Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

August 2010 Archives

 Ok, now, after all that sweating over trying to make a decision on which technique to choose (see my previous blog), your poor brain is fried. So, now you are trying to decide what your next move (pun intended) should be to alleviate this annoying brain fog. (Darn information overload!)

Pausing between your racing thoughts, you remember your last consult with Dr. Sarah, "Are you eating protein, carbs, and fats together to balance your blood sugar? That will help with everything, you know. See, high blood sugar raises insulin, and insulin modulates cortisol, blah, blah, blah..... affect your hormones and weight." Ok, you didn't get it completely the first time with those scientific pathways, but you got the idea.

So, feeling pretty proud of yourself, you walk at a fast pace (holding your pulse, of course), to the refrigerator and smiling, pull out your organic, PLAIN (ughh), Stonyfield yogurt. You put a scoop of organic almond butter in it, and top it off with a fresh handful of organic berries. Then, you sit at your computer content. To top off your excitement, you find that Dr. LoBisco's latest blog was just posted. Imagine your feeling of serendipity when you read the following:

Great news for helping the brain! As most of you are aware, a healthy diet and healthy mind go together. A recent article from Science Daily reports how the polyphenolics in berries can help make your brain new and shiny!

In the new research, Poulose and Joseph focused on another reason why nerve function declines with aging. It involves a reduction in the brain's natural house-cleaning process. Cells called microglia are the housekeepers. In a process called autophagy, they remove and recycle biochemical debris that otherwise would interfere with brain function.

"But in aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up," Poulose explained. "In addition, the microglia become over-activated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain. Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries."

Poulose said the study provides further evidence to eat foods rich in polyphenolics. Although berries and walnuts are rich sources, many other fruits and vegetables contain these chemicals ― especially those with deep red, orange, or blue colors. Those colors come from pigments termed anthocyanins that are good antioxidants. He emphasized the importance of consuming the whole fruit, which contains the full range of hundreds of healthful chemicals. Frozen berries, which are available year round, also are excellent sources of polyphenolics, he added.

Another reason for the powerful effects of berries on the brain could be due to their ability to act as antioxidants, which in turn regulates inflammation and blood sugar. In fact, resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in many berries, was shown to increase cerebral blood flow, according to the American Journal of Nutrition:

Results: Resveratrol administration resulted in dose-dependent increases in cerebral blood flow during task performance, as indexed by total concentrations of hemoglobin. There was also an increase in deoxyhemoglobin after both doses of resveratrol, which suggested enhanced oxygen extraction, that became apparent toward the end of the 45-min absorption phase and was sustained throughout task performance. Cognitive function was not affected. Resveratrol metabolites were present in plasma throughout the cognitive task period.

Conclusion: These results showed that single doses of orally administered resveratrol can modulate cerebral blood flow variables.

How does this relate to blood sugar? Well, according to Vitalchoice, "The Greek scientists also noted the well-established fact that higher intakes of food-borne antioxidants are linked to lower markers of inflammation. Furthermore, in the same article, it is reported that:

Recent studies suggested that oxidative stress - that is, excessive free radical production - appears to promote diabetes. Pancreatic cells, which produce insulin, are particularly susceptible to free radicals due to their low levels of antioxidant enzymes.

By damaging the mitochondria (energy centers) of pancreatic beta cells, oxidative stress can kill these critical cells, thereby blunting insulin secretion and allowing blood sugar levels to stay chronically high.

.....So, now you're feeling pretty good about yourself, or at least you're not hiding when you walk in front of a mirror. Satisfied with your snack, content with your "workout", and ready to relax, you do your deep breathing exercise and looking forward to another helpful blog which further portrays just how much you already know!


Science Daily:


Am J Clin Nutr (March 31, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28641

Vital Choice:,b1h0JlRD


I've written in the past of the many important benefits of exercise. Exercise plays a pivotal role in brain health, mood balance, stress relief, heart health, weight control, blood sugar balance, and joint health.  

Here's the simple fact: almost everyone knows that diet and exercise increase longevity and aid in overall health, yet very few people actually adapt these practices that encourages the body's innate healing response (see my website for the latest research on food constituents and health).

I think one of the main reasons for this discrepancy of knowledge and follow through is that people are already stretched for time and trying to figure out the correct exercise for you can become a headache waiting to happen--I mean it's information overload, people! 

Sigh... all these "trends" in exercise. First in the 80s, it's Jane Fonda, high tops, big hair, and sweat bands. In the 90s, were told that's not enough and we start to inch our way into the intimidating weight bearing machine exercises, which look like contraptions derived from outer-space! Then, in the age of technology,  who can keep's burst training and bare foot, it's walking and yoga, it's running a marathon then falling down with joint pain, it's.......ughhh!!!

If you weren't stressed out already, boy would you be by the time you get to the gym and start to analyze the scene. You try to determine if you should hit the pool (good for the joints, right?), join the kick boxing class vs. spinning class, or push that muscle head out of the way for the thigh cruncher and....didn't your naturopath say to do some burst training and to burn fat with weight lifting, and isn't the pool filled with toxic chlorine that kills your thyroid??!!

You haven't even taken a step, and your heart rate has already gone through the roof. Your heads spinning enough to make you turn around, sweat bands and all, and stomp out the gym door (of course you're measuring that your heart rate doesn't exceed maximum fat burning capacity as you do this!).

Furthermore, now, not only do you have to worry about what to do, but what to do after. Exercise, can increase oxidative stress, according to some studies , and by now you are sweating from your venture forth and forgot to remember  to take your gogi berry juice and alpha lipoic acid after you've burst trained. Great, now your muscles are eating themselves, you're hungry and irritable and were you supposed to drink that whey pro before or after?? Do you add the fat and peanut into the shake or where you supposed to just do strict carbs to increase insulin resistance sensitivty, or was that protein?  What increased fat burning vs. weight gain....AUGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. 

Then, this whole thing with adrenal stress! You consider yourself definitely burned out, so you are advised now to do gentle stretching and breathing exercises to get rid of that pot belly insulin resistance stomach, when what you really want to do is grab your running shoes and sprint around the block pushing away any innocent bystander who happens to get in your way!!

Ok, ok, enough with the detailed description. Here's where your trusty Naturopathic Doctor and Integrative Medical Specialist comes in. Good news. It's about bio-individuality, what works for you, what your body is signaling, and the results you're getting!

Recent research has showed that even light activity aids in overall health:

CONCLUSION: Being physically active reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. The largest benefit was found from moving from no activity to low levels of activity, but even at high levels of activity benefits accrue from additional activity.

So, at least move your buns around the block, maybe throw in a few sprints, and then run (maintaining your fat burning threshold heart rate) to your nearest integrative practitioner that can help you decode your body's signals, bio-chemistry, and what is optimal for you...if that doesn't cause more stress....which increases weight....which.....

Hope I made you smile!!

In health,
Dr. Sarah



Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. Volume 222, Number 3 Pp. 283-292.

International Journal of Epidemology.

Science Daily:




Weight loss, a hardy topic. No pun intended. Recently, vitalchoice published an article regarding the intake of omega 3s vs. omega 6s on weight loss. In a one woman's self-inflicted trial, the theory that high omega 3 intake is related to healthy weight and high omega 6 intake causes weight gain, was put to the test. For one month, Susan Allport replaced her usual omega 3 rich diet to a more omega 6 containing one. This one-women-experiment was based on the following theory:

Omega-3s and omega-6s compete for positions in our cells, as scientists have known since the 1950s, such that anyone consuming a diet too rich in omega-6s (and that would be me) would have fewer omega-3s in all of her tissues - no matter if she continued to eat fish.  

Americans consume 10 times as many omega-6s as they do omega-3s, according to the Agricultural Research Service. And it is that imbalance - not the amount of fish we eat--that is causing us to be deficient in omega-3s, the scientists who study these fats realize. A healthy balance is on the order of 4:1.

What did this experiment entail? In Susan's words:

To the casual observer, the foods in my experimental diet would look just like my normal fare: lots of whole grains, nut butters, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, and salads. But they would differ in a small way that I, and a growing number of scientists, know to be very important: the fats I would cook with; the oils I would dress my salads with would be vegetable (or seed) oils that are very rich in omega-6s, oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oil, oils that constitute most of the added fats in the American food supply.


AND....the results..... 

Yes, my weight was almost the same, but what weight I had gained - 5.6 ounces or just under half a pound - was almost entirely fat and in my abdominal area, as the follow-up body scan showed - exactly as I had experienced it. Just as interesting, and the cause, perhaps, of this gain, was that my resting metabolic rate had fallen, by an intriguing five percent. This drop was within the day-to-day variation for this test (6.2%), but it was in the direction predicted by the diet and the magnitude to explain my small gain in weight. 

Final conclusion....

High omega 6 intake is related to inflammatory fat, the very kind that has been linked to various chronic diseases. 

Other studies show the connection between high omega 6s and weight gain. Gaining weight on omega 6s was reported in an article from the Journal of Lipid Research as follows:

The prevalence of obesity has steadily increased over the last few decades. During this time, populations of industrialized countries have been exposed to diets rich in fat with a high content of linoleic acid and a low content of alpha-linolenic acid compared with recommended intake. To assess the contribution of dietary fatty acids, male and female mice fed a high-fat diet (35% energy as fat, linoleic acid: alpha-linolenic acid ratio of 28) were mated randomly and maintained after breeding on the same diet for successive generations. Offspring showed, over four generations, a gradual enhancement in fat mass due to combined hyperplasia and hypertrophy with no change in food intake. Transgenerational alterations in adipokine levels were accompanied by hyperinsulinemia. Gene expression analyses of the stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue, over generations, revealed discrete and steady changes in certain important players, such as CSF3 and Nocturnin. Thus, under conditions of genome stability and with no change in the regimen over four generations, we show that a Western-like fat diet induces a gradual fat mass enhancement, in accordance with the increasing prevalence of obesity observed in humans.


It's more than calories in verses calories out! Food is information and how we respond is not doomed to the "slow down of metabolism as we age", but rather how we use food to communicate to our body. Here enters the science of epigenetics and nutrigenomics....and...Functional Medicine.

In fact, an abstract from the British Journal of Nutrition reports the following:

The prevalence of obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in many industrialized countries. There is growing evidence that, even if the trigger of this epidemic is found in changes in the environment, genes are interacting with the environment to cause weight gain. Studies of twins reared apart indicate that approximately two-thirds of the variability in BMI is attributed to genetic factors. From prospective studies in Pima Indians we can ascribe 12 % of the variability in BMI to metabolic rate, 5 % to fat oxidation, and another probable 10 % to the level of spontaneous physical activity. These data indicate that at least 40 % of the variability in BMI is related to genetic factors involved in the regulation of food intake and/or volitional activity. This indicates that the most likely successful therapy for obesity may target pathways of the regulation of food intake. Similarly, an environment favoring engagement in physical activity should be promoted.

Here's my question: is it really the omega 6s or bio-individuality and epigenomics? (Remember Bruce Lipton's connection the fatty cell membrane and the "brain" of the cell?) 

After doing functional testing and following results with the blood type diet, I've seen plenty of thin people who eat twice as much as their overweight counterparts.

Our society is becoming obsessed with finding the "perfect diet", and I have to say, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I too have made the same mistake, with myself and my patients. BUT, now, with what I've learned through experience and studying various nutritional theories, I'm happy to report that long term weight loss is not about the "perfect diet", cutting this and cutting that, restricting this, and adding's more than that, and easier! It's about finding what works for you, and feeding your body healthy communication signals! 

I've blogged in the past about epigenetics, the power of the mind, and nutrigenomics. I'm now applying this in my clinical practice and the results are exciting.... I may have to write a book!

What does this mean? Most people know what's good for them to eat; they've just been trained out of it. Emotional eating is a big issue, and biochemical imbalances play a role too. Therefore, all of these factors must be part of the consideration for weight loss.

What is the take home message of the above studies for me? These individuals tested found their optimal diet for optimal weight. The use of functional tests can show what would best serve the body, and the use of integrative, holistic, body-mind medicine will do the rest!


Allport, S. Vitalchoice Newsletter. August 12, 2010.,b1h0JlRD

Nutr Rev. 2010 May;68(5):280-9. PMID: 20500789

ScientificWorldJournal. 2010 May 4;10:818-31. PMID: 20454764 

Journal of Lipid Research, Vol. 51, 2352-2361, August 2010
Copyright © 2010 by
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 

British Journal of Nutrition (2000), 83:S17-S20 Cambridge University PressCopyright © The Nutrition Society 2000. doi:10.1017/S0007114500000908



According to C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. the five essentials for health includes the following:

1. Positive attitude

2. Body Mass Index 18-24

3. 5 servings' fruits or veggies daily, MINIMUM

4. No smoking

5. Exercise- 30 minutes, 5 days a week

Accordingly, only 3% of Americans have all these habits and if adopted average life expectancy would increase from 78 to 100!  

As Hippocrates states:

o  If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health

Why aren't Americans taking better care of themselves? My belief is that we are living in an age of information overload and human doings, rather than embracing inspiration and human beings.

According to the 2009 Gallup poll:

The percentage of Americans experiencing a lot of happiness or enjoyment without a lot of stress or worry declined slightly from an average of 48.2% in 2008 to 47.4% in 2009...

Conversely, the percentage of Americans experiencing a lot of stress or worry but not a lot of happiness or enjoyment increased by about the same amount.

See, our fast paced lifestyles has led us to stop taking care of our souls needs and turned our attention to how to produce outcomes. It's a tough balance. I know this for myself. What this means is the old cure-all-one -magic- bullet- pill, won't work. That's because stress and lifestyle factors affect everyone differently. This cure- all-magic -bullet may actually throw you more off balance if it's not what you need!

As the father of medicine was also quoted to have said:

o  Everything in excess is opposed to nature.  

o  Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases

I'd like to add, that when the body is chronically in a state of imbalance, it takes a lot to get it to a new set point. That's why it's so important to let someone help you decipher what is right for your individual needs. Asking for help until one has learned to tune in and trust their own wisdom again is necessary when there is so much we are up against us that prevent us to tuning in for ourselves!

Today, there's more toxins, more stress, more food manipulation, and what seems like less time. What does this mean for me, as an Integrative Practitioner? It is not just choosing the right supplement and adjusting symptoms to create a healing response. It is working with the client to teach habits that not only reverse the progression of disease but prevent future issues.  It also means  applying the knowledge that supplements not properly used could potentially harm the body. Using objective measures such as labs and reviewing symptom response questionnaires is essential to make sure the body is safely getting what it needs.

I have always been a strong proponent in bio-individuality in medicine. Most cases that have come to me, through my Naturopathic training, I am able to tune into specific causes of the dis-eases and suggest an individualized protocol. Conventional lab testing, through the client's primary care physician, case histories, and symptom analysis, provided an excellent framework, and in most cases are usually enough to ignite a change for the better.

Right now, I'm currently going through training for functional medicine. I have learned a lot through testing different individuals. This is a new, more in depth approach for me and my clients. By studying what is going on at the cellular level, I am able to determine what processes are dysfunctional before they can be labeled as diseases. It is quite exciting and definitely prevenative! Furthermore, the testing allows me to move beyond organ dysfunction and into bio-individuality regarding what supplements are best for each patient.

When a client is stuck, or just wants more information on optimal, specific recommendations, this is a tool that can analyze the breakdown in the cellular mechanics and assess what nutrients are needed to maintain longevity and health!

Hooray for more efficient tools to optimize health! If you want to learn more about functional medicine and how it stops the game of supplement roulette, please check the Institute of Functional Medicine at, my name will be posted after I complete the certification in September.




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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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