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    Archive for the ‘breast cancer’ Category

    In The News: Lopez Says…

    People magazine happily plunked down $6 million to feature Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s twins on its cover.

    As ridiculous as that may sound, Jennifer’s comments on breastfeeding left me even more puzzled:

    My mom didn’t breast feed and I think that was the thing for me. You read and figure out what’s the best thing for them.

    Can a baby be healthy and grow adequately without breastfeeding? Absolutely. I certainly do not side with breastfeeding fanatics who equate bottle feeding with bad parenting or negligence.

    I also understand that not every woman can — or wants to — breastfeed. Women have every right to choose, and I find it obnoxious when people criticize this very personal choice.

    What I have a problem with is Jennifer Lopez’s notion that she chose bottle feeding based on “what is best for her babies.” While bottle feeding is certainly not detrimental to a growing baby, it is inaccurate to claim it is identical to breastfeeding.

    Some studies have concluded that breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, decreased risks of developing ear infections and diarrhea, lower infant mortality rates, enhanced neurological development, better oral health (due to a different suckling motion than drinking from a bottle).

    Breast milk is not only tailored to fully meet a baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months, it also contains naturally tranquilizing hormones.

    Some studies are less enthusiastic about health benefits from breastfeeding, but that does not take away that breastmilk is always clean and at the right temperature.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics’ official position is that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for all babies.

    They recommend it as the sole source of food for the first six months of a baby’s life, and as a complementary source from six to twelve months of age.

    They are not alone.

    The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are just some of the organizations that hold the same position.

    Formula is okay, but undoubtedly second best.

    Part of the problem is that most hospitals in the United States do not really support breastfeeding.

    Many do not have lactation specialists on staff, and they immediately bombard mothers with baskets of formula.

    Once a woman feeds her baby formula, it is very hard to get her to commence breastfeeding.

    Breastfeeding is a technique and skill that needs to be learned. It is not innate.

    This is why it is crucial to have trained specialists on staff who can teach new mothers the right positions for breastfeeding and how to handle common problems like mastitis (inflammation of the breast) and sore nipples.

    In 1991, WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    The ten steps hospitals must follow to be an official baby-friendly one can be viewed here.

    Here’s a shockingly low figure – of the 5,810 hospitals in the United States, only 63 are baby-friendly.

    The full list can be viewed here. I was very shocked to discover that New York City doesn’t have any!

    Another huge barrier to low breastfeeding rates in the country? The ridiculous and undeserved taboo!

    Last April, ABC News reported that an astounding 57 percent of people in this country believe women do not have a right to breastfeed in public.

    What is so wrong about a woman feeding her baby in a natural and healthy way?

    Has our culture’s common practice of hypersexualizing women’s bodies completely screwed with our heads?

    Here’s an even more astounding figure – 72 percent of people surveyed believe it is “inappropriate” to show a woman nursing on television!

    So Jerry Springer (well, now his former security chief Steve Wilkos, who took over the show) can show people verbally and physically attacking each other before noon, and it’s considered perfectly okay to see someone get shot or stabbed on primetime television, but people choose to tear their hair in some ridiculous “moral” outrage over something as harmless as breastfeeding?

    Color me confused — and pretty disgusted.

    If anything, breastfeeding needs to stop being relegated to the “naughty” corner. It needs to be talked about, discussed, and out in the open.


    All-Star of the Day: Avocados

    It ain’t easy being an avocado. Despite being full of nutrition and health benefits,many people think all they do is make them fat. Allow me to set the record straight.

    Let’s start with some very basic nutritional info for this fruit. Half an avocado provides 160 calories, 14.7 grams of fat, 6.7 grams of fiber, and 487.4 milligrams of potassium.

    To put it into perspective, that’s a banana’s worth of potassium and as much fiber as two slices of whole grain bread.

    Many people get hung up on the fat (when eating a 2,000 calorie diet, the recommendation is that your total fat intake not surpass the 65 gram mark).

    As you will soon read in issue 4 of Small Bites, though, all fat is not created equal.

    The fat in avocados is a tremendously healthy one known as monounsaturated fat – the same one that largely makes up olive oil.

    Avocados even beat olive oil when it comes to their proportion of a specific monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid.

    Oleic acid (sometimes referred to as “omega-9”) has been shown to lower total and bad cholesterol while simultaneously increasing good cholesterol. Even better, it is a great defense against the development of atherosclerosis (the collection of fatty deposits in our artery walls that restrict bloodflow).

    Remember that there are three components that help us feel satiated: fat, fiber, and protein. Avocados are high in fiber and fat, so just half of one (160 calories) included in a meal will satisfy your hunger for quite a while.

    Take something like pretzels — which have no fat, almost no fiber, and very little protein. You could eat 500 calories’ worth and still feel like gnoshing on something.

    Please do not fall prey to the notion that “eating fat makes me fat”. It is entirely untrue. Excess calories lead to weight gain. Because there are 9 calories per gram of fat (as opposed to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate), it is a more concentrated source of calories, but, for example, if you eat copious amounts of rice (a fat-free food), you will most certainly gain weight.

    A study published in the March 2005 issue of Annals of Oncology, a European medical cancer research journal, provided some promising results – oleic acid (abundant in avocados) drastically cut down the levels of a gene that appears to be responsible for the onset of breast cancer.

    There’s more! I recently mentioned that fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) can not be properly absorbed by the body unless we accompany them with some kind of fat (hence their name).

    Avocados not only already have vitamins A, E, and K, they are also a tremendous tool to help us absorb nutrients from other foods.

    In fact, a team of researchers at Ohio State decided to study this, and the astonishing results were published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

    When it came to eating a salad with high amounts of alpha and beta carotene (compounds found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables which our body converts into Vitamin A), people who included avocados in this salad absorbed 8.3 more times alpha carotene and 13.6 times more beta carotene than those who skipped the fat!

    Avocados are also high in lutein, a fat-soluble pigment which helps keep eyes, hearts, and – in men’s case – prostates healthy. Our body does not make lutein, so it is imperative we get it from our diet.

    Avocados, much like bananas, ripen very quickly. If you are planning to prepare a meal with the avocado you buy today, be sure lightly press your thumb against it to test for its softness. Otherwise, go for one that is a little hard and allow it to ripen in your kitchen – at room temperature – for a few days.

    Even kitchen-phobes have no excuse for not enjoying this delicious fruit – all you need is a cutting board and knife.


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