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After about 3 days of research, we finally figured out what kind of mattress and mattress cover our little angel will be sleeping on. I think my husband and I have done more research on baby stuff in the past 7 months than either of us did in four years of college! The good news is, I’m going to share all this good stuff with you! Even if you don’t have children, this is an important read in order to keep chemicals and toxins from harming you while you sleep.

Studies have shown that crib mattresses contribute to one of the highest causes of chemical poisoning among babies. Regular (and sheepskin) mattresses contain phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. These elements are naturally occurring in some sheepskins and are added in via the manufacturing process of regular mattresses. Arsenic and antimony are used as preservatives in mandatory flame retardants and phosphorous is a plasticizer used in matters covers. Most baby mattresses contain filling material called polyurethane foam, which is made from petroleum and contains chemical catalysts, surfactants, emulsifiers, pigments and more. Manufacturers listed on the material safety data sheet (MSDS) that exposure to polyurethane foam can cause: possible cardiac arrhythmias, breathlessness, chest discomfort, irritation of mucous membranes, headache, coughing dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision and more. Considering infants spend an incredible amount of time sleeping, this is a huge concern for me.

Adding to that, a common household fungus known as Scopularioupsis Brevicaulis gets established in the mattress from the baby’s sweating, spitting up, urinating, etc. Once it’s there, the fungus feeds off of the phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. The result is a production of three nerve gasses: phosphine, arsine and stibine, all of which can be very deadly, especially to infants. Enter SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It has also been proven that the risk of SIDS increases with the birth of each child, potentially because mattresses are re-used, allowing the fungus to become more established with the addition of each child.

Although it is not 100% scientifically proven, many scientists believe that toxic gases released from crib mattresses can cause SIDS when inhaled or absorbed by the baby. A large study in New Zealand had a 100% success rate in crib death prevention for the past 13 years. Parents were strongly advised to wrap their mattresses with a specially formulated polyethylene cover. Out of 170,000 (22%) New Zealand babies, not one single SIDS death was reported, compared to 860 reports of crib death prior to this study. To be clear, scientists agree that low density, food-grade polyethylene is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a crib mattress, since it does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives.

So how do you make sure nerve gasses aren’t reaching your baby?

Well, you either buy an organic mattress or you cover the one you have with a low-density food-grade polyethylene sheeting. It is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a mattress. It has a simple molecular structure and does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives. Unlike the production of vinyl, dioxins and other toxic chemicals are not released into the environment during the production of low-density polyethylene.

If you’re buying a new, organic mattress, make sure it’s actually organic (as opposed to it having just one organic material and abusing the term “organic”). It depends on all materials used. Even an organic cotton filled mattress can be filled with a vinyl covering, which then likely adds in chemical fire retardants. Check out company ratings in this buying guide. Once you’ve decided on a couple you’re interested in, check them against the tips above to see if any red flags come up. There’s also a very helpful chart and key included in that guide.

A few comments about the buying guide’s recommendations:

Though boric acid is considered by some to have a low toxicity rating, it’s also a roach killer. Also, antimony is listed as a “chemical of concern” but arsenic and phosphorous are not. Double check with manufacturers on whether they contain these two compounds before making a final decision on a purchase. Also, avoid any mattresses that have an un-waterproofed surface. Wool/latex as the surface material is okay, un-waterproofed cotton is no good, because it can get wet and mildew. (Enter S. Brevicaulis). Removable cotton pads/wool pads that can be washed are fine, but make sure they aren’t too cushy, especially if your baby is going to sleep on his/her stomach, as this can interfere with breathing. On that note, a firm mattress is a must-have if you are buying for an infant.

If you are going to continue using the mattress you have, be sure to cover it properly.

  • Cover the top, all sides and most of the underside of the mattress with a polyethylene sheeting that is at least 5 mil thick and free of phosphorus, arsenic and antimony. Leave several venting holes on the underside of the mattress cover so that the gas can escape.
  • Use fleecy pure cotton mattress cover over the polyethylene sheeting and tuck it in securely.
  • Make the bed using pure cotton sheets.
  • Do not use any of the following as baby bedding: sheepskin, moisture-resistant mattress protector, acrylic under blanket, sleeping bag or duvet.
  • Clean mattress covers by wiping with pure soap and water. Do not use chemical bleaches or sterilizers.

If you made it through that entire post, congratulations. If you didn’t, I don’t blame you. Regardless, here’s a quick recap:

Buying for Baby:

Mattress: Should have waterproofed cotton or wool/latex as the surface material. Mattress should be firm.
Cover: Use a low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover or a pure cotton cover if the top of the mattress is waterproofed.
Sheets: Pure cotton sheets. Organic is great, but make sure they’re at least 100% cotton.

For Adults:

These same nerve gasses that could harm an infant could harm you too. Although we have a mattress that is just 6 months old, I do not know what it is made out of and don’t want to take any chances. Especially knowing that if it is emitting nerve gasses, I will absorb them and they will be passed through my breastmilk to my child. Needless to say, we just bought an adult-size low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover here. Although it makes a plastic-y sound when you get into bed, I don’t mind! A small price to pay for better health and my child’s safety.

And lastly, if you’re wondering what mattress and mattress cover we went with for our baby, we went with Naturepedic. Here is the mattress we purchased (or will be purchasing) and here is the mattress pad (waterproof).

Sources:
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/2011/11/mattress-matters-report.html#more
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/MattressMattersReport-Jan2012.pdf
http://www.mommypotamus.com/do-sheepskins-cause-sids/
http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-buy-a-non-toxic-mattress/
http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/bedding.asp
http://www.simplybabybedding.com/safety-facts-dangers-crib-mattresses.html

I completed the 21 days of the CLEAN Program a week ago now. For the first two days “post CLEAN”, I decided that wheat would be the first allergen that I would reintroduce into my diet. Unfortunately, on Day 3, I started to come down with a sinus infection. Ugh! All that hard work! Could it be that I actually have a serious wheat allergy? Or is this just bad timing since the seasons are changing, and in our area the temperature swings are +30 degrees in an hour? It’s so hard to say! However, I was determined not to let my 3 weeks of hard work go to waste. Since I couldn’t really tell if wheat gave me any side effects or if it’s just the changing of the weather that is affecting me, I have actually had to continue CLEAN for another week, throughout the sinus infection. I need to be able to introduce one allergen at a time, in order to figure out which trigger symptoms in my body. Unfortunately, I can’t begin this process until this infection is completely gone, after all, you can’t tell if something clogs your sinuses when they’re clogged from the get-go, so it looks like I will be on CLEAN for at least 4.5 weeks before I get to introduce these allergens!

Not only have I resumed CLEAN without interruption, but I actually cut carbs/sugars for a few days in order to starve the bad bacteria in my body. So it has been a ton of veggies for me! I’ve also heeded my chiropractor/muscle activation therapist’s advice, and started taking colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, zinc, garlic, etc. I’ve kept up my probiotics and of course, lots of apple cider vinegar to thin that mucous! Add in copious amounts of rest, lots of water and decaffeinated green tea, and four days later… I’m starting to feel better! I refused to go to the doctor for this, and it’s been tough. Had I gone, I know they would have given me antibiotics and I would probably be running around by now, but the damage I would have done to my lovely clean system I’ve built, would have been devastating to me. So I’ve toughed it out. After all, the purpose of CLEAN is to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” So I feel like this is the ultimate test! The timing is so ironic. I JUST finished this program. Now let’s see if my body can heal itself! It’s required SO much rest, I am so tired of my couch, but on the bright side, it did force me to complete the online Defensive Driving class I’ve been putting off for long enough now!

I hope to be able to update you next week with reports on the allergen introductions. But first, let’s get these sinuses cleared up! Off to bed I go!

I just completed 21 days of the CLEAN Program. Wow. That was tough, and wonderful, all at the same time. For those of you that aren’t familiar with CLEAN, it is a program created by Dr. Alejandro Junger, to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” But it does much more than that. By removing common allergens from your diet for 21 days, you give your body a chance to reset. When 21 days are over, you slowly add those allergens back into your diet, one at a time, with several days in between. Doing this allows you to truly pinpoint which of these allergens effect you personally. This method is actually much more accurate, not to mention less expensive, than typical laboratory/blood allergy tests.

So after 21 days of eating a completely CLEAN diet, I will start by adding wheat back in first. Part of me wants to go crazy and eat wheat all day long, but apparently that’s not necessary. The book makes it clear that just a little bit of wheat will do. Apparently after 3 weeks of eating CLEAN, it won’t take much to notice if you have a sensitivity or not. Now I’m nervous…

Clean book by Dr. JungerThis is the second time I’ve gone through the CLEAN program, but the first time I’ve done it completely and correctly. I started the last time too soon, I hadn’t read enough information and was accidentally eating some of the allergens that were supposed to be eliminated. So this time, I made sure to gather all the information prior to starting. Day 3 was probably the best, at the start of the program. I had so much energy, I was on top of the world. Excited about what was to come and the benefits I would receive, I was going, full force ahead. I started to break out a bit as these toxins were released, but all in all, that first week was great.

Then came the second week. Dun, dun, dun. Things started to get a little tougher. My thoughts switched from “This is awesome, I should do this more often” to “What in the world was I thinking?” Since I eat a pretty clean diet regularly, I felt that I could easily justify quitting early, since I’m “pretty healthy.” However, I started to think about how crappy I was feeling, and that is what really made me realize that I needed to see this through. If I was THAT healthy… this wouldn’t be affecting me as it was. So… on I went.

Days 11-16 were the worst. I had no energy, I would sleep for 12 hours at night and it still didn’t seem like it was enough, had terrible nightmares (many including food), my otherwise awesome drive, motivation, focus and productivity was lacking, I didn’t feel like myself and I was HUNGRY. Like, really, really, hungry. Thankfully I had been tweeting and facebooking about my CLEAN journey, and EVERY SINGLE tweet or post that I made was responded to by at least one member of the CLEAN team. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these people, they are amazing. They truly care about your journey, well-being and outcome, and they are so supportive and responsive. I wasn’t even asking them questions… just posting things like “Gosh, Day 12 sucks…” and they would respond with “You’re doing great, hang in there, this is where the magic happens” kind of thing. It was so uplifting. I didn’t realize it at the beginning, but I realize now how much I really did need their help and support. They pointed me to their web community, where you create a free profile and log your journey, ask questions, join forums, talk to other members, etc., and that was amazing as well. Just when you think you’re the only person struggling or experiencing one side effect or another, you jump online and see that you are most definitely not alone. Hundreds if not thousands of other people are there to help you through it, as they are going through the same things. It’s also interesting to talk to people at different phases of the program. That was helpful, knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

©Melissa Villamizar‘Tis the season for sinus infections! Almost everyone in the office has gotten some sort of flu, virus or sinus infection in the last two weeks. Well, I am determined NOT to catch anything! However, I feel terrible. I feel a sinus infection coming on, and there’s absolutely NO way I will take antibiotics. So in the spirit of “sinus infection season”, I thought I would share with you my steps towards a homeopathic cure.

Sinus infections can be caused by viral, fungal or bacterial infections, allergies and/or autoimmune diseases, and are highly contagious. So thank you to everyone in the office for sharing, that was kind of you. Let’s clink glasses and “cheers” with glasses of apple cider vinegar.

Noted as “the best remedy” to stop a sinus infection, it works best when taken immediately upon onset of symptoms. This magical mixture consists of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 8 ounces of water. It’s “supposed” to be consumed “all at once.” Good luck with that, this stuff takes some getting used to. If you’d rather sip on it, you can mix 1/8 – 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in 16 oz. of water, and sip on it throughout the day. This works well if you have an existing sinus infection as well. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best old-school remedies for just about anything. Sit down with your Grandmother, and ask her about apple cider vinegar. She’ll likely tell you it cures everything! However, one of the reasons it works so well in regards to clearing sinuses is because it thins mucus. It should also be noted that the ACV remedy must be started at the onset of symptoms, as starting it too late could prove ineffective.

It should also be noted that if you have a sinus infection, it would be wise to avoid all mucus-forming foods, such as dairy (ice cream, milk, cheese), gluten (wheat, oats, barley, bread, cereal), fried/fatty foods, sugar (sweets, pastries, soda, chocolate) and animal products (meat, eggs). These foods are typically more difficult for the body to digest, increasing the production of mucus.

Instead, increase your consumption of mucus-clearing foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables (especially citrus fruits and grapes), onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, horseradish and ginger. Also, if you are sick, it is best to consume foods in liquid form, because the energy that your body saves digesting food can be used to help you get well again. So if you’re really feeling icky, try juicing your fruits and vegetables or making a smoothie or a soup.

Cheers to a mucus-free fall! I’ll drink to that! (Apple cider vinegar, of course).

Update 9/30/11: I am happy to report that I do not have, nor did I ever get, a sinus infection. Hooray! Good job ACV! The first day (the day I wrote this), I sipped on ACV and water all day. I immediately felt better. There was less pressure in my sinuses, and I felt like my nose was running, yes! Mucus was draining! The 2nd day, I didn’t do anything, then day 3 and 4 (today is 4), I have been doing a little sipping again for good measure, as I do feel some pressure again. I can say though, that I do see a significant difference after drinking the ACV. I’ve also been on allergy medication for decades, and I actually stopped taking my Claritin this week because I read these drugs can be a factor in causing respiratory infections and sinus infections. Taking that medicine gives my liver something else to process, which can increase mucus production. Since that is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do, I cut it altogether. Risky, since every time I try to “kick” my allergy meds, I end up with a respiratory infection, but I’m feelin’ good! Raw foods and ACV are here to save the day!

This recipe is gluten-free and soy-free.

These oatmeal cookies are so delicious and so healthy, you can eat them for breakfast! Just don’t eat too many in one sitting, it is oatmeal after all… 🙂 These cookies are gluten-free and soy-free, and there is no artificial sugar or other ingredients. I’m working on getting the nutrition information (calories, etc.) together as we speak. Another great thing about this recipe is you really can tailor it to fit your own taste buds. Add nuts if you’d like, maybe some cinnamon, carob chips, etc., it’s all up to you! Even the ratios of almond meal, steel-cut oats and rolled oats can be adjusted. If the dough ends up too dry, just add some more applesauce. And vice-versa, if it ends up too wet, add some more oats or almond meal. I tend to prefer the dough a bit more moist before I put these into the oven, they turn out a little better in the end.

Here’s how I make them… as far as the optional ingredients, I use stevia, raisins and cocoa nibs. Feel free to experiment!

Notes

Recipe yields: about 2 dozen cookies depending on size
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10-14 min

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • a squirt of agave nectar

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbls. stevia (optional)
  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 1/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Optional Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1 tbls. cocoa nibs (optional, and a little goes a long way)
  • 1/4 c. carob chips
  • 1/4 c. pecans (or almonds, walnuts, etc.)

Other Notes:

I use a combination of steel cut and rolled oats. The steel cut oats are less processed than the rolled oats, but rolled oats add a nice texture to the cookie. Feel free to try using pecan and hazelnut meal as well as almond meal, very delicious!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together wet ingredients in a small bowl and set aside
  3. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl
  4. Combine wet & dry ingredients by scooping wet into dry ingredients’ bowl and mix together
  5. Add optional ingredients to mix
  6. Scoop by tablespoon-ish size onto greased cookie sheet (I use an ice cream scooper. Please note these cookies will bake into the exact shape you see on the cookie sheet. They will not form perfect circles).
  7. Bake at 350° for 10-14 minutes until cookies are golden brown on the sides and on the top
  8. Remove from cookie sheet and set on a cooling rack
  9. When the cookies have cooled, drizzle a small amount of agave nectar on top (Note, this is optional. It is delicious, but will add calories, so skip this if you’re counting calories!)