Backpacks with Dr. Kendra

With the school year quickly approaching, I asked Dr. Kendra from The Family Wellness Centre of Connecticut to visit and talk about backpacks. Here is her visit.

Beatrix Backpacks

From Dr. Kendra

So quickly, it seems, the summer is nearly over and soon children will be back to school. Along with brand new school clothes, come new backpacks soon to be filled, or over filled with school supplies. It’s safe to say most students won’t be thinking about back and neck pain, but that’s what they risk if their backpacks are too heavy or are not carried properly.

If a backpack is carried improperly or is excessively heavy, it can result in the severe back and neck pain, neck or back injury, poor posture and generalized fatigue. Excessively heavy back packs may harm muscles and joints as well, compounding, serious fatigue to the child’s body. Though books are essential for learning, carrying them, should not affect physical well being.

Studies show an overloaded backpack forces the child to compensate by leaning forward to balance the load, creating potential health problems. Stress and strain to their bodies resulted in over 7,000 emergency room visits yearly approximately half of the injuries reported occurred in children 5 to 14 years old. The prolonged strain of the backpack weight can result in long term injuries.

As a rule the total weight of a backpack should not exceed 10% of a child’s total body weight. So if your child weighs 50 pounds their backpack should not weigh more than 5 pounds- that includes the backpack and all of its contents. Parents can also teach their kids to carry the backpack correctly, by using both the straps.

To reduce injuries or pain resulting from back packs, students can increase muscle strength and endurance, making back pain is less likely. Purchasing a backpack that has straps that go around the hips to keep the weight away from the back, also help balance the “load” and distribute the weight more evenly and also reduce injury. Backpacks should never hang more than four inches below the child’s waistline. Backpacks should be smaller than the child’s back. Straps should be padded and used at all times to avoid an uneven pull on the back.

Proper positioning of a backpack is in the center of the back. Adjust the straps and use the middle waist belt if available to keep the backpack from hanging too low. It should rest between or below the shoulder blades. Using a chest strap helps distribute the weight evenly across the back. Packs should not go below the lumbar spine.

Some easy and practical tips to reduce injury are:

1. Keep extra books and notebooks at home. So there is no need to lift extra weight.

2. Always wear backpack on both the shoulders. Carrying backpack on one shoulder can put the pressure on one side of the body and can cause injury.

3. Wear both straps of the backpack at all times, this distributes the weight load evenly so well aligned posture is encouraged and facilitated.

4. Avoid carrying backpack for a long time.

5. If the backpack is very heavy, use the belt that will save from back problem.

6. Buy a backpack with wide well padded straps, and a chest strap that can distribute equal loads.

7. Use the bag with wheels if backpack is too heavy.

8. Avoid buying a backpack that in itself has a lot of weight.

9. Encourage kids to use lockers at school if available.

10. Lobby for less homework so books can stay at school.

11. Visit your local Chiropractor for wellness checks and symptom management.

12. Watch body mechanics putting on and taking off the backpack. Avoid twisting and bending together at the waist. Swinging the weight to get the backpack on is a sign it is too heavy.

13. Weigh backpacks regularly and “clean them out” often to avoid carrying additional unneeded weight.

The American Occupational Therapy Association has named September 19 as National School Backpack Awareness Day (as well as national talk like a pirate day….arrgh).


For more information on Dr. Kendra visit The Family Wellness Centre of Connecticut

Shopping with GMO in mind

Dr. Kendra is back with some information on what products to avoid when thinking about GMO.

Know your food - Produce Codes Demystified #nutrition #organic #gmo #shopping #healthychange #eathealthy #education #healthykids



THoT: So are GMO products only a select few?

Dr. Kendra: The primary genetically modified foods include products made from or with corn, soy, canola oil, and cottonseed oil. So even if you don’t eat a 100% organic diet, at the very least you want to try avoiding these foods and oils.

THoT:  That is overwhelming. So many of the products we eat have those ingredients. How can I make sure that the corn I purchase in these products is non GMO? 

Dr. Kendra: So if you buy anything that has corn in it, make sure it is either organic or that it says non-GMO on the packaging. Most people don’t know that ascorbic acid is made from corn syrup, and so the corn used to make this can also be genetically modified, which is yet another reason to know the source of all foods and supplements.

THoT: So are meats ok?

Dr: Kendra: About 90% of the corn and soy in the United States is genetically modified. And a lot of processed foods have corn and soy ingredients, like breakfast cereal, ready to eat meals, crackers and snack bags of grab and go type foods. Many people eat soy nuggets, soy burgers, drink soy milk, and think this is benefiting their health, when the exact opposite is true. If you are a meat eater, it is important to realize that a lot of the livestock are fed these genetically modified foods. So it is even more important to know your source and purchase organic meats that are Grass fed.

Guide to Avoiding GMO Snacks

THoT: What should we look for when we are reading labels?

Dr. Kendra: Those stickers on fruits and veggies tell you quite a bit! 4 numbers mean they were conventionally grown. 5 numbers starting with number 8 means they are genetically modified (GMO). And 5 numbers starting with 9 means they were organically grown.

THoT: The label of NON-GMO on products is really helpful. What is the outlook for the future?

Dr. Kendra:  50 countries world wide have banned or restricted GMO products. Whole Foods will label all GMO in their stores by 2018.  They will not have GMO salmon in the stores.

For more information, check out

Kendra Becker-Musante, ND, FNP, BCFamily Wellness Centre of Connecticut
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
Your “4A” specialist (asthma, allergies, autism spectrum, and atopy/eczema)

Dr. Kendra & GMO

Learn more about GMO - genetically modified organisms - and our food supply.

I asked Dr. Kendra to stop by and fill me in with all that is GMO. Here is Part 1 of our interview.

THoT: Thanks for stopping by thehouseoftrue. GMO has been in the news a lot with many grassroot organizations forming to educate the public. Can you talk a little about what GMO is?

Dr. Kendra:  Foods that are genetically modified have changes made to the DNA. What they are doing is essentially taking genes from one species and inserting it into another species. This leads to crops that are able to be resistant to bugs and pests that may damage crops, as well as crops that are actually able to produce their own pesticides to kill organisms.

THoT: Well, that leads to why do we even have to mess with our foods?

Dr. Kendra: There are numerous reasons why foods are genetically modified. A big reason is because GMO crops reduce loss and maximize harvests or allow for a greater return. Genetic modification allows the crops to be resistant to herbicides so this can lead to nutrient deficiencies and many other health issues. And crops which can produce their own pesticides sounds like a great idea, until you realize that it not only kills organisms which may be harmful to the plant, but it might also cause harm to the animals and humans which ingest these crops. Obviously it all comes down to making a greater profit. 

THot: How does our body react to GMO food?

Dr. Kendra: The reason why genetically modified food causes so many health issues is because the body doesn’t process these genetically modified foods, identifying them as foreign and mounting an immune response aimed at the most delicate of cells in the body (the gut lining and the thyroid). GMOs will change the DNA, and the immune system sees the proteins in these foods as being foreign. So there will be an immune system response, resulting in inflammation.

THoT: Are there other impacts on the body from GMO?

Dr. Kendra: The evidence shows, eating genetically modified foods can potentially trigger an autoimmune response, thus leading to conditions such as Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (speaking of the thyroid specifically, But GMOs can lead to other autoimmune conditions as well, and other health issues such as autism, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other conditions). Soy can inhibit thyroid gland activity & of course having the soy genetically modified will only make things worse.
Genetically modified foods can be harmful in other ways as well. For example, Bacillus thuringiensis is a toxin which kills insects by breaking open their stomachs. A wonderful idea was proposed (note the sarcasm) to alter the crop’s DNA to produce the Bt-toxin, thus breaking open the stomach of insects, thereby killing them. It sounded like a splendid idea, especially since this toxin wasn’t supposed to cause any harm to humans. But even though we were told that only insects would be affected by the bt-toxin, apparently it can harm some of the cells of the human digestive system, perhaps contributing to a leaky gut and other digestive issues.

Look for Part 2 in the Series on How to be an informed consumer

Kendra Becker-Musante, ND, FNP, BCFamily Wellness Centre of Connecticut
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
Your “4A” specialist (asthma, allergies, autism spectrum, and atopy/eczema)

GMO Whaaat?

Over the last year I have started to make a conscious effort to be more a more specific and educated buyer when it came to the foods I bought my family. What I thought were healthy choices, were far from it and I started to realize how little I knew as a buyer when it came to the food I put in my grocery chart. Who knew that natural didn’t necessarily mean nutritious or even good for you. I started to panic as I looked through my cabinets and pantry when I started to really read the labels on the packages.

NO GMO….now it sounds great, but how can I actually purchase with that in mind. And what is GMO anyway. Dr. Kendra will be stopping by the blog to give our readers and bit of background and some useful tools as consumers when we are at the grocery store.

Is my family 100% non-GMO? No. Definitely not. I can say that we are a solid 85%. We still have our guilty pleasures of ice cream and chocolate. And when we eat at restaurants or other homes, we enjoy what is on our plate, without worrying. But, I can say that since I became more diligent, my children have only had positive results in terms of their health and attitudes.

I found a fabulous APP that I go to when I have a question on a product that I might buy at the grocery store. It is called the Good Guide.

Scan the barcode on any product and this free app will tell you if it meets your standards regarding nutritional value, animal welfare, or energy efficiency.

All you have to do is scan the bar code and it give the product a rating in terms of nutritional value, how green it is, etc. It is one step to become a more educated consumer and I am cool with that.

The GMO Series with Dr. Kendra will start this week.

Kendra Becker-Musante, ND, FNP, BCFamily Wellness Centre of Connecticut
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
Your “4A” specialist (asthma, allergies, autism spectrum, and atopy/eczema)

Heart Healthy with Dr. Kendra

Dr. Kendra was recently on WTIC-FOX 61 to talk about ways to keep us heart healthy. I asked her to stop by thehouseoftrue to give the readers some valuable pointers

Here is the link to the video: Tips To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease —

Here is what she has to share…..


Things about BEING heart healthy I bet you didn’t know…

1. It is Mom’s genes that carry the markers for heart disease/ high cholesterol risk…so check mom’s history…

2. Pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, fertility issues can increase risk of heart disease later in life

3. Dental plaque can also be at higher risk for heart disease…. So have your teeth and gums checked regularly

4. There is a simple test called MTHFR..a marker to let us know if a person can absorb folic acid..if this marker is present  individuals can be prone to cardiac disease and stroke!

5. Boost  your vitamin D level.  A  good range 60- 100 is cardio-protective

6. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normalized AND men generally don’t need a calcium supplement; in some research Calcium can be harmful.

7. Skip the soy. Most is too processed and  junky  food that can raise inflammation levels (including cholesterol and blood pressure) in the body.

8. Sugar clogs arteries so avoid at all cost…sugar substitutes can cause a similar reaction

All healthy lifestyles start with here are some foods that are good for you and heart healthy..that I bet you didn’t know!


Gold Kiwis – one of the best heart healthy foods, packed with more polyphenols(a type of powerful antioxidant) per serving than green kiwis, apples, white grapefruits, and navel

Purple Potatoes- Purple potatoes contain high concentrations of a variety of antioxidants, including phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids, according to researchers

Chocolate- Good news for chocoholics! The flavonoids in dark chocolate can promote heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, decreasing LDL cholesterol oxidation, and increasing HDL cholesterol, says a Harvard University study. And one square of dark chocolate is 12 calories.

Red meat-Red meat has gotten a bad rap over the years because some cuts of beef are loaded with saturated fat.BUT Grass fed, 95 percent (or higher) can help reduce the risk for heart disease. 4 ounces of lean beefeach day had a 10 percent decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol. Beef liver is one of the leanest beef products available, and it’s packed with nutrients.

Shrimp-raises HDL (good) cholesteroland reduces triglycerides (a type of fat found in blood), resulting in a reduced risk for heart disease. Just remember to skip butter and deep-frying, both of which can add a load of saturated fat to otherwise healthy foods.


Tomatoes-Your body doesn’t produce lycopene naturally, but studies have shown that a diet rich in lycopene can lower the incidence of heart disease. Studies indicate that people with more lycopene in their body fat suffer fewer heart attacks than those who do not have lycopene in their body fat.Foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava.

Eggs are good for you…they raise good cholesterol (HDL).


And last but not least COFFEE!! The source where most Americans get their antioxidants

1-2 cups a day can be enjoyed guilt free and heart healthy


Kendra Becker-Musante, ND, FNP, BCFamily Wellness Centre of Connecticut
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
Your “4A” specialist (asthma, allergies, autism spectrum, and atopy/eczema)