This post originally appeared on Dr. Alan Greene’s website.
Our long-time friend Dr. Greene invited us to share one change we'd like to see in 2015. As you can see, we found it impossible to limit our dream of a healthier hospital stay for the new year to only one change 🙂
Foundational Health Benefits Hospitals Should be Providing
It's true that hospitals are there to help us heal, and we love them for that. We'd each consider them safe and trustworthy places to be, however, there are a few dark stains common throughout almost all hospitals that the light of good health has regrettably missed.
The overall theme of these changes is to minimize the chemical load of patients fighting to heal in the hospital, and to promote nutrition as a powerful tool for the hospital staff to utilize in helping their patients recover.
1. Safe Skin Care
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It absorbs everything slathered onto it, and that means it's important to make careful choices when selecting skincare products. Unfortunately, very toxic ingredients are the skincare norm. You'd probably be shocked by the amount of toxins found in your everyday skincare products. And sadly, hospitals have a long history of really lackluster safe skincare oversight.
You'll even see hospitals handing out a smattering of skincare toxins to their new babies and moms, so we'd like to see a 360° turnaround where hospitals start giving credence to the inherent need for quality skincare as part of the healing process. We know this is especially important in regards to the fragile skin of a newborn. After all, it's extra absorbent so whatever's put onto it will be taken into the body no matter what it is, and they deserve help entering this world with a chance of avoiding a body burdened with chemicals right from the start.
Top 3 Skin Care Concerns
- Fragrance is our very top concern for several reasons. Number one, it's a catch-all term for an astounding 3,000+ ingredients. What's truly frightening about that number is the possibility that companies could legally include and hide ALL of them in your skincare products if they wanted to. And any one of those 3,000 ingredients can contain phthalates which are known to have detrimental effects on the body such as decreased mental developmental, softening of the bones and extensive reproductive organ system damage.(1)
- Chemical preservatives like parabens, sodium benzoate, disodium EDTA and phenoxyethanol are routinely found in skincare products. These ingredients are FDA approved and GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), but there are widening concerns that synthetic preservatives like these are the cause of multiple health issues including allergies, behavioral problems, developmental and reproductive system damage, neurological problems and even cancer.(2)
- PEG (polyethylene glycol) ingredients are concerning because they're chemicals known to cause irritation, first of all. But more importantly, they act as tiny little super highways that usher in other more harmful substances and contaminants. Most skincare products contain a host of chemical ingredients which can harbor dangerous impurities like the carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane, and there's no way of determining whether yours does or not because there's zero federal regulation on contaminants.(3)
Eighty percent of all products assessed contain ingredients that can be contaminated with impurities linked to cancer and other health problems, including more than 80 percent of all lip balms and baby bath products. ~Environmental Working Group
2. Healthier Infant Formula
One of the most important aspects of a healthy baby is a healthy diet. Of course breastfeeding is the optimal form of nourishment since breastmilk has everything an infant needs to grow and thrive, but an inauspicious development over the past 20 years has taken over among parents, and it's the shift to baby formula instead of breastfeeding. It's only recently that parents have become aware that formula made just a few years ago lacked some critical nutrients for proper development. Most formula manufacturers have added ingredients to try and make up for those nutritional deficiencies, but there are still many questionable aspects of conventional formula.
Ultimately, the ideal hospital setting would consist of strong breastfeeding and lactation support with the primary goal of helping mothers become successful breastfeeders, and it would be standard practice to recommend or administer infant formula only after all other breastfeeding options had been exhausted. We'd like to see hospitals address this vital aspect of well-being, and begin to implement more nutrient-true options for infants instead of the sub-par formulations they recommend now. A push by hospital staff for better formula nutrition, such as those made with soy-free organic ingredients, and grass-fed cow and goat milk would advance this goal by leaps and bounds. An excellent start would be a nationwide switch to a product like Kabrita, an all-natural, non-GMO, soy-free goat's milk formula with complete nutrition.
Top 3 Formula Concerns
- In many infant formulas, corn syrup and sugar are the first two ingredients and constitute up to 50% of the formulation's total makeup. Not only is this obviously unhealthy, it sets the stage for a huge amount of health effects in the future like childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, corn syrup is almost always made from genetically modified corn which in itself is dangerous since GMOs are known to be harmful.
GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health. ~Academy of Environmental Medicine
- Soy-based formula has become a more common concern among parents due to the increased understanding of the way soy interacts with the body. It's well known that soy contains numerous phytoestrogens which are hormone mimicking in nature, and they can confuse the body and cause it to act as in ways it shouldn't be, especially in children.
Scientists have known for years the isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid. As far back as the 1950's phytoestrogens were being linked to increased cases of cancer, infertility, leukemia and endocrine disruption. ~Elaine Hollingsworth
- Soybean, safflower and other vegetable oils are commonplace in baby formula, and they constitute up to 40% of the formulation. This is highly concerning because these types of oils can be very unhealthy. They can contain large amounts of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which in a balanced diet is not too concerning, but when ingested continuously in large amounts can become dangerous to the body causing adverse health effects including chronic inflammation, asthma and eczema among many others. Again, this is another way that children can be set up for future illness.(4)
3. Real, Immune-Boosting Food
Everyone complains about hospital food. Half the time you'll see patients sneaking food in, good or bad, just so they can have something decent. But it's not just the taste that bothers people. It's also the lack of nutrition and the highly processed preparation that worries us, and to make matters worse, this food is coming from an establishment whose sole purpose is to heal.
We'd like to see hospitals take a proactive position on food, and gain an understanding of why it's so important to provide whole food with whole nutrition for each and every patient. Every person alive is in need of healthy food, but people in the hospital trying to heal should be offered especially nutrient-dense, minimally-processed food. Patients with special dietary needs like diabetics should also have appropriate choices available to them that provide the nutrition they need to get their health back on track.
Top 3 Food Concerns
- The total sugar content of hospital food can be astronomical, mostly found in carbohydrate-rich foods like grains, rice, breads and cereals, or just plain white sugar like in that jello they always have. It's never a good idea to consume sugar in large amounts, and it's such a contradiction for patients in hospitals to eat foods that actually works against the healing process. This is acutely demonstrated in diabetics with high blood sugar whose bodies don't heal efficiently.
- Processed foods are another unhealthy aspect of hospital food. It appears that almost all meat, dairy, bread and pasta served at the hospital is highly processed. This means hospital food contains additives and chemicals used to create various desirable culinary characteristics such as convenience, creaminess, portability, long shelf life or even a certain shape. The problem with heavily processed food is clear. Preservatives, excessive salt content and additives like sodium nitrite are harmful to the human body, lack proper nutrition and can cause health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.(5)
- Patients in hospitals are also served non-organic food. This matters because it's very often laden with pesticide residue from applications during farming and harvesting, and this residue remains on food as we ingest it. Most of us realize that pesticides are chemicals that cause the death of insects and other pests, so it's easy to draw the line in connection to the negative health effects they would inherently have on people. An additional concern is that non-organic food could be genetically modified. As discussed, GMOs have multiple hazardous effects on human health, and the evidence and research to support the safety of such foods is profoundly insufficient..
We're hopeful that 2015 is the year to make some truly positive, health-enhancing adjustments to these 3 standard hospital practices!