What are the consequences of a child removed from nature?

First_Rain_(228226305)One generation from now most people in the U.S. will have spent more time in the virtual world than in nature.

The average American child now spends over eight hours in front of a screen each day. She emails, texts, and updates her status incessantly. He can name hundreds of corporate logos, but less than ten native plants. She aspires to have hundreds of online friends, most she may never meet in person.  He masters complicated situations presented in game after game, but often avoids simple person-to-person conversation. They are almost entirely out of contact with the world that, over millions of years of evolution, shaped human beings — the natural world.

But what are we missing when we are behind screens? And how will this impact our children, our society, and eventually, our planet? At a time when children play more behind screens than outside, PLAY AGAIN explores the changing balance between the virtual and natural worlds. Is our connection to nature disappearing down the digital rabbit hole?

The long-term consequences of this experiment on human development remain to be seen, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. By most accounts, this generation will face multiple crises — environmental, economic and social. Will this screen world — and its bevy of virtual experiences — have adequately prepared these “digital natives” to address the problems they’ll face, problems on whose resolution their own survival may depend?

This moving and humorous documentary follows six teenagers who, like the “average American child,” spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens. PLAY AGAIN unplugs these teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure – no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.

Six Steps to a Natural ADHD Approach

add_sign_smallADHD is a religious experience and there are believers and nonbelievers. Different places have different approaches, and these are based on many factors, such as the country’s general cultural belief about children and learning or the economic system that supports healthcare or limits access to healthcare.

The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that the geographic difference is due to collection methods by the researchers rather than true geographical differences. Here is an example of the cultural divide and disparate approaches to prescribing ADHD medications:

Germany requires that parents who are concerned about the possibility of ADHD in their children must try to learn parent-training strategies before the doctors start writing prescriptions for medicine. In contrast, the US health economy is biased toward medication use and we don’t do that much counseling — parent training is not an element that is culturally validated by parents or practitioners.

Almost 11% of children ages 4 to 17 years in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD per a 2012 CDC report while the general worldwide incidence per the American Journal of Psychiatry is 5.29%. Why is there a two-fold difference in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States compared to the rest of the world? This is an important question since the annual societal ‘‘cost of illness’’ for ADHD in the US is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion in 2005 dollars or between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual, according to the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

I have been in private practice for 11 years and in two very distinct practice settings. When I worked in a traditional insurance-based office and saw 30-50 children a day, I wrote many prescriptions for Ritalin, Concerta and Strattera.  Once I switched to concierge medicine where I see six to ten kids a day, I had time to educate parents, work on parenting techniques, focus on diet as well as natural supplementation. As a result I have only had to place one child on ADHD medication over the past eight years.

Here is a list of natural approaches that have worked well:

1. Minimize Food Additives. A 2007 study of nearly 300 kids ages 3 to 8, published in The Lancet, found that those given drinks containing artificial dye showed significantly higher hyperactivity within a few hours. The British government now requires labels warning that children’s products containing dye may impair attention.

2. Consider an Elimination Diet. A first-of-its-kind 2011 study, also in The Lancet, showed that when 50 kids with ADHD were put on restrictive hypoallergenic diets free of allergens like gluten and dairy for five weeks, their symptoms improved far more than those in the control group. When the eliminated foods were reintroduced, symptoms returned in 63 percent of the children. Deichert says that ADHD patients with digestive problems, recurring ear infections or skin problems— all symptoms of possible food sensitivities—are particularly good candidates for elimination diets.

3. Reduce Electronic Media and Replace with Exercise. Very large studies have associated TV and video game use with a worsening of ADHD symptoms.

4. Buy Organic Foods. A 2010 study of 1,100 children, published in the journalPediatrics, found that the more pesticide residue children had in their urine, the more likely they were to be diagnosed with ADHD.

5. Check Iron Levels. Studies in the Archive of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicineand elsewhere have shown that children diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to have lower iron levels, and when those that are deficient take iron supplements, their symptoms either subside with- out medication or they react better to lower doses of medications.

6. Safe Supplements. Clinical research is still inconclusive but in my practice ADHD patients have benefited from zinc, ginkgo biloba, acetyl-carnitine and omega-3 supplements.

The diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is a result of cultural bias. Use a therapeutic prism to illuminate the different options available to you. The first step is to find a practitioner that is willing to invest time in your child and explore all the options available under the rainbow.

Why your diet isn’t your fault: three healthy steps to healthy eating.

In 2000, according to the USDA, each individual in the U.S. consumed over 150 pounds of sugar. Sugar is addictive and you are likely an addict but it may not be entirely your fault. The good news is you can blame your parents and bodily stowaways.

Your food culture will become
your child’s food culture. You eat the way you are shown to eat. In other words, the way you eat today is how you will eat tomorrow. Essentially your
parents created your palate.

It feels good to blame your parents for your problems. 
Unfortunately, your children will do it to you unless you make a change. Once you recognize you are part of the solution you have taken the first step.

The second step is to understand that the microbes living in your gut can compel you to eat a specific diet. If you eat lots of sugar then the bugs have adapted. You are filled with sugar-loving bacteria and yeast rather than vegetable craving bacteria. Sugar craving bugs make you crave sugar.

This means you can view yourself as a puppet to the sugar bugs that live inside of you. The old adage that you become what you eat is really true. Fortunately, you can be Pinocchio and change from puppet to puppeteer. You cut the puppet strings by changing the gut microbiome.

The third step is to make a conscious effort to eat less refined sugar and more natural sugar, consume grapefruit seed extract or
biocidin to eradicate the bad bacteria and yeast, and replenish your gut with good bacteria by taking a probiotic.

Read labels and understand your consumption. Most sugar in our food comes from processed corn. This was not always the case. Our grandparents consumed natural unrefined sugars largely from cane and beets.

Unfortunately, food manufacturers do not have to separate added sugar from naturally occurring sugar in foods.

Added sugars come in many forms, so look for labels that include:

  • Cane juice
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • White sugar
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Malt syrup
  • Anhydrous dextrose

The consequence of remaining a puppet are dramatic yet avoidable. Today, more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States have “pre-diabetes.” In addition, nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t even know it.

Leave Pleasure Island and don’t allow you or your children to become diabetic donkeys. Cut the puppet strings by repopulating your gut with vegetable-craving bacteria. Do not give your children reason to blame you. Teach them a healthy way to eat as a lasting multi-generational tribute of your love.

Five steps to preventing cancer, depression, allergies, and anxiety.

My ‘Health’ elevator sales pitch when asked ‘what is the one thing a person can do to feel better’ is to focus on the gut.

The community of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, are the best long-term investment in your health.

Trillions of microbial cells inhabit the human body, outnumbering human cells by 10 to one according to some estimates, and growing evidence suggests that the rich array of intestinal microbiota helps us process nutrients in the foods we eat, bolsters the immune system and does all sorts of odd jobs that promote sound health. A diminished microbial ecosystem, on the other hand, is believed to have consequences that extend far beyond the intestinal tract, affecting everything from allergies and inflammation, metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, even mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.


1. HAVE A VAGINAL BIRTH  The bacteria that live in the vagina are the same ones that live in our gut. If you don’t get this initial inoculation at birth then other bacteria can take up residence, such as skin bacteria, bad bacteria from the hospital or yeast. But if that horse has already left the barn then make sure you take good probiotics daily. Some resourceful pregnant moms are swabbing their c-section babies’ mouths with a clean and previously inserted tampon to recreate the birth canal bacteria experience. Research shows this is working.

2. AVOID ANTIBIOTICS AND STEROIDS  if possible. These kill the good bacteria or suppress the immune system so bad bacteria and yeast can set up residence in the gut. Use natural alternatives that are often as effective for everyday illnesses. You may need to find a holistic practitioner for guidance.

3. AVOID PESTICIDES AND CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS  These wreak havoc on our intestinal friends by either killing off the good bacteria or literally punching small holes in the lining of the gut. Imagine living in a castle for safety yet purposely invite outsiders over on a daily basis and watch them repeatedly punch holes in the castle wall. This is what happens every time you eat RoundUp ready food such as GMO, non-organic wheat products. This is also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Make sure you select non-GMO, organic foods to minimize this highly inflammatory condition.

4. EAT HEALTHY  The bacteria in the gut love greens and dietary fiber. They convert the food products into energy and healing nutrients. The brain loves one of the by-products called Butyrate. Butyrate is the preferred fuel source of the brain and GI tract and is much better for these organs than sugar. Imagine making a fire in your backyard. Do you want a nice long burning log with a soothing crackle, pleasant smell and minimal debris or the bright burst of dried leaves with all the ash and embers flying everywhere potentially starting a fire somewhere else? Butyrate is the log and sugar is the leaves. Butyrate calms and heals. Sugar gives a burst of energy then send toxins throughout the body.

5. TAKE REPLENISHING SUPPLEMENTS  I already mentioned probiotics. My other mandatories are vitamin D3, fish oil and a good multivitamin. I personalize other supplements as needed on a case by case basis.

So you have the power to control how your genes are expressed by how you eat. This is called epigenetics. Take the new year and give yourself the gift of a healthy long life.

What do Subway, Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker’s, Fleischman’s, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson and Wonder have in common?

sub-sandwichAzodicarbonamide – a chemical used to make yoga mats and baked into your bread.

“ADA” is used in the plastics industry as a “foaming agent” and in the food industry as a dough conditioner for the convenience of industrial bakers.

In the plastics industry, it is mixed into polymer plastic gel to generate tiny gas bubbles, something like champagne for plastics. The results are materials that are strong, light, spongy and malleable. In many commercial baked goods, ADA is used as a “dough conditioner” that renders large batches of dough easier to handle and makes the finished products puffier and tough enough to withstand shipping and storage.

Food should be food – not contain chemical foaming agents.

Click here to add your name to EWG’s petition demanding that major brands stop using azodicarbonamide!