Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

May 2010 Archives

Did you know that a food sensitivity to the most common foods and food additives, wheat, gluten, dairy, and soy, may play a role in your overall healing capacity? This is because improper digestion can lead to systemic inflammation, which can damper other efforts to address full recovery from symptoms. (Remember that food sensitivities (chronic exposure to foods causing immune deregulation over time) differ from food allergies (immediate immune response from antibody reaction)).
In other words, without removal of the offending food, an "obstacle to cure" still exists. Although many seem to be open to taking a supplement to deal with symptoms, it is a harder "pill to swallow" for most when lifestyle suggestions and avoidance of a trigger food are suggested to be a more potent medicine.

As Dr. D'Adamo explains in his current newsletter:

Many foods contain components that can react directly with the blood group antigens, resulting in inflammation and the production of toxins. Other foods address susceptibilities and strengthen our bodies against these weaknesses. Good digestion results not only from choosing the right foods for our bodies, but also by keeping our digestive systems tuned and balanced so that the interplay of all important elements, such as digestive juices and hormones, are optimized for maximum nutrient absorption and regular elimination.
(So, there's good news and bad news, right? What you eat can affect your health via expression of your own DNA....sound familiar?? This means it goes the other way too-good food for you= better health. :) )
Many people think that if they don't experience digestive issues from a food, they probably fine with it. However, this is just not true. Although it is yet to be widely accepted in conventional therapeutics, the research is there.
In 2002, an article from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry reported the following connection to dietary proteins and non-digestive related complaints:
It has taken nearly 2000 years to appreciate that a common dietary protein introduced to the human diet relatively late in evolutionary terms (some 10 000 years ago), can produce human disease not only of the gut but also the skin and the nervous system. The protean neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity can occur without gut involvement and neurologists must therefore become familiar with the common neurological presentations and means of diagnosis of this disease.
Furthermore, a 2005 article from BMC Psychiatry addressed how the gluten protein in wheat, rye, and barley negatively affected hormonal balance and neurotransmitters in the brain. This means that food sensitivities not only affect digestion and inflammation, but brain health as well.
What I have found is that those who are resistant to this suggestion or who refuse to change dietary patterns, have symptoms which seem to linger longer than those who change their diet. Therefore, more exasperation can occur and more supplementation is needed, due to the chronic inflammatory response of an offending irritant to the immune system.
For this reason, I feel that correcting food sensitivities and digestive health is imperative for any chronic problem. There are various testing methods and elimination challenges which have proven to be clinically helpful for many of my clients.
Of course, the emotional aspects and addictive patterns of food sensitivities must also be addressed in order to have the "willpower" to avoid these foods. Food sensitivities do affect brain chemistry, as previously stated. I always say, biochemistry will trump willpower every time, so there's no point in beating oneself up if these foods are tough to give up. Rather, it's best in this case to be gentle and take baby steps with lifestyle changes.
For a more through background on wheat sensitivity and more references, see my blog at my website.


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002; 72:560-563 doi:10.1136/jnnp.72.5.560

D'Adamo, P. Eat Right for your Type June 2010 Newsletter.  

BMC Psychiatry 2005, 5:14doi:10.1186/1471-244X-5-14

Bailliére's Clinical Gastroenterology. Volume 9, Issue 2, June 1995, Pages 273-293
The Link Between the Risk of Stroke and a Genetic Variant

This video from WebMD takes my previous post on single genetic polymorphisms (SNPs) to another level. It discusses the latest finding by a team of researchers associating the risk of strokes to a genetic variation. The gene, phosphodiesterase 4D gene (PDE4E), had previously been found to be a risk for men. Now, researchers are saying this link exists in women as well.

Furthermore, the video reports that men and women who smoke and have this variation are at a higher risk of having a stroke then those who do not  smoke and have this variation. This notion combines the expression of genetic variation with environmental factors

A further study on this same gene was reported by the California Pacific Center Research Institute. The results showed a weak association of high blood pressure with specific SNPs in PDE4E to risk of stroke. This once again shows how lifestyle and other markers can interplay with how our genes are expressed.

Breast Cancer and DNA Repair via Calcium

Finally, vital choice recently reported the study of how a specific nutrient, calcium, effects a women's risk of breast cancer, when DNA is comprised:

"Vitamins and calcium intake are protective for breast cancer ... Vitamins intake is an independent protective factor for [breast cancer] while the protective effect of calcium may be explained by an increased [DNA repair capacity]." (Vergne y et al. 2010)

Specifically, women who took vitamin supplements were 30 percent less likely to have breast cancer.

And women who took calcium supplements were 40 percent less likely to have breast cancer.

The link between taking daily vitamin pills and a 30 percent lower risk of breast cancer persisted after the researchers controlled for the women's recorded levels of DNA repair capacity.

In contrast, calcium supplements no longer appeared as protective when the researchers controlled for women's DNA repair capacity (DRC).

Why would a 40 percent cut in risk from calcium pills disappear in women with high DRC levels? The Ponce team speculated that calcium may enhance the DNA repair capacity of breast cells.

Exciting isn't it!?? Finding genetic variations as risk factors, changing lifestyle, and using nutrients to modify these factors---introducing--nutrigenomics!

Though not a perfect association, these studies are demonstrating why different nutrients and drugs work for different people. I will be introducing more functional medicine tests in my practice, especially with the certification course in September approaching. This form of practice aids in even more specific and individualized treatment using functional tests to determine nutrient deficiencies and health effects at the cellular level.

Recently, a client confided to me that she wanted to work on her fine lines, wrinkling and sun damage.  I suggested that she have a Jessner peel.  She explained to me that she'd gone to another spa and had a $300 glycolic peel that produced no peeling whatsoever, and so, she was justifiably curious as to what constitutes a peel.

So, what exactly is a peel and how do they work?

There are a lot of misconceptions about peels and understandably so, since what we refer to as a "peel" is actually part of a variety of products with results that offer a great range of effects from barely visible changes to those which require time to heal.

So, let's start with a few, common types of peels used by skincare professionals like me ranging from least to more agressive:

Lactic Acid:  One of the gentlest exfoliants derived from milk, which generally does not produce actual peeling of the skin.

Enzymes:  Oftentimes enzyme peels are derived from fruits like pineapple or pumpkin, and they are also a gentle peel/exfoliant that do not normally produce visible peeling.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid.  This is also what's known as a "glycolic" peel, and generally speaking, glycolic peels are a form of exfoliation, and, when used in strengths of 5 - 30 percent may not produce any visible peeling or changes to the skin.  They do enhance overall skin quality and brightness and over time will help with fine lines and wrinkling.  This is sort of a maintenance type peel, again, used for better exfoliation.

Beta Hydroxy Acid.  This is also called a "salicylic" peel and is often used to help refine skin and pores by allowing better cleaning.  Like the glycolic, it has similar effects in that it doesn't normally produce visible peeling but can improve overall skin health and quality.

Jessner Peel.  The "Jessner" Peel, named after it's creator, Dr. Jessner, is a combination of chemicals that can and often does produce peeling of the skin for several days.  It works very well for congested, sluggish, oxygen-deprived skin and often produces lovely results for fine lines, sun damage and wrinkling.  This is a more aggressive peel than the lactic, enzyme, glycolic or salicylic peels, however there are peels that are even more aggressive, which can be done by medical doctors.

Now that I have given a basic definition of a few popular peels, I would like to take a moment to discuss peeling and protection.  It is my opinion that we consider our lifestyles when undertaking skin care.  This being said, I recommend exercising caution in undertaking peeling under certain conditions -- most importantly seasonal changes.  If you are planning on spending a good amount of time in the sun during summer season for swimming, hiking, gardening, boating, golfing, etc., you need to take this into consideration if you are contemplating a deep exfoliation. 

This could translate to vigilance with sunscreen (I recommend SPF 30 or higher of a physical sunblock), or for those of us who live in the north, perhaps even planning your peeling during fall or winter, when the sun isn't as strong.  If you're going to be outdoors a lot, you may need those dead skin cells for protection -- and my recommendation is to keep this in mind. 

This reminds me of another note that I'd like to make:  it's important to take breaks from using products that contain exfoliants like retinol, vitamin A or glycolic acid as these products should not be used on an all-the-time basis -- unless you have been specifically instructed to do so.  As with all things, it's good to maintain balance and consult professionals who care for you.

Oh, and about that client?  She went on to have a Jessner Peel and is loving the results!  Her exact words were: "Now, *this* is a peel!" 



I'm not kidding! Walgreens has made public its desire to sell DNA kits which test for SNPs, single nucleotide polyphormisms. These SNPs are genetic markers that code for some of the most common diseases and can be used as guides to determine which treatments would be most effective on an individualized level. This means one would be able to determine if a drug or nutrient would be helpful for them, not just pray it would work based on efficacy in the average of the whole population. An article posted at webmd highlights this story: 

Geneticists tell WebMD that the Pathway test is probably very accurate, as far as it goes.

"They are not sequencing the genes, just the SNPs," Jeffery Vance, MD, PhD, chairman of genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, tells WebMD.

This means that while the test accurately identifies the most common variations on a gene linked to disease, it may miss rarer or yet-unknown variations that have the same effect.

"They could test for the six common SNPs that are most common ones that cause a disease, but a lot of other ones on the same gene could also go bad," Vance says. "So absence of information like that does not give you clean bill of health."

Even so, the test will accurately identify a large number of health-related risk factors. That's both good and bad, says Robert Marion, MD, director of genetics and developmental medicine at Montefiore Children's Hospital and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.

Of course, this is creating a stir in the medical community, with a major concern being that the supplier of the tests, Pathway, does not have FDA approval. This would lead most to believe that this test would have inaccurate results, but as the geneticist featured above states, this is not necessarily so.

What does this mean for you?? 

A clinician who has knowledge of what nutrients can help modify these SNPs, using nutrigenomic principles, can use results to modulate the gene expression (phenotype) of someone with a health concern. This doesn't mean your genes will change, rather, it will aid in the silencing of negative gene characteristics and turning up the volume of positive ones.

Even now, some doctors are currently implementing this in their practice. Various testing for SNPs that affect detoxification, nutrient absorption, and hormonal balance can and are being used.  I am currently in the process of studying this powerful science.

Therefore, the dream of the future of medicine using only individualized approaches is fast approaching, and is already here to some extent! Here is an excerpt on the power of nutrigenomics from 2007.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No. 3, 542-548, September 2007

© 2007 American Society for Nutrition 


Nutrigenomics and metabolomics will change clinical nutrition and public health practice: insights from studies on dietary requirements for choline1,2,3

Steven H Zeisel1

1 From the Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Science is beginning to understand how genetic variation and epigenetic events alter requirements for, and responses to, nutrients (nutrigenomics). At the same time, methods for profiling almost all of the products of metabolism in a single sample of blood or urine are being developed (metabolomics). Relations between diet and nutrigenomic and metabolomic profiles and between those profiles and health have become important components of research that could change clinical practice in nutrition. Most nutrition studies assume that all persons have average dietary requirements, and the studies often do not plan for a large subset of subjects who differ in requirements for a nutrient. Large variances in responses that occur when such a population exists can result in statistical analyses that argue for a null effect. If nutrition studies could better identify responders and differentiate them from nonresponders on the basis of nutrigenomic or metabolomic profiles, the sensitivity to detect differences between groups could be greatly increased, and the resulting dietary recommendations could be appropriately targeted. 

Recent newsletter on this topic as well as discussion of treatmentt
I have good news for all you green tea drinkers and chocolate lovers! Your palate cravings could keep your heart and brain healthy!

Recent studies, reported in the vital choice newsletter, confirms that green tea and dark chocolate provide protective affects against damage from strokes and promote heart health. In one study, the flavonol antioxidant, epicatechin, was found to be protective in mice with induced brain ischemia (lack of blood supply) vs. mice who had not received the treatment. It seems that this important flavonol protects nerve cells from damage from cellular stress. The researchers found that the optimal timing for dosing was less than 3 hours after the stroke. Epidemiological studies further confirmed a link between chocolate consumption and decreased risk of stroke.

The following excerpt from the article explains the effect:

Lead author Sylvain Doré, Ph.D., says that epicatechin stimulates two previously well-established pathways known to shield nerve cells in the brain from damage.
When the stroke hits, the brain is ready to protect itself because these pathways - called Nrf2 and heme oxygenase 1 - are activated.
As further proof that these are the pathways thought which it protects brain cells, epicatechin had no significant protective effect in mice that lacked them.
Eventually, Doré said, his research could lead to insights into limiting acute stroke damage and possibly protecting against chronic neurological degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.
And Doré says the amount of epicatechin needed could be quite small, because the suspected beneficial mechanism is indirect:
"Epicatechin itself may not be shielding brain cells from free radical damage directly, but instead, epicatechin, and its metabolites, may be prompting the cells to defend themselves." (AAN 2010)

Now, don't take this blog to be an excuse for a free for all with hershey kisses and dove bars.

Not all dark chocolates are created equally, cautioned Dr. Dore:
"The epicatechin found in dark chocolate is extremely sensitive to changes in heat and light. In the process of making chocolate, you have to make sure you don't destroy it. Only few chocolates have the active ingredient. The fact that it says 'dark chocolate' is not sufficient." (AAN 2010)
Manfacturing processes called, Dutching", destroys most of cocoa's epicatechin ... The article states,

Dark chocolate - defined as containing 60 percent or more cocoa solids - has twice the antioxidant capacity of milk chocolate.
And dark chocolate made from non-Dutched cocoa has more than twice the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate made from Dutched cocoa.

Other Sources:

Straight to the Research:
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism advance online publication 5 May 2010; doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2010.53

Leave a Comment

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.

Monthly Archives