Soda and telomere length

by Christina on October 25, 2014

A vote on Prop E is coming up. Will San Franciscans vote for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages? It has failed everywhere else so if it won that would be huge. I’m for it.

Here’s a timely study that recently came out linking soda drinking to telomere length.

They found that soda consumption is associated with shorter telomeres, and we already know that short telomeres are associated with shorter lifespan, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Oh, telomeres… they hold a special place in my heart. I spent a year of my life in medical school figuring out how to measure and research them. I loved research but it took over 4 years to get any results published. Why does science have to take so long?

Part of the reason I wanted to come out to San Francisco was because of people doing work like Elizabeth Epel, the senior author of this study. Residency proved too demanding to do much else, but I’d still like to get back into it one day. Especially if research findings like this could influence public health measures like the soda tax.


Avoiding hyper-parenting

by Christina on October 22, 2014

I really liked this recent article in the NYT by Pamela Druckerman.

These are things to remember as our baby grows up:

Expect more from your children, and they will rise to it. Expect less, and they will sink,” ~ Emma Jenner

‘Seize windows of freedom joyfully, without guilt.’ The greatest insight to emerge from France since “I think, therefore I am” is that children’s birthday parties should be drop-offs. The other parents get three hours to go off and play.”

“Your child probably won’t get into the Ivy League or win a sports scholarship. At age 24, he might be back in his childhood bedroom, in debt, after a mediocre college career. Raise him so that, if that happens, it will still have been worth it.”

Try the sleeping cure. Most parenting crises are caused by exhaustion. Force yourself to observe the same nighttime rituals as your toddler: bath, book, bed.”

Have less stuff. Messiness compounds the chaos of family life.”

Don’t worry about overscheduling your child. Kids who do extracurriculars have higher grades and self-esteem than those who don’t, among many other benefits.”

“Teach your kids emotional intelligence. Help them become more evolved than you are.


Getting enough Vitamin D?

by Christina on October 11, 2014

I’ve been struggling with the question of whether or not to give vitamin D drops to our little guy.

Breast milk usually does not contain enough because nursing mothers are often vitamin D deficient. I know my Vitamin D level is low – I live in San Francisco and am rarely in the sun - when I last checked it was around 20.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfed infants receive 400 IU of Vitamin D supplementation daily.

But the Vitamin D drops I found in Whole Foods are sweet and berry flavored. I don’t like the idea of giving him anything besides breast milk when he’s so young, particularly not something so sweet.

Vitamin D is very important! For bones, immune function, heart disease, and more. So what’s a mom to do?

Babies could get Vitamin D from the sun, but we don’t want our babies to get too much sun exposure.

I recently learned that it is possible for nursing mothers to pass it to their babies through breast milk — see this article in Science Daily.

“How much vitamin D does the mother need so as to ensure an adequate amount in her milk? As with everything else related to vitamin D, there is a lot of individual variation, but it appears that the daily intake must be in the range of 5,000-6,000 IUs. As no surprise, that’s just about the amount needed to reproduce the vitamin D blood levels in persons living ancestral lifestyles today. And while 5,000-6,000 IU may initially seem high, it is important to remember how much the sun produces for us. A single 15 minute whole body exposure to sun at mid-day in summer produces well over 10,000 IU.”

I would need to get 5,000-6,000 IU daily in me in order to get enough in my breast milk for him. That’s relatively easy with a daily walk in the sun or taking a supplement.

So for now I’m avoiding the sweet drops. And a little late afternoon sun seems safe enough so our little man can make some of his own vitamin D… he seems to like it.