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Entries in Health (14)


Are you T1D Aware? Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes

I'm very lucky - my children are basically very healthy and don't get injured very often in spite of their best attempts. We give thanks for this luck every day. In the discussions about helicopter parenting and "failure to launch" (as well as kindergarten redshirting) the focus is on the potential problems. It's important for parents to be aware of real problems - such as Juvenile Diabetes type 1.

This week is the start of a T1D Awareness campaign to help parents identify if their young child has signs of type 1 juvenile diabetes.  This type of diabetes doesn't have to do with diet or obesity and it can show in young children.  T1D is serious and potentially deadly, but manageable.  

From the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - signs of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Urinating more
  • Often thirsty
  • Feeling tired
  • Losing weight

Clearly there is a difference between feeling tired after a long day of camp versus sustained tiredness. T1D can be detected with a blood test if you observe these symptoms in your child.  To learn more, visit the JDRF facebook page and please spread the word to increase awareness of this treatable condition.




Slowing down puberty in little girls

I'm in no rush for my kids to enter puberty - and neither are they - but the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and countless other news outlets are sharing the news that more and more children, specifically girls, are entering puberty really early - at age 7 - based on three new studies of over 1200 girls. Early puberty correlates to high probability of breast cancer, potentially stunting growth and possibly lowering self-esteem. Plus, who wants to deal with those mood swings any sooner than needed.


Boy Running with Soccer Ball on Beach

The University of Michigan Health System offers a wealth of information about "precocious puberty" including its signs and treatment, if desired. The studies and UM both show that the vast majority of precocious puberty cases have no medical origin meaning that the girl's endocrine system is functioning normally. And precocious puberty impacts minorities worse than white (I really dislike these words) girls -


Among 7-year-olds, about 10% of whites, 15% of Hispanics and 23% of blacks have some breast tissue. Among 8-year-olds, the numbers grew to 18% of whites, almost a third of Hispanics and half of blacks. - Shirley S. Wang, Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2010

18% of white girls, 33% Hispanic girls and 50% of black girls and NO ONE KNOWS WHY.

Nutrition and Obesity

There is no study proving any causality. The scientists theorize that it could be better nutrition as in the 1700s, puberty onset, on average, around 17 years of age - mostly due to malnutrition.  Another theory is that obesity contributes to precocious puberty.

Fat cells produce hormones, and once a critical mass of fat tissue is reached, the hormone leptin is released to trigger puberty, according to JoAnn Manson, an endocrinologist and chief of preventive medication at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who wasn't involved in the study. - Shirley S. Wang, IBID

Environmental Factors

Other theories are that we've introduced more toxins into our environment - some of which have been tested initially to show correlation to precocious puberty. There haven't been wide-scale, scientifically reviewed long-term studies to prove or disprove this theory, but many are trying. And the FDA is reconsidering regulating BPA. Our Stolen Future, a book and advocacy group, has been advocating the environmental toxins for some time and has a list of the studies to date.

The problem with food

Obesity, nutrition and environmental factors all come together in the food supply. It's daunting to consider that you are what your food eats. It's hard enough to be what YOU eat. Now I need to know what my food is fed because it impacts what we're putting in our body. And encourage (and model) a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise because there is no question that obesity is linked to precocious puberty as well as a host of other issues. I've been on an 18 month journey questioning a lot of my assumptions about what's good for me. 

Soy - in particular unfermented soy - mimics estrogen. Estrogen is the key ingredient for puberty and foods can impact it.  And soy is in EVERYTHING. So much so that my family has minimized eating soy (even getting rid of soy sauce in favor of the almost identical tasting amino acid sauce) because I want to limit the amount in our system.  Soy is fed to chickens, cows and used in many processed foods (check labels for fun and see how much soybean oil you find - its scary).  I'm not saying soy is bad.  I'm saying too much, of anything, is bad and we have so much soy in our diet that we don't need to add any.

My approach, started a year ago when my son was only 7, was to eliminate soy products, stop using soybean oil and pay attention to what our food is fed. Recently, I've extended to organic kosher chicken (would prefer pastured, but it's hard to find) and grass fed beef. 

I hope I can keep my kids safe from precocious puberty. There are treatments if your daughter is showing signs of puberty and she's 7-8-9 years old. As part of a breast cancer family, I know that I would act to intervene because my family doesn't need more risk for breast cancer. Hopefully studies that prove correlation and causality will be published in the near future and lead to changes that can reverse this trend. 






What's your appetite for 100% grass fed beef?

I've been researching the health benefits and logistics of buying 100% grass fed, kosher beef.  It's been a fun project, but now I'm at a decision point about whether to make this something I make happen (and invest) or just wait for someone else to do it.  And that is dependent upon you - and our community's interest in 100% grass fed beef, kosher or not.

Please take the following short and anonymous survey and let me know your thoughts.



The linchpin for kosher, grass fed beef

To start from the beginning of my quest for locally grown, kosher grass fed beef, click here.

The key to locally raised, kosher grass fed beef is a kosher slaughter. And we don't have a kosher slaughterer (schohet) or slaughterhouse here in the Bay Area.  And until we proven there's demand to sustain such an enterprise, we probably won't. But there is a schohet in Los Angeles who comes to the Bay Area frequently - and with minimal effort, he and I connected. Rabbi Kagan is educating me about kosher slaughter AND grass fed beef.  Turns out, he's a strong advocate for grass fed beef.

He comes to the bay area because his son lives in Walnut Creek with the Walnut Creek Chabad House and his nephew is moving there. Rabbi Kagan is very committed to grass fed beef – for health and ethical reasons. So much so that he has a Los Angeles supply available. 

I have a lot to learn from Rabbi Kagan – but most importantly, he is a large animal schohet (i.e. he doesn’t handle chickens) and he is working with a ranch up here as well.  Hopefully we can partner to bring quality kosher grass fed beef to the community.

Rabbi Kagan did emphasize that you have to cook this beef differently – it’s very lean.  That means marinating, slow cooking and paying attention on the grill or stove top.  This beef is 30% leaner than conventional beef. Adding some healthy fats is sometimes desired.


Rabbi Kagan is exploring a line of pre-cooked products – rare roast beef you can cut and serve, for example. That’s an interesting extension – although my first priority is getting kosher local, grass fed beef in the hands of the Peninsula community at a competitive price. Then we'll do the pre-cooked to make it even better.

Rabbi Kagan has a problem - he cannot sell all the meat from his cows because Jewish law prohibits certain cuts - the round roast, for example.  So he asks me do I have "goyim" - non-Jews - who would be interested?  And I'm pretty sure that we have plenty of non-Jews who would be interested in this quality product. 

Holding Ranch and Marin Sun Farms are both educating me on the combinations of cuts that our community would expect to get through this process. And we'll definitely get some kosher slaughtered, non-kosher grass fed meat - for those who want the product and don't care about the kashruth.

Are you interested?  Let me know!


The quest for kosher, grass fed beef, third in a series

Seeing as Golden West isn’t grass fed (yet, but I’m hoping), I needed to widen my search on my quest for kosher, grass fed beef.  If you haven't read the start of the quest, click here.

Mollie Stone’s – sent an email request 7/12/10 to stock grass fed beef. No response yet.

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 27:  Cows are seen on farming pasture on May 27, 2009 in the Waikato, New Zealand. The farming industry is awaiting the outcome of the New Zealand budget which will be delivered by the Minister of Finance Bill English on Thursday this week, and is expected to be a 'responsible budget', intended to protect New Zealand from the effects of the world recession and ready the economy for recovery.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Trader Joe’s – sent an email request 7/12/10 to stock grass fed beef.  They responded that their product steering committee will consider it. 

Family Bultman Ranch in Montana – a kosher slaughter of a single grass fed, Waygu beef cow is extremely expensive because the schochet (ritual slaughter) must be flow in. Offered to sell me the cow and leave the slaughter up to me. Sadly, not going to work (delicious product).

I reached out to the universe – CrossFit, my sister and my kosher buddies.  Still nothing – but here are the options.

KOLFoods  – 100% grass fed, kosher beef. Shipped from New York.  They have a CA buying club that delivers four times a year to a synagogue in San Francisco and you have 2.5 hours to pick it up or they give away your purchase.  An option, but the price of their product is easily 2-3x other kosher product.  It’s an option – for special occasions only. That’s kosher, grass fed for the rich.

Marin Sun Farms  is in Point Reyes and has a CSA for San Mateo.  Doesn’t do kosher – but I asked.  Left voice mail and email on 7/12/10.  Spoke with them today and we may have a solution.  But I have to find a schochet and get the schochet to MSF’s ranch.  Plus – we have to buy the whole cow (although MSF will take the non-kosher meat for their own sales channel).

Morris Grass Fed  is exploring Halal slaughter and based in San Juan Batista, CA.  Sent a note showing that Halal buyers will buy kosher, but kosher buyers cannot buy Halal.  Please go kosher.

Wise Organic Pastures was recommended by the Orthodox Union and they are orthodox kosher but they are “Grass-fed for nutritional superiority, grain-finished for flavor and tenderness”. But the grain-finishing unfortunately ruins the nutritional superiority of the meat!

Blackwing Quality Meats – has discontinued its line of kosher bison.

Snow Ranch Farms – kosher, organic and local – goat meat – in Lakeport, CA. http://www.greenpeople.org/listing/Snow-Ranch-38472.cfm?type=headingname

So I’m asking the universe.  I’d like to feed my family of six healthy meat twice a week without it being a $100+ per meal. Are you seeking the same?  Would you buy 100% grass fed, 100% kosher organic beef? 

I’m going on a squeegee hunt.  Gonna find a squeegee.  If you are laughing – I’m trying to bring kosher grass fed beef to our neighborhood!

Next up - the search for the schohet.