Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Fatherhood Rx: How a Dads Presence or Absence Affects Our Mind and Body


This is my third fatherless Father's Day.  

Though gone, my father still impacts who I am every day.

The example he set, the way he moved through the world wanting everyone he met to feel welcome and important, his sense of humor, the way he was always focusing on the possibilities………. and of course the years he walked through this world with me shaped who I am today.

These three years since my father's passing also marks the same period of time since my daughter's father and I divorced.

In dissimilar but profound ways, I have been witness to what a father's physical presence or absence means in various stages of a daughter's life.


How Fatherhood Influences Emotional and Physical Health


Of course, we know they are essential in any child's life, but do we understand how influential Father's really are?

Their role is more than just to provide food and shelter.

More than to protect their daughters and set an example for their sons.

So much more.

Research and focus on the significance of a Father's involvement is finally increasing our awareness on the positive outcomes on a child's emotional, cognitive, and academic development.

We are finally learning about a Father's role in multiple facets by asking the same types of questions we have been asking about mothers.

Do we understand how imperative it is that they are present to show their sons how to treat women and to maneuver through many of life's unknowns? How crucial they are in what their daughters will find acceptable and not acceptable in future relationships?


Father Involvement When Young


We are all familiar with the Father's stereotypical role of being the sole provider while Mothers are traditionally the caregiver. But, do these "roles" ever intertwine and connect? Do they switch places or sometimes take the place of the other? Is a single Dad just as capable of a single Mom?

In the past few decades, social changes and increase in the proportion of working mothers coupled with changes in paternity leave policies have resulted in a shift towards more direct parenting duties being shared by parents.

This is beneficial for the entire family.

According to research, the nature and extent of fathers' involvement in parenting may change over the course of a child's life.

"However, early paternal involvement is often associated with continuing engagement and may be a proxy measure of overall engagement. Early parenting can also affect outcomes later in life".

New Dad's should not be afraid to get their hands dirty and jump in from early on. Of course, a newborn's bond with their mother is irreplaceable but so is their bond with their father.

They are just important in different ways.

Researchers found that the children of fathers who had a positive emotional response to parenting and a sense of security in their role as a parent and partner early in the child's life were less likely to have behavioral problems in adolescence.

According to the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), "Psychological and emotional aspects of paternal involvement in children's early upbringing, particularly how new fathers see themselves as parents and adjust to the role, rather than the quantity of direct involvement in childcare, is associated with positive behavioral outcomes in children. "

Positive parenting by fathers may contribute to good outcomes in children in a number of ways.

  1. Involved fathers may influence children indirectly by being a source of instrumental and emotional support to mothers
  2. The effect of this on mothers' well-being and parenting strategies often leads to better outcomes in children.
  3. There is evidence that fathers' involvement can also alleviate the impact of factors such as maternal depression which are known to increase children's risk of behavioral problems.
  4. More involvement often paves the way to a happy and cohesive family which has the potential to bring about better outcomes in children.

Understanding the nature and effect of fathers' involvement on the health and well-being of children will improve family psychological and health outcomes.


A Father's Absence & Effect on Behavior




Just as a Father's presence is pivotal, a father's absence can be devastating.

The relationship between parent and child can and does have detrimental effects on youth physiological development.

This goes for Fathers as well.

Although most studies have focused on the influence of maternal behaviors, with little attention to paternal influences, there is now an abundance of evidence showing us just how important a Father is.

They are important from an early age and their significance only grows greater through adolescence and into adulthood.

Research has proposed three pathways to explain links between father absence and elevated levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior.

  1. Socialization theory suggests that father absence influences adolescent behavior through adverse behavioral modeling. Specifically, father absence, and the parental conflict that follows may expose children to maladaptive emotional coping strategies or impulsive behaviors that they emulate in adolescence
  2. Children may act out in response to the emotional disruption brought out by high levels of conflict that can both precede and succeed a union dissolution. They also struggle with the disruption of family life and exposure to parental distress resulting in internalizing or acting out behavior.
  3. In families with nonresident fathers, youth may experience reduced parental supervision, providing youth with greater opportunity to engage in risky or delinquent behavior.


Both strategies in the studies have revealed a link between a father's absence and adolescent internalizing and externalizing behavior.

"For example, regression analyses using rich covariate information identified strong links between marital dissolution and psychological distress and problem behavior (Amato, 1991; Morrison & Coiro, 1999; Sun, 2001). Growth curve strategies, which examine within-child changes in behavior, have shown that although behavior problems exist prior to divorce, children who experience divorce along with separation from either parent report even higher levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior after marital dissolution.

Research also highlights the fact that fathers play a very distinct role, one that is different than a mother, in children's development of social skills. For example, a U.S study of parental involvement during childhood and adolescence found that time spent with fathers in the presence of others was strongly linked with increased social competence. The same effect was not observed for mothers.


A Father Shapes his Daughter and Son Differently



Fathers strongly influence our character but also our relationships.

It varies widely from person to person, family to family, and also from girls and boys.

Research has shown that factors such as a father's presence, closeness, and communication of affection are found to be predictive variables of positive relationships and set the tone for greater levels of spousal marital satisfaction as well. 

Research also shows that daughter's self-appraisal and self-perceptions represent distinct features of father-daughter relationships

Girls gain essential benefits from having a close father-daughter bond. According to research from Vanderbilt University, "girls who had close, positive relationships with their fathers during the first five years of life tended to reach puberty later than girls who had more distant relationships." In addition, the University of Oxford researchers found girls who had more involved fathers were less likely to face mental health problems later in life.

Recognition and approval from their father can lead girls towards developing into independent and confident women.

Researchers at the University of Oxford report that boys who have involved fathers are less likely to get in trouble with the police as they get older. A positive father or father figure can be a role model for boys and help them to adopt a healthy identity as well as an awareness of their feelings and emotions.

Their behavior and treatment in a child's life will impact what a daughter looks for in her partner.

It will model the way in which his son learns to treat women and his mindset towards them.


Parental Relationship & Effects on Health



The relationships formed with both parents can not only affect mental and social outcomes, it can significantly affect a child's physical development.

Several studies have shown individuals raised in high-risk or negative family environments are at an increased lifetime risk for a range of not only behavioral issues but had physical health-related outcomes as well.

Examples of physical effects include: sleep disturbances, obesity, alcoholism, smoking initiation, sexual disorders, chronic pain disorders, diabetes, asthma, autoimmune disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

How does our relationship with our parents affect our physical health?

The physical and mental health symptoms from both Mother and Father negative relationships are thought to be outcomes of a common underlying biological process called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

  • The HPA axis is a neuroendocrine stress response system that produces the stress hormone cortisol when set off by negative or challenging events in the environment.
  • Over time, neglectful, abusive, or negative parenting can result in a disruption in the HPA system, seen in exaggerated or blunted cortisol levels.
  • Disturbance in HPA activity is associated with a range of pathologies including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and depression. In contrast, it has also linked positive behaviors from parents with more adaptive HPA activity in response to stress.


A lifelong negative or unhealthy relationship with either parent does not have to mean physical or verbal abuse while it certainly includes that.

It does not have to be extreme to have a lasting impact on health.

In the past, researchers have focused many of their studies on childhood sexual abuse or other forms of severe maltreatment.

But, current studies are finding that cortisol dysregulation is associated with less severe childhood family adversity. "In fact, the impact of negative relationships within the family of origin on cortisol remained after controlling for self-reported sexual or physical abuse, and after removing from analysis any participants reporting above average experiences of abuse. These exploratory analyses suggest that exposure to childhood family adversity does not have to be severe in magnitude to affect long-term cortisol regulation."

The current findings suggest that uncovering those components that are the most stressful and the most troubling from growing up in an adverse family environment impact can provide options for intervention. Reflecting and facing these issues that might stem from parents have long-term benefits for the physical and mental health of children who might be at risk.


A Father's Shared Vision Can Influence Success


My dad inspired me to visualize my dreams and create. I was blessed to celebrate 42 father's days with such a loving man.


His voice was full of life and vigor and it vibrated through me like a hug.


He taught me what growth meant. Facing change with determination and anticipation of great success.


Social cognitive theory proposes that our own personal evaluation process is the foundation of human agency.


Results from current research suggest the transformational qualities of shared vision between fathers and daughters are substantial.

It not only molds daughters into successors but encourages them to overcome any gender barriers along the way.

Self-efficacy refers to a self-evaluative process that links reasoning to conduct and a daughter's evaluation of her own ability to achieve success as a leader in the family business or in starting her own.

It's a judgment of skill and competence to execute activities required to meet goals.

"It's also domain specific since a general sense of self-efficacy may have little or no relevance to functioning in the family business (DeNoble et al., 2007)."

For example, a daughter might have firm beliefs in her ability to achieve in school, sports, or social causes, but may not believe she can lead the family business or build one for herself.

A fathers' judgments of daughter's efficacy may inform choices and link reasoning to conduct.

"As leaders of the family business and selectors of successors, fathers' assessments of daughters' capabilities to execute tasks to achieve desired goals may influence fathers' decisions to appoint daughters as successors. The construct, "perceived daughter efficacy," in the study reflects fathers' self-reported perceptions of daughters' efficacy as leaders of family businesses."


The idea is unless you believe your children can achieve desired goals, they will lack the motivation to bring forth the necessary effort or persevere in the face of difficulties. Believing in children influences their ambition, choices, vulnerability to stress and depression, and performance accomplishments.


As a female entrepreneur, the delicate balance is to retain your feminine creativity and still be a powerful force.

Maintaining healthy boundaries and using your intuition are secrets to my success.

Another secret is having an incredible role model in my own Father who shared a vision of success with me.

And for me.


Father's Come in Many Forms



It is also important to know there are many children who don't have their biological father in their life.

Some have lost their father, or do not live with their biological father. Some may have a complicated relationship or no relationship at all.

The best thing in these situations is to ensure a child has the support and the love from a father figure.

This could be a step-parent, a grandparent, an uncle, or a family friend.

It's time we examine a fathers influence and their role in the family and in child development just as closely as we have Mothers.

To shine a light on them and make sure they aren't left in the dark.

To leave a father in the dark, without good reason, is to leave a child in the dark.


A child needs support and love from both mother and father for their well-being. Their physical, mental, and social development depends upon both parents to shine the light and guide the way.


Every child grows into an adult that needs the same things they needed early on.


Every child needs love to shine. To thrive. To heal.

Both mentally and physically.

#Loveismedicine and parents give the first dose.


Join us for more @ #LoveisMedicine












The post The Fatherhood Rx: How a Dads Presence or Absence Affects Our Mind and Body appeared first on NaturalPath.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Dorito Effect - The Surprising Truth About Food and Flavor

By Dr. Mercola

In his book "The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor," award-winning journalist and author, Mark Schatzker, investigates the introduction of flavor into the industrialized food supply. An investigative journalist by profession, Schatzker's curiosity about flavor led him to eventually write two books addressing this issue. The first, "Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef" was, as the title implies, about steak.

"I got deep into the science of flavor [and] the science of how we perceive flavor. But I also [asked a] question that we rarely ask, which is 'Why does food have flavor?' We think it's all very simple. We take for granted of the fact that apples taste like apples and steak tastes like steak. But then when you start to get inside it, it becomes very interesting," he says.

"I would visit a ranch and there would be a field of pregnant cows and a field of steers. The rancher would say, 'Oh, the pregnant cows are in a field of clover because they need a lot of protein [when] they're pregnant.' Cows don't even know what protein is, so how does a cow know what to eat?

The answer is flavor feedback. They seek out the flavors that bring their bodies what they need. It's something we are certainly very alienated from … We tend to think there's an inverse relationship between health and deliciousness. I set out to do that steak book thinking, 'It might be that the best steak I find is awful for the cow [and] horrible for the planet; it's like a heart attack on a plate.'

What I found, oddly, was that the most delicious steak was the best for the planet, nicest for the cow and the best for me. I thought, 'This is not what I expected. This is not what we were taught to expect. Is there something going on here?' … [I]n nature … delicious flavors guide animals to the foods they need. So, I asked what is a simple question with a very complex answer, which is, 'Does it work that way for humans?'"

The History of the Dorito

The story of the Dorito starts with the late Archibald Clark West, a marketing executive who, in the 1950s, worked on the Jell-O Pudding account. In 1960, the Frito company offered him the position of vice president of sales and marketing. (Shortly thereafter, Frito merged with the Lay's chip company to become Frito-Lay.) A chance stop at a Mexican food shack on the way back home from a visit with Lawrence Frank, the inventor of Lawry's seasoned salt, exposed West to the tortilla chip.

"He thought, 'This is going to be the next big thing for Frito-Lay' … He presented his idea to his fellow executives. They just sort of looked at him like he's a little funny because they thought, 'Why would we want to make tortilla chips when we already make Fritos, which are kind of the same thing? … But West was so confident in his idea that he actually funneled discretionary funds to an off-site facility to develop this concept.

He gave them a name, which, in a very bastardized Spanish, means 'little pieces of gold.' He brought it back to his fellow executives. He passed out samples of tortilla chips and said, 'Gentlemen, I give you Doritos.' I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, 'OK. This is when the world changed. This is where junk food was forever junkier and more addictive.'

But in fact, that's not what happened, because the Doritos that first went to market … were just … salted tortilla chips. People in the Southwest … where there was a Hispanic cultural influence, knew that you could dip them in salsa and so forth. But the rest of the country didn't really get it. The main complaint was that the snack sounds Mexican, [but] it doesn't taste Mexican."

The Dorito Effect

Undeterred, West had another epiphany: "Let's make them taste like taco." Up until that time, foods had their own intrinsic flavors and that was that. If you wanted the taste of raspberry or pineapple, you had to use real raspberries and real pineapple. But some speculate that West's friendship with Lawrence Frank (the inventor of Lawry's seasoned salt) gave him the insight that you could alter flavors through the use of chemicals.

"You could make whatever you wanted taste like whatever you wanted it to taste like. You could literally buy flavored chemicals and put a dusting on a triangular piece of fried cornmeal and, voila! It wouldn't taste exactly like a taco, but it would have that depth, that tang, that zest. Frito-Lay then brought out taco-flavored Doritos, and that changed everything.

Let's think about that for a second. We're talking about a high-fat, high-carb, high-salt snack that America basically wasn't interested in. With the addition of flavored chemicals, it turned into a snack people could not stop eating. Let's also think about this: Prior to taco-flavored Doritos, when people ate tortilla chips, they would dip them in things that are good for you, things like a bean dip or salsa made with tomatoes, made with hot peppers.

Now you didn't need that. Now you could just dust on the flavorings and they tasted good on their own. This, to me, is a very important moment in the history of our food culture, because it's when we mastered flavor. Up until that point, roughly speaking, flavor had been the domain of Mother Nature. Now, it was up to, literally, the folks who worked in marketing."

Artificial Flavor Technology Allowed for Massive Deterioration of Natural Food Quality

This flavor technology is ultimately what allowed for the radical deterioration of food quality, as you not only can easily mask the flavor of inferior quality ingredients, but impose a flavor that has no business being there - making foods taste like something that they are not, and literally imbue nutritionally empty foods with the "sheen" of nutrition.

This is important for processed foods manufacturers because, as modern agricultural methods have taken a toll on soil health, food has gotten increasingly bland, as the natural flavor and aroma of food is actually tied to its nutrient content. In other words, flavor is a marker for the nutritional density of the food.

Using flavored chemicals, you can now produce food that has virtually no nutritional value, or even negative nutritional value, yet the great taste and aroma fool consumers into thinking they're eating something wholesome. As noted by Schatzker:

"There's been a change in quality. When old-timers complain that food doesn't taste like it used to, it's not because they're [remembering] the past through rose-tinted lenses, it's because food really doesn't taste the way it used to. We have this ongoing debate in our culture about the importance of eating right. We tell people you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, you need to eat more whole foods, but what have we done?

We've made those whole foods blander, less delicious than ever, and we've made the processed foods more delicious than ever. This book is an attempt to understand what's gone wrong with food through the lens of flavor. We think we understand carbs and protein and vitamins, but what we all seek in every meal is flavor, and there's been a huge change in the way food tastes."

The Evolutionary Imperative of Taste and Smell

We think we experience the aroma of food when we smell it, but it's actually a bit more complex than that. When you bite into the food, the aroma goes into the back of your throat and through a small hole up into your nose. This is called retronasal olfaction, and is actually a more powerful form of smelling than normal smelling. This is what allows you to experience the richness and nuance of food.

Brain scans reveal the experience of flavor takes up more gray matter than any other sensory experience. Additionally, the largest portion of the human genome involves the creation of your nose. So, from an evolutionary perspective, this chemical-sensing ability appears to be particularly important.

Experiments by Utah State University scientist Fred Provenza proved that animals use flavors to obtain required nutrients, and it appears the same applies to humans, and that this is why this incredible chemical-sensing apparatus exists.

"For millions of years, it worked perfectly. It helped us balance our nutrition so that we could find the foods we need, get what we needed and not eat to excess," Schatzker says. "That all changed in the mid-1950s. The first gas chromatograph went on sale. What's important to remember is that before that, scientists had absolutely no idea where flavor came from. They knew a lot at this point about things like the macronutrients, protein, carbs and fat.

They knew a lot about vitamins. But flavor was a mystery, [in large part because] flavors exist in such minute amounts - we're talking parts per million, parts per billion … With the gas chromatograph, you could take a piece of food and literally turn it into a gas. You volatize it and send the gas through this big coil. The coil separates every compound out.

Out the other end comes each flavor chemical, and then they would analyze it. It didn't take long for them to analyze the flavors in things like fried chicken, tacos, tomatoes or cherries. Then they started making [the flavors] in flavor factories. They started putting them in foods … Junk food is high-calorie, nutritionally empty food, that is true. But here's the thing; we wouldn't eat that stuff if not for the flavor. That's what was added to make it irresistible."

The 'Natural Flavors' Scam

As the Center for Public Integrity points out, industries can basically decide for themselves what is safe for you to eat. Of the 10,000 food additives on the market, 95 to 99 percent have never been tested for safety when consumed in isolation, let alone been tested for synergistic toxicity that can occur when you combine several of them together. People have gotten savvier about this in recent years, and many are now trying to avoid artificial flavors and colors. Yet the food industry is still tricking most of us.

If you read food labels, you've likely seen the inclusion of "natural flavors." If this has led you to believe they were different from and healthier than artificial flavors, you've been soundly deceived. Originally, "natural flavors" referred to things like spices and spice extracts - flavors obtained through natural means. This changed when consumers began rejecting foods containing "artificial flavors." Schatzker explains:

"When consumers started getting frightened by the word 'artificial,' the flavor companies began to make the very same flavored chemicals using natural means … It's the same flavored chemicals, made through fermentation or evaporation, for example, and not through more chemically complex ways. The bottom line is, it's the same stuff … There is nothing more wholesome or more natural about these so-called 'natural' flavorings.

In fact, you could argue the artificial ones are better because they're purer. When they make these natural flavorings, they don't have full control over what they're getting in. They take these chemical extracts and they don't know exactly what's in there. The problem is you have mothers looking at things like yogurt tubes and granola bars; they see this word 'natural flavoring' or they see 'no artificial coloring or flavoring,' and they're being totally hoodwinked."

How Artificially Flavored Foods Are Driving the Obesity Epidemic

Most people eat too much these days, and more than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese as a result. Processed, artificially flavored foods have a lot to do with this, as these chemicals make you eat food you normally would not want to eat, and eat more than you normally would. Remarkably, even whole foods like chicken and pork are now getting flavor enhancements, as the real thing has gotten so bland.

Again, this loss of flavor is a direct result of the way the animals are being raised. "We raise our livestock so quickly and so cheaply that it tastes like cardboard," Schatzker says. "So, it's not just Doritos and soda. It's everything. We might think we're making a healthy choice but, really, we're being fooled in the same way."

On a side note, there are even flavorings in cigarettes, and the reason they're there is because it would make teenagers like them more. "That's a testament to its effectiveness - getting consumers to do things they wouldn't ordinarily be inclined to do," he says.

Breeding Flavor Back Into Food

Unfortunately, while the junk food industry has top-notch flavor experts working for them, many fruit and vegetable producers fail to give any attention to flavor at all. Not only is this hurting the sales of whole foods, but more importantly, as mentioned earlier, flavor is a marker of nutritional density. While poor soil quality plays a significant role, plant breeding has also contributed to the blandness of many foods.

Take the tomato for example. Many older people will tell you today's tomatoes taste nothing like they used to. Schatzker spent time interviewing Harry Klee, Ph.D., a horticultural science professor at the University of Florida, who since the early 1990s has been trying to crack the mystery of what happened to tomatoes.

"The truth is we've genetically damaged tomatoes," Schatzker says. "They have literally forgotten how to be flavorful, because for so many years, we've been breeding tomatoes to produce a big crop, to have a long shelf-life, to be disease-resistant. It's amazing how much more productive tomato plants are than they were, say, 100 years ago. They're more than 10 times as productive. But we've paid for it in flavor … [I]f you don't select flavor, you lose flavor …

Knowing what we've done means we can take steps to undo the damage ... [Klee] found is that there are about 26 flavor compounds in tomatoes that really drive the experience of liking them … So, he thought, 'If I can figure out how the tomato makes each one of those, I can target it and I can breed for it. By ordinary, classic breeding, I can target those flavor pathways.'

What he found is that each of those 26 flavors is synthesized from an essential nutrient. This basically means that the flavor of a tomato is like a big chemical sign telling your brain there's good stuff in here. This is why we have noses. This is why we have this chemical sensing apparatus, because it leads us to the nutrients we need.

When you start to fix the flavor problem in the tomato, you improve the nutrition and you improve the chemical representation of that tomato, so that when you bite into it you go, 'Yes. That's a great tomato' … Klee has created a modern tomato that has the flavor of an heirloom, but it still has the yield and the disease resistance. It's not GMO. It's just a classically bred tomato. It really is the best of both worlds …

It works so beautifully in whole foods. But when you create a tomato flavoring in a factory and you put it on a potato chip or you put it in a sugary tomato sauce, you're creating this experience of tomato, but you're not delivering the nutrition. That, I think, is a really elegant illustration of just how things have gone off the rails."

You Can Trust Your Intuition When Eating Real Food

Your body was designed to identify the best foods for you in any given moment. The call of certain foods is really difficult to ignore. However, problems arise when your body is being tricked into craving foods that don't contain the nutrients promised by their smell and taste. The system does work, however, if you eat real food.

"My advice to people is to eat the most delicious food you can, but buy real foods," Schatzker says. "Don't be frightened of calories. Don't be frightened of food … The other thing I'd like to tell people is be aware of your own eating experience … I think there are two different kinds of delicious.

There's a delicious where you can't stop eating. This is what happens to me with flavored potato chips or Doritos. You have one and you just can't resist putting your hand back in the bag … These are experiences to be avoided …

Then there are other foods - dark chocolate is a great example; a great tomato is a really good example - where the point isn't to stuff as much into your mouth as fast as you can. The point is to sit in a kind of deep contemplation of this incredible flavor experience. That, to me, is a better kind of food experience to have. I don't think it's one that you need to be afraid of. I think it's one that will give back.

Also, be aware of how you feel after a meal. Try to integrate that into your perception of food. I've eaten some pretty low-end fried chicken that had that manic I-can't-stop-eating [sensation], and an hour later I felt dreadful. If you can remember that feeling, it makes you less inclined to go after that [unhealthy food] again in the future."

As discussed in many other articles, fruits and vegetables grown in healthy soils without toxic chemicals are a flavor sensation that is hard to beat. It certainly cannot be replicated with chemicals. Fortunately, Schatzker assures us horticultural scientists are now working on breeding flavor - and hence nutrients - back into a several foods, including strawberries and sweet corn.

While it may take time, there's certainly hope for the future. We just have to keep our eye on the goal, which is to bring real food back into the lives of everyone. To learn more about the impact food additives have on our food selections and health, be sure to pick up a copy of Schatzker's book, "The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor."