By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sprinkling in my blogs more of what I learned at the IFM’s Advanced Practice Module on Detoxification. However, this week I’m aware that most have their vision more on dancing sugar plums and running out for last minute gifts than on the biotransformation of the high fructose corn syrup in fruit cake. (By the way, did you know that high fructose corn syrup contains MERCURY? Yikes!) Therefore, in keeping with the season, I have decided to present another holiday blog on how to modulate some of food transgressions and tips for dealing with the added stress that holidays can bring.

Sugar and processed foods can deplete our body of needed nutrients, create inflammation, and suppress our immunity. According to an article in USA today:

Denver nutrition therapist Kate Pfeiffer has no doubt. “Limiting sugar should be the first line of defense against infectious disease,” she says. She wrote a column for titled: “Worried about the Swine Flu? Avoid Sugar!” In it she cites a 1973 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The same study is cited at and on many alternative-medicine sites.

In the study, researchers at Loma Linda University gave volunteers 100 grams of sugar (20 teaspoons, roughly the amount in a liter of soda). The researchers then drew blood from the volunteers and mixed in some bacteria. They found that infection-fighting white blood cells from people who had just gorged on sugar gobbled up many fewer bacteria than those who had just fasted or eaten an unsweetened starch.

The good news is the article doesn’t end there. It’s about balance:

But it’s unlikely any one food is the key to a strong or weak immune system, she says. Instead, she says, “we can optimize the building blocks for immune system by eating a healthy, balanced diet.”Sears says he agrees wholeheartedly that overall nutrition is more important than any one substance. But he still says there’s something about a sugar overdose that makes people vulnerable.

In past blogs, I discussed how triggers from biological and emotional stressors can cause imbalances in thyroid, progesterone, or estrogen hormones. For example, stress decreases thyroid function and thyroid hormone modulates detoxification. Low intake of vitamin A contributes to lowered thyroid function via decreased detoxification in this enzyme pathway. This can create shifts in neurotransmitters and an imbalance in the liver and gut which can create cravings for high sugar and carbohydrate foods for soothing.

I recently wrote a blog on several steps to modulate the food cues and blues of the holidays. The fact is, once one decides to partake a little, the addictive part of food can take hold. Remember how sugar stimulates pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain?  So, what to do?

There are various options. The optimal way is to avoid the treat trigger all together and bring your own yummy, healthy treats. However, there’s another side. By modulating insulin response and cortisol, through increased healthy protein and fat intake, the emotional and physical effects after a “fudge feast”can be minimized. What about other hints? For those who are more of the moderate temperament and enjoy the bonding experience that food can bring, read here for my recommendations on how to boost immunity and support you from transgressions.

What about dealing with the emotional repercussions of the holiday? WebMD offered a wonderful slide show with 10 tips for dealing with the emotional impacts that lead to the holiday blues. Similar to success with diet, awareness of emotional triggers and feeling blue is an important step to prevent slips into sadness and emotional upheaval. Our poor adrenals have been through enough this year, and wouldn’t it be nice to have tools that would allow them more rest over stress this holiday season?

In another WebMD article, several tips were provided to arm oneself against holiday eating:

  • Soothe your senses: “Find other ways to comfort your body besides food, such as taking a warm bath, wrapping yourself in a soft blanket, or sipping hot tea,” Albers suggests.
  • Tune in to your hunger: When you think you feel hungry, Fain recommends pausing and asking yourself: am I really hungry or am I feeling something else? “You may find that what you’re really craving isn’t a cookie or a bag of chips, but a heart-to-heart talk with a friend or a loved one,” she says.
  • Eat a varied diet: Nutritional deficiencies can make depression worse. So focus on eating a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Consider meeting with a nutritionist who can create simple, balanced meal plans for you.
  • Boost your energy: Seek activities that give you energy, such as going for a walk, playing with your dog, or listening to music. “When you do something that brightens your outlook and improves your mood, you’ll be less likely to overeat and make poor food choices,” Fain says.

Sometimes emotional triggers can lead into a downhill slide of unconscious food choices or overeating that can perpetuate self-loathing and create further cravings of holiday munchies. The good news is, eating the right foods can actually curb cravings and modulate mood. One trick is making sure that you are eating some good quality foods during transgressions to modulate the negative effects of some treats! Furthermore, there have been links between depression and inflammation, and food can be anti or pro-inflammatory, so be sure to read my fun facts for tips on modulating this.


WebMD. Holiday Depression Triggers Slidshow. December 16, 2011.

Jen Uscher. Holiday Food Trips. 3 Food Traps to Avoid When You’re Depressed: Learn how depression can affect your eating habits and what you can do to start making healthier choices. December 16, 2011.

Mayfield, R. Phytochemicals and Nutrients to Improve Detoxification. Detox Advanced Practice Module. December 10, 2011. Phoenix, AZ

Painter, K. Does a Spoonful of Sugar Make the Flu Take Hold? 10/5/2009. USA Today (online).

Be sure to check out my informational blog on which includes:

1. Naturopathic Philosophy Highlight… Fun Facts:

A Bonus: A mini- blog on Treating the Cause of Disease
Nature’s Anti-inflammatory Foods- Include these foods in your holiday fare to decrease the effects of some of the holiday treats you may partake in!

2. Happenings:

  • Upcoming Essential Oils Workshops with Terry Quigley at the Healing Garden. Contact Terry at 518-831-9469
  • PATIENTS: Please review follow ups and cancellation policy on my website
  • Emma and I will be taking some time to be with family and loved ones this holiday season; therefore, the office will be closed from December 23rd-December 27th and again on December 30th. May you all have a beautiful holiday season filled with blessings and joy!

3. Radio For Your Body-Mind-Soul:

December 14, 2011 Intention Setting for 2012 with davidji
Why wait until January to set your intentions for the New Year? Today davidji will help you get ready for the wonderful opportunities that await you in 2012. It’s the perfect time to let go of any speed bumps, obstacles, and frustrations you’ve encountered in 2011 – and begin to plant your seeds of intention for the year to come. No matter what has happened in your life up until now, you are always capable of new choices that will allow you to experience more happiness, love, and genuine fulfillment. Join davidji for an inspiring hour of conversation, meditation, and insight – and call in with your questions about setting powerful intentions.

Book of the week: The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christian Northrup

Now completely revised, this groundbreaking classic draws on the current research and medical advances in women’s health, and includes:

  • All you need to know about perimenopause, and why it is critical to your well-being
  • Updated mammogram guidelines
  • Nurturing your brain: sleep, mood, memory
  • Hormone therapy and the options available
  • Midlife weight control
  • Sex and menopause: myths and reality

5. Don’t miss out:

  • Listen to my colleagues and other experts as they discuss solutions to menopausal issues on a show dedicated just for women in mid-life! Here is a link from my interview on 360menopause Radio Show on Panic Attacks and Menopause and a list of archived shows.
  • Check out my latest answer on Dr. Oz’s Sharecare. This week I focused on how to ensure that what you are putting in your mouth is GMO free.
  • View the Updated Link Resources on my homepage