Tuesday TED Talk – Toxic Baby

This inspiring TED Talk is over 6 years old and yet the problems still exist and so few people truly understand or even know about the issues. I feel that it is most important to discuss this in October as we talk about Breast Cancer awareness. Treatments and cures for Breast Cancer are absolutely important but what about prevention? What about prevention? Isn’t it just as important? For our daughters and their daughters. We just don’t talk about it enough and there is so much research and so much information. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the US and 20 years ago, it was 1 in 20. Why? Watch the video of the TED talk by Tyrone Hayes and Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, the statistics and facts are 6 years old but still ring true.

  • There are chemicals used as preservatives in baby products them that when ingested or used on the skin mimic estrogen and have been found in breast tumors.
  • We have 30,000-50,000 chemicals in our body that are grandparents did not have.
  • There has been a 600% increase in autism and children on the spectrum in the past 20 years.
  • We have seen a huge increase of autoimmune diseases like juvenile diabetes, asthma and allergies. We have also seen a large increase in premature puberty.

The video discusses the negative affects on frogs by Atrazine. According to the EWG, “Atrazine is one of the most widely used and most troublesome endocrine-disrupting pesticides in the U.S. More than 60 million pounds of it are sprayed on American crops each year, second to only Monsanto’s glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.”

Scientists have discovered the once exposed to Atrazine, frogs will grow ovaries, eggs and additional testicles. Exposure to Atrazine in Rats has caused their offspring to have breast development issues, prostrate disease, tumors, deformations and the like several generations down the line. Atrazine turns on an enzyme called Aromatase that converts Androgens into Estrogen. The extra Estrogen promotes the growth of a tumor and spreads. There is a chemical called Letrozole that blocks Aromatase so that the cancer doesn’t develop or spread. What’s even more upsetting is the company that makes Atrazine also makes the blocker, Letrozole to help treat cancer when it develops. The European Union banned Atrazine in 2003 and the US EPA re-registered it the same year. Really?

When  BPA was discovered to be found in plastics and harmful to babies- the US Senate wouldn’t even debate the banning of it. How angry does this make you?

So, we as women, need to learn about these chemicals if the government won’t protect us. We need to fight for more understanding, more support in removing these harmful chemicals from our food, our drinking water and use in our beauty products. We so deserve better!

Sugar: The damage this big industry has caused and those who are fighting back.

It was reported in the JAMA Internal Medical journal on September 12th that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to publish a study that blames coronary heart disease on fat and cholesterol in order to move the discussion away from the concerns of sugar on our health. Early warning signs of heart disease caused by sugar started to emerge in the 1950s. This corrupt study began the low-fat food movement. This low-fat trend has since caused an enormous increase of carbohydrate consumption and has made the obesity epidemic in this country worse due to all the hidden added sugars found in the food we eat and drink every day.

The attachment to sugar started after the Civil War when the consumption of sugar per capita almost doubled. In 1880 according to David Singerman’s article in the New York Times, sugar was more than 15% the federal budget. In order to protect sugar refiners in the United States (from competition in the Caribbean), tariffs were established on sugar imports but those importing refined sugar paid and much higher rate than raw sugar. The powerful refiners lobbied the government to start using chemical processes that would help them measure the sucrose level of the sugar coming into the states in order to ensure that the understanding of raw versus refined was more scientific and less subjective. The higher the sucrose, the more refined the sugar. This scientific approach enabled the sugar industry to change the data to their advantage without anyone really knowing (such as bribing a chemist to change the results in their favor). They also launched a campaign to further discourage Americans from eating raw sugar claiming that it had bugs in it and caused “grocers itch” if touched! The powerful refiners, with an agenda to maximize their profits and protect their market share, somehow convinced the public that consuming more sugar was actually considered healthy.

Last year, an article in the New York Times discussed how Coca Cola is provided millions to conduct a “science” based study to disprove that sugar drinks do not cause obesity and have not been to blame for our diabetes epidemic. Dr. Kevin Strong (a high school classmate of mine) and a pediatrician in Maine is working tirelessly to show kids how bad sugar (in soda and junk food) is on their body, teeth and overall health. He started an amazing organization called Dunk the Junk. He’s teaching the dangers of sugar through the help of talented street artists and hip hop singers and it’s really working. Watch his fascinating talk at Festival21 in Australia.

Sugar is like a drug- it gives you a high and then you drop and in order get the high again- you seek out more sugar. It’s been compared to cocaine. Addiction to sugar is really hard to break. It has major adverse affects on our cardiovascular system, our liver and of course our teeth. A large daily consumption of sugar can cause type 2 diabetes, liver disease and heart disease (and affects your brain function). Reducing one’s intake of sugar is not as easy as it looks as added sugar is in almost everything! It’s hidden in seemingly healthy foods like lowfat yogurt, cereals, granola bars and juice. Everyone who cares about their health their family’s health must watch That Sugar Film.  Damon Gameau, an Australian actor and director decided to do an experiment along with the help of a team of doctors and nutritionist to consume 40 teaspoons of sugar a day (the Australian average) by eating what seems like healthy food. Share it with your kids. It’s eye opening!

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 added teaspoons a day. Some kids consume more than 100 teaspoons! Let’s talk grams for a minute as that is what we see on the back of our drinks and food labels. The American Heart Organization recommends 25 grams of added sugar a day for women and 36 grams for men. Check out the graphic from Daily Burn about “secret sugar.” Look how incredibly easy it is to rack up those grams even before lunch. I’m probably way over my daily grams and have much work to do. Can you believe that 1 can of Coca Cola and 1 bottle of Snapple peach tea has 39 grams of sugar? Reducing one’s sugar intake is not easy. It requires a major shift in thinking about food and breaking bad habits but it’s worth it. Just try focusing on it . . . one day at a time.

Does Your Daily Sugar Intake Look Like This? (Infographic)

Tuesday TED Talks – Robyn O’Brien- What is in our food?

I read Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth years ago after I heard her speak on NPR.

It is an amazing book about a mother’s journey and quest to understand why her child has developed an allergic reaction to basic foods. Why, when she grew up, she didn’t know anyone with allergies. She wondered what has changed in our food supply since she was a kid. What she has found out may surprise you and it may not; the book was published initially in 2009. Watch her inspiring and intelligent TED Talk about how the United States allowed special proteins to be injected into our cows, animals and our seeds to make them produce more, be more resilient to disease and pesticides. Europe, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and many others refused to allow these synthetically engineered chemicals into their food supply because there was no proof (or studies done on humans) that convinced them that these chemicals weren’t dangerous. The US felt that since there was no proof of harm, then it was OK. This is the same perspective we see with the beauty industry and it has to stop. Robyn learned that the large food manufacturers such as Kraft and Kellogg made different formulas for Europe than for the United States. For example, Kraft’s famous Mac and Cheese for Europe did not have chemical dyes but the one for the US did. Just this year, thanks to a mom and a petition, Kraft has finally changed its formula for America and Kraft will now be made without all the yellow dyes. It’s amazing that it took this long.

On Mother’s Day in 2010, Robyn found Allergy Kids Foundation in order to focus on the huge increases of food allergies, ADHD, Autism and Asthma in kids in the US. Below are some of the frightening statistics she has learned.  In the last 20 years, the United States has seen:

  • 400% increase in allergies
  • 300% increase in asthma
  • 400% increase in ADHD
  • and an increase of between 1,500 and 6,000% in the number of children with autism-spectrum disorders.

We have the highest cancer rate than any other country. Watch her talk, she mentions that if you move from Japan, for instance, to America, your likelihood of contracting cancer increases 4 times. We must keep the chemicals, dyes, hormones, and genes out of our food and beauty products!

Tuesday- TED talks- Teach Girls Bravery not Perfection

This is such a moving and powerful TED Talk by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. I absolutely love what this woman is doing. This is exactly what our country needs to empower girls and shrink the gender gap in the tech industry. Check out this statistic from their website. “By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields. US graduates are on track to fill 29% of those jobs.
Women are on track to fill just 3%.”

We Deserve Better

On the front page of the New York Times yesterday was a very disturbing article about a line of hair care products that have caused severe hair loss and the FDA can do nothing about it. The company did not break any rules. The ingredients that they used were all “legal” in the United States and they didn’t make any claims that could be considered misleading. The company has received over 20,000 complaints on this product since 2011 and it is still on the market. Our government needs to do more to ensure that harmful products cannot be sold to consumers. The article discusses legislation referred to as the Feinstein-Collins Bill created by Dianne Feinstein of California and  Susan Collins of Maine. It would require that the company provide information on any “serious adverse reactions” to their product instead of the FDA relying on the public to come forward.More importantly, it gives the agency the power to pull any products from the market that appears to be unsafe or harmful. There are companies fighting this for fear that it is overreaching. Honestly, I’d like the FDA to pull a hair care product off the market if it has been proven to cause major hair loss. Wouldn’t you? The article is here. I encourage you to read it. It’s quite upsetting that this is happening. That regulation of the beauty industry has not happened since 1938. There have been other recent hair care product scares that have found mercury and formaldehyde in products.  This is why I signed on with #beautycounter because I believe in their mission to make change, to get our government to pay attention to the “ugly side” of the beauty industry. I also love that I can trust this company and can feel that their products are safe to use. They also work closely with carefully chosen non-profits who are working to also make change such as the Environmental Working Group, The Breast Cancer Fund and Healthy Child Healthy Work. They also donate to Stand up for Cancer. Their transparency is refreshing. This article is a “must-read.” We deserve better.

Mascara and Girl Power?

Beautycounter, who’s mission to offer safer beauty products, set out this year to make a safer mascara, that actually performs. They were told they couldn’t do it without using harmful chemicals; they were told that it was impossible; they were told that they were wasting their time. They proved everyone wrong. This mascara really works and this is coming from someone who even wears mascara to the gym. Even the container is brilliant, it’s slim, easy to take on the go and the length of the wand is actually perfect. When launching the product they coupled it with a campaign that brought women together, 100 to be exact and used the campaign to bring awareness to violence against women. #100lashes. Beautycounter has pledges to donate $100,000 to Girl Effect.org– an amazing company created to support, empower, defend and most importantly educate impoverished girls and women who lack access to schools, healthcare and protection from being young brides and young mothers. #Girlpower is right!

Along the #girlpower theme, let’s talk about female athletes. I’m always inspired and moved by the Olympics and this year has been even more amazing. Despite the Zika fears, 45% of the athletes at Rio are women (some even still girls); this is the highest female presence, ever. Of course there is the unstoppable gymnast, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky, probably the best female swimmer and she is only 19. But did you know that this Olympics, India has sent their first female gymnast? What about Gaurika Singh, she’s 13, the youngest athlete ever, she is 1 of 5 delegates from Nepal. Then there is Yusra Mardini, an 18 year old Syrian refugee from Germany. She and her sister abandoned a sinking boat off the coast in Greece and dragged it to the shore of Lesbos. She is part of the Refugee Olympic Team. Then there is Oksana Chusovitina, who at 41 is the only gymnast to compete in 6 Olympic games. There are so many inspiring women competing, making history, making change. Then of course, this year, we have the first woman ever to be nominated for president by a major political party. Whether you are left wing or right wing or in between; you’ve got to admit, this is still a historical (way overdue) moment. #Girlpower is right.

I love this video created by GirlEffect.org, written by by Nigerian-born performance poet, Bassey Ikpi. Visual animation by Mushtashrik Mahbub. So incredibly moving.




Endocrine Disrupters?


I’ve been trying to clean up our act at home and stop the use of harmful chemicals in our cleaning supplies and beauty products- so many new words have been thrown at me and I’m determined to learn more without feeling like I should live in a bubble! The phrase Endocrine Disrupter is something I hear a lot about and since I have 2 young girls, of course I’m interested. So let’s break it down. The Endocrine system is made up of glands, hormones and receptors. Hormones help to regulate many biological processes in our body such as blood sugar control (insulin), growth and function of the reproductive organs, overall body growth (growth hormones) and the production of energy (metabolism). There have been numerous studies on lab animals and fish and through human epidemiology (the study of patterns and causes of human diseases and public health issues in a specific population) that have shown that certain chemicals have been found to “disrupt” these biological processes. This disruption will lead to adverse health issues such as developmental malformations, reproductive problems, nervous and immune system issues and cancer risk. According to EWG.org (the Environmental Working Group), the following 12 are the worst hormone altering chemicals to stay clear of (I have a lot of work to do)!:

  1. BPA- avoid canned foods, plastics marked with PC or polycarbonate or recycling # 7 and thermal receipts!
  2. Dioxin- This one is tough to avoid but eating fewer animal products can help. Try doing #meatlessmondays!
  3. Atrazine- To avoid this buy organic produce and filter your water.
  4. Phthalates- avoid some plastic food containers, plastic wrap,  any products labelled with added “fragrance.”
  5. Perchlorate- Drink filtered water and use iodized salt.
  6. Fire Retardants- use a vacuum with a Hepa filter. Be careful when reupholstering furniture and replacing old carpet. Passing better toxic chemical laws will help prevent this chemical getting into products.
  7. Lead- get rid of crumbling paint that may contain lead (carefully and professionally), use a good water filter. Also, note, children with healthy diets absorb less lead!
  8. Arsenic (scary, right?)- Get a good water filter.
  9. Mercury- Eat sustainable seafood like wild salmon and farmed trout.
  10. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCS): don’t use non-stick pans, avoid water resistant coating on clothing and furniture.
  11. Organophosphate Pesticides- Buy organic. Check out this guide on the worst foods to buy organic.
  12. Glycol Ethers- Found in cleaning supplies, check out this list to find good cleaning supply suggestions.

Phew! A great way to avoid all of these chemicals is to buy and support Beautycounter, a clean beauty company with a mission to provide safer and healthy beauty products and to get Congress to start banning the use of harmful chemicals in the beauty industry. Several of these chemicals are listed on their “never list” meaning they will never be used in Beautycounter’s products. Europe has banned 1400 and the United States has banned only about 11!



This poem was read aloud at a yoga class on Sunday at Saraswati’s Yoga Joint in Norwalk, CT and I had to share it. It’s by Elizabeth Carlson and titled Imperfection. It’s a great reminder of how we get caught up in the little things, letting our lives pass us by, missing the beauty that surrounds us. It also suggests that with age, comes wisdom. So true.

Saraswati's Yoga Joint
Saraswati’s Yoga Joint


I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.

I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mystery
of not knowing why

I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.

Instead I practice inconsistency,
irrationality, forgetfulness.

Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
my perfect family.

But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.

I used to fill every moment
with something I could
cross off later.

Perfect was
the laundry done and folded
all my papers graded
the whole truth and nothing but

Now the empty mind is what I seek
the formless shape
the strange off center
sometimes fictional