Plastics: The Dirty Low-Down and the Havoc They Wreak on our ASD and ADD/ADHD Children

PLASTICS - HORIZONTAL PIXIn an earlier post we mentioned that children who are on the Autism Spectrum or who experience ADD/ADHD have a lot of difficulty getting rid of toxins in their bodies.  This of course exacerbates autistic symptoms and makes life more difficult not only for the child but for the rest of the family as well.  

Some of the most prominent toxins are found absolutely everywhere and that makes it difficult to control.  Those that are present in our own homes, however, can be eliminated.  All it takes is knowing what they are, where they hide, and be willing to make a bit of an effort to rid our homes of these dangerous chemicals…if only for our children’s sakes.

The most obvious and the most common of these toxins are plastics.  They can be found everywhere from the kitchen to the bathroom to the playroom to…well, you get the picture. So let’s get a little more familiar with the different plastics out there.  Why not start with the various classifications?  Each one of these categories have been given a number.  You know, those little numbers in those triangles?

Classification of Plastics

RECYCLING NUMBERS

Ever wonder what those numbers in the triangles at the bottom of your plastic containers mean?  It certainly can be confusing to say the least.  Does it tell us what the plastics are made of?  Does it tell us if they can be recycled?  Well, a little bit of both actually.  It tells us the main plastic ingredient that was used in the making of specific containers, toys, and more, and it tells us that some are more recyclable than others.

I have so much information to share with you about this topic so take a deep breath, hang on to your hats, and please don’t get overwhelmed! Oh, and make sure you watch this 4-minute video from the Today Show on “The 7 Deadly Plastics”!

                                                                                     

 Here’s a basic chart to help you sort through all the numbers:  (I found this partial chart on google images. It had no credit assigned to it so I’m afraid I can’t attach credit to it either.) 

PLASTIC NUMBERS CHART

 #1 – PET or PETE (Polyethelene Terephthalate)

One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water found that concentrations of antimony were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater.  The operative word here is “clean.”

This study also found that the longer a PET bottle sits on the shelf—in a grocery store or your pantry—the greater the amount of antimony present. The amount of leaching from these PET bottles increases the more they are exposed to sunlight, higher temperatures, and varying pH levels.  Ever leave your water bottle in the car?  If you do, DO NOT DRINK the water from these bottles!  Throw it out!

Brominated compounds have also been found to leach into PET bottles. Bromine displaces iodine in the body, and is a central nervous system depressant. It can accumulate over time, and trigger paranoia and other psychotic symptoms.

#2 – HDPR (High-Density Polyethelene)

In one study, 95 percent of all plastic products tested were positive for estrogenic activity. This means they can disrupt your hormones and even alter the development of your cells, which puts infants and children at even greater risk since their growth rate is accelerated. Let’s not forget that their bodies are much smaller and therefore are affected by toxins more quickly than adults are. In this particular study, even HDPE products that were free of bisphenol-A (BPA) still tested positive for various other estrogenic chemicals.

#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC contains numerous toxic chemicals including lead and DEHP, a type of phthalate used as a plastic softener. As if the lead wasn’t bad enough, phthalates are considered “gender-bending” chemicals which cause males of many species to become more female (think males developing breasts – let’s be honest, we’ve all seen these men).

Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility not only in humans but also in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales, otters, frogs, and the list goes on and on.

Do you have flexible vinyl flooring in your home, or a padded playmat floor for your toddler to play on?  There’s a good chance they’re made from toxic PVC. This kind of flooring has also been linked to chronic diseases like allergies, asthma and even autism.

PVC is one of the worst health and environmental offenders.

#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

LDPE is considered to be a low-toxin plastic.  It’s used in the production of bread bags, produce bags, squeezable bottles as well as milk and juice cartons, TetraPaks, and hot/cold beverage cups. Although LDPE does not contain BPA, it can leach estrogenic chemicals, much like HDPE.

I actually find LDPE to be an oxymoron because a toxin is a toxin whether it’s high or low, a toxin is still a toxin.

#5 – (Polypropylene)

Polypropylene is used in straws, yogurt containers, syrup, ketchup, and medicine bottles. Even though polypropylene is considered a low-toxin plastic that is somewhat tolerant of heat, at least one study found it to leach a minimum two toxic chemicals!

#6 – PS (Polystyrene)

Polystyrene, a.k.a. “Styrofoam,”  is used in egg cartons, disposable plates, cups, bowls, take-out containers, coffee cups, meat trays, packing materials, and more.  When heated, polystyrene can release styrene, a suspected nerve toxin and carcinogen.

Heating styrofoam or using it for hot foods and beverages makes it leach toxins even more, (fast food containers anyone?) so try to avoid food and drinks in polystyrene containers at all costs, and definitely don’t use them in the microwave!

#7 – Other

This pretty much is a catch-all category. It’s used to describe products made from other plastic resins not included in categories 1 through 6 or those made from a combination of plastics. While there are many different types of #7 plastics, the most common include 5-gallon-size water bottles, baby bottles and other polycarbonateplastics.

 

Let’s not forget where plastic comes from – OIL!!!  You know the stuff that goes into your car?  It’s by-products?  That’s where plastic comes from.  Hmmm, for some reason the theme to “The Beverly Hillbillies”  is playing in my head…Now it’s in yours too, isn’t it?

To help you remember all of this information, I’ve re-posted the short 4-minute video from the Today Show titled “The 7 Deadly Plastics.”  It’s quite entertaining actually! Oh, don’t forget to sing along it’s got a catchy tune! 

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5 Simple Ways To Avoid Plastics

 

SAY NO TO PLASTIC

 

Children on the Autism Spectrum or with ADD/ADHD cannot detox as easily as we do.  It is therefore so very important that we keep our home as clean and toxic-free as possible.  By doing so we are insuring that we are not overloading their already compromised system of detoxification and that we are not inadvertently exacerbating autistic symptoms.  Since plastics are found absolutely everywhere that would be the very first place to start.

Here are 5 ways to say NO! to plastics:

  • Purchase unpackaged produce. In other words, pick and choose from bulk produce. Some grocery stores offer you the option of packaging your own in plastic or paper bags. Chose paper bags. Get your eggs in cardboard cartons not in plastic or polystyrene (a.k.a. styrofoam) ones.
  • Replace your cooking utensils with stainless steel or wooden ones.  Silicone appears to be safe as well.
  • Store, reheat, or freeze foods in glass containers rather than plastic “Tupperware.”  Do not wrap foods in plastic wrap, foil or wax paper.  Use parchment or butcher paper instead.
  • Purchase wood, steel, or cloth toys for your children.  Buy baby bottles made of glass, pacifiers made with real rubber, and teething toys made of cloth.
  • Make your own natural home cleaning solutions and personal care products.  Store them in glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers.

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The Clean Freak Streak

Not so long ago, cleaning our homes wasn’t such a complex and convoluted process that it has become today.  A couple of products did the trick back then, but over the last 50 years or so, products have multiplied not only in number but also in toxicity.

It isn’t uncommon to find our cleaning closets filled with products that clean windows, kitchen appliances, floors and countertops; products that clean bathrooms and even shower heads; there are even products to clean children’s toys, cribs and high chairs, just to name a few!

What makes the variety of these products any better than the few our mothers and grandmothers used? Come to think of it… 

How do we clean our homes?

OVER EXCITED CLEANING WOMAN - DRAWINGWe’ve grown up thinking that everything must be surgical room clean.  Remember that bleach smell or pine scent that said “clean?”  Personally, those smells always gave me headaches and made me nauseated…still do.  There’s a reason for this.  You see bleach, for example, is a caustic substance. This means that it is corrosive and eats away at porous substances – including human skin and tissues!

Ok, getting back to how we clean our homes.  We want to “clean,” “deodorize,” and “sanitize” right? What do these words mean? 

  • To “clean” simply means to remove visible debris or dirt. 
  • To “deodorize” is to remove or conceal an unpleasant smell.
  • And finally to “sanitize” is to alter something to make it more acceptable by removing unpleasant features, in this case infective materials.

 We can do all this without the toxic chemical additives used in our modern products!

What exactly is in those products anyway?

What guides our decision as to which products to purchase?  How about advertising and merchandising?  You know, those ads we see on television or in magazines?  What do the front of the packages and bottles say?  “New and Improved!” “Kills 99.99% of Germs,”  “Industrial Strength,” “Spring Fresh Scent,” “Disinfects,” “Deodorizes” just to name a few.  The problem is, whenever we buy into this and purchase the product, we are making our homes dirtier and even more toxic then they were before! 

All of the commercial products on the market today, and yes they include the so-called “natural” products as well, are loaded with a horrific amount of really, really toxic chemicals from known and suspected carcinogens, neurotoxic solvents, reproductive toxins, and hormone-disrupting chemicals.  Some irritate the eyes, skin, and the respiratory system all of which trigger asthma.  Chemical toxins from household cleaners can also impact how our immune and respiratory systems function and how the brain develops – think children here, even unborn children. 

This is as important for the reduction of adhd and autism symptoms as are dietary changes. These toxins impact neurological function!

How do you know if the products you have are safe?

An easy way to check is to turn your bottles over and look for these words:  “CAUTION,” “WARNING,” “DANGER.”  That’s really all you need to know. There are even some natural and organic products that have these words on their packaging!  Don’t forget to read the ingredients.  If there are words you can’t pronounce don’t buy the product.

What can you use instead of these commercial products?

In our home the only thing we use to clean is white vinegar and pure water in a 1:1 ratio.  If you want to add a scent use a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mixture.  When scrubbing is needed we use baking soda and elbow grease.

When transitioning to “cleaner” products you can also check these out:

  • Green Shield Organic All Purpose Cleaner
  • Seventh Generation – Free and Clear
  • Eco-Me Scrub Cleaner (Emily)
  • Mild Castile Soap like Dr. Bronners

A good resource is to check the safety of the products you’re considering buying is the Environmental Group’s website at:  www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners.

Keeping your cleaning products and routine simple will help keep your homes clean and safe of toxic substances.  We may live in a chemical society and may not have much choice once we step out of our homes but in our own homes we do have a choice.

BETTER ALTERNATNIVE - CEANING PROD.

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Top 10 Tips for Stress Reduction

Here are my top 10 favorite stress reduction tips, quick and easy for you to read and apply right away!

10 TIPS FOR STRESS REDUCTION

  1.  HYDRATE  Drink lots of pure water
  2.  EAT WELL  Eat lost of organic fruit and vegetables and limit your intake of sugar, caffeine and processed foods
  3. EXERCISE  If nothing else, walk.  Walk up and down your street, walk your property line, walk up and down the stairs
  4.  PAMPER YOURSELF  Give yourself 5-10 minutes, at the very least, each and every day to do something just for you
  5. LIVE IN GRATITUDE  Keep a gratitude journal and write the special moments you experienced that day, no matter how small
  6. REST  Allow your body to sleep soundly and peacefully every night
  7. FEED YOUR SPIRIT  Meditate, spend time reading scripture, or do something that nourishes your spirit
  8. LAUGH  Spend time with supportive family and friends and share a good laugh together
  9. REACH OUT  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice when you need it
  10. LEARN TO SAY “NO”  It’s really ok to say “no” or “not now”
 

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Nourish Your Stress – 8 Simple Stress Management Techniques for ADHD and Autism Moms

Stress-Free Living - Clouds w: SunburstHaving a child who requires special attention can prove to be an extreme stressor affecting your wellbeing.  You are so busy with the daily grind and the intensity of the work you do with your child that you may very well be distracted from the fact that you are stressed.  Every part of you is operating under extraordinary conditions, stretching you to your physical, emotional, and spiritual limits.

You see, stress does not discriminate; it can attack anyone, at any time, any way it so chooses, no matter where.  You probably don’t even notice it’s there but one day you wake up and something isn’t quite right.  Either you catch every cold or bug that comes around, you start getting headaches, your sleep is disrupted, your allergies are getting worse, your skin tissue becomes challenged. If you ignore these symptoms you might start developing more serious issues like cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.

But all isn’t doom and gloom.  Stress can be a good thing … as long as it’s managed.  The way I like to look at it is that it is an opportunity for growth. We learn the lessons and we move on.

Here are 8 simple steps to help put things in perspective:

  1. Prioritize.  Do only those things that absolutely need to be done.
  2. Ask for help whenever you need it.
  3. Learn to say no.  You don’t have to accept every invitation just to please others.
  4. Learn forgiveness.  It helps you let go of difficult situations.
  5. Talk things through with a friend or someone you trust.
  6. Exercise.  Even short walks will help relax you physically and emotionally.
  7. Eat a balance diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.  Ditch the frozen dinner, canned soup and cold cuts.
  8. Take time for yourself. Take a “mommy break” if only for 10 or 15 minutes every day and leaf through a magazine, listen to music, or simply close your eyes and do some deep breathing.

It may take some time to put all of these into practice.  Take it one step at a time.  Remember the old joke “How do you eat and elephant?  The answer: ”One bite at a time.

Choose one step you feel you can implement today.  Once you’ve got it down pat add another step and just keep going.  It’s really that simple.

How do YOU keep stress at bay?  Share your secrets and start a conversation.

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Caramel Apples ~ Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Corn, Nut and Refined Sugar Free

I love, love, love caramel!! This easy recipe is quick and easy and is gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar free! Can also be nut free*!  There’s even no butter or milk to substitute. Deceptively delicious.

This recipe fits dietary guidelines for most allergies and is perfect for following a special diet for autism and ADHD. Guilt-free pleasure and perfect for Halloween! 

These caramels we made using almond butter and ground whole vanilla powder from the vanilla bean, not a liquid extract, so they were darker than usual, but so very yummy!

Please excuse the poor photos – a mom of many talents I am, but photographer is not one of them. :)

The following recipe made 15 caramels, as shown above, and 4 caramel apples, seen below. Plus many stolen bites from the four little ones dying to eat it before it was ready!

You can see the apples didn’t look pretty – but the taste more than made up for it. I often don’t post pictures and recipes because I’m a perfectionist and I want to “redo” it so it’s just right… which means never! In my attempt to get over my perfectionism, here are my perfectly unpretty caramel apples.

(Also, I waited to long to dip the apples and the caramel had started to thicken already. I know better, but next time I will have the apples ready and waiting and pour the caramel candies, if any at all, after the apples are done!)

Caramel Apples3/4 Cup Honey

1/4 Cup Nut Butter (can use cashew, almond, sunflower seed* butters)

4 tsp Vanilla Extract

6 Apples

  • Slowly heat the honey in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, until it begins to slightly bubble.
  • Add nut butter and vanilla and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Bubbles will form and the mixture will pull away from the edges.
  • Careful not to overcook – the longer you cook it, the harder it will get!
  • For caramel apples: Put a wooden stick in the apple, dip into the caramel and lay on wax or baking paper to harden.
  • For candies: Pour into a Silicone Candy Moldand put in the refrigerator until firm.
Special Tips & Suggestions
  • If you do cook it too long, try adding a bit of almond milk or water and stirring on low heat until it melts again. 
  • Go ahead and add a bit of almond milk or water to create a thinner caramel dip for cut pieces of fruit.
  • The candies are solid and firm out of the refrigerator. After sitting out, they get very soft and pliable.

Do you have a favorite Halloween recipe? I’d love to try yours, so please share in the comments below!

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What You Need to Know about GMOs

gmo-summit-2013-banner-180x250I don’t know about you, but I want to know the truth about GMOs. Are they safe or not?

And, yes, it’s important for my readers concerned about ADHD, Autism and Allergies!

Join me in attending this no-cost global event:

Click here to see what it’s about ==> GMO Mini Summit

I imagine your health is important to you, along with the health of your family and friends. (Including your pets!)

I think you’ll want to be there as top experts, researchers and activists share everything they’ve uncovered in this 3-day informative and inspirational summit that’s happening October 25-27, 2013.

Click here to see what it’s about ==> GMO Mini Summit

You’ll discover:

• Studies revealing the health effects of GMOs on animals, humans and the environment

• The possible GMO connection to allergies, autism, and leaky gut

• How to help your family eat healthier and avoid GMOs

• Ways to get involved and become active in the fight for GMO labeling and the future of agriculture

I’m going to be there for sure. I hope you’ll join me.

Click here to see what it’s about ==> GMO Mini Summit

Oh, and be sure to let me know YOUR thoughts and questions about GMOs in the comments below!

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Fresh Tip Friday: Eating Leafy Greens for Better Health

 

{Click to Tweet} Fresh Tip Friday: Leafy Greens are Power-Packed with Vitamins and Minerals. Experiment with new Ways to Eat them. @Stephanimcgirr

 Fresh Tip Friday

 

When creating and encouraging a healthy and effective plan for your autism diet and ADHD diet, try to include foods that are “closest to their original source.”  Leafy greens are the perfect source of  vitamins and minerals along with as many raw fruits and veggies as possible is a great foundation for a healthier diet.

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Fresh Tip Friday: Adding Legumes as an Excellent Protein Source

{Click to Tweet} Fresh Tip Friday: Dried Legumes, such as chickpeas, black beans & lentils, are excellent protein sources. @Stephanimcgirr

Fresh Tip Friday

 

We’ve been encouraging our readers to eat foods “closest to their original source” for several months now. Removing processed foods from our homes is essential if we want to make healthy choices for our family and continue to follow a special diet for Autism and ADHD. Dried legumes such as chickpeas, black beans and lentils are often forgotten about as a healthy option and are an excellent source of protein. Healthier choices will equal a happier and healthier family.

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Fresh Tip Friday: Don’t Forget The Nuts

{click to Tweet} Fresh Tip Friday: When eating Fresh Foods, don’t Forget about Nuts. Raw, unsprouted Nuts contain Enzymes in a “Dormant” state. @Stephanimcgirr

Fresh Tip Friday

Nuts in a “dormant” or unsprouted state are an often overlooked part of a healthy raw food diet. My hope is that your family is seeing the results and benefits from these new healthier choices and everyone is excited to continue to follow a special diet for Autism and ADHD. Healthier choices will equal a happier and healthier family.

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