gestation, a baby spends it's time swimming around the naturally sterile and safe amniotic fluid of the womb, and then they are quickly born into an environment of chemicals (cleaning products, artificial air fragrances, bathing preparations/ soaps, lotions, cuddling perfumed visitors and laundry detergents on clothing and bedding). Unfortunately baby and infant products are marketed and advertised as being ‘safe and gentle’. However, with products containing SLS, PEG, benzoates, alcohol AND MORE how safe and gentle can they really be?

Thankfully as with other home and hygiene products covered in part 1 of this article, there are terrific alternatives on the market. Ecostore, Gaia and other toxic-free/ eco-friendly companies manufacture truly safe and gentle products for your new baby. Again, as mentioned in part 1 of this article, be aware of personal care and home cleaning products that are marketed and advertised as 'Eco', as they frequently contain chemicals that may cause long-term toxicity and cause short-term irritation.

In addition, you may choose to refrain from wearing perfume and kindly ask your visitors to spray their perfume on their back rather than front if they must wear perfume.

When it comes to babies it seems like common sense wanting to minimise skin aggravation, chemical inhalation and immune sensitivities. It baffles me that companies actually manufacture baby products with such toxic ingredients, and we as consumers know no better, so we purchase what ‘looks the best’ and ‘sounds the best’, because we try to do our best!

As our children grow up, we as their parents (and grandparents) can teach and encourage them to embrace a healthy lifestyle that is ‘toxic–free’ for their health and for the integrity of the environment. When it comes to making less toxic choices for your family's personal care & hygiene products, we must educate ourselves, embrace healthier choices and ‘step outside of the square’. A good place to start is in asking questions such as; "is it safe long term to use products with chemicals such as SLS, PEGs, BPA etc”. Unfortunately there isn’t enough long term studies of these chemical’s safety, so for your future health it is safer to just stay clear.

 CHEMICAL WATCH…

The skin is a highly absorbable organ, and inflammatory skin rashes, asthma and other common ailments of infancy and childhood are on the rise. Making a conscious effort to seek and choose ‘healthier’ cleaning and hygiene products is becoming more and more important to many families. As a response to the growing demand, your local grocery, organic or health food stores now have a range of safer products for you enjoy. But be sure to read the label, even with a brand you trust.

Healthy tip: Be careful of products marketed as 'fragrance-free' or products advertised as containing ‘organic ingredients’ or ‘natural essential oils' or 'gentle on the skin' and so on as these products still falsely contain a concoction of toxic petrochemicals, preservatives and artificial fragrances.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that bathing practices of a newborn, utilising conventional over-the-counter products caused a rash in up half the population being studied… If these hygiene preparations can cause an instant rash, then what can it do to our health in the long term?

When it comes to our precious babies and children, the concept of ‘toxic-free’ and minimising exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is no different to the kitchen, laundry, bathroom and makeup case mentioned in part 1… Let’s all start transforming our home today, for our health tomorrow.

TALCUM POWDER/ BABY POWDER

Talc has not had a good reputation over the years. According to research, the use of talcum powder may have health consequences you would never have assumed. Both older and more recent studies have suggested that the use of talc/ traditional baby powder in the perineal/ genital area may be linked to the development of cervical and ovarian cancer.

Healthy tip: Cornflour-based baby powder is an easy to find alternative to talc. Gaia and other companies make a great product that is easy to find at a range of different stores.

BUBBLE BATH/ BABY SHAMPOO

As mentioned in Part 1, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), petrochemicals and other toxic chemicals are frequently used in your families shampoo, conditioner and bubble bath (no exceptions for newborn babies or infants). Popular brands on the market use a formula that includes chemicals such as; SLS and Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Polysorbate 20, PEG-80, PEG 150 Distearate, Polyquaternium-10, colours, preservatives and perfume. To be honest, as a health practitioner and as a mother, reading that list of chemicals truly scares me. A simple formula of plant based solvents and detergents makes me feel a lot more comfortable, safe and clean.

BABY LOTIONS/ BOTTOM CREAMS/ SOAPS

Various branded sorbolene creams have for some time been recognised by consumers and medical practitioners as a ‘safer’ or ‘more gentle’ option than other lotions on the market. Unfortunately, marketing and advertising catch us again with most formulas of sorbolene lotion containing chemicals such as; Petrolatum, Cetearyl alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben and Disodium EDTA and so on. In the end when you start reading labels and questioning the safety of these products it becomes ever so apparent that they are not so gentle after all!                   The good news again is that companies such as Eco store and Gaia (what I use with my baby) manufacture nappy/ bottom cream, body moisturiser/ lotions and soaps that are all safe, gentle, soothing and effective.  Rather than a chemical cocktail, the ingredients in products such as Gaia’s ‘skin soothing lotion’/ nappy cream includes shea butter, castor oil, zinc oxide, calendula, extract, chamomile extract avocado oil and beeswax. Much nicer for your baby’s bottom!   

Popular branded baby oils contain ingredients such as; PEG-12 Dimethicone, fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Mineral Oil, Polysorbate -20 and Sodium Lactate. You might prefer to just lather your baby in safe, natural coconut oil!

BABY WIPES

Baby wipes can frequently cause irritation to a baby’s sensitive bottom. Many popular baby wipe brands on the market have ingredients in their formula that include; Caprylyl Glycol, Phenooxyethanol, Amodimethicone (a silicone based polymer), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (a synthetic surfactant), Polyaminopropyl Biguanide (a disinfectant and preservative) and Methylisothiazolinone (a biocide and preservative). Again, looking at other more natural companies, Gaia manufacture bamboo baby wipes with ingredients that include; organic essential oils, aloe extract and glycerin. When you find a brand you trust (like myself with Gaia and Ecostore, you can’t look past them!).

SUNSCREEN

As mentioned in part 1, sunscreens are a cocktail of chemical UV blockers and absorbers. They contain titanium dioxide and an array of other chemicals that make up the cream base of sunscreen. There are far safer options on the market, such as the brands: UV Naturals, Soleo, Wotnot and Natural Instinct. These are all safe and effective alternatives to conventional sunscreen.

TEETHING GELS/OINTMENTS

As a mother, I have never used teething gels as I have never felt comfortable having my baby swallow chemicals and preparations such as: Ethanol/ alcohol, Cetylpyridinium (a preservative), Cetalkonium Chloride (a preservative), Saccharin (a proven dangerous artificial sweetener). These conventional teething gels also contain Choline Salicylate, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that has side effects including; allergic reaction: rash, itching, swelling, dizziness and breathing difficulty. I prefer a more gentle and natural approach with frozen breastmilk poles, Brauer’s Teething Relief drops and frozen blueberries (for an older baby). The fact is that teething will in most cases disrupt everyone’s sleep, and yes i would rather accidently stick my hand in my son’s poo, but teething passes and I would rather it pass without the use of toxic drugs and chemicals!                           
Healthy tip: I had a pharmacist patient of ours make us some baby ibuprofen without any artificial sweetener, colours or preservatives. There are many compounding pharmacist around these days who can do the same for you.


References:

  1. Larson, EL. (2004). Effect of Antibacterial Home Cleaning and Handwashing Products on Infectious Disease Symptoms [A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial]. Ann Int Med. Vol. 140 (5). Pg. 321-329.
  2. Nazaroff, WW & Weschler, CJ. (2004). Cleaning products and air fresheners: exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants. Atmosph Environ.
  3. Ramón, MM etal. (2005). Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and exposure to irritant agents in occupational domestic cleaning: a nested case-control study. Occup Environ Med. Vol 62. Pg. 598-606. 
  4. Bergfeld, WF etal. (2005). Safety of ingredients used in cosmetics. Journ Amer Acad Dermat. Vol 52 (1). Pg. 125-132.
  5. William B. Grant etal. (2002). The significance of environmental factors in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Journ Alzh Dis. Vol 4 (3). Pg. 179-189.
  6. Darbre, PD. (2005). Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journ Inorg Biochem. Vol 99 (9). Pg. 1912-1919.
  7. Darbre, PD. (2006).  Environmental oestrogens, cosmetics and breast cancer. Journ Endocrin & Metab. Vol 20 (1). Pg. 121-143.
  8. Merritt, MA etal. (2008).Talcum powder, chronic pelvic inflammation and NSAIDs in relation to risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Internat Journ Canc. Vol 122 (1). Pg. 170–176.
  9. Unknown Author. (1983). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Journ Amer Coll Tox. Vol 2 (7).
  10. Hrudey, SE. (2009). Chlorination disinfection by-products, public health risk tradeoffs and me. Water Res. Vol 43(8).  Pg. 2057-2092.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

FOOD LABELLING, HEALTH AND CONSUMER CHOICES

By Dr Orly Zuker, Chiropractor
(B.App Sci: Comp Med, Masters:Clin Chiro, B.Nursing, Webster Certif)


In Australia and other first word nations, we are very fortunate to have on offer clean and healthy food options. At our fingertips, supermarkets offer all sorts of pre-prepared meals, frozen goods, fresh produce and an abundance of tasty treats and sweets. This abundance of convenience and packaged foods has led consumers to rely on honest and accurate information provided on labels by food manufacturers. The simple fact is that processed foods are usually manufactured with heavily refined and processed ingredients. Virtually all conventionally processed foods are laden with salt, hidden sugars (high fructose corn syrup), unhealthy/ hydrogenated fats and nasty chemical additives... Far from what nature intended.


Over the past 20 years there has  been an emergence of healthy minded consumers who want to know what is going on their plates and into their bodies. People are demanding  honesty from their food producers, manufacturers, supermarkets and farmers and as result has influenced the introduction of organic products and food items that are free from preservatives, additives, artificial colouring and hidden sugars.

As you begin to read labels and ingredient list, be conscious that in Australia and many other countries, food labelling laws are vague, allowing a food manufacturer to in many ways ‘do what they like’. In saying so, ‘natural’, ‘sugar-free’ and ‘fat-free’ and so on only mean that a certain percentage of the product contains or includes natural products or a particular level of fat or sugar! Moral of the story, grow your own, bake your, pick your own and support local butchers, green grocers, farmers markets.

Don't be fooled by clever marketing and advertising either. For example, recently a supermarket  campaign was introduced with a 'no added hormones’ slogan which at first glance is exciting. However if you read between the lines  you will realise the truth in food labelling. If we think about it, of course supermarkets don’t add hormones to their meat produce (for goodness sake, it’s a carcass that doesn’t need growth hormones!), but sadly growers and suppliers frequently use growth hormones and antibiotics that are hidden in  the animal feed that their livestock eat. Meats can also be preserved with chemicals before reaching supermarkets, and thus is the ambiguous industry of food labelling and marketing.

Education about food and food labeling starts with our kids. Our young future leaders are impressionable and it is imperative that they are aware of farming practices (including food export/ import, organic and biotechnology such as the genetic modification of food), cage rearing of animals, food manufacturing, food labeling, sustainability and recycling. Parents can use a simple supermarket trip as education, explaining what they see and explaining labels and numbers to them.

Food Labelling Issue #1: Processed Foods & Additives

For centuries food additives such as salt and oil have been used in food manufacturing to; preserve food (these are numbered in the 200s), augment or improve the taste of food (these are numbered in the 600s) or to make foods more appealing to the eye by restoring or enhancing colour (these are numbered in the 100s) .
According to public government based information the FSANZ closely monitor the use of food additives, and comprehensively tests and assesses regularly for safety. In saying this however, use your better judgement as artificial additives such food colouring (however banned in certain European countries) are easily accessible in Australia & New Zealand. Long-term safety of such chemicals remain unknown or vague.

Flavour enhancers might make a packaged food item tastier, however chemical flavour enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) can have awful side effects that include;  headaches, migraines, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma attacks, shortness of breath, anxiety or panic attacks, heart palpitations, partial paralysis, heart attack-like symptoms, balance difficulties, mental confusion, mood swings, neurological disorders (Parkinson's, MS, ALS, Alzheimer's), behavioural disorders (especially in children and teens), skin rashes, mouth dryness, premature labour, runny nose, facial flushing, mouth lesions, depression and more…
Becoming familiar with the numbers found on food labels will assist you in making more informed and perhaps healthier choices for yourself and your family. Comprehensive lists are available on the FSANZ website for a label number/ code reference.

Common additives found in packaged food include:

      ·         Acidity regulator (260)

·         Anticaking agent (551, 553, 554)

·         Petrolatum or petroleum jelly (905b)

·         Aspartame (951)/ Saccharin (954)

·         Flavour enhancer: MSG (620, 621, 622, 623, 633, 635)

·         Sorbitol (420) – a humectant which is used to stabilize the moisture levels of dry fruit.

·         Sulphur dioxide/ sodium nitrate/ bisulphite/ metabisulphite/ potassium bisulphite (220, 222, 223, 250, 251, 228) are preservatives found in dry fruit and processed meat products.

·         Colours: Many colours are added to foods such as dried fruit, jarred foods, confectionary and so on. The following colours have been banned in Norway, Sweden, Finland, France and Austria; yellow tartrazine (102), yellow #6 (E110), allura red (129), ponceau 4R/ red dye # 3 & #40 (E124), blue #1 & blue #2 (E133). Studies into the effects of these artificial colours/ additives have discovered links to hyperactivity disorders, chromosomal/ DNA damage and specific cancers. Unfortunately Australia and New Zealand haven’t followed suit in banned these, so avoid them all together is a good idea for your health.

It is important to know that not all numbers are ‘bad’. There are many naturally occurring additives now being used in food manufacturing. These are also required by law to be listed on a food label. In examining a food label the following natural additives can be found:

·         Anthocyanins/ grape skin or blackcurrant extract (163). This is a natural food colouring.

·         Curcumin/ turmeric (100). This is used as a natural colouring alongside with Spirulina, paprika, beetroot, carrot and blueberries.

·         Ascorbic acid/ VIT C (300). This naturally occurs in fruits & vegetables and is used as an antioxidant.

·         Lecithin (322). This is naturally found in egg yolks, soy beans, peanuts and maize/ corn. It is used as an emulsifier or lubricant.

·         Glazing agent (901). This is derived from beeswax and used as a natural waxing agent for fruit such as apples.

·         Carrageenan (407). This is an additive extracted from red and purple seaweeds that is used as a thickener or emulsifier in foods

·         Xylitol (967). This is a natural low GI sugar alcohol. It is extracted from birch trees, raspberries and corn husk.

Food Labelling Issue #2: Artificial sweeteners

With the rising levels of diabetes and obesity, the public has jumped on the ‘sugar-free’ craze. Food and drink manufacturing companies have invested millions collectively on marketing and advertising and as a result hundreds and thousands of people are ingesting toxic and potentially very dangerous artificial sweeteners.

European studies have shown that ingestion of artificial sweeteners such Aspartame (951) can result in an accumulation of formaldehyde in the brain which can damage the central nervous system and immune system causing trauma to DNA. Aspartame breaks down into methanol (wood alcohol) which quickly converts to formaldehyde in the body... Formaldehyde is heavily toxic to the body. Aspartame is in fact considered worse than refined sugar and has been found responsible for symptoms of MS, lupus, fibromyalgia and other disorders of the central nervous. additionally, other artificial sweeteners such as saccharin have been linked to cancer in laboratory rats.

 The following artificial sweeteners are found in products such as; diet fizzy drinks, chewing gum, mints, sugar-free items, yoghurts, snack bars, lollies and ‘health’ products such as Yakult:

·         Sucralose (955): Found in the product ‘Splenda’

·         Saccharin (954): Found in the product ‘Sweet n Low’

·         Aspartame (951): Found in the products ‘Equal’ & ‘Nutrasweet’

In addition, be careful of heavily processed ‘natural’ products such as Erythritol (968). This is a sugar alcohol that is classified as safe by the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), however consumption has been linked to digestive upset/ disturbance.

Food Labelling Issue #3: Genetic modification or genetic engineering

Genetic modification (GM) or genetic engineering (GE) is another world. The true food network continues to rally the government to introduce stricter laws on GE and GM labelling. Genetic modification or genetic engineering involves altering the genetic material of an organism by using techniques which may manipulate food, animals and perhaps even humans. With food for instance, scientists have the ability to reduce fruit softening, to make plants insect repellent, to enrich foods with minerals or vitamins, to brighten the colour of fruit and to alter the shape of produce for easier storage (for example Japanese scientists have created square watermelons!).

The problem is that large companies such as Monsato, Bayer or Novartis are behind such processes and are in a position of power and financial gain. GE and GM is the furthest step we can take from nature and with no testing in place to determine or predict safety. Therefore, food altering technology may have potentially hazardous effects on health and the environment in the future. Recent studies have suggested a link between GE soybeans and corn with a rise in food allergies in humans, as well as immune dysfunction in mice consuming GE peas. Many companies now label their foods as GE/ GM-free, however most don’t, so avoiding packaged food and questioning your food suppliers is the only way forward. The true food network has a comprehensive list on their website of GM/GE manufacturers to avoid. Visit www.truefood.org.au/ for your information.

 Educate yourself about food and nutrition, and read food labels!!