Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is your antiperspirant dangerous?

 Ok, so I told you before that I recently stopped using antiperspirant and I'm sure you were all scratching your heads and wondering how smelly I am now. And possibly you were also wondering WHY??? I'm sure you all remember hearing a while back (I remember first hearing this about ten years ago or so) that the aluminum in antiperspirants is bad for your health. Back then I think it was mainly the alzheimer connection? Well, I can't point to any peer reviewed studies that show definitively that antiperspirant is causing disease, but I can tell you that aluminum is no bueno.

Like I said, I'd heard of this idea before, but I more or less ignored it because who wants to have stinky pits?  And also: no scientific evidence that antiperspirant in particular is bad.  But since Avery was born I have been taking a harder look at our lifestyle and making some changes.  I mean, I started moving towards a more "natural" lifestyle after I had cancer in 2006, but now that we have Avery, it's even more impetus to examine our exposure to harmful substances and try to reduce where it makes sense to do so.

What really got me thinking about this is researching vaccines for Avery.  (Another topic I fully intend to talk about at some point, I promise!)  Now, by this point in time, *most* of the mercury has been removed from *most* of the childhood vaccines.***  But many still contain aluminum, which can be just as harmful to humans.  I predict aluminum will be the next target of outspoken safe vaccine advocates.  Right now, research has yet to explore fully the dangers of aluminum in vaccines.  But the CDC itself says that exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems. So, yes, the aluminum in vaccines concerns me.  And I started wondering, where else are we being exposed to aluminum?

First of all, aluminum is ubiquitous in our environment.  It's in water, food, and even the air we breathe.  So you're never ever going to reach zero exposure.  But if I see areas where I can reduce exposure without too much difficulty, to me, it makes sense to do it.  For instance, sometimes pots and pans are made of aluminum.  And when you heat stuff, especially with acidity involved (like tomato, for example), toxins can leach into food.  So no aluminum in the kitchen.  Obviously, don't drink out of aluminum cans.  Avoid antacids, which are high in aluminum.  Use aluminum-free baking powder.  Ok, so this is all pretty easy to do.  But giving up my antiperspirant???  I didn't know if I could!

But if you think about it, you shave your armpits, which causes microtraumas or even outright nicks where your skin is open, and then slather on antiperspirant.  Your skin absorbs stuff more readily than even ingesting it, and it bypasses the liver and goes straight into your bloodstream.  Plus more of it is probably getting in there because of the open skin.  I don't know; I'm not a doctor (duh), but this sounds, like I said, no bueno

Even aside from the aluminum thing, antiperspirants work by inhibiting your sweat glands from working.  Sweat is a major pathway for elimination of toxins from the body, so it's also short-circuiting a process of detoxification.

It took me a while to fully make the switch once I decided antiperspirants were bad news.  For a while I more or less decided I would risk the potential health hazards in order to prevent body odor.  See, it's the aluminum that has the antiperspirant effect. You can buy deodorants without aluminum, but they don't prevent you from sweating. I tried a bunch of "natural" deodorants but none of them worked one lick.  I would be stinking within 30 minutes of taking a shower.  Hey, it's hot and humid here!  I searched high and low for a women's deodorant that was NOT also an antiperspirant.  Apparently they don't make one!  I considered using a men's deodorant, since there are several men's products that are deodorant-only.  But they all had food coloring and other "bad" stuff that I'm trying to avoid, so, um, choose your poison right?  Finally I discovered that Arm & Hammer makes a deodorant without antiperspirant.  And it actually works! 

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not the same.  If I sweat a lot, or I'm outside all afternoon, I do start to stink more than with antiperspirant.  But For me, it's a fair trade to get rid of a product I was using on a daily basis that I really feel is not good for my health.  Or Avery's, since aluminum IS excreted in breastmilk.

So that's it in a nutshell.  I'm curious to hear your thoughts.  Do you use antiperspirant?  Have you tried any natural deodorants?  Leave me a comment! *** P.S. on the mercury in vaccines thing: most vaccine manufacturers have worked to remove mercury from childhood vaccines, but trace amounts do remain. And some vaccines given to children DO still contain mercury, the biggest one being the flu shot, which, if you get one every year is kind of a lot of mercury exposure. But like I said, more on this subject later!

Pumpkin Patch!

This post has a lot of pictures so hopefully it doesn't take too long to open it! Yesterday we finally made it to the Pumpkin Patch!  Yes, it was quite dusty and windy, which was unpleasant, but we had fun nonetheless.  Avery really enjoyed seeing all the pumpkins and running through the patch.
Avery caught a ride on her dada's shoulders and helped pick out our pumpkins.
We also saw some banana trees! Avery kept saying "nana! nana!"
Nice pumpkin.
Heading out with our treasures.
Hey, it's a tractor! It's very exciting when you are 18 months old. If it weren't for the dust and wind we might have gone for a ride. Maybe next year!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


So much for going to the YMCA's playgroups!  I feel pretty certain that is where Avery got the particularly nasty cold she came down with a couple weeks ago and then subsequently passed on to me.  I was trying halfheartedly to avoid getting infected, but when you are nursing a toddler, it's darn near impossible.  The fatal blow came a few days into her symptoms when she woke up in the morning, popped her little head up and coughed, then sneezed, directly in my face.  The she says, "hi!"  How can you not just laugh?  Of course, then she kept trying to kiss me.  I tried to turn my head, but she didn't let it rest until she planted one right on my lips (smearing her snotty nose right on mine - lovely).   If there was any chance I was going to avoid getting sick too it went right out the window that morning. 

I held out for a good week; I started loading up on vitamin C, taking shots of apple cider vinegar and tablespoons of coconut oil (home remedies of dubious value), drinking a liquid multivitamin/mineral supplement, and cod liver oil.  While it didn't prevent me from getting sick, who is to say whether I would have been sicker without all that.  The worst part is that I can't clear one of my ears!  It's the most uncomfortable and annoying problem. 

I'm supposed to be getting on another plane back to the mainland on Monday, but I don't know if I will make it if I can't clear my ear.  That could be bad.  I really want to go because my Great Grandmother is turning 100 years old and I don't want to miss out on the party & family reunion.

So that's what's been occupying us for the last couple weeks.  Fun.  I know you can't live in a bubble so your kid doesn't get sick, but I think I'd rather Avery get sick later when she's weaned and I can maybe not get sick every time she does!  To be honest, the playgroup kind of squicks me out a little because the toys are old and they all feel sticky and I see kids put stuff in their mouths and then other kids pick it up and EW.  Are you laughing at me for being a germaphobe?  I really try not to be paranoid about it, but those type of activities are like petri dishes for germs.  There was one kid there who had a hacking cough and I thought about scooping up Avery and leaving then and there, but we stayed and you know the rest of the story.

Avery's 18 month birthday was last Monday.  My baby is a year and a half old!  She is really changing a lot right now, after a somewhat stagnant period between 15-18 months or so when she seemed more or less the same day to day.  Now each day she seems different: saying more words, doing different things, doing the same things differently.  The biggest thing, of course, is her language development.  It seems like she is saying - or attempting - new words every day.  She will imitate just about anything, even when you don't think she is listening or paying attention!

The other big change of late is that her sleep has improved SIGNIFICANTLY.  And I feel comfortable saying that without fear of jinxing it because we've already gone through a short time of worse sleeping again.  So I know with teething and whatever she's probably going to regress again, but overall the improvement is nothing short of miraculous.  We put a mattress on the floor in her room and now at night I nurse her to sleep there and then I can get up and go downstairs and she stays asleep for HOURS usually.  Like I often go to bed before she wakes!  I am crazy and I love sleeping near her, so I usually go lay down on the mattress with her and sleep there until her first wake up.  Then I carry her to my bed and she stays there with us the rest of the night.

Did I tell you Avery likes to eat seaweed?  I buy momi nori (shredded seaweed) and she eats it right out of the bag.  It's kind of hilarious.  I find the stuff pretty repulsive, but she loves it.

I've been experimenting with making bone broths and I'm really loving it.  I highly recommend you try it; it's so nutritious for you.  The easiest is probably chicken broth.  I just buy a whole chicken and roast it.  I save the heart, neck and gizzards in a bowl in the fridge for the broth.  I stuff the chicken with thyme, sea salt, onion, garlic and lemon wedges, then cover the skin with butter, salt and seasonings and roast at 425 for about 1.5 hours.  Then we pick the meat off and eat it for dinner and save all the bones with the gizzards in the fridge.  The next day I put the bones and gizzards in a pot with water and a couple tablespoons of vinegar for an hour.  Then I turn on the heat, add carrots, celery, onion and thyme to the pot and bring it to a boil, then simmer for like 12 hours.  Then I strain the broth and make a chicken soup out of it.  I do something similar with beef bones too.  We just made a beef stew yesterday with some broth I cooked for four days.  It's so delicious!  The broth really makes a difference and it's so nourishing.  Avery didn't care for the chicken soup, but she likes the beef one.  Her favorite thing in the world to eat is still chili.  I can't explain it, but whenever I make it, she will often eat a big bowl of the stuff. 

Avery is napping now.  When she wakes up we are headed to the pumpkin patch!  I am not planning to dress Avery up for Halloween this year, but I definitely want pictures of her in the pumpkin patch!

Seventeen Months of Avery!

Here's the latest video... lord knows I need to sit down and write something...  she's 18 months old now.  So this is from the last month.  We've both been getting over nasty colds (boo) and I've been catching up on the last season of True Blood.  Enjoy the video!