Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum


Meditation is becoming more and more popular as research continues to validate its role in supporting various aspects related to heath. For example, many are familiar with its popularity for mitigating stress and I've written previously on how stress and emotion can impact our physical body. However, more recent evidence is proving even more intriguing with evidence of the effects of the power of meditation that many ancient gurus knew for centuries.

Just recently, in a 2015 article in Nature Reviews researchers reviewed the evidence of how meditation may cause neuroplastic changes in the brain in regions that are involved in the regulation of emotions, attention, and self-awareness. The abstract reads:

Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.

Furthermore, a previous meta-analysis of 21 studies reported that eight brain regions were consistently altered in mediators, though bias may exist, the results were compelling:

To address these questions, we reviewed and meta-analyzed 123 brain morphology differences from 21 neuroimaging studies examining 300 meditation practitioners. Anatomical likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis found eight brain regions consistently altered in meditators, including areas key to meta-awareness (frontopolar cortex/BA 10), exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness (sensory cortices and insula), memory consolidation and reconsolidation (hippocampus), self and emotion regulation (anterior and mid cingulate; orbitofrontal cortex), and intra- and interhemispheric communication (superior longitudinal fasciculus; corpus callosum). Effect size meta-analysis (calculating 132 effect sizes from 16 studies) suggests a global 'medium' effect size (Cohen's d¯=0.46; r¯=.19). Publication bias and methodological limitations are strong concerns, however. Further research using rigorous methods is required to definitively link meditation practice to altered brain morphology.

 

The Newest Study on the Block

Recently, a randomized-controlled trial that took into account some of the previous research methodological issues, such as setting and environmental effects, found amazing results in regards to meditation. Specifically, the researchers were able to demonstrate that not only did meditation effect well-being measures, but also gene expression in markers related to stress, immune function, aging markers (telomerase), and amyloid beta (AB) metabolism (a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease). Differences were found among randomized vacationers and novice meditators and a comparison group of regular meditators. Interestingly, vacation in the retreat also had positive benefits alone, but meditation practiced by novices, showed additional benefits. The abstract states:

Meditation is becoming increasingly practiced, especially for stress-related medical conditions. Meditation may improve cellular health; however, studies have not separated out effects of meditation from vacation-like effects in a residential randomized controlled trial. We recruited healthy women non-meditators to live at a resort for 6 days and randomized to either meditation retreat or relaxing on-site, with both groups compared with 'regular meditators' already enrolled in the retreat. Blood drawn at baseline and post intervention was assessed for transcriptome-wide expression patterns and aging-related biomarkers. Highly significant gene expression changes were detected across all groups (the 'vacation effect') that could accurately predict (96% accuracy) between baseline and post-intervention states and were characterized by improved regulation of stress response, immune function and amyloid beta (Aβ) metabolism. Although a smaller set of genes was affected, regular meditators showed post-intervention differences in a gene network characterized by lower regulation of protein synthesis and viral genome activity. Changes in well-being were assessed post intervention relative to baseline, as well as 1 and 10 months later. All groups showed equivalently large immediate post-intervention improvements in well-being, but novice meditators showed greater maintenance of lower distress over time compared with those in the vacation arm. Regular meditators showed a trend toward increased telomerase activity compared with randomized women, who showed increased plasma Aβ42/Aβ40 ratios and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels. This highly controlled residential study showed large salutary changes in gene expression networks due to the vacation effect, common to all groups. For those already trained in the practice of meditation, a retreat appears to provide additional benefits to cellular health beyond the vacation effect.

Summary

Now that summer is over, you may need some support in taking another respite. The results provided scientific proof to your boss that vacation is good for your health, and regular meditators may further benefit from a retreat- a win-win!

 

References:

The Alternative Daily. Survey Says: Yoga and Meditation are Growing in Popularity. http://www.thealternativedaily.com/survey-says-yoga-and-meditation-are-growing-in-popularity/

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Health Statistics Reports from the National Health Interview Survey. No. 79. Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002-2012 . 16 pp. (PHS) 2015-1250. February 10, 2015. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_nhsr.htm

Tang YY, Hölzel BK, Posner MI. The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Apr;16(4):213-25. doi: 10.1038/nrn3916. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

McKay S. The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation. Chopra Center Website. Available at: http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-neuroscience-of-mindfulness-meditation

Fox KC, et al. Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Jun;43:48-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.016. Epub 2014 Apr 3.

Epel ES, et al. Meditation and vacation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e880; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.164



 

 

 

 


In case you weren't already convinced that researchers' have gone "bug" crazy due to the explosion of articles on the microbiome, there's even more exciting updates this month.  If you don't know what the microbiome is yet, I invite you to learn more about the little critters that reside in your insides (and outsides). They are linked to many health outcomes and actually communicate with our cells and modulate our biochemistry. Scientists have made connections between the population of bugs that we cart around and how they are correlated to and connected with many disease outcomes as well as how manipulating them with probiotics, diet, and lifestyle impacts our wellness. In fact, the National Institute of Health's Human Microbiome Project is currently undertaking massive research initiatives to learn more about the genetic population of microbes that makeup a healthy human.  

Now, here are some fascinating studies on the latest insights in the tiny world of creepy-crawlers:

 

More Evidence That the Gut Microbiome Affects Immune Response

In a recent study published in EBioMedicine, researchers reported on the correlation between bacterial activity and how it relates to HIV activity and the response to treatment.  One of the researchers in Science Daily stated:

"The make-up and behaviour of the gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretrovirals are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretrovirals is because their immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling bacteria," adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y Cajal.

Here is the abstract:

While changes in gut microbial populations have been described in human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), the mechanisms underlying the contributions of gut bacteria and their molecular agents (metabolites and proteins) to immune recovery remain unexplored. To study this, we examined the active fraction of the gut microbiome, through examining protein synthesis and accumulation of metabolites inside gut bacteria and in the bloodstream, in 8 healthy controls and 29 HIV-infected individuals (6 being longitudinally studied). We found that HIV infection is associated to dramatic changes in the active set of gut bacteria simultaneously altering the metabolic outcomes. Effects were accentuated among immunological ART responders, regardless diet, subject characteristics, clinical variables other than immune recovery, the duration and type of ART and sexual preferences. The effect was found at quantitative levels of several molecular agents and active bacteria which were herein identified and whose abundance correlated with HIV immune pathogenesis markers. Although, we cannot rule out the possibility that some changes are partially a random consequence of the disease status, our data suggest that most likely reduced inflammation and immune recovery is a joint solution orchestrated by both the active fraction of the gut microbiota and the host.

This study was fascinating, as it examined not only the population of microbes in the stool, but their metabolic alterations and the difference between responders to treatment and nonresponders as compared to controls.

In another study, researchers found a correlation between certain microbe populations in infants and their risk for allergies and asthma later in life. It appears that the guts of at-risk babies were missing the key immune lipids that modulate inflammation.

Interestingly, a related study with rodents demonstrated how intestinal bacteria interact with a receptor of the immune system that effects the intensity of allergic responses. The researchers also found that when this receptor was absent in rodents, certain bacteria were still able to override the allergic response and normalize the immune response.

 

More Evidence that Microbes Are Associated with Obesity

Whether it's a metabolic consequence of obesity, the manipulation of diet modulating bacteria population, or environmental exposures, more proof of the link between obesity and bugs was found in two studies recently. One study found an increased risk for childhood obesity in babies born via cesarean sections, in which the newborn does not receive an inoculation of microbes through the vaginal canal. Another enormous study undertaking on the antibiotic-obesity connection was reported on in Science Daily. Researchers have begun the process of gathering data by searching through records of 1.6 million kids and will be correlating and reporting on how prescriptions of antibiotics in the first two years of life are linked to weight gain at ages five and 10 years.

Finally, another study found that exposure to the "sterile" ICU environment caused people to lose their gut bugs, putting the at risk for various health imbalances. Health Day reported:

Intensive care patients have a significant loss of helpful gut bacteria within days of entering the hospital, a new study finds. These bacteria help keep people well. Losing them puts patients at risk for hospital-acquired infections that may lead to sepsis, organ failure and even death, according to the researchers.

For the study, the investigators analyzed gut bacteria from 115 intensive care unit (ICU) patients at four hospitals in the United States and Canada. Measurements were taken 48 hours after admission and after either 10 days in the ICU or leaving the hospital. Compared with healthy people, the ICU patients had lower levels of helpful bacteria and higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria, the findings showed.

"The results were what we feared them to be. We saw a massive depletion of normal, health-promoting species," study leader Dr. Paul Wischmeyer said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is moving to Duke University in the fall.

 

Summary:

The microbes living in our body are providing the links we've been looking for in the mechanisms of how all different diseases are connected. Importantly, simple measures like eating healthy diets, exercise, decreasing stress, and taking the right probiotics are simple ways to mitigate the risk of various diseases due to fact that these measures take care of the critters your letting live rent-free in your insides!

 

References:

Asociación RUVID. Gut bacteria affect immune recovery in HIV patients, study finds. ScienceDaily. 5 September 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160905114800.htm.

Serrano- Villar S, Rojo D, Martínez-Martínez M, Deusch S, JF Vázquez-Castellanos, Bargiel J, et al. Gut Bacteria Metabolism Impacts Immune Recovery in HIV-infected Individuals. EBioMedicine, 2016; 8: 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.033

Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Swelling obesity rates may be tied to childhood antibiotic use. ScienceDaily. 30 August 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830084458.htm.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cesarean delivery may lead to increased risk of obesity among offspring. ScienceDaily. September 6, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906130952.htm.

Preidt R. Patients May Quickly Lose Beneficial Gut Bacteria in the ICU. Health Day. August 31, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/caregiving-information-6/intensive-care-979/icu-patients-gut-bacteria-msphere-release-batch-2849-714373.html

University of California - San Francisco. Newborn gut microbiome predicts later allergy and asthma, study finds: Microbial byproducts link particular early-life gut microbes to immune dysfunction. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160912122348.htm

Technical University of Munich (TUM). Intestinal bacteria influence food allergies: Composition of gut microbiota and immune system are closely interwoven. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160907125125.htm

Enjoy the Healthy Benefits of Healing Aromatics

 

I just finished watching the Essential Oils Revolution 2 and it was wonderful! As a self-taught geek with some pharmacology background, it was exciting to hear all different viewpoints and learn from various experts.

Two presentations I found very intriguing were on the topics of DIY recipes and cooking with essential oils. Since DIY recipes are vast and a nice compilation can be found here, I wanted to share a little bit more on cooking. Dietary essential oils have been used as natural and safe flavorings and preservatives in the food industry for years.

Below are some easy tips to get you started with adding essential oils into your favorite dishes!

 

Cooking in 1, 2, 3...


1. First of all, the most important thing is to make sure you have essential oils that are safe for ingestion. The FDA provides some guidance by listing certain essential oils as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) here.  Some essential oils companies label which essential oils can be ingested, making this step easy! Technically, essential oils which can be taken orally are considered to be dietary supplements. (If you are still unsure about how to safely ingest oils or heard some headline scares, check out this blog I did on standardization and quality.)

Dr. Z explains more on the safety of using essential oils in recipes in his " Cooking with Essential Oils Blog":

Essential oils - both real and synthetic - have been used as flavoring agents for years. It's just too easy to add a drop or two of an intensely flavored oil in place of time consuming ingredients with much more volume. (1) In addition to flavor, essential oils are regularly tested by researchers for their potential to improve food safety. Antimicrobial oils, the theory goes, may be able to minimize food borne illness if manufacturers added it to packaging.

So the idea that we can cook with essential oils or incorporate them into our kitchen process is nothing new. The important thing is to do so safely, appreciating the differences between a whole herb or spice and its essential oil. You'll also want to note that not every essential oil is a good choice for cooking. Sometimes the oil doesn't taste quite as yummy as the whole herb. Sometimes the oil has too much of a certain component, making it less than ideal or even unsafe in high quantities.

 

2. The second thing to remember is that a little goes a very long way. Some estimate that 1 drop per teaspoon is a conversion measure. I think anything more than 2 drops is probably too much. (Finding a source for this is hard to come by.) For optimal flavoring (and safety with "hotter oils" like oregano, basil, thyme, and marjoram), you would want to add them to a recipe with some form of fat in it.


3. Finally, it's best to add the essential oils last, when the dish is almost finished. This will prevent the concern of altering the constituents at high heat. Of course, cold recipes aren't a problem. Furthermore, there is some evidence that certain essential oils can increase bioavailability of healthy constituents with cooking, such as thymol in thyme. However, carvacrol is supported when adding both the oil and the ground leaves. 

If you want to start some experimenting with dishes, some recipes can be found here and here for barbecue fun. Bon App`etit!



Click here for my latest blog on the power of peppermint for a focused back to school brain.


Reference Links:

http://eorevolution2.com/

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/home/healthy-cooking

https://www.youngliving.com/blog/category/diy/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25893282

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.20

http://drericz.com/cooking-with-essential-oils/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=infusionsoft&utm_

http://dr-lobisco.com/essential-oils-quality-and-safety/

http://www.saratoga.com/living-well/2016/08/pesticides-pollution-and-aromatics-saving-grace.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26593564/

http://dr-lobisco.com/3-reasons-to-use-thyme-to-your-advantage/

https://www.youngliving.com/blog/tried-and-true-tips-for-cooking-with-young-living-essential-oils/

https://www.youngliving.com/blog/light-up-your-summer-with-essential-oil-infused-marinades/

I've always been a little bit of a "doctor doom" when it comes to giving some stats on the toxic exposures we come across every day. Although my focus has been more to educate and empower with tools to protect ourselves, I know that sometimes it can still appear daunting.

Last year, I gave you  tips for protecting kids' brains and bodies from chemical harms (and germs) as they go to back to school. This month I saw more these topics on this subject of toxic effects hit my inbox including:

·         Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids

·         Fracking Linked to Migraines

·         Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S.

However, just as in the past the gloom was followed by the good, it will again today.

 

What the Scary Facts Have to Do with Aromas

I've always recommended essential oils as one of my favorite tools to mitigate stress and balance our physiology, biochemistry, and emotions. This past week, I was in heaven with listening to the speakers in the Essential Oils Revolution 2 summit explain the science behind how essential oils can protect our bodies from sickness and modulate our health. (Speaking of too much of a good thing, I did in fact listen to every single presenter!)

We know now that inhalation and diffusion of essential oils has profound positive effects on the brain and body. In fact, a recent study in rodents demonstrated how aromatic essential oils (lavender, clary sage, sweet orange, and sandalwood) exhibited metabolic effects in their brain biochemistry and urinary metabolites. This study was further supporting evidence that their properties as secondary metabolites modulating physiology beyond aroma. For my scientific-speak followers, the authors concluded:

In conclusion, we identified the global metabolic responses to aromas intervention characterized by unique metabolic signatures in rat brain tissue and urine involving neurotransmitters, fatty acids, carbohydrates and amino acids. Inhalation of essential oil is able to attenuate anxiety-induced metabolic perturbation, concurrent with the behavioral findings that inhalation of essential oil significantly increased the open arms time and open arms entries.

I have hinted about the saving grace of diffusing essential oils in the past and specifically discussed how essential oils inhibit microbe growth in the air. I was recently working on an article for one of my favorite fitness and health gurus and found further support in how a specific oil blend I use is effective in stomping out unwanted critters floating around us. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958)

Previously, NASA demonstrated that plants have the power to protect us from indoor pollution by decreasing levels of organic chemicals. Now, a new study reports that essential oils may directly impact and alleviate lung and liver ailments caused by air pollution. The study was done in vitro using lung and liver cells exposed to airborne particulates. The authors sought to determine how essential oil components, free and encapsulated, from extracts from cloves, aniseed, fennel and ylang ylang would impact inflammatory mediators produced from the harmful exposures. They found that these compounds reduced the resultant inflammation responses of the cells. The abstract from the study reads:

Outdoor air pollution and fine particulate matter (PM) were recently classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The exposure to airborne particulate matter also contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are major public health concerns. Up to now, no work has evaluated the ability of essential oils as an alternative medicine to relieve the adverse health effects caused by airborne particulate matter. Here, we investigated for the first time the effects of four essential oil components, trans-anethole, estragole, eugenol and isoeugenol, on the reduction in inflammation induced by particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter below 2.5 μm (PM2.5), in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) and human liver carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines. Anethole is a flavor component of anise and fennel, estragole is occurring in basil, eugenol occurs in clove bud oil and isoeugenol occurs in ylang-ylang. Essential oil components were tested either as free or hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin-encapsulated forms. Control experiments showed that particulate matter (PM2.5) induced inflammation by secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. Our results show that the addition of either free or encapsulated essential oil components to particulate matter exposed cells decreased up to 96 % the cytokine IL-6 level, and by up to 87 % the cytokine IL-8 level. Overall our findings evidence for the first time that natural essential oil components counteract the inflammatory effects of particulate matter and that encapsulation in cyclodextrins preserved their properties.

 

Conclusion

It's no surprise that constituents in oils have healing and protective properties. Just one constituent alone in an oil has been found to have profound effects and the synergism of the whole oil seems to be just as, or more, powerful. But remember to use cold air diffusion to experience all the benefits you can receive from aromatic applications. This way you will not destroy the essential oil compounds and prevent them from oxidation in the air. For example, one (kinda-sketchy, biased study) determined that lavender that was exposed to air at 60 degrees Fahrenheit could produce negative reactions in sensitive people.

So treat your oils well by preserving their therapeutic constituents with cold-air diffusion. Remember if you use them safely and intelligently, they will then treat you well.

 


I just published a blog on calmness and the age of information overwhelm. Read it here.

References:

Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/prenatal-exposure-to-banned-chemicals-tied-to-autism-714114.html

Unconventional natural gas wells associated with migraine, fatigue. Science Daily. August 25, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160825084623.htm

Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/air-pollution-health-news-540/climate-change-ozone-pnas-git-release-batch-2832-714103.html

Essential Oils Revolution 2 Summit. August 22- 29, 2016. Online event. http://eorevolution2.com/

Chao SC, Young G, Oberg CJ. Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial Bioaerosols. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 1998;10:5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958

Wu Y, Zhang Y, Xie G, et al. The Metabolic Responses to Aerial Diffusion of Essential Oils. Ye J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(9):e44830. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044830.

Wolverton BC,  Douglas WL, Bounds K. A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement. July 1, 1989. https://archive.org/details/nasa_techdoc_19930072988

Kfoury M, Borgie M, Verdin A, Ledoux F, Courcot D, Auezova L, Fourmentin S. Essential oil components decrease pulmonary and hepatic cells inflammation induced by air pollution particulate matter. Environmental Chemistry Letters. 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10311-016-0572-4

Hagvall L, et al. Autooxidation of lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis. 2008; 59: 143-150

 

 


My interest in food addiction piqued when I started working with men and women who came to me for a wide-range of health issues. No matter the subject of wellness support, weight always seemed to be an additional concern.

I noticed a pattern in my clients that tended to delay results or cause a return of symptoms. It was based on the roller-coaster of a dysfunctional relationship to certain detrimental foods. For some, it appeared to be an actual addiction. They wanted to be healthy, and were even given well-respected and legitimate advice from previous practitioners. Still, the knowledge of "the right foods to eat," and the ever-changing, dizzying lists of "good foods" and "bad foods" didn't seem to change their behavior. Why?

So, I began searching and applying my background in psychology, mind-body medicine, naturopathic philosophy, and functional medicine and discovered that yes, food could be a form of addiction. Though not reported as very common, an average of less 10% in several studies, I feel that the perhaps an "unease" around food is very common.

In short time, I quickly learned that dietary changes, no matter how balanced or extreme, only stuck so long "the psychology of eating," a term coined by nutritional guru Marc David, was not considered. Other factors that affect cravings and willpower, such as biochemical differences in brain signaling, hormonal imbalances, sleep, lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disturbances, and eating foods that are designed to be addictive without consumer's knowledge,were reviewed recently and in some of my previous blogs. The solution was clear, recommendations had to be personalized.

For this reason, I was excited to see a recent study of 1,607 individuals (1,269 completed the study) across seven European contents that demonstrated greater gains in dietary change adjustments in a dietary plan that included personalized nutrition (PN) advice.  

In the study, subjects were recruited to an internet-delivered intervention (Food4Me) and randomized to receive conventional dietary advice (control) or to the PN approach. PN was based on either an individual baseline diet, an individual baseline diet plus phenotype (anthropometry and blood biomarkers), or individual baseline diet plus phenotype plus genotype (five diet-responsive genetic variants). In this way, researchers could compare the effects of dietary targets based on personalized advice and how additional information on phenotype and genetics would influence follow through.

Outcomes were based on dietary intake, anthropometry, and blood biomarkers measured at baseline and after 3 and 6 months' intervention. The authors stated:

Following a 6-month intervention, participants randomized to PN consumed less red meat [-5.48g, (95% confidence interval:-10.8,-0.09), P=0.046], salt [-0.65g, (1.1,-0.25), P=0.002] and saturated fat [-1.14 % of energy, (1.6,-0.67), P<0.0001], increased folate [29.6µg, (0.21,59.0), P=0.048] intake and had higher Healthy Eating Index scores [1.27, (0.30, 2.25), P =0.010) than those randomized to the control arm. There was no evidence that including phenotypic and phenotypic plus genotypic information enhanced the effectiveness of the PN advice.

Now, I'll review some caveats of a low saturated intake for everyone in a future blog, but the point is that by providing individuals with specific dietary advice based on their genetics and current health status wasn't as powerful as an internet-based tailored program that was specific for them. In other words, feedback and interaction count for changing food habits.

Weight loss and optimizing nutrition isn't just about knowledge of food and controlling intake, but about providing comprehensive tools that fully address the whole person. In fact, even their sense of smell and taste can be impactful in modulating appetite. I just wrote a blog on my homepage on how even our sense of smell may impact hunger cues and dietary choices. You can read that here.

 

References:

Meule A. How Prevalent is "Food Addiction"? Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2011;2:61. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00061.

Flint AJ, Gearhardt AN, Corbin WR, Brownell KD, Field AE, Rimm EB. Food addiction scale measurement in 2 cohorts of middle-aged and older women. American Journal of Nutrition. January 22, 2014. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068965

Gunnars K. How Common is Food Addiction? A Critical Look. Authority Nutrition. https://authoritynutrition.com/how-common-is-food-addiction/

NewCastle University. Personalized nutrition is better than a 'one size fits all' approach in improving diets. Science Daily. August 16, 2016. 

Celis-Morales C, Livingston KM, Marsaux CFM, Macready AL, Fallaize R, O'Donovan CB, et al. Effect of personalized nutrition on health-related behaviour change: evidence from the Food4me European randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Epidemiology, August 14, 2016.

Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastain A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O'Keefe JH, Brand Miller. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2005; 81(2):341-354.

 

The Importance of Smell

I just posted an article on my website on the power of olfaction and its link to our health, as well as our mortality. Specially, the sense of smell is intricate for human survival. It modulates appetite and food preferences, is important for detection of danger in the environment, is involved in pain processing and the stress response, effects social relationships, and has a profound impact on our emotions, memory, and physiological responses. Furthermore, several studies have reported on the link between loss of smell and aging, cognitive decline, and increase risk of death from all causes. Thankfully, even without the sense of smell, essential oils and odors have an interesting correlation to modulating the same processes as olfaction alone, but in different ways. In this blog, I'll use the example of Parkinson's Disease (PD).

 

A Quick Background on Parkinson's Disease

Scientists believe PD is a result of the combination of environmental, genetics, and epigenetic factors (how the environment effects gene expression). Many studies have linked abnormal alpha-synuclein, clumps of proteins found in the brain and other tissues, to the disease process. In fact, accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of this protein is becoming a studied brain-gut etiology. The World Journal of Gastroenterology states the following on these links as well as the connection to smell being an indicator of this disease:

The classical motor symptoms like bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity and late postural instability result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra. There is also a wide spectrum of non-motor manifestations involving for example olfactory (loss of smell), gastrointestinal (GI), cardiovascular, and urogenital systems [3]. It has become evident that the different levels of the brain-gut axis including the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS) may be affected in PD [4-8]. (bold emphasis mine)

 

The Smell Connection of Detection

Science Daily reported:

Now, a new laboratory model of Parkinson's is giving scientists an inside look at what happens in the brain years before motor symptoms appear. Specifically, it demonstrates how abnormal alpha-synuclein proteins, which are strongly associated with Parkinson's, gradually spread from an area of the brain implicated in the early stages of the disease to other regions of the brain ultimately damaged by the disease. The findings were published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The article continues:

"We know that specific signs of Parkinson's, including a loss of sense of smell, appear years before the onset of motor symptoms. Our new model replicates the phase that occurs long before diagnosis and, importantly, gives us a powerful tool to test novel interventions that might prevent the onset of Parkinson's as we know it."

The study demonstrates that alpha-synuclein travels along nerve cells in the olfactory bulb -- the part of the brain that controls sense of smell -- prior to the onset of motor symptoms and that this area may be particularly susceptible to the spread of alpha-synuclein, ultimately causing deficits in the sense of smell. Clumps of alpha-synuclein eventually reach several additional brain regions, including the brainstem area that houses dopamine cells. (bold emphasis mine)

The researchers are hoping these findings will lead to a new model to study PD. However, there has been causative agents explored previously.

 

The Environmental Effect of Smell on PD

There have been prior reports of the connection between olfaction, environmental triggers, and Parkinson's disease. This theory is termed the "olfactory vector hypothesis." Annals of Neurology explains:

Environmental agents, including viruses, prions, and toxins, have been implicated in the cause of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, most notably Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The presence of smell loss and the pathological involvement of the olfactory pathways in the formative stages of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, together with evidence that xenobiotics, some epidemiologically linked to these diseases, can readily enter the brain via the olfactory mucosa, have led to the hypothesis that Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may be caused or catalyzed by agents that enter the brain via this route. Evidence for and against this concept, the "olfactory vector hypothesis," is addressed in this review.

In other words, the sense of smell can be an entry way to toxicants through the nose to the brain and throughout the body! However, there's good news for aroma inhalation as well!

 

The Essential Oils Connection

Essential oils have the ability to modulate emotion, memory, and physiological responses through their aroma and also due to their powerful secondary metabolites. Furthermore, essential oils have the power to modulate the health of the gut and brain. In fact, there's information on my essential oils database on how oils can modulate many aspects of health and my latest blog discusses how even without the sense of smell, odorants have powerful effects.

So, make sure you check it out for more information. For now, know that by using essential oils, you are powerfully practicing preventative medicine through the linkage of your nose to your brain and supporting your gut-brain connection.

 

References

Hays NP, Roberts SB. The anorexia of aging in humans. Physiol Behav. 2006;88: 257-266. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.05.029

Jacob S, Garcia S, Hayreh D, McClintock MK. Psychological effects of musky compounds: comparison of androstadienone with androstenol and muscone [abstract]. Horm Behav. 2002; 42: 274-283. doi: 10.1006/hbeh.2002.1826

Fox K. The Smell Report. Social Issues Research Center. http://www.sirc.org/publik/smell.pdf

Krusemark EA, Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Li W. When the Sense of Smell Meets Emotion: Anxiety-State-Dependent Olfactory Processing and Neural Circuitry Adaptation. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;33(39):15324-15332. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1835-13.2013.

Corradi-Dell'Acqua C, TuscheA, Vullieumier P, Singer T.  Cross-modal representations of first-hand and vicarious pain, disgust and fairness in insular and cingulate cortex. Nature Communications. March 18, 2016. doi:10.1038/ncomms10904

Masaoka Y, Sugiyama H, Katayama A, Kashiwagi M, Homma I. Slow breathing and emotions associated with odor-induced autobiographical memories. Chem Senses. 2012 May;37(4):379-88. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr120.

Vermetten E, Schmahl C, Southwick SM, Bremner JD. A Positron Tomographic Emission Study of Olfactory Induced Emotional Recall in Veterans with and without Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Psychopharmacology bulletin. 2007;40(1):8-30.

Gottfried JA. Central mechanisms of odour object perception. Nature reviews Neuroscience. 2010;11(9):628-641. doi:10.1038/nrn2883.

Van Andel Research Institute. New model recreates early spread of Parkinson's disease in the brain. Science Daily. August 8, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160808163628.htm

Mulak A, Bonaz B. Brain-gut-microbiota axis in Parkinson's disease. World Journal of Gastroenterology:WJG. 2015;21(37):10609-10620. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i37.10609.

Nolwen L. Rey, Jennifer A. Steiner, Nazia Maroof, Kelvin C. Luk, Zachary Madaj, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Patrik Brundin. Widespread transneuronal propagation of α-synucleinopathy triggered in olfactory bulb mimics prodromal Parkinson's disease. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016; jem.20160368 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20160368

Chamine Irina and Oken Barry S. Aroma Effects on Physiologic and Cognitive Function Following Acute Stress: A Mechanism Investigation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2016. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0349.

Doty R. The olfactory vector hypothesis of neurodegenerative disease: Is it viable? Ann Neurol.2008;63:7-15

Prediger RDS, Aguiar AS, Matheus FC, et al. Neurotox Res. 2012; 21: 90. doi:10.1007/s12640-011-9281-8

Misra BB, Dey S. TLC-bioautographic evaluation of in vitro anti-tyrosinase and anti-cholinesterase potentials of sandalwood oil. Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Feb;8(2):253-6.

Fernández LF, Palomino OM, Frutos G. Effectiveness of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil as antihypotensive agent in primary hypotensive patients and its influence on health-related quality of life. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):509-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Nov 20.


Last week, I discussed food as an addiction. On my homepage, I provided a continuation of how food can be medicine and food can poison. In it, I highlighted the power of eating fish for brain health. Recently, a study caught my eye relating salmon consumption to reducing anxiety in ninety-five male forensic inpatients.

Specifically, the study investigated how consumption of Atlantic salmon could modulate biology and self-reported anxiety. The researchers measured heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate (HR) as indicators of the nervous system response to dietary components. Furthermore, they investigated the outcome measures in relation to specific nutrients such as Vitamin D status and two omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The participants were randomly assigned to the fish group (portion size 150-300g) or a meat group. The meals were consumed three times a weak. HRV (using root mean square deviation, rMSSD), HR, and state-and trait-anxiety (STAI) were analyzed pre-intervention and after 23 weeks of the dietary intervention. The study reported:

The Fish group showed significant improvements in both rMSSD and HR. The Fish group also showed significant decreases in state-anxiety. Finally, there was a positive relationship between rMSSD and vitamin D status. The findings suggest that Atlantic salmon consumption may have an impact on mental health related variables such as underlying mechanisms playing a key role in emotion-regulation and state-anxiety.

The authors also analyzed for levels of mercury, dioxins, and dioxin-like PCBs found in the fish. They concluded even with 31% of tolerable weekly limit (TWI) in a person weighing 100 kg, there were no adverse effects:

The content of several undesirable substances was also determined in the Atlantic salmon. The level of mercury was 22 µg/kg, and the level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs was 0.48 ng TEQ/kg; both are far below the EUs upper limits of 500 µg/kg and 6.5 ng TEQ/kg in fish, respectively. Taking into account the amount of salmon consumed per week during the weeks with the highest salmon intake, the intake of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs per week represents 31% of the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) in a person weighing 100 kg [27]. Persons with higher body weight will have a correspondingly lower percentage of TWI. Importantly, no adverse side effects were reported during the intervention trial [12].

A recent E-blast by Trudy Scott, CN, commented on the study findings and made similar observations as me. She stated:

  • The salmon was farmed and mercury and dioxin levels were measured. Despite this, mental health benefits and reduced anxiety was observed. I suspect even more favorable results would have been observed had wild salmon been used
  • The authors mention that a longer intervention as in this study i.e. 23 weeks/6 months is likely to lead to better results than a shorter intervention
  • The Fish group had a significant increase in both omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA
  • The authors speculate about how improved vitamin D status in the Fish group may help regulate serotonin production and thereby help regulate heart rate variability and reduce anxiety
  • The study highlights nutritional benefits of fatty fish other than marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D: selenium, iodine, vitamin B12 and high quality proteins. I'd like to add that it is a source of zinc and iron too, both of which are co-factors for making brain chemicals.
  • Although the study found a significant decrease in state-anxiety, it did not find any changes in trait-anxiety (here are the differences in state-anxiety and trait-anxiety). The authors suggest that trait-anxiety may be more difficult to change during a 6-month intervention study. I'd like to add that other concurrent nutritional and biochemical interventions would likely have provided additional mental health benefits. This could include: a gluten-free diet, targeted individual amino acids, addressing dysbiois, addressing high or low histamine, pyroluria, and zinc-copper imbalances and son on.

In another study, supporting brain benefits for fish consumption, those on a fishy diet had lowered risk of depression:

Fish contains high concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Several studies have reported depletions of omega-3 fats among depressed patients, and a cross-national comparison has revealed a significant inverse correlation between annual prevalence of major depression and fish consumption. In a sample of 3,204 Finnish adults, depressive symptoms were estimated with the Beck Depression Inventory. A frequency question was used to measure fish consumption. Multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between depression and fish consumption. After the analysis adjusted for potential confounders, the likelihood of having depressive symptoms was significantly higher among infrequent fish consumers than among frequent consumers.


Last year, I wrote about how fish oil was shown in several studies to reduce hostility in troubled youth. You can read about that here and learn more about the importance of a fishy diet for brain health.

 

References:

Hansen AL, Olson G, Dahl L, et al. Reduced Anxiety in Forensic Inpatients after a Long-Term Intervention with Atlantic Salmon. Nutrients. 2014;6(12):5405-5418. doi:10.3390/nu6125405.

Scott, Trudy. Reduced anxiety in forensic inpatients - long-term intervention with Atlantic salmon. E-Blast. August 8, 2016.

Tanskanen A, Hibbeln JR, Tuomilehto J, Uutela A, Haukkala A, Viinamäki H, Lehtonen J, Vartiainen E. Fish consumption and depressive symptoms in the general population in Finland. Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Apr;52(4):529-31.

Freeman, MP, et al 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 67 (12): 1954-1976. Review.

 

 

 


Being a naturopathic doctor and functional medicine practitioner, I've worked with many people who have various food sensitivities and disordered eating patterns. A few weeks ago, I did a presentation on my book, BreakFree Medicine, at Nature Tyme, a wonderful health food store located in Syracuse, NY. In my presentation, I took some time to discuss the topic of food addiction. (Click here to access the presentation and read an overview. You will also find the top health news for July 2016 there.)

Below are some articles I wrote throughout the years on this topic. In them, I discuss the emerging and current research on food addiction. I also discuss the importance of looking at the biochemistry when willpower is weak. Within the full links, you can access more studies at the end of each article... if you want to dive deeper into the propeller-hat-geeky science of the original sources.


Why Humans Eat Junk Food and Find It Hard to Stop (Part 1 of 2): This blog discusses how the food industry uses science to manipulate our taste buds in order to make us want to eat and buy more of their products: http://dr-lobisco.com/why-humans-eat-junk-find-it-hard-to-stop/

 

Why Are We Addicted to Food? (Part 2 of 2): This blog reviews the biochemistry of food addiction and the psychological connections. I discuss the dopamine and neurotransmitter connections and the development of the Yale Food Addiction Scale. If you want to get more resources and studies on food addiction, this blog and the one below are great places to start: http://dr-lobisco.com/why-we-are-addicted-to-food-part-ii/

 

What's Making Americans and Little Ones So "At Large?" The Obesity Epidemic, It's Not Just a "Food and Exercise" Thing:

In this blog I reveal 6 reasons, beyond the calorie myth of being overweight including 

 1. Americans aren't starving, but they are dieting. This means they are constantly hungry.

2. Nutritional deficiencies

3. Insufficient Fiber & the microbiome connection

4. Inactivity

5. Fast Food Restaurants and Junk Foods (With an honorable mention about artificial sweeteners: http://dr-lobisco.com/why-you-should-be-fed-up-with-the-lies-on-dieting-what-you-need-to-know-about-weight-loss/)

6. Isolation

Read it here:http://dr-lobisco.com/obesity-epidemic/


The Next Nutrient War Era- Why We Are On the Losing Side of Weight Loss: This blog goes into detail on the factors that affect weight, beyond nutrient composition and calories. I discussed them on "The Dirty 'D' Word" on Natural Path (http://thenatpath.com/food/diets/the-dirty-d-word/):

·         Stress

·         Hormones

·         Digestive health (including the microbiome)

·         Activity level

·         Genetics

·         Gender

·         Toxins

·         Sleep

·         Neurotransmitter balance

 

Upcoming Support:

Food as Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part I: I recently wrote an article that goes into further detail on food as an addiction. It also reviews how food can be a medicine for health and how junk food can be poison to the body. I will be posting this on my website next week, so stay tuned.

 

Food as Medicine, Food as Poison, Dealing with Food as a (Sweet) Addiction: Part II: In an article that I will be posting soon, which is published on Natural Path, I discuss five ways to help support those with a problem with food addiction or unhealthy eating patterns. These are a preview of the Five (5) Key Ways to kick the sugar and junk food habit:

·         Know if You're a "Moderator" or "Abstainer"

·         Exercise

·         Use Stress Reduction and Mindfulness

·         Support Brain Balance (balance the different areas of the brain by using specific nutrients to target imbalances and support neurotransmitter balance through hormonal modulation, microbiome health, blood sugar balance).

·         Modulate Mood and Emotions with Essential Oils

Stay tuned for the full article to be posted on my website.


To Fast or to Eat- Is There Still Room for Breakfast? All the confusion! How about fasting? In this blog, I explore the caveats of the "fasting crave," and highlight who it may help. Hint- ladies, you won't want to miss this! (http://dr-lobisco.com/to-fast-or-to-eat-is-there-still-room-for-breakfast/)

 

The Fructose- Alcohol Connection

As I was writing this blog, I came upon a study I had not seen before. This study compared the "metabolic, hedonic, and societal similarities" between fructose and alcohol. This was a unique way to assess how food could be similar to a substance of abuse. The authors wrote:

Rates of fructose consumption continue to rise nationwide and have been linked to rising rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Because obesity has been equated with addiction, and because of their evolutionary commonalities, we chose to examine the metabolic, hedonic, and societal similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct ethanol. Elucidation of fructose metabolism in liver and fructose action in brain demonstrate three parallelisms with ethanol. First, hepatic fructose metabolism is similar to ethanol, as they both serve as substrates for de novo lipogenesis, and in the process both promote hepatic insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hepatic steatosis. Second, fructosylation of proteins with resultant superoxide formation can result in hepatic inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol. Lastly, by stimulating the "hedonic pathway" of the brain both directly and indirectly, fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol. Thus, fructose induces alterations in both hepatic metabolism and central nervous system energy signaling, leading to a "vicious cycle" of excessive consumption and disease consistent with metabolic syndrome. On a societal level, the treatment of fructose as a commodity exhibits market similarities to ethanol. Analogous to ethanol, societal efforts to reduce fructose consumption will likely be necessary to combat the obesity epidemic.

Source: Lustig RH. Fructose: metabolic, hedonic, and societal parallels with ethanol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1307-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20800122

 

Summary: Our nation is either obsessed, addicted, or caught in the mirage of diet confusion in regards to food. I hope these resources provide you with some information that can help you, or someone you know, who is struggling with their eating patterns. Remember, when willpower won't work, you have to ask why? Biochemistry and emotions will trump willpower everytime! 

 

 

On my homepage blog, I outlined the health issues related to biotoxin exposure and reviewed the resultant Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) in susceptible individuals. This blog is a continuation of dealing with mold exposure and goes into detail about environmental mold testing. It is meant to be a resource guide for those who are concerned they may have mold in their dwelling.

I recently listed to a podcast with Chris Kresser and Mike Schrantz on how to test for mold. Mike currently owns and operates Environmental Analytics, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. Through my studies and this podcast, I've compiled some caveats and considerations related to environmental testing for mold.

 

Air Sampling

Many people use air sampling, which may be helpful in some situations, but has several limitations.

·         Not all molds float in air (some are heavier, some are lighter, some settle out quicker, some dry, some are too "stick.".)

  •  The sample itself may be accurate, but limited by a "grab sample." A "grab sample" only collects about 5 minutes' worth of air and may not represent the whole house.
  • Some heavier molds may be on the surface and only show up minimally in the air sample, making the air sample appear normal

 

ERMI

Dr. Shoemaker, the "guru" on this topic, recommends ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) using the lab Mycometrics. This method involves getting a sample of dust off of surfaces or using a vacuum to collect dust. Then, you send it in for assessment via a DNA test.

The main issue with ERMI is quality of labs and that the test is dependent on good quality of probes and primers. Therefore, you must pick your lab wisely.

 

Other Caveats and Considerations of Mold Sampling:

  • You should collect more than one sample
  • Some mold is hidden within walls/foundation and may not be detected
  • Some mold can only be detected under certain conditions (temperature, moisture, etc.)
  • Neither methods consider the mold outside the home and the change inside, only a professional can do that
  • ERMI is an average of what molds are considered a problem, some people may be sensitive to some at lower levels or another species not tested

 

A complete review of mold in the home is thoroughly outlined by Harriet Ammam, a toxicologist from Washington State Department of Health. She states that there are four categories of health effects of mold: allergy, infection, irritation (mucous membrane and sensory), and toxicity. She lists the following caveats, though some of them have been revised as more research has been indicated:

·         Few toxicological experiments involving mycotoxins have been performed using inhalation, the most probable route for indoor exposures. Defenses of the respiratory system differ from those for ingestion (the route for most mycotoxin experiments). Experimental evidence suggests the respiratory route to produce more severe responses than the digestive route (Cresia et al., 1987)

  • Effects from low level or chronic low level exposures, or ingestion exposures to mixtures of mycotoxins, have generally not been studied, and are unknown...
  • Effects of multiple exposures to mixtures of mycotoxins in air, plus other toxic air pollutants present in all air breathed indoors, are not known.
  • Effects of other biologically active molecules, having allergic or irritant effects, concomitantly acting with mycotoxins, are not known.
  • Measurement of mold spores and fragments varies, depending on instrumentation and methodology used. Comparison of results from different investigators is rarely, if ever, possible with current state of the art.
  • While many mycotoxins can be measured in environmental samples, it is not yet possible to measure mycotoxins in human or animal tissues. For this reason exposure measurements rely on circumstantial evidence such as presence of contamination in the patient's environment, detection of spores in air, combined with symptomology in keeping with known experimental lesions caused by mycotoxins, to establish an association with illness.
  • Response of individuals exposed indoors to complex aerosols varies depending on their age, gender, state of health, and genetic make-up, as well as degree of exposure.
  • Microbial contamination in buildings can vary greatly, depending on location of growing organisms, and exposure pathways. Presence in a building alone does not constitute exposure.
  • Investigations of patients' environments generally occur after patients have become ill, and do not necessarily reflect the exposure conditions that occurred during development of the illness. ... (you can read the full article and list at the link below)

 

Testing with Experts:

Due to the caveats, self-testing is rarely accurate. You can try and find professionals in your area by visiting the following site: http://www.acac.org/find/database.aspx. Look for professionals with CIEC, CMC, or CMI certifications. Another option would be to set up a consult with experts here: http://environmentalanalytics.net/contact-us/

 

What Happens if Mold is Found...or if it Isn't but Symptoms Are Present

Ah-ha, that's a good question! In my homepage blog I go through these tips, so visit it here.

 

References:

Chris Kresser. RHR: How To Test Your Home for Mold, with Mike Schrantz. February 2016. https://chriskresser.com/how-to-test-your-home-for-mold-with-mike-schrantz/

Lin K-T, Shoemaker RC. Inside Indoor Air Quality: Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI). https://www.mycometrics.com/articles/ERMI_Lin_Shoemaker.pdf

Ammann, HM. Is Indoor Mold Contamination a Threat to Health? http://www.mold-survivor.com/harrietammann.html

CDC. Mold: Cleanup and Remediation:  http://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm

Atadtner A. Mold Testing - Air Quality Lab Interpretation. Healthy Building Inspections and Testing. February 14, 2013. http://healthybuildingscience.com/2013/02/14/mold-testing-air-quality/

EPA. About the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL). https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-national-exposure-research-laboratory-nerl

Meheust, D., J. Gangneux, T. Reponen, L. Wymer, S. Vesper, AND P. Le Cann. Correlation between environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI) values in French dwellings and other measures of fungal contamination. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier BV, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 438:319-324, (2012).

Additional references on ERMI: https://nlquery.epa.gov/epasearch/epasearch?querytext=ERMI&fld=&areaname=&areacontacts=&areasearchurl=&typeofsearch=epa&result_template=2col.ftl&force=no&filter=sample4filt.hts


I know it's not just me that is "in love with the bugs" and all they do for us. I think the whole world's really gone buggy. I'm talking about our microbiota, the ecology of bugs that live in and on us. They interact with our own cells and modulate our biology in so many ways.

Whenever I get a cool study on critters and share it on social media, people tend to get excited and show it with their little hearts and likes. However, I got bugged recently by a blog that made a conclusion that probiotics weren't effective due to one review of seven studies. The authors determined there was no change in fecal microbiome population with their ingestion; therefore, probiotics weren't a good health tool.  What!?

So, I had to write a blog on my homepage in defense of the actions of probiotics. I went beyond poo population changes, even though other studies have found changes in fecal samples by swallowing bugs. For example, a recent review on weight loss did determine there may be a small, but significant effect, of taking probiotics in certain populations, though there were some limitations in the trials. Although swallowing critters to lose weight is still pretty controversial, their effects on our health in so many other ways isn't. In fact, there were two recent studies on their role in multiple sclerosis.

For example, there was a study from Science Daily finding an association between those with multiple sclerosis and the ratio of "bad bugs" to "good guys" in their belly. Following this, a few weeks later, was another study on the same topic.

In this article, researchers found that 60 subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS) had different compositions of gut microorganisms as compared to their 43 healthy counterparts. Furthermore, they discovered that the MS patients that were being treated had different gut populations than the untreated patients. What I found fascinating with this study is that the scientists didn't just study populations of microbial changes with the fecal samples, they also assessed serum levels of immune markers (cytokine and inflammatory measurement) and correlated alterations in genetic expression of certain immune cells (T cells and monocytes). Finally, they measured methane in breath tests, as a rudimentary marker of methane producing bacteria present. Quite an experiment! (Hence, the long list of authors in the reference section needed to carry out such a feat!)

 Science Daily reported on these findings as stated below:

Samples from MS patients contained higher levels of certain bacterial species -- including Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansia -- and lower levels of others -- such as Butyricimonas -- when compared to healthy samples. Other studies have found that several of these microorganisms may drive inflammation or are associated with autoimmunity. Importantly, the team also found that microbial changes in the gut correlated with changes in the activity of genes that play a role in the immune system. The team also collected breath samples from subjects, finding that, as a result of increased levels of Methanobrevibacter, patients with MS had higher levels of methane in their breath samples. The researchers also investigated the gut microbe communities of untreated MS patients, finding that MS disease-modifying therapy appeared to normalize the gut microbiomes of MS patients.

So, if anyone had a doubt that these little critters are modulating our immune response, these two studies that show which ones are present in our guts are associated with an autoimmune disease such as MS, may turn some into believers! This association wasn't a big surprise to me though, I think almost everything can connect back to the gut. I had a hunch on the connections between gut bugs, coffee, and MS a little while back, if you remember (see here: http://dr-lobisco.com/how-gut-bugs-link-coffee-nutrient-depletion-h-pylori-to-multiple-sclerosis/).

Therefore, treat your belly bugs good with lifestyle and diet and they will treat you well. Read more here.

 

Sources:

Qingqing Zhang, Yucheng Wu, Xiaoqiang Fei. Effect of probiotics on body weight and body-mass index: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2016; 67 (5): 571 DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1181156

Kristensen NB, Bryrup T,  Allin KH, Nielsen T, Hansen TH, Pederson O. Alterations in fecal microbiota composition by probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Genome Medicine.2016; 8:52. DOI: 10.1186/s13073-016-0300-5

Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51. doi:10.1177/1756283X12459294.

Selhub EM, Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2

Ahmed M, Prasad J, Gill H, Stevenson L, Gopal P: Impact of consumption of different levels of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on the intestinal microflora of elderly human subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007, 11: 26-31.

University of Iowa Health Care. Link between gut bacteria, MS discovered: MS patients show lower levels of good bacteria. ScienceDaily. June 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627125355.htm.

Brigham and Women's Hospital. Changes uncovered in the gut bacteria of patients with multiple sclerosis: Study finds alterations in the gut microbiomes of treated and untreated MS patients. ScienceDaily. 12 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160712130221.htm.

Jangi S, Gandhi R, Cox LM, Li N, von Glehn F, Yan R, Patel B, Mazzola MA, Liu S, Glanz B, Cook S, Tankous S, Stuart F, Melo K, Nejad P, Smith K, Topcuolu BD, Holden J, Kivisakk P, Chitnis T, De Jager PL, Quintana FJ, Gerber GK, Bry , Weiner HL.. Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nature Communications. 2016; 7: 12015 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS12015

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


About Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Dr. LoBisco has been in holistic healthcare for over 10 years. She became interested in holistic medicine when she was able to heal two herniated discs through nutrition, yoga, supplementation, and chiropractic. She has mentored with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. In addition to her Naturopathic and Functional Medical training, Dr. LoBisco has extensive training in a variety of healing modalities, including therapeutic essential oils, nutraceuticals, herbs, whole food supplements, nutritional medicine, and mind-body therapies. She is a graduate of the accredited, four year post-graduate program in Naturopathic Medicine at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. This program includes clinical rotations and a demanding scientific curriculum in integrating conventional and natural medicine. Dr. LoBisco holds her license from the state of Vermont.

Dr. LoBisco has completed her postdoctoral training as a certified functional medicine practitioner. She is also certified in Applied Kinesiology and holds a BA in psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She has contributed as an item writer for the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE)and has several articles that have been published in the Naturopathic Doctor News and Review Digest (NDNR) and the Townsend Letter, both physician- based journals. Dr. LoBisco is also a hired speaker on integrative medical topics for medical professionals.

Dr. LoBisco currently incorporates her training in holistic medical practices and conventional medicine through writing, researching, private practice, and through her independent contracting work for companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. She has a small, private wellness consultation practice through telephone and Skype. Dr. LoBisco also enjoys continuing to educate and empower her readers through her blogs and social media. Her new book, BreakFree Medicine, is now available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble. Please inquire here for more specific information.



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