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Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Woman wit her eyes closed under the wind.

How’s your magnesium level? If you have no idea, you have plenty of company! Magnesium is a mineral that many of us don’t think about—even though it’s an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly.

Truth be told, even if you did know your magnesium level, there’s a good chance it would be too low. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium.

But here’s the good news: If you’re able to get enough magnesium, it can benefit your body in many ways. Magnesium can…

  • Offset the negative effects of stress: Most people suffer from the stress of trying to do too much, too perfectly, and too fast.
  • Soothe the gastrointestinal tract: Magnesium also offers laxative properties.
  • Boost brainpower: This is especially the case in people with memory problems.
  • Increase energy: If your magnesium level is low, your body has to work harder to do even basic tasks, which can make you feel tired. Studies have shown that women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks then they did after their magnesium levels were restored to normal.
  • Ease anxiety and/or insomnia: Magnesium helps to promote a sense of calm and can facilitate more restful sleep.
  • Cure a migraine pronto!

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. One way to get more magnesium is to eat a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.

Another easy and tasty way is with a supplement called Natural Calm, which has been a best selling supplement for 9 years. It’s a flavorful powder that dissolves easily in water, tea, or other beverages. Natural Calm supports heart health, bone health, better sleep, and natural energy production. It comes in a variety of delicious, organic flavors that are naturally sweetened with organic stevia. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and non GMO. You can buy Natural Calm online and in health food stores for around $15. Visit NaturalVitality.com/natural-calm for more information.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guide books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

Does Sugar’s State of Matter Really Matter?

January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Liquid or solid, sugar has 4 calories per gram, but most weight loss and healthy lifestyle programs target the liquid form of sugar first.

The Western diet contains lots of sugar, and while sugar is added to many foods, most of the added sugar hides in drinks – soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavored milk and fruit juices – and that might be enough to explain why sugary drinks are linked so tightly with obesity.

But studies have shown that there is something distinctive about getting calories in liquid form. Solid sugars affect satiety, while studies have demonstrated that liquid sugar doesn’t suppress appetite — sugary drinks’ calories are just added, and the meals eaten with the them will be just as large, if not larger.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, obesity is a well known major risk factor, but several studies have suggested that sugary drinks are an independent risk factor for the widespread disease.

So is it just that liquid sugar lends itself to overconsumption, or does sugar in liquid form pose an especially tough burden on our body’s metabolism?

Sugary drinks, glucose intolerance and diabetes

A new study in the Journal of Nutrition followed 564 Canadian kids aged 10-12 years at the start of the study for 2 years, assessing their liquid and solid added sugar intake, and looking at their fasting sugar, fasting insulin, insulin resistance and weight. The kids were healthy but at risk for obesity because at least one of their parents was obese, and about 40 percent of the kids were already overweight or obese when the study began.

The results show that sugar in liquid rather than in solid form was associated with higher levels of fasting glucose and fasting insulin, and also with greater insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity, which was assessed with an index that used the kids’ oral glucose tolerance tests, was reduced with higher dietary intakes of sugary drinks. Insulin resistance grew with higher intakes of liquid sugar.

The way our body deals with sugar is a good predictor of type 2 diabetes risk. High levels of fasting glucose and fasting insulin show that the cells are not responding properly to insulin (insulin, secreted in reaction to food, normally pushes sugar into cells, and its levels during fasting are supposed to be low.) Impaired glucose tolerance is a prediabetic state, and untreated, may develop into full-blown type 2 diabetes. So the results of this study suggest that liquid — rather than solid — added sugar predisposes to diabetes, independent of obesity rates, which in this study’s 2-year follow up were no different between the groups.

So while too much sugar is a problem, this study adds to the body of evidence that demonstrates that sugary drinks are especially harmful; their high availability, low price and effective marketing make them an important contributor not only to obesity, but also to prediabetes in kids. Mind you, type 2 diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes, and was unheard of in pediatric practice several decades ago. Nowadays, it is estimated that 1 in 4 teens has prediabetes or diabetes.

Full disclosure: I’m vice president of product development for Herbal Water, where we make organic herb-infused waters that have zero calories and no sugar or artificial ingredients. I’m also a pediatrician and have been promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for many years.–Dr. Ayala

Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Ayala is known for her extensive knowledge of nutrition and food, as well as her practical approach to improving health and preventing obesity and disease.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD? Here’s her recent blog about salt.

Mommy MD Guides-Recommended Product Review: Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables

November 2, 2012 by  
Filed under J.Reich

Do Your Kids Eat Their Fruits and Veggies?

by Mommy MD Guides cofounder Jennifer Bright Reich

The best part of my job is the fascinating people I get to meet and work with. The second best part of my job is discovering new and exciting products—and sharing them with our readers, friends, and family. I’m pleased to have that opportunity today! I heard about a new DVD that encourages kids to eat fruits and vegetables, Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables–and I was eager to give it a try!

Any movie starring babies and kids captivates my sons. They were huge Baby Einsteins fans. We watched those DVDs over and over and over. My sons also love to watch home movies of themselves and their cousins. So I wasn’t surprised that they enjoyed watching Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables, which features adorable kids enjoying eating fresh foods such as sweet peppers, broccoli, avocados, strawberries, and carrots. My five-year-old son especially loved it. As we were watching, he asked, “Is there a strawberry section?” Each fruit and veggie has its own chapter on the menu, so it was easy for me to oblige and put on the strawberries chapter. As we watched it, my son said, “I should eat strawberries while we watch the strawberry section!” Never mind we just ate supper! This made me very happy because fruit is not a common between-meals request here!

When we were watching the cucumbers chapter, my son asked, “What’s that?” I’ll be buying some cucumbers at the grocery store next time so he can give them a try! Maybe they’ll be a new favorite!

Don’t miss the Outtakes, Some of them made me laugh out loud! Also, the extras section by Jay Gordon, MD, is very valuable. I love how he said, “The standard American diet is best abbreviated “SAD.” Sad, but true.

After we finished watching the DVD, I asked how my son he liked the video and he said, “I give it a 10,000!” (That’s on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m thinking.) I also found the kids in the DVD to be absolutely adorable. I appreciated that they show their names and ages onscreen because it helps to put their reactions to the fruits and vegetables into context.

I was so pleased to read that Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables is the first of the series. I look forward to the next DVD! Copy-Kids gives parents a valuable tool in their quest to get the kids to eat healthy. The kids are so engaging and happy eating their fruits and vegetables that it inspired me to eat better too!

Enter here through the end of November for a chance to win a Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables PLUS a $25 Whole Foods Gift Card!

Check our blog page in early December for our next Mommy MD Guides-Recommended (and Kid-Tested) Product review: Bumkins Bib!

Mommy MD Guides-Recommended Product: FunBites Food Cutter

August 7, 2012 by  
Filed under J.Reich

Did you ever get something new and were delighted to discover that it worked every bit as well as well as you had hoped? That’s the experience I had with FunBites!

When I opened the box of FunBites with my sons, seven-year-old Tyler and five-year-old Austin, they were immediately drawn to the bright colors. Austin grabbed the green “Cube It” cutter that cuts food into small squares, and Tyler wanted the purple “Luv It” cutter that cuts food into heart-shaped bites. Both boys were excited to try the cutters right away, so I got out a pack of soft flour tortillas. I put the tortillas on a cutting board and showed my kids how to use the FunBites. It was easy to rock the cutter back and forth and then press down the popper top to pop out the food.

When I lifted the cutters to see the shapes, my sons literally gasped! Their tortillas had been cut into absolutely perfect cubes, hearts, and triangles!

“I give it a 100!” Tyler said. I’m pretty sure that’s on a scale of 1 to 10!

“Share?” Austin asked, as he handed me a perfect tortilla heart.

Next we experimented by cutting out whole wheat bread and red peppers. My sons gobbled up all of the perfect pieces, and then they cut extras to put in small bowls for supper.

FunBites were invented by Mommy entrepreneur Bobbie Rhoads. They’re BPA-free, which is very important to me.

After supper, I washed the FunBites in the dishwasher, and they came out good as new.

You can use FunBites for cutting cheese, pizza, omelets, turkey burgers, pancakes, sandwiches, watermelon, cantaloupe, tofu, and more. They’re perfect for picky eaters to get kids to try new things and eat healthier. Choose the “Cube It!” cutter to cut food into small squares or the “Luv It!” cutter to create heart-shaped bites. Each costs $12.99 at www.funbites.com.

Enter here for a chance to win the FunBites food cutter of your choice through the end of August.

Check our blog page in early September for our next Mommy MD Guides-Recommended (and Kid-Tested) Product review: PonyUP! Kentucky handbags!

Do Your Kids Eat Their Fruits and Veggies?

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under J.Reich

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Jennifer Bright Reich

The best part of my job is the fascinating people I get to meet and work with. The second best part of my job is discovering new and exciting products—and sharing them with our readers, friends, and family. I’m pleased ot have that opportunity today! I heard about a new DVD that encourages kids to eat fruits and vegetables, Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables–and I was eager to give it a tray!

Any movie starring babies and kids captivates my sons. They were huge Baby Einsteins fans. We watched those DVDs over and over and over. My sons also love to watch home movies of themselves and their cousins. So I wasn’t surprised that they enjoyed watching Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables, which features adorable kids enjoying eating fresh foods such as sweet peppers, broccoli, avocados, strawberries, and carrots. My five-year-old son especially loved it. As we were watching, he asked, “Is there a strawberry section?” Each fruit and veggie has its own chapter on the menu, so it was easy for me to oblige and put on the strawberries chapter. As we watched it, my son said, “I should eat strawberries while we watch the strawberry section!” Never mind we just ate supper! This made me very happy because fruit is not a common between-meals request here!

When we were watching the cucumbers chapter, my son asked, “What’s that?” I’ll be buying some cucumbers at the grocery store next time so he can give them a try! Maybe they’ll be a new favorite!

Don’t miss the Outtakes, Some of them made me laugh out loud! Also, the extras section by Jay Gordon, MD, is very valuable. I love how he said, “The standard American diet is best abbreviated “SAD.” Sad, but true.

After we finished watching the DVD, I asked how my son he liked the video and he said, “I give it a 10,000!” (That’s on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m thinking.) I also found the kids in the DVD to be absolutely adorable. I appreciated that they show their names and ages onscreen because it helps to put their reactions to the fruits and vegetables into context.

I was so pleased to read that Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables is the first of the series. I look forward to the next DVD! Copy-Kids gives parents a valuable tool in their quest to get the kids to eat healthy. The kids are so engaging and happy eating their fruits and vegetables that it inspired me to eat better too!

Make Healthy Foods a Priority

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

When my sons were little, I always felt as if I had a hundred things to do, and at least half of them needed to be done immediately. There were clothes to wash and fold, floors to sweep, meals to make, and phone calls to return. It was a challenge for me to put all these pressing tasks completely out of my mind at breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that I could focus my attention on preparing healthy, delicious meals. The temptation was great to call out for pizza and hot wings, but I knew that it was critical to get my kids eating right from the start.

Children need a balanced diet consisting of three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, that provides key nutrients for growth and development including:

  • Protein: to build healthy muscle and tissue
  • Carbohydrates: the body’s primary source of energy
  • Fat: stored for energy and to transport essential fat-soluble vitamins
  • Calcium: to support healthy, strong bones and teeth
  • Fiber: to help keep the gastrointestinal system clean and running smoothly

Of course, I quickly learned that I could prepare the healthiest food in the world, but my kids might not eat it! That’s when I realized that eating should be fun. Kids are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods if they’re fun and easy to eat.

If you can get your child to put her hands on his food, there’s a good chance it will end up in his mouth! Cut your child’s food into fun shapes and sizes. For example, you can cut apples into building blocks, slice celery and carrots into quarters to make logs, and cut broccoli and cauliflower florets so that they look like miniature trees.      

Kids love dipping and decorating their food, and this often leads to eating! Fill a small container with yogurt or a wholesome type of salad dressing, such as one made with olive oil, and allow your child to dip away.  Or fill a squirt bottle with yogurt or salad dressing and allow her to decorate her food. Nutritious food can be fun, and when it is, kids will eat it!

—Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three and grandmom of one, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth and The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, and a member of the PediaSure Mom Brigade.

Introduce Healthy Foods First

August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Fostering good childhood nutritional habits can lead to lifelong healthy eating habits. But that’s easier said than done. Moms today race through life at speeds that should be envied by NASCAR drivers, but our pit stops are all to easy to make at the local drive-thru. Do you want fries with that?  Who can resist?

With parents pulled in so many directions at once and so many less-than-ideal nutritional choices so easily available, some children don’t eat the nutritious foods they should. This is a real problem because every growing child needs protein, calcium, fiber, and other critical nutrients.  

I was determined not to introduce chicken nuggets and French fries to my children until they had sampled every fruit and vegetable under the sun. One of the physicians in my residency program had started feeding her daughter chicken nuggets when she was just a baby, and that child didn’t want to eat anything else. If she couldn’t have those chicken nuggets, she’d clamp her jaws shut, and then she would refuse to eat whatever she was offered.

I figured that if babies found chicken nuggets and French fries that addictive, I’d just bypass them altogether. I started feeding my boys tiny pieces of bananas and grapes and other fruits, and then moved on to bits of cheese, meat, and cut-up vegetables. Fortunately, none of my boys ever developed a serious addiction to chicken nuggets or French fries.

Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three and grandmom of one, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth and The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, and a member of the PediaSure Mom Brigade.

You Want to Eat What?

April 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by guest blogger Robyn Swatsburg

“Mommy, can you buy a mango?”  A mango?  What does a mango looks like?  Can I buy a mango at Walmart?  And where did my four-year-old discover she loved mangos?  Preschool apparently.  Where do they come up with their ideas?  

So off I went in search of a mango.  At Walmart.   And lo and behold, Walmart does sell mangos.  Right there next to the apples.  How did I miss those before?   They are shaped like eggs, measure about the size of a soup can, and cost about $1.50 each. 

Now the next challenge.  How to eat a mango.  The preschool  teacher, I learned, peeled it and cut it with a knife.  I could do that.  I used a potato peeler and tried to cut it like an apple. No luck.  I discovered a very hard core inside.  Instead I shaved off slices. 

Yum.   I loved it, too.  Sweet and juicy.  And healthy.  “Mango’s are high in antioxidents,” Mommy.  How do they teach four-year-olds this stuff?

The greatest thing about a mango, I found, is that it can wait.  My goal to feed my family as much fresh fruits and veggies as possible contradicts my other goal to visit the grocery store as infrequently as possible.  So after the grapes, the bananas, and the berries are all gone, I still have the apples, oranges, and mangos in the fridge waiting to be eaten.  The mango.  Love it!  Another great idea from preschool.

Make Baby Food from Family Food

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under K.Rowell

We’re all pretty sick and tire of being sick and tired…

But, here’s a quick product mention. Though the days of grinding or making baby food are behind me, this is one gadget I think would have been nice to have.

In my variuous home visits, I’ve seen several different kinds of gadgets, from small pink or blue blenders to hand held immersion units to things that looked like a giant garlic presses with plastic mesh.

The KidCo food grinder is the unit that pediatric nutrtionist Hydee Becker used to grind her family’s food when she was doing a combination of finger feeding and spoon feeding.  Hydee has put every meat imaginable in here, from ground beef to pork chops. So many parents tell me they worry about protein, and the texture of most meats is so tough that many children won’t eat them reliably until they have molars (M was at least 2 before she reliably ate most meats.) For many parents, the protein worry in particular leads to the chicken nuggets that become the staple because it’s the only “protein my kid will eat.” Here’s an alternative.

Feeding your baby the same foods you eat is the best way to teach them to learn to like the foods you eat. Prepare your squash, chicken breast, rice, or casserole, or whatever you are eating. Sit at the table together, pull your little one up to the table, put some of your chicken through the grinder (add a little broth or water if it’s too dry,) mash up some squash, have a little iron fortified cereal to go with it in the first months and enjoy! (This is not a comprehensive how to feed solids, but a typical way a meal with the older infant might look.)

Allow your little one to play with the food, touch it, lick it, spit it out, put it in their hair. Help her pull the spoon to her open mouth, or skip the spoon altogether. This little gadget can help introduce the variety of flavors she will be eating growing up.

What are your favorite feeding gadgets?

A Great Snack!

December 17, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Reich

As a mom of two (Tyler is five, and Austin is three), I’m always on the lookout for healthy foods my kids will eat. I’m pleased to report that I found a good one!

Target sells a brand of foods called Archer Farms. Some of them are even organic–which is the trifecta of snacks–healthy, good, and pesticide free! Archer Farms makes fruit bars and fruit strips. My kids love them both, but the fruit bars are especially good because they offer quite a bit of fiber, 4 grams for example in the delicious cranberry raspberry bars. Thanks, Target!

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.