Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keep the Holidays Merry For Your Special Needs Child

Some tips on how to make the season bright:

Minimize anxiety by preparing your child well in advance of your

Avoid crowded malls and other overstimulating venues.

Keep to a schedule as much as possible -- it will be hard to get your
        child (and yourself) back on track.

Expectations – inform your child who to expect will attend social
         gatherings. View family photos beforehand; review their names.

Involve your child in holiday preparations. Decorate gradually if your
         child has difficulty accepting change.

Traveling during the holidays is stressful for everyone. Pack favorite
         toys/foods that can help calm your child.

Make sure the host/hostess offers foods your child can eat if
          he/she is on a special diet. Better yet, bring the prepared dish
          wrapped in a festive bow!

Educate those that will celebrate with you about your child’s needs or
          dislikes (i.e. hugs from relatives ).

Role play – practice opening gifts, waiting for others, courteous

Recognize the signs of overstimulation – if you sense your child is
          becoming overwhelmed, direct him/her to a quiet area.

Your child is the most precious gift of all – see the wonders of the
          season through the eyes of your child and have a joyous holiday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Latest news on the autism front: Researchers announce positive results on a new MRI scan that detects autism.

The new findings appear online in the journal Autism Research. For further reading, visit McClean Hospital.

The preliminary results are encouraging.  If the specialized MRI brain scans are proven conclusively to be accurate, those at risk or who are suspected to have neurological disorders can be objectively diagnosed early on.  For my patients, such scans will aid early development and implementation of therapy plans to target the child's specific area of dysfunction.  Commencing neurological therapies at an earlier stage provides those with autism a better chance to maximize their full potential.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nutritional Tips for An Anti-Inflammatory Thanksgiving Feast

Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep inflammation and pain at bay today with the tips below:

Have as many foods as you can with Omega 3 fats on the table such as walnuts and winter squash.

Avoid foods you are allergic to like nightshades vegetables (i.e. potatoes, tomatoes) which may trigger pain flareups.

If you need a snack, choose pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. They’re loaded with good fats that are anti-inflammatory.

Keep calm. Don’t let small family dramas get you upset. Stress and anger cause inflammation.

Limit your intake of sugar today -- too much can cause inflammation and joint pain.

Try to eat as many raw, green leafy vegetables as possible.

Include plenty of fiber rich foods such as sweet potatoes, green beans, or brussel sprouts.

Eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits which provide plenty of antioxidants.

If you choose to drink alcohol  with your Thanksgiving meal, red wine is preferential. Moderation is key of course!

Never eat anything with Trans Fats! Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions have been associated with trans fat consumption. They are found in prepackaged pie crusts, ready-to-bake biscuits & cakes, etc.

Get outside! Go for a nice brisk walk if you can or do some other physical activity.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Tips for Special Needs Children

Tell your child in advance who's coming over or if you're going to
                           someone else’s home

Have staple food available if your child is on a special diet.
Awareness- Make sure your guests know your child’s special needs.
Nonverbal children may need extra prompting in someone else’s home.
Keep healthy snacks your child likes handy.
Send home doggie bags so you don’t have “illegal” foods left over.
Get outside to burn off some energy.
Involve your child in preparations for the holiday.
Vegetables disguised with other foods is essential.   (Check out Jessica
                                 Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious” for ideas)

Invite those who have been supportive to you.
Never compromise your routines; it'll be difficult to get back on track.
Gratitude – Remember to be thankful for your beautiful family.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Therapeutic Yoga for the Spine: Yoga as a Tool for Creating Wellness..... Saturday, November 13, 2010 10:00am- 2:00pm

Today, more and more people are turning to complimentary alternative medicine techniques in order to resolve a wide variety of disorders, from musculo-skeletal in nature, to cardiovascular and neurological. There is evidence that certain yoga postures offer effective treatment for chronic pain and range of motion deficits resulting from trauma and/or the degenerative process.

Please join Dr. Joanne Cesiro and myself for our therapeutic workshop this Saturday, November 13, 2010 from 10-2 pm at The United Methodist Church, 407 Main Street, Farmingdale, NY. Whether you are suffering from pain or are interested in learning yoga to develop a strong core for spinal wellness, this workshop will teach you to optimize your overall health naturally.

Our workshop is designed to help participants develop strength, stamina, and proper body alignment. Topics to be covered include:

* Basic anatomy
* Diagnoses of the back
* Precautions and contraindications

In addition, we will demonstrate appropriate asana sequences (yoga poses) to relieve spinal pain and promote spinal wellness. Each asana will be practiced together to ensure proper alignment to achieve maximum health benefits.

Workshop Prices are as follows:
Members: $30 in advance; $35 at door
Non-members: $45 in advance; $50 at door.

A light vegetarian buffet will be served.

For more information contact Long Island Yoga Association at

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autism, ADHD, Learning Disorders... Unlocking Your Child's Full Potential Holistically Through Diet, Vitamins & Brain-based Exercise -- Invitation to Lecture 11/9/10 Wild By Nature

Neurological disorders are on the rise. Autism now affects 1 in 110 children; The Center For Disease Control (CDC) figures show that 4.6 million children had a learning disorder in 2007 and 4.5 million children were diagnosed with attention defict hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that same year. CDC also reports that 56% of children with ADHD were on prescription medication (2003.)

Early diagnosis and intervention are key to developing a child's full potential.

Please join me tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9, 7:00 pm at Wild by Nature in E. Setauket for my lecture on holistic therapies for pediatric neurological disorders such as ADHD, Autism and learning disorders. Learn how natural therapies address the source of your child's symptoms, without the need for medication or surgery. Discover how diet, nutritional supplements, and physical and cognitive exercises can help improve connections in your child's brain.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of the neurological mechanism behind behaviors such as impulsivity and inattention in children diagnosed with ADHD or learning disabilities, or spinning, swaying and stimming behaviors in children with Autism. I'll cover the importance of diet, specifically how the gluten-free/casein free diet can make significant improvements in such areas as speech, bowel habits, language, behavior and sensory issues for children with neurological disorders. In addition, I'll provide helpful tips on how to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle and how to keep your child's diet on track during the upcoming holiday season.

For directions contact Wild By Nature; 631 246 5500.

Hope to see you tomorrow night!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Keri Chiappino
Board-certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Defeat Autism Now! Practitioner

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Balance Development in Children is Learned

Developing balance and coordination begins early in life. We learn to hold our heads up, crawl and then eventually walk, often precariously at first. We fall a lot initially and then progress towards running, playing, jumping, swinging and other activities that help our brains to develop balance. This is why we adults have fond childhood memories of walking across logs or balance beams, spinning, swinging and balance activities that help to stimulate our vestibular system (balance centers of the brain).

I can’t stress enough how important it is for children to stimulate their brain’s balance centers on a regular basis. Having a good brain is more than academic performance. Developing a good balance center reduces the likelihood of developing vestibular problems later in life including balance problems, learning disabilities, vertigo, dizziness, lack of coordination and injuries.

Children’s brains are nurtured by physical movement; this is why gentle rocking is calming to infants. A child’s vestibular system is properly formed by the feedback it receives from running, swinging, jumping, muscle contraction, etc.

Children should not be sedentary, staring at an LCD screen for hours at a time. If TV and video game activities are performed more than standard physical activities it can reduce the normal vestibular development needed to maneuver in Earth’s gravitational field throughout life.

The brain and vestibular system receive input from changes in muscle tone, movements of the body, head and eyes. Serious developmental and coordinative problems can develop if these centers are not regularly activated. It’s important for children to develop proprioception -- the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other. Often called the “sixth sense” proprioception is vital to good balance.

Modalities such as Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Craniosacral Therapy, Yoga, and other body-centered therapies can help to improve proprioception and balance. Nothing, however, can solely replace good old fashioned movement and physical activity. Balance and prevention of balance related problems, along with coordination are learned activities developed by our interaction with our environment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just because it’s “Gluten Free” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you

So you’ve been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease and now you have to avoid gluten.

People who are given this life-changing information often go into a panic and read all they can about gluten-free diets and begin quickly substituting foods they once enjoyed, or thought they enjoyed. You find out that there are lots of gluten-free alternatives out there like gluten-free bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, chips, pizza, etc. You can find almost anything without gluten that you find with gluten. Yippee! The problem is that these gluten-free foods are not necessarily healthy.

Switching to a diet filled with gluten-free pasta, cookies, chips, etc. is not the best way to eat on a regular basis. Gluten-free pizza is still pizza! These foods can raise blood sugar and insulin very quickly. Gluten-free breads made with rice or corn flour often lack the fiber that breads with gluten contain. Fiber helps to slow the insulin response and keep the blood sugar from quickly spiking. Some people gain a tremendous amount of weight when switching to gluten-free foods because they’re eating a lot of high glycemic (raises blood sugar quickly)/low fiber foods which can increase body fat very fast. This is extremely dangerous for those who tend to be hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or insulin resistant (high blood sugar/pre-diabetic state). You can become insulin resistant and shift towards Type II Diabetes. Not good.

It’s best to remember that a diet comprised of pasta, bread, and cookies is obviously not a wise, healthy choice whether you’re gluten free or not. Stick with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, legumes and brown rice. The amount of food choices still available to you is huge. It’s ok to have an occasional gluten-free pasta, pizza, cookie, etc. If possible, try to find gluten-free breads with high fiber content.

Remember, comfort food is comfort food is comfort food.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Attention Problems in Children Linked to TV and Video Games

A new study just out in this month's issue of Pediatrics finds children who spent more than three hours watching TV or playing video games were significantly more likely to have attention problems.

Iowa State University psychology doctoral student Edward Swing and Associate Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile studied video game and television exposure of 1323 third, fourth, and fifth graders over a 13-month period, as well as 210 college students. TV exposure and video gaming for the middle childhood group was reported by parents and children, and attention issues were reported by teachers. College students provided self-reports of TV viewing, video game play, and perceived attention problems. The ISU researchers found that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems; college students showed a similar association, suggesting that TV exposure or video gaming may have lasting consequences.

According to Swing, "It is still not clear why screen media may increase attention problems, but many researchers speculate that it may be due to rapid-pacing, or the natural attention grabbing aspects that television and video games use."

Gentile reports that the pace of television programming has been quickened by "the MTV effect."

"When MTV came on, it started showing music videos that had very quick edits -- cuts once every second or two," Gentile said. "Consequently, the pacing of other television and films sped up too, with much quicker edits."

He says that quicker pace may have some brain-changing effects when it comes to attention span.

"Brain science demonstrates that the brain becomes what the brain does," Gentile said. "If we train the brain to require constant stimulation and constant flickering lights, changes in sound and camera angle, or immediate feedback, such as video games can provide, then when the child lands in the classroom where the teacher doesn't have a million-dollar-per-episode budget, it may be hard to get children to sustain their attention."

The study showed that the effect was similar in magnitude between video games and TV viewing.

TV, video games may contribute to ADHD
Based on the study's findings, Swing and Gentile conclude that TV and video game viewing may be one contributing factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

"ADHD is a medical condition, but it's a brain condition," Gentile said. "We know that the brain adapts and changes based on the environmental stimuli to which it is exposed repeatedly. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to believe that environmental stimuli can increase the risk for a medical condition like ADHD in the same way that environmental stimuli, like cigarettes, can increase the risk for cancer."

"Although we did not specifically study the medical condition of ADHD in these studies, we did focus on the kinds of attention problems that are experienced by students with ADHD," added Swing. "We were surprised, for example, that attention problems in the classroom would increase in just one year for those children with the highest screen time." (for full story see ISU News Service.

The report appears in the August issue of Pediatrics

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FDA Proposes Dangerous Vaccine Rule Change

NVIC Vaccine News

by Barbara Loe Fisher

This past spring, the FDA took a hands-off approach to Merck's admission that DNA from a lethal pig virus is contaminating doses of RotaTeq vaccine being swallowed by millions of newborn babies. Now the agency responsible for making sure pharmaceutical products do not hurt people is proposing a Rule Change to give one staff employee the sole authority to allow "exceptions or alternatives" when drug companies want to change vaccine ingredients, such as preservatives (like thimerosal) or adjuvants (like aluminum) or the amount of residual protein and antibiotics in vaccines.

June 28 Deadline for Public Comment

The FDA's proposed change to Requirements for Constituent Materials was quietly published in The Federal Register on March 30 and the deadline for public comment is only days away - on Monday, June 28.

The FDA is arguing that the rule change is necessary to "reduce burdens on industry" and to provide "greater flexibility and reduced regulatory requirements." It gives one FDA staff Director the power to give drug companies the green light to "employ advances in science and technology as they become available" when companies want to make new vaccines really fast and get more bang for the buck.

Will There Be ANY Checks & Balances?

If the proposed Rule Change is put into effect, a vaccine manufacturer could request a change in the content or amount of vaccine ingredients by simply writing a "brief statement describing the basis for the request and supporting data" as part of the original license application or for a pending or approved application. There is no information about how much scientific evidence the drug companies will have to submit to prove the new ingredients are safe; or whether the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee will be able to review that evidence; or whether the American public will have a chance to comment before vaccine ingredients are changed.

This does not look like the transparency, public participation and collaboration in government that President Obama said he supports. It removes the checks and balances necessary for good government.

Could Warehoused Squalene Be Quickly Approved?

Last year when federal health officials declared a pandemic H1N1 "swine flu" national emergency, drug companies put a full court press on the FDA to fast track licensure of highly reactive oil based squalene adjuvants and the use of new technology, like insect cells, to make pandemic influenza vaccines. During meetings of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee, the National Vaccine Information Center opposed both the quick licensure of squalene adjuvants, which hyperstimulate the immune system and have been associated with autoimmunity, and the use of insect cells, which could be contaminated with insect viruses.

Click here for video info.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ADHD Linked to Pesticide Use

A new study published in Pediatrics this month links pesticide exposure from treated fruits and vegetables to attention disorders in children.  Yet another reason to buy organic fruits and veggies from local farmers' markets...

Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure

By Sarah Klein,

Children exposed to higher levels of a type of pesticide found in trace amounts on commercially grown fruit and vegetables are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children with less exposure, a nationwide study suggests.

Researchers measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Exposure to the pesticides, known as organophosphates, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems in children in the past, but previous studies have focused on communities of farm workers and other high-risk populations. This study is the first to examine the effects of exposure in the population at large.

Organophosphates are "designed" to have toxic effects on the nervous system, says the lead author of the study, Maryse Bouchard, Ph.D., a researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal. "That's how they kill pests."

The pesticides act on a set of brain chemicals closely related to those involved in ADHD, Bouchard explains, "so it seems plausible that exposure to organophosphates could be associated with ADHD-like symptoms."

Environmental Protection Agency regulations have eliminated most residential uses for the pesticides (including lawn care and termite extermination), so the largest source of exposure for children is believed to be food, especially commercially grown produce. Adults are exposed to the pesticides as well, but young children appear to be especially sensitive to them, the researchers say.

Detectable levels of pesticides are present in a large number of fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited in the study. In a representative sample of produce tested by the agency, 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 20 percent of celery, and 25 percent of strawberries contained traces of one type of organophosphate. Other types of organophosphates were found in 27 percent of green beans, 17 percent of peaches, and 8 percent of broccoli.

Although kids should not stop eating fruits and vegetables, buying organic or local produce whenever possible is a good idea, says Bouchard.

"Organic fruits and vegetables contain much less pesticides, so I would certainly advise getting those for children," she says. "National surveys have also shown that fruits and vegetables from farmers' markets contain less pesticides even if they're not organic. If you can buy local and from farmers' markets, that's a good way to go."

A direct cause-and-effect link between pesticides and ADHD "is really hard to establish," says Dana Boyd Barr, Ph.D., a professor of environmental and occupational health at Emory University. However, she says, "There appears to be some relation between organophosphate pesticide exposure and the development of ADHD."

This is the largest study of its kind to date, according to Barr, who researched pesticides for more than 20 years in her previous job with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but was not involved in the study.  Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed urine samples from children ages 8 to 15. The samples were collected during an annual, nationwide survey conducted by the CDC, known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers tested the samples for six chemical byproducts (known as metabolites) that result when the body breaks down more than 28 different pesticides. Nearly 95 percent of the children had at least one byproduct detected in their urine.

Just over 10 percent of the children in the study were diagnosed with ADHD. The kids were judged to have ADHD if their symptoms (as reported by parents) met established criteria for the disorder, or if they had taken ADHD medication regularly in the previous year.

One group of pesticide byproducts was associated with a substantially increased risk of ADHD. Compared with kids who had the lowest levels, the kids whose levels were 10 times higher were 55 percent more likely to have ADHD. (Another group of byproducts did not appear to be linked to the disorder.)

In addition, children with higher-than-average levels of the most commonly detected byproduct -- found in roughly 6 in 10 kids -- were nearly twice as likely to have ADHD.

"It's not a small effect," says Bouchard. "This is 100 percent more risk."

To isolate the effect of the pesticide exposure on ADHD symptoms, the researchers controlled for a variety of health and demographic factors that could have skewed the results.

Still, the study had some limitations and is not definitive, Bouchard says. Most notably, she and her colleagues measured only one urine sample for each child, and therefore weren't able to track whether the levels of pesticide byproducts were constant, or whether the association between exposure and ADHD changed over time.

Long-term studies including multiple urine samples from the same children are needed, Bouchard says. She suspects such studies would show an even stronger link between pesticide byproducts and ADHD.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said in a statement that the agency routinely reviews the safety of all pesticides, including organophosphates. "We are currently developing a framework to incorporate data from studies similar to this one into our risk assessment," Kemery said. "We will look at this study and use the framework to decide how it fits into our overall risk assessment."

Kemery recommended that parents try other pest-control tactics before resorting to pesticide use in the home or garden. Washing and peeling fruits and vegetables and eating "a varied diet" will also help reduce potential exposure to pesticides, he said.

"I would hope that this study raises awareness as to the risk associated with pesticide exposure," Bouchard says. "There's really only a handful of studies on this subject out there, so there's room for more awareness."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reducing Chronic Pain & Inflammation -- Naturally Sat. 3/20/10 2:00-4:00pm

Looking for ways to address your chronic inflammation and pain without resorting to medication?  Let me show you how.

Join me for an informative lecture “Reducing Chronic Pain and Inflammation – Naturally” this Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 2:00-4:00 pm at New York College of Health Professions, Continuing Education Department, Syosset campus.

Recent scientific evidence has shown that chronic inflammation is the driving force behind everything from arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and many other well known diseases. In my lecture, I will discuss how chronic inflammation can mask itself as normal aging and how diet can actually fuel inflammation.  Attendees will learn how simple and realistic lifestyle and nutritional changes can significantly reduce their chronic pain naturally.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Jasmine Yaghoobzar, Administrative Manager Continuing Education, New York College of Health Professions at 516 364 0808, ex. 332. Tuition fee is $45. Pre-registration is required. Class code is CE 102.

Hope to see you this Saturday!

Dr. W. Brent Reynolds DC, DACNB

*  *  *  *
New York College of Health Professions has been a leader in holistic education and care for over 25 year. The campus is located at 6801 Jericho Tpk., Syosset, NY 11791; (800) 922-7337;

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Happens When There "Ain't No Sunshine"

The Importance of Vitamin D
Feeling a little blah this winter? Could be your level of vitamin D is low. Known as the “sunshine vitamin” vitamin D is derived not only through diet and supplementation but also through sun exposure. Skin exposed to the sun’s UV rays helps produce vitamin D naturally. However winter sunlight in northern regions like NY does not contain enough UV radiation; during harsh winter months, most people don't produce enough vitamin D naturally. Chronic fatigue, lack of energy, and even feelings of sadness can oftentimes be traced to low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D Deficiency Factors
Winter’s lack of strong UV sunlight is not the only cause of low levels of vitamin D. A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D requires fat for absorption; those with fat malabsorption conditions such as Crohn’s disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis can be vitamin D deficient. Obesity and poor nutrition can also place a person at risk for vitamin D insufficiencies. Increases in cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, severe asthma in children, and Osteoporosis are associated with vitamin D deficiencies; it is also thought to contribute to a variety of autoimmune diseases.

Benefits of Vitamin D
While it has been known for years that vitamin D helps the bones absorb calcium, aiding bone growth in children and protecting older adults from bone loss, studies have brought to light other important benefits. Proper levels of vitamin D help reduce inflammation and bolster the immune system, and regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown that vitamin D may even help decrease the risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Diet & Supplements
Despite bone-chilling weather, it’s still possible to get an adequate daily intake of vitamin D. A daily diet of fortified milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, lean meats, and oily fish such as salmon and tuna can ensure that proper levels are maintained. Vitamin D supplements are also a good source, however it is important to have your levels checked before supplementing. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D test is the most accurate way of assessing Vitamin D in the body. Normal range is above 50 ng/ml (nanograms per milliter) year round for both children and adults. Lower results signify a deficiency; higher values indicate excessive levels which can trigger kidney stones, bone loss, and calcification of the heart and kidneys if left untreated. Discuss your concerns about vitamin D with your health practitioner and ask for the 25-hydroxyvitamin D testing prior to commencing a supplement regimen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Understanding Food Allergies: Immediate vs. Delayed

The words “food allergy” often conjures up images of tongue swelling, hives, wheezing, or even the throat closing. These immediate symptoms can be life-threatening; in fact, those with severe food allergies typically carry epinephrine injector pens in case they accidentally eat foods they are allergic to. Highly allergenic foods include peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, and dairy products.

While immediate reactions typically indicate a food sensitivity, other allergic reactions are not always so obvious. These are called “delayed onset” food allergies as they tend to appear 36-72 hours after eating. These reactions are usually not as severe, but can trigger joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, abdominal bloating, and mood changes. Delayed onset food allergies are also behind baffling long-term health issues like Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and chronic pain. Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis and other severe diseases are also thought to be triggered by delayed food sensitivities.

It’s estimated that 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies and the number is growing for children. A study published in the December 2009 issue of Pediatrics reports the incidence of food allergy in children rose by 18% during 1997-2007. Topping the list of most common allergy triggers are wheat, barley, rye (gluten), dairy products (casein), corn, and soy. However, any food can cause sensitivity if a person’s immune system becomes activated to fight the “foreign invader.”

How Is Food Allergy Testing Done?

Blood tests are done to measure the level of antibodies, or immunoglobulin in the blood. For those suffering from severe, immediate allergic reactions such as asthma or throat swelling, allergen-specific immunoglobulin IgE antibodies testing is performed for certain foods or environmental triggers like pet dander or pollen. To test for delayed onset sensitivities to certain foods, a more involved test would check IgG antibody levels to identify antigens that contribute to chronic diseases. Results from immunoglobulin testing help allergy sufferers and their health practitioners form an effective wellness plan.

Lifestyle Changes

Once the culprit is identified, all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid the allergen food. It is critical to read all ingredient labels before purchasing packaged foods at the market; when dining out, be certain that the foods you order are allergen-free as well as prepared separately from other foods. At dinner parties, bring your own food to ensure there is no cross contamination that can trigger an attack. Most importantly, if you suffer severe allergic reactions, make sure to have all your medications with you at all times.

Lifestyle changes don’t occur overnight. Diligence and careful planning ahead can help reduce allergy anxiety and keep flare ups at bay. Food allergy support groups can offer guidance, friendship and resources to help manage your lifestyle. Check out

Monday, January 18, 2010

Digestive Disorders in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Acknowledged by Mainstream Medicine

The New Year ushered in promising news for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as the first step were taken for guideline recommendations for treatment of gastric intestinal disorders (GI) commonly experience by those on the spectrum. The news validated what parents and we practitioners who care for children with ASD have known all along: GI disorders are a valid ailment of children on the spectrum and as such require evaluation and treatment.

The consensus recommendations were derived from a 2008 meeting sponsored by Autism Forum and were written by a multidisciplinary panel of pediatric and GI experts. They call for more scientific studies to be conducted on GI disorders in children with autism, acknowledging that GI distress oftentimes present atypical, self injurious behavior and disturbed sleep. The study further recommends that children with ASD who show signs of abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation or other symptoms of gastric distress be evaluated and treated just as their typical counterparts would be. In addition, trials are recommended to build an evidence base for developing diagnostic and treatment strategies for GI disorders.

For many children with autism, communication is an issue; limitations in speech often make it impossible to specifically communicate the pain that they are experiencing, culminating in behavioral issues that are often viewed as the face of autism. Digestive disorders up until now were often dismissed as a symptom of autism and further investigation often was not taken to treat the problem. According to Autism Research Institute’s Director Dr. Steve Edelson, “This is truly a human rights issue; every child deserves proper medical attention--whether or not they have autism.”

In my own ASD patients, I have found that GI distress is a common complaint. Diet is one of the first areas that I evaluate. While the recent report advises that more studies need to be undertaken to develop dietary guidelines, I have found time and time again that specialized diets such as the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) diet have been extremely effective in those who present signs or demonstrate allergies (on blood work) to gluten or dairy products. Feedback from parents regularly shows that children with GI disorders make significant improvements in such areas as speech, bowel habits, language acquisition, behavior and sensory issues when eliminating gluten and dairy foods. In fact, in a trial noted by the panel, more than half the participants elected to continue the GFCF diet after the trial, reporting positive changes in their child. While each child is unique, it’s been my experience that diet in conjunction with other supplementation continually proves to be an effective means of helping children with ASD reach their maximum potential.

For more information, see the January issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Revving Up Your Brain Performance In the New Year -- Tips to Get Your Brain & Body In Tip Top Shape"

What's your resolution for 2010? Quit smoking? Get more exercise? Eat healthier? Reduce spending? The list goes on and on. If you're like most, you begin the New Year with the best intentions to turn over a new leaf. As time passes, the drive and the ability to stay committed waxes and wanes.

"Failures don't plan to fail; they fail to plan" says author and motivational speaker Harvey MacKay. Help yourself succeed this year by planning to focus on specific areas of your health. If a long-term plan is too overwhelming, try dividing your goals into a weekly or daily plan. Creating a lifestyle wellness plan will not only help your body feel great, but will also provide the mental acuity to make good decisions that will positively affect all areas of your life.

Here are some suggestions to keep your brain and body healthy this year:

Sleep -- While arguably the least taxing, it is often one of the most difficult goals to achieve. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours per night. Insufficient sleep is associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Make it a priority to establish a good sleep schedule. You’ll find you are sharper mentally and physically when you get adequate quantity of sleep.

Vices -- Plan to quit smoking and excessive drinking. Take it one day at a time.

Diet -- Be committed to a balanced diet; avoid processed foods and high saturated fat foods such as red meat. Opt for chicken, tofu, or even better, fish. A regular diet of Omega 3 rich fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel or sardines helps raise good high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease such as abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), poor circulation to the heart (angina) and heart attack. Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 can improve brain cell composition as well as the function of chemicals that transmit messages between brain cells and the nervous system. Improper balance or deficiencies in these chemicals, called neurotransmitters, can result in depression, ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, compulsive eating disorders and other compulsive behaviors.

Supplements: Learn the ABC’s of EPA and DHA. These Omega 3 fatty acids in supplement form are particularly beneficial to those who find it difficult to incorporate fish into their diet. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are vital nutrients found naturally in fish and can easily be ingested via gel caps or in liquid form.

As noted previously, these Omega 3 fatty acids have beneficial effects on high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis. A 2006 Harvard study revealed that 250 mg. of EPA and DHA reduce the risk of dying of heart attack by 36%. ( University of Pittsburgh researchers studying rheumatoid arthritis found that 59% of arthritis sufferers stopped taking steroids for pain relief when given 1.2 grams of fish oil daily. (

In terms of brain health, DHA in particular has been found to improve communication between brain cells, helping to improve mood and mental clarity, reduce the risk of stroke, and may possibly stave off Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Research by UCLA neuroscientists has shown that DHA increases the production of LR11, a protein that destroys the protein that forms the "plaques" associated with Alzheimer’s, a disease which is predicted to affect 11 to 15 million people within the next 40 years. (

Physical Exercise – While walking, aerobics, and yoga have obvious benefits to weight management, regular exercise also contributes to brain fitness. Levels of dopamine are increased in the brain when we exercise, which may help combat Parkinson’s disease and chronic compulsive disorders. Exercise also increases endorphins, the body’s natural anxiety busters and mood enhancers, as well as beta activity in the brain which is shown to increase focus and awareness, and reduce brain fog.

Mental Exercise – Research has shown that challenging the brain helps stimulate brain cell connections.  Reading, knitting, crossword puzzles, computer activities, or other cognitive activities may delay or even prevent memory loss.  This year, stimulate your brain by learning a musical instrument, a foreign language or delve into something you always wanted to learn... like astronomy!

Hydration – Reduced fluid levels, even as little as 1-2%, compromise nerve transmission in the brain, impairing cognitive performance and mood. Short-term memory, attention deficits, mental cloudiness, dizziness, headaches and chronic fatigue are signs of dehydration. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Make an effort to drink 8 large glasses of filtered water daily to flush out toxins and keep your brain and body running like a well-oiled machine.

The human brain can change throughout the course of a lifetime, an amazing ability called neuroplasticity. By activating our brains through new experiences, and fueling our bodies with good nutrition we can create and strengthen neural connections that improve memory and overall cognitive functioning. Thanks to neuroplasticity, it’s never too late to make a positive affect on our brain health.

In coming posts we’ll give you helpful hints on keeping you on track, like recipes for a brain healthy diet, exercise tips, supplement information, and ways to stay mentally sharp. We welcome your feedback and questions. Please use our comment form at the bottom of this post to share your thoughts.

Happy New Year!