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Monday, January 2, 2012

Side-lined Long Enough - Dark Leafy Green Veggies to the Rescue!

Women who are looking towards pregnancy and those in the midst of pregnancy have a friend just waiting to get involved: dark leafy green veggies.  Spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, red leaf lettuce, even yard greens such as dandelion, there are many to choose from.  Don't confuse these with any old green vegetable, such as green beans, or with iceburg lettuce or celery. These have leaves - one way or another and they have to be dark. With the large variety available, there's likely to be at least one or two each woman likes.  These power-packed vegetables help keep the body healthy and are very helpful with growing a baby in the womb. Though many of the nutrients and benefits I'll discuss are also found in other foods, I want to focus on the amazing benefits of this class of food.
Look at quality prenatal vitamins and then check the nutrients found in dark leafy green veggies: calcium; magnesium; molybdenum; vitamin K; Riboflavin (B2); Folate; most B vitamins except B12; vitamin A; vitamin C. These foods are chock full of what we want to have for our growing babies, but in a much tastier, easier-to-assimilate package.
Variety of nutrients/Variety of benefits:
Though most grain products are now supplemented with the artificial form of folate, folic acid, we can get all the benefits of folate from a great source, dark leafy green vegies.  Personally, I think natural is best. So, to me, simply choosing foods naturally high in folate, such as leafy green vegies, is a wise choice. Folate has been shown to prevent spinal cord birth defects, so as a woman looks toward pregnancy, she wants to eat plenty of foods with this nutrient. In pregnancy, our bodies use this nutrient to actually build genetic material. If ever there was a nutrient that women in the child-bearing years should love, it's this one. 
Vitamin A and C are known for their work in helping our immune system and vitamin A is known for growing healthy bones and teeth.  One study even showed that women in SE Asia who had good levels of vitamin A had lower maternal mortality rates.  But, we don't want to get too much vitamin A because there is an amount that becomes toxic and too much vitamin C can cause the opposite problem super loose stools. So, what's a pregnant mom to do? Eat dark leafy green vegies! They have both A & C and are balanced in such a way that it's nigh on impossible to overdose on these vitamins from this source, because you'll be full way before the overdose. 
Calcium and magnesium are known for helping our bones, but did you know they also help in keeping your blood pressure normal and are needed to help your blood clot normally? And, calcium and magnesium work together to turn our food to energy. ENERGY!  What pregnant woman doesn't want more energy?    When thinking of calcium and leafy green veggies, think first of broccoli or alfalfa. Alfalfa actually has both calcium and iron in it, but they can both be assimilated and don't 'fight' each other as normally happens when eating foods with both.  Another wonderful benefit of magnesium is that it's used to build genetic material. Women who are low in magnesium may get nauseous. That's not saying all pregnancy-related nausea is due to lack of magnesium, but we sure don't want to encourage it, do we?  So, you know you want these nutrients. How to get them? Don't think first of a pill; think of your friends, dark leafy green vegetables. They are designed with these nutrients in the right balance that's needed in order for your body to use them.  You need twice as much calcium as you do magnesium. Otherwise, they're out of balance and can't work as well. 
We all know how iron is recommended for pregnant women. But, did you know that the iron present in the foods you eat is easier absorbed when you eat it with a vitamin C-rich food, such as leafy green vegetables? And, eating vegetables along with meat will help your body get more iron out of both of these foods. It's a synergistic dynamo! Hopefully you already knew eating iron-rich foods with foods high in calcium, such as dairy, can cause a competition where neither nutrient is taken in as well as we wish.  One answer is to eat dairy foods separate, but since this article is about dark leafy green vegies, look towards alfalfa, as I mentioned in the paragraph above. 
Energy. When we think of nutrients to give us energy, we often think of B vitamins. Well, if it's B vitamins you want, it's dark leafy green veggies you'll be eating.  Taking in any single B vitamin in a mega-dose can actually cause a deficiency in other B vitamins, so - once again - we need a balance here.  The best balance, in my opinion, is to take them in the way we were designed to assimilate them: in food and the foods with a great balance of B vitamins are our friends. The darker the leafy green, the more B vitamins it has left in it. B vitamins are destroyed by high heat, so think raw or gently cooked.
Vitamin K is what our bodies use to help our blood clot. This is important because we want  our blood to clot well after we give birth. We also want our babies' blood to clot well after birth.  Dark leafy green veggies are jammed packed with this.  Though women are often told that they can't raise the levels of vitamin K in their preborn babies or in their breastmilk, I wonder whether this is really true.  CNM Bernice Keutzer, in her article "Q & A about Vitamin K" talks of a study where women who took high enough levels of vitamin K DID raise their breastmilk levels of vitamin K to the same level as fortified formula. And, I keep remembering that vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, it's stored for the long haul.  Surely, if we ate good levels in pregnancy with optimal amounts of fat and continued to eat well after birth, our bodies are designed to give our babies what they need. 
Molybdenum is a nutrient most of us don't think of often. But, we use this nutrient to store iron and to make enzymes we use for metabolism. Sluggish metabolism? Think molybdenum. But, where to get it? You know the answer, don't you?  Say it after me, "Leafy green veggies!"  A wonderful side benefit of molybdenum is that it may even help our bodies fight off cancer.
Instead of Side Effects, Think Side Benefits:
In pregnancy, there may be varying complaints that can be easily avoided with a diet high in dark leafy green vegies. Let's look at some of those:
Helps Resolve Constipation
Because the growing womb may press on the lower intestine and rectum and because many women work outside the home either standing much of the time or sitting, with little time to eat or drink as they need to, this is a commonly heard complaint.  Leafy green veggies provide fiber and fluid in the diet.  Even simply taking alfalfa capsules regularly (a wonderfully easy way to up the dark leafy green veggies) with a glass of juice and good bowel habits, is a great way to have this problem go away naturally.
Lowers risk of UTIs
Just keeping your vitamin A at healthy levels can help lower your risk for this.  This is important because asymptomatic UTIs are implicated in preterm birth and other problems.
Good-bye Leg Cramps
Because of the wonderful balance of calcium and magnesium in dark leafy green veggies, these are a tasty, healthy way to combat those painful, nasty leg cramps, especially if you're eating salt to taste.
Crave Something Besides Ice
Craving ice may be a sign of anemia. To be on the safe side, eating leafy green veggies with protein-rich foods may help deal with this. Choose crunchy foods, even crunchy dark leafy greens!
I Kissed Anemia Good-bye
Women of the world, unite to prevent this!  Eat those leafy greens! Anemia is not always caused by nutritional deficiencies, but it often is. And, when it is, reach for your leafy green friends. If it's due to lack of folate or iron, either way, leafy greens have part of what you need.  If you suspect or have been told you have anemia, up your consumption to 3-4 times a day with a protein-rich food. Remember what you read above? The folate, C- and B-vitamins in leafy greens help your body assimilate the iron much better without all the problems that can occur from pills. BUT, don't over-cook your friends. Keep them dark green, crunchy and tasty. That's how you know they still have their nutrients.
Go Green to Support Skin Changes
Our bodies were designed to change to birth our babies. We often see a variety of changes in our skin as we and our babies grow in pregnancy. Some are due to hormones, but in every body system, proper nutrients are needed in order for them to function as they should. This includes the skin. Leafy greens are a skin's friend. Eat them before pregnancy so the skin is healthy going into the pregnancy and keep on eating them so it can stretch and change as needed.
How Much?
Think at least two servings a day. Find your favorite two or three dark leafy greens and keep them in the house all the time.  You may not like them frozen, but may find you love them raw, or vice versa. You'll get more nutrition out of them raw or juiced, but eat them daily.  Keep them in the highest humidity place in your refrigerator. Don't forget to consider alfalfa or broccoli sprouts to your list of choices. Sprouting them yourself is a tasty, inexpensive way to enjoy these all year long.
If you have trouble getting these in because you are so busy, consider keeping alfalfa capsules in your purse so you can eat them with your food on the go. Look for restaurants with dark leafy green vegetables or salads and tell them this is important to you.
I hope I've encouraged you to make friends with dark leafy green veggies. They were designed to meet your needs, pregnant momma!

Monday, February 7, 2011

God and Food: Wading Through Man’s Diet Fads to Reach the Truth

There are many diets that people can choose from at any one time.  Diets come and they go. So, what’s a Christian to do?  How to find one that “fits” a Biblical perspective?

I think the first thing to do is realize we shouldn’t “go” on a diet and/or “finish” a diet. Diet is simply how we eat. If we’re having a problem with self-control in our diet, we need to start by talking to the Lord about it; confessing our problem and asking for His strength through the Holy Spirit.  As with any problem in our lives, the first step is even recognizing we have a problem.  Just as we have to come back to the Lord with other areas of our life, we may have to come back to Him in this area, as well.  The problem with lack of self-control in the diet shouldn’t be ‘combatted’ with over-zealousness in another area.  Temperance is a good thing.
It may be helpful to look at food as what it is: building blocks and maintenance for the Lord’s temple, (2 Cor. 6: 16). God, through His goodness and kindness, seems to also build into food fellowship and sharing. Look at how many feasts He ordained and how often the early Christians came together to break bread (Acts. 2: 46).   But, when trying to choose a way to eat, what kind of guidelines can we use to evaluate the popular diets out there?
I think we need to remember that God knows more about food and our bodies than we do. This paper can’t address every diet and every extreme. We all need to be like the Bereans and search the scriptures to see whether these things are so. (Acts 17: 11)  For instance, if a diet says to stay away from a particular food, such as bread, what can we find in God’s Word about this?   In the disciple’s model prayer, Jesus told His followers to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  (Matt. 6: 11) The words “our daily bread” can also be translated “our needful bread.” And, after Jesus rose from the dead, He broke bread with two of His disciples. Jesus is even called the Bread of Life.  Sounds as if bread is a good thing in God’s Eyes.  I do believe that the bread spoken of in the Bible was definitely not the white, nutrient-deprived bread many people eat today. So, maybe we need to get back to ‘real’ bread. Though yeast was typically used during the year for making bread, once a year special care was taken to rid the home and food of all yeast. This was a once-a-year thing; not all year long and was done to symbolize the prevalence of sin and how we should work hard to get rid of all of it in our lives.
What about diets that counsel eating mostly carbohydrates, or mostly protein, or mostly or only vegetables?  Or counsel to stay away from certain foods, for instance, all white foods?  Using the idea of looking into God’s word for insight into evaluating diets, let’s look at the “No White Foods” Diet.  
All white foods would include salt, but we are called to be the salt of the earth. (Matt. 5: 13)  If this is something we are to be like, why would this food be bad?  Then, there’s the real ‘kicker:’  “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?” (Luke 14: 33)  Salt that you can’t taste is not seen as valuable as salt that can be tasted. So, saying that we shouldn’t ever add salt seems to fly in the face of this verse.  Milk is white; but God equates milk with a blessing when He called Canaan Land to be a land flowing with milk and honey.  Sadly, the milk bought in stores today is not as much a blessing as fresh milk from healthy goats or cows, but, obviously, God didn’t see it as a curse, either.  There are those who say milk is good for children only, but I wonder how they would respond to this verse written in prophecy of Jesus:  “He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough  to refuse evil and choose good.” (Isaiah 7: 15)  In this verse, “at the time” is literally, “with respect to His knowing.”   Whereas I might be willing to go along with the idea that white bread, white rice, etc., are not healthy choices due to the God-given nutrients being stripped away, I hope you see the point that blanket statements by diets may not be founded on Truth, with a capital “T.” 
Looking at vegetarianism &/or raw foods only through God’s word requires looking at the whole of God’s word, not bits and pieces. Those who counsel a raw food diet read into God’s word that none of the vegetables in the garden of  Eden were cooked. We don’t know that.  It’s unknown data. Those who counsel a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet based on the idea that that’s how our bodies were designed in the garden are ignoring that every living creature’s body changed with the fall.  Some plant-eating animals became carnivores; some became omnivores, like people and bears.  We are not human beings as we were in the garden.  If God wished His people to continue in vegetarianism, why would He command that His people eat meat during Passover, or His priests to eat meat in the tabernacle or the temple? Why would Jesus have participated in this practice, if it wasn’t acceptable to Him? Not only did He eat meat at the Passover meals, He served meat (fish) more than once and He served meat to His disciples after He rose from the dead.
 Let’s look at how God enjoined His people to feast in the Old Testament:  Of course, they had to follow the dietary guidelines that were in force at the time, but did God say during the Feast of First Fruits to only eat vegetables, though this was a harvest-time feast?  No. They were to feast and be joyful before the Lord, but He didn’t give them additional eating guidelines during this time. Food was to be seen as something taken in gratefully, realizing all our blessings are from God. There were plenty of opportunities for God to give proportions of this or that type food but He didn’t do that.  Since we are each individuals with varying needs, and since each of our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, if indeed we are Christians, then, why not ask the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and wisdom in navigating this whole diet issue?
I want to offer a caution against ‘proof-texting’ God’s word. Though I have used various verses in this paper to help us see food more from a Biblical aspect, we shouldn’t take any of the verses out of context and try to build something more there than what’s in the Book.  As Paul wrote to the Romans, “One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does  not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.” (Rom. 14:2-3)  Praise God! In this time of God’s provision, we are accepted regardless to what we eat!  This doesn’t negate our call to good stewardship, but should encourage our thankfulness as we eat what God has provided.
Extra References: 
Various references to food (NOT a complete list):
Gen. 1: 29;    3: 18, 19;    9: 3-4;    14: 18;   18: 1-8;   25: 34;   49: 12
Deut. 12: 17
Judges 5: 25;    14: 8,9
Num. 6: 3;    13: 23, 27;     20: 5
1 Sam. 17: 17-18;    25: 18;   30: 12
2 Sam. 6: 19;    16: 2;    17: 28-29
1 Kings 4: 22-23
2 Kings 4: 38
Neh. 5: 15, 18;    13: 16
Ruth 2: 14
Job 10: 10
Prov. 9: 2;    15: 17;    21: 17;    27: 27
Song. 4: 11ff;    5: 1
Ezek. 16: 13
Matt. 4: 18;   6: 11;    7: 9-10, 16
Luke 11: 11-12;   24: 42-43
John 2: 3, 10
Rom. 14: 2-3

Friday, March 12, 2010

Trust Birth Conference 2010

I'm having such a good time at the Trust Birth 2010 Conference!  I'm rooming with amazing women and my amazing daughter and we're having such good discussions. VBAC has been a hot topic in our room.  It never ceases to amaze us that women have believed the many lies thrown in their faces about birth and cesareans.  May we never cease to spread the truth and try and stop birth fright.

I've had a chance to meet people who have impacted my life but I've never meet in real life. People like Dana Combest, who graded so much of my work in Ancient Art Midwifery Institute. It was a real pleasure to meet her and see her smiling face.

And, of course, I got to see dear, dear Carla Hartley. The woman whose passion for midwifery and the rights of parents and the sanctity of the marriage vows has so deeply impacted my life.

Today, I taught my first herbal workshop.  I felt for those who wanted a protocol for inducing with Black and Blue Cohosh.  There's not always information out there that we want; sometimes we have to be those trail blazers.  Day after tomorrow (Calif time), I give a talk on breastfeeding facts that will make you flip and then Sunday, a presentation on building your birth business.  Sure hope to give valuable info to these ladies.

I miss my family, though. I'm looking forward to being home, working on my house, and having amazing talks with my hubby.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Want a more sane teenager? Breastfeed them longer.

Just think, feeding your child the way God intended has lasting benefits.

I was looking at this article:

I've had a conversation through the years with various people about how long I breastfed my children and about their thoughts on that. In America, "long-term" breastfeeding is seen as unusual, abnormal, slightly (or more than slightly) weird, and probably bothersome.  It's not. It's the way babies were meant to get their nourishment and, just see: it has benefits, not just "could have" benefits, but it does. This article is just one of many that point to the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. To see 101 good reasons to breastfeed, check out 

Many moms quit breastfeeding because they think they aren't or can't make enough milk, or they have difficulties with working it in with the rest of their life, or they get discouragement from friends, family and community.  I hope we can learn to support these moms who are making a really good choice for themselves and their babies.

Blessed Babies and Families' start-up blog

I'm setting up another blog because the one on my website,, makes it difficult for others to leave comments, and I think I get charged for changing the site often.

I have a whole carousel of hobby horses.  Here, I hope to inform you (and maybe dialog with you) about birth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, freedoms, Christianity, and families in general and maybe some of my other hobby horses. I'm big on personal freedom with responsibility. I'm big on having people understand what they are agreeing to and making sure they know about their options.

If you know me, you know I'm sure to give you my opinion if you ask. Blogging lets me give you my opinion without you asking.