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Meet Our Expert: Dr. Avena

We are very proud to present our first ever brand ambassador and in-house nutrition expert, Dr. Nicole Avena! Dr. Nicole is a research neuroscientist and a pioneer in the field of diet during pregnancy and baby, toddler and childhood nutrition. Her seminal research work jump-started a new field of exploration in medicine and nutrition. She received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Princeton University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

Dr. Avena is a sought-after speaker, and she regularly appears on the Dr. Oz Show, and she has also appeared on The Doctors, Good Day NY, The Couch, Home and Family, The Better Show, as well as many local news programs including FOX5 San Diego, KTLA, WGN, and the local NY stations. She has also been a guest on several radio programs and podcasts, and has been filmed for several documentaries on the obesity epidemic.

Her work has been featured on the cover of "National Geographic" (Sept ’17), as well as in "Time Magazine," "Bloomberg Business Week," "The New York Times," "Shape," "Men’s Health," "Details," and many other periodicals. Dr. Avena is a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau. She has a TED-ED talk, How Sugar Affects Your Brain, was ranked #2 most watched (over 11 million views). Her video has been praised by educators and public health groups.

Why We Chose Dr. Nicole as our First-Ever In-House Expert

The ideal fit for White Leaf and our special community, Dr. Nicole is the go-to expert for the best nutrition specifically when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, post-partum and for healthy baby development. Her research and work focuses on the right foods to feed babies exactly what they need to hit physical and intellectual milestones, and offers a clear understanding of what foods to incorporate and avoid in your child’s diet. From picky eaters to food allergies, diversifying baby's appetite, eating out or on the go, and food safety, she has created countless monthly meal plans and baby-friendly, nutrient-rich recipes.

Eat this, not that -- specifically for the fertility journey + beyond

Dr. Avena is a prolific author, and the writer of “What To Eat When You Want To Get Pregnant” “Why Diets Fail” ‘What To Feed Your Baby & Toddler” “Hedonic Eating: How The Pleasure of Food Affects Our Brains & Behavior” and most recently, “What to Eat When You’re Pregnant,” a week-by-week guide to support your health and your baby’s development. 

New research suggests that the foods you eat during pregnancy can have lasting effects on your baby’s brain development and behavior, as well as your waistline. Drawing from medicine, nutrition, and psychology, this easy-to-follow guide provides a clear understanding of what the body really needs and how certain foods contribute to support the mother's health and the baby's development during each stage of pregnancy. 

An expert perspective on the special importance of organic for growing bodies

Dr. Nicole works with us to help educate on why buying organic (and when possible, biodynamic) is one of the best choices you can make for your children. The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals.

Many of these chemicals are known or suspected to cause cancer or disrupt our hormones, mimicking testosterone or estrogen. There are a plethora of scientific studies that show that children fed an organic diet have much lower levels of metabolites of high-risk insecticides in their bodies, and that choosing organic food reduces the risk of exposure to toxic pesticides in our diet. 

Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to chemicals, in part because their immune systems are still developing and in part because they’re exposed to more chemical residues than adults. They also tend to eat more of certain chemical-laden foods than adults like rice cereal and strawberries (once again first on a list of the 12 "dirtiest" fruits and vegetables issued by the Environmental Working Group).

While we can’t limit all of our children’s exposures to toxins in the environment, we do have a say in the food they eat. And one of the very best ways to limit their exposure to these chemicals is to choose an organic diet, or better yet, regeneratively farmed foods. Research shows that switching from conventional to organic fruits and vegetables, even for just a few days, significantly reduces pesticide levels in children’s bodies.

Join us on our blog + social media channels  as Dr. Nicole walks us all through the best nutrition choices for your family, no matter what life age or stage, and answers your questions along the way.

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