Nutrition

Environmental Working Group

During my research of utilizing natural and non-toxic products after Anthony’s diagnosis with cancer, I was introduced to the Environmental Working Group which has made a world of difference in the way I choose the foods we eat as well as the personal care products that we use. The EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment through their extensive research and education.  

“EWG is educating and empowering consumers to make safer and more informed decisions about the products they buy and the companies they support. In response to consumer pressure, companies are giving up potentially dangerous chemical ingredients in their products and improving their practices.”

https://www.ewg.org/about-us
Copyright © Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission.

The EWG VERIFIED™ program does a lot of the work for you in taking the time to research products that are safe for your health. So when you see that stamp on a personal care product you know that it has been thoroughly reviewed and approved. These products are free of parabens, phthalates, retinyl palmitate and triclosan, amongst other toxic chemicals.

Copyright © Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission.

Are you ever at the grocery store and wonder which organic produce you should really be investing in purchasing? Well the EWG’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™” breaks it down easily for you with their picks of the “Clean Fifteen™” and “Dirty Dozen™” lists to help you know exactly which produce you can save money on and which you should be making an investment on for your health.Unfortunately pesticide residue is not fully removed after you remove the peel or wash the produce in the sink. If you cannot afford to purchase organic produce, try to stick to those that you can cook as pesticide levels typically diminish when food is exposed to high levels of heat.You can download a free version of this guide here.

Being exposed to pesticides posses so many health risk concerns: neurological and behavioral development including having a link to ADHD, dementia, fertility problems, and most importantly linked to several different types of cancer. Exposure to pesticides can be through contact with the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. Unfortunately our children are the most vulnerable population when it comes to these health risks. If you are looking to do additional research in regards to pesticides and how they can be detrimental to the health of our children, the Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children (Environmental Health Matters Initiative) is a great, easy book to read.

Copyright © Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission.

A lot of the times we see a food item labeled as “organic” or “non-GMO” but upon reading the ingredients we find that it is actually not a clean product. EWG Food Scores has also created a list of certified organic and non-Gmo foods .“Certified organic food must be produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Genetically engineered ingredients are not allowed. Synthetic preservatives and artificial colors are not allowed in processed foods. Meat and dairy ingredients must be produced without antibiotics and artificial growth promoters or hormones.”-EWG

Want to eat out on the town but not have to worry about the quality of food you are eating? EWG has this amazing site for you to find restaurants that utilize food products to meet their standards. In addition to restaurants, this guide also includes lists of farms, farmers markets and stores.

EWG also has an amazing Health Living app that you can download, which includes Food Scores and Skin Deep,to have instant access on your phone to food and personal care products while you are out doing your shopping. The app is super easy to use, you can search a product by name, browse by category or scan the barcode. Once you do so it will give you the products rating according to EWG’s research and assist you with making better choices, if you are not already. You also have the ability to save your searches as favorites. This is an app I revert to frequently.

I highly recommend that you utilize the EWG website and all of its wonderful tools to help you live healthier and non-toxic lives.

Copyright © Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org. Reproduced with permission.
Medical Products

Patch Strips

Shortly after our son Anthony was diagnosed with cancer, I tried searching for natural products to use on him to reduce the amount of toxins he would be exposed to. In doing so I came across Patch Strips

Anthony’s skin became so sensitive after radiation and one of the few things he dislikes is having to peel off bandages. He goes through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. A cancer patient goes through hundreds of bandages during their course of treatment. Some even develop a sensitivity to them because of the the chemicals and materials they are made from. 

Going beyond just skin sensitivity is the important health care aspect of what we are actually exposing ourselves to. Our skin is the largest organ on our body. A lot of people don’t realize that what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it!

Because Anthony’s skin became sensitive shortly after the start of treatment with radiation and one of the few things he has disliked is having to remove bandages off his skin, I went on a hunt for what could be best for his skin. He has gone through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. Because he his implanted port is accessed routinely, he gets a bandage placed at least once every week. Upon conducting my search for something that could be not only sensitive to my son’s skin but also ideally made from non-toxic material I came across Patch Strips.Not only are they natural and safe for our skin but also the environment! Needless to say it was love at first try!

One of the things that I have tried to eliminate from our lives as much as possible is plastic. Most bandages out on the market are made from plastic.The adhesive portion of a bandage is usually made from a type of plastic, either PVC (polyvinyl chloride-the most toxic plastic for both our personal health and environment), polyethylene, or polyurethane. Our skin is the largest organ of our body, so what we put on it is just as important as what we put in it. If we are so concerned as to what we eat to maintain our health, what we put on our skin should be just as important. Even more so if we are covering an open wound, we have now lost that protective layer of skin and are at an increased risk of infection or perhaps an easier source of having toxic chemicals absorbed into our bodies.

Patch Strips was created by a dad on a mission to prevent nasty skin reactions that his son would get while using traditional band-aids. Once he discovered the array of chemicals that even goes into making a band-aid he wanted to create a natural alternative. Patch Strips are made from 100% organic bamboo fiber, aloe vera, coconut oil or activated charcoal. Not only is their product safe for our skin but also the environment! Their product is completely compostable from the bandage to the packaging itself. 


You can order a sample pack here of their natural bamboo or activated charcoal bandage if you would like to test them out prior to comitting to purchasing an entire tube. But I promise you, you will love them just as much as we do!











Nutrition

Functional Formularies: Organic Whole Food Meal Replacement

After Anthony was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma I began an endless journey of research. There is so much to possibly learn and know to be able to understand what is going on and even more so know how to deal with it. Essentially, the ultimate goal was how to thrive through cancer. I had come across posts of “Liquid Hope” and “Nourish” formulas on a Medulloblastoma parent support group but didn’t look into it further since Anthony was not being tube fed at the time. I had also read that most people had to end up paying out of pocket for the formula, as it wasn’t covered by insurance. Fast forward to 9 months after Anthony was diagnosed and we now found ourselves needing a NG (nasogastric) tube to be inserted. Along with the order from the physician to have it inserted because Anthony had lost significant amount of weight, came the order from the dietician for the formula that Anthony would be put on based on RDA requirements: the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements. We were never given a choice of formulas we could give Anthony, just told which one he would be put on and then went through the motions of having the supplier contact us for delivery. 

One random day, 2 months after Anthony had his NG tube inserted, one of the parents in the support group posted that her son had completed his  cancer treatment and she still had a box left over of the Nourish formula. She stated that she would be willing to ship it to anyone who could cover the costs of shipping alone. I responded as fast as my fingers could type and took her up on the offer. After receiving the box I slowly incorporated the Nourish formula with his formula by replacing one of the cartons. Then after a couple of days kept incorporating more of the Nourish, until I fully switched over to the Nourish alone. Within a week I noticed Anthony was suddenly able to tolerate his continuous feeding at a higher rate, was not vomiting it out as he usually almost would daily and his bowel movements were now normal. He had been battling between episodes of constipation and diarrhea which required the use of a combination of stool softeners or laxatives. His energy levels also seemed to improve. Of course this could be all coincidence but to go from a formula where we could not pronounce all of the ingredients to an organic whole food formula was amazing! Its bad enough that Anthony gets so many chemicals pumped into him with chemo, why add to it when we could nourish it as well. After all, food is an integral and huge part of healing.

Once we informed Anthony’s dietician of the change, she mentioned she had heard of the formula but it wasn’t something she really offered to families since its often not covered by insurance. If you were to purchase each pouch of organic formula it’s about $12.50, which Anthony would need four pouches a day in order to meet his calorie requirements. That would mean a monthly cost of $1,500 alone. But guess what?! To her amazement and ours, the insurance covered it 100%! I wish I would have remembered at the time when Anthony had his NG tube inserted about looking into Nourish as a possible option. But with another thing added to our “normal” daily life, I honestly forgot about it. Thank God for this random mother in Boston who was so generous enough to share her son’s leftover formula.

During the month of December 2018, Functional Formularies was doing a Facebook giveaway which I entered to win. I received the package which contained an entire case of Nourish formula, a tote bag and the book written by the creator of Nourish and Liquid Hope (their other formula), “A Turn for the Worst: Traumatic Brain Injury and a Daughter’s Search for Answers“. I started reading it as soon as I got it and could not put it down, to the point that I finished reading it in one sitting! Robin Gentry McGee tells the story of her father who suffered a traumatic brain injury and her journey through the experience with Western medicine which led her to create an organic whole food formula for him since he was tube fed. Such a great book and highly recommend it, of course along with the formula! So thankful for Robin for creating such a great formula and Functional Formularies for choosing me as a winner! This has all been so life changing!

I say it often, but I can’t stress it enough, I urge you to always take the time to read/do your own research, get second opinions, ask questions, seek advice from others in the same situation as you are in and never settle for the first information you are given. You are your own and your child’s best advocate!

If you are interested in learning more please visit their website directly at: https://www.functionalformularies.com/

Click on picture to be redirected to link to purchase book!