Personalizing your diet, coping with allergies and the advantages of gelatin...

Rx for readers

A baby illustration  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A baby illustration
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
I have been on extended maternity leave for my third child, a girl, and have breastfed the baby for 11 months. I have returned to work, and she is now drinking from a bottle when I take her to her caregiver. I gained eight kilos beyond my normal weight when I got married. I had thought that nursing the baby would help me lose weight, but I was disappointed and have not lost weight. Why did breastfeeding not cause me to take off the excess weight? What can I do now that the baby is no longer nursing and I go to work? P.A., Ramat Gan
Veteran clinical dietitian Dr. Olga Raz, responds: Congratulations on the baby and on breastfeeding her for so long! It is good for your health and for hers. The period of time during which women nurse their babies can cause a welcome loss of weight in the mother if she does it right, as a day of breastfeeding can equal 500 calories or more.
However, some women do gain weight because they are mostly at home, near the refrigerator and pantry, and may “compensate” themselves for the long, sleepless hours and hard work by eating junk food. If you consume empty calories, nursing will not result in weight loss.
If you want to take advantage of the calories expended, you have to adopt a personalized dietary plan that includes exercise. Consult with a clinical dietitian in your health fund for the details.
In your Rx for Readers article on May 19, Dr. Julian Shamroth mentioned tefillin dermatitis. My husband, who is 82 and has been putting on tefillin since he was 13, developed this rash and itching about a year ago. He has tried all kinds of creams and changed the straps of his tefillin, so far to no avail. Could he give us some suggestion as to what he could do? N.D., Netanya
Dr. Julian Schamroth, a veteran Jerusalem dermatologist who answered the original question, comments: Firstly, he can see an allergy specialist who will do patch testing to confirm whether your husband is allergic to chromate (the chemical that is found in leather). However, if his dermatitis is confined to the area of his tefillin, then patch testing is not really necessary.
Most tefillin makers are aware of this problem, and can order leather that is free of chromate.
I take a spoonful of dry gelatin every day in yogurt, as I was told it strengthens nails and hair. But I read somewhere that gelatin can cause blood to clot. Is there anything to this? Should I stop taking it? K.P., Beersheba
Dr. Menachem Oberbaum, head of the Center for Complementary Medicine at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, answers: Gelatin is a protein obtained from animal skins and bones used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceutical drugs and medication capsules. Moreover, the FDA and the Scientific Steering Committee of the European Union stated that the potential risk of transmitting animal diseases is very low. As such, gelatin can be regarded as absolutely safe. In the conventional literature, no case report had been published describing any side effect of gelatin. Bearing in mind that gelatin is a protein, it is most probably digested while being applied orally. Therefore gelatin in yogurt can be consumed without fear of blood clotting.
I am in my 70s and have long suffered from restless leg syndrome. My doctor suggested taking magnesium and quinine, but they didn’t help much. Two friends with the same problem advised me to put a bar of soap, any soap, under the bottom sheet. They said it cured their problem. I did it, and within a month, my symptoms were gone. I looked it up on the Internet (restless legs + soap) and found a huge number of positive items on this. Does it really work, and what is the scientific basis for it? N.K., Jerusalem
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies: Putting soap under one’s sheet indeed has an incredible number of positive mentions by laymen on the Internet.
Doing so can’t hurt you, so you have nothing to lose by trying it if you are suffering. Maybe there is a placebo effect.
Doctors with expertise in complementary medicine said they had not heard of this. When they looked it up in the medical literature, such as PubMed, there was nothing about it, so they declined to comment.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting.
Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to jsiegel@, giving your initials, age and place of residence.