Organic? Hormone-Free? Non-GMO? Get the Facts

By Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH, FAAP
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

For us parents, nourishing your child is one of the most innately primitive experiences. From the wide open baby-bird like mouths of your infant to the look of belly-filled satisfaction on the face of your ever-growing teen, nothing is more rewarding than feeding your child.  But with all of the “healthy” options at the grocery store, how are you to know which choices are truly healthy and worth the extra cost?

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Just say no … to the latte?

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Pediatric Primary Care Physician
Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Today’s teens are on the go. In my own home, we juggle piano, Tae Kwon Do, violin, dance, and running 5Ks with schoolwork, eating healthy family dinners, sleeping, and, of course, having fun and being a kid!  Of those activities, sleep is most likely the first to be neglected, and teens often turn to caffeine and energy drinks to stay alert and in action.  But how much caffeine is too much and what’s in energy drinks anyway?

What is caffeine and what does it do?
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, colas, and energy drinks and is known to enhance performance in adults; however, it has not been studied in children and teens. It raises heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature; helps improve attention and wakefulness; and prevents fatigue.

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Taking a closer look at type 1 and type 2 diabetes

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, is essential to life, and helps in the metabolism of glucose, a simple sugar derived from the carbohydrates (“carbs”) in our diet. It lowers blood glucose (glucose = sugar) levels by helping glucose enter our muscle cells so we can then use it for energy. One analogy describes insulin as the “key” to opening the door to muscle cells for glucose to come in. An absence or deficiency of insulin leads to high blood sugar levels; conversely, an excess of insulin results in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. Importantly, in diabetes, even though blood sugar levels are high, the glucose cannot enter muscle cells and cannot be used for energy because the “key,” insulin, is missing. This is dangerous because glucose is the only energy source for red blood cells and the brain.

Diabetes mellitus is of two types, type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas are either absent or destroyed. These individuals have a lifetime dependence on injectable insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more complicated. The body’s cells have become resistant to insulin.  Essentially, the cells have changed their “locks.” Traditionally, type 2 diabetes has been a disease of adults; however, with increased rates of childhood obesity, as many as one-third of all new cases of diabetes in adolescents is of type 2.

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Can children thrive on a vegetarian diet?

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Because of the recent increase in obesity incidence and a desire to improve cardiovascular health, many families have developed an interest in vegetarian diets; however, parents often fear that with a diet restriction, they may not be able to meet the nutritional needs of their children. I currently am raising three, young lacto-ovo-vegetarians and assert that, with knowledge and creativity, parents can ensure the normal nourishment and growth of their child. Indeed, studies have shown that with vegetarian diets children may still attain normal weights and heights.

Definitions
Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, or fish. Those who do consume eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but not eggs. And vegans only consume plant foods. Although a well-varied diet can be sufficient for all types of vegetarians, without close monitoring of food selection, vegan children may be at risk for a nutritional deficiency.

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