nwc_120The thing is that sometimes doctors are stumped.  For example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is what doctors call cramping and other gut symptoms when they can't really pinpoint the cause.  For some it causes mild discomfort, but for others it means debilitating lifelong symptoms.  Oftentimes medicine does nothing to relieve patients.  But dietary changes have been known to relieve or even eliminate them.

That's the idea behind Ithaca's Nutritional Wellness Center.  After clients are evaluated a diet of whole foods and whole food supplements is prescribed.  These are foods that humans are naturally built to assimilate, making feeling better a matter of directed lifestyle change, rather than a regimen of chemicals or partial food supplements.

"One of the great things about this is it's not sickness care.  It's wellness care," says Certified Nutritional Consultant Tara Lambert.  "Now they know they don't have to live with it, where before they thought that was the way it had to be living in their body.  So if somebody has a headache or nausea they'll call us."

The typical client is a 35 to 55 year old woman who works, takes care of family, but has health issues and is exhausted, and for whom medical treatment isn't working.  But the Nutritional Wellness Center sees clients of all kinds including men, small children and people in their 80s.  Tara says that many come to the center after seeing doctors and specialists without tangible results over a long period of time.  Because of proven results a lot of doctors from the Ithaca area, Binghamton, and Pennsylvania now refer patients to the center.  Referrals come from medical doctors, therapists, chiropractors, teachers, school counselors, and hospitals.

nwc_burgerDo you dare touch this fossilized food? Would you want it inside you?

The first thing you notice when you walk into the Nutritional Wellness Center is that the walls and reception desk are plastered with testimonials from clients who feel better after their treatment there.  A video shows what it will be like to be tested and literature tells about the treatment so there are no surprises when you go up to the treatment rooms.  One shelf holds a fun warning: a hamburger and fries from a popular fast food outlet that was purchased in 2010.  A sign says, "Nothing has been done or added by us to preserve it.  We dare you to touch it."

Tara opened the practice with her husband Xavier Bermeo in 2006.   Her brother Aaron joined as a Certified Nutritional Educator a year later.  Tara and Aaron work with clients, while Bermeo runs the business.  Christina Russo rounds out the staff, manning the reception desk.

When you first come to the center they spend about an hour and a half gathering your health and medical history.  They perform Nutrition Response Testing (NRT), or muscle testing. 

"That form of testing is a non-invasive method of testing that helps us find strengths and weaknesses in the body to identify which organs are strong or weak," Tara says.  "This is sub-clinical, so we're not looking for disease.  We're just looking for optimal or sub-optimal function of the organ."

"We look at what a person is eating," she explains.  "We either add foods that would benefit them, or subtract foods that are harming their health.  No two people are on the same diet.  Everybody here has a personalized way of eating based on their health needs."

nrc_lambertsbermeoAaron Lambert, Xavier Bermeo, and Tara Lambert

Aaron defines 'whole foods' as unrefined, unprocessed, unpackaged foods.  Whole food supplements are concentrated organic whole foods in supplement form.  They do not contain chemicals, but are actually foods that have been condensed into supplement form.  Removing foods that the body isn't processing or accepting and adding whole foods that support organs that are not optimally performing can have seemingly miraculous results.

"A young child came in, and was a mess psychologically," Aaron relates.  "She had separation anxiety, she couldn't pay attention or focus.   Normally when you have those things you are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and that child is in for a lifetime of drugs and therapy.  All we did was change her diet to support a couple of her organs.  She did an about face.  She is studying, concentrating.  She is on the honor role.  It was a relatively short turnaround."

But Aaron says that the time it takes to see a substantial improvement may vary from a matter of days to weeks to months to a year.  After that the Center offers maintenance appointments, which Tara says many clients want, whether they need them or not.  She says the reason is that it helps them to keep focussed on their healthy diet and avoid the temptations of foods that could return them to their unhealthy state.

The Lamberts were born on Long Island, but rarely stayed in one place for more than two years because their father was in the National Park Service.  That gave them a taste for travel.  In her senior year at Evergreen State College she devised a final program she called "Exploring Ecuador," mainly because she wanted to learn Spanish in a Spanish speaking country.

After the first month she met Bermeo, who was an attorney.  That prompted her to stay for five years.  She worked at the South American Explorer's Club, which is coincidentally headquartered in Ithaca, and then opened 'Sugar Mamas', a healthy café that specialized in soups, salads and other foods, but especially vegetable juices with supplements and herb powders in the juices.  Soon people were seeking out her juices to help with traveller's diarrhea, headaches, PMS, and a variety of ailments.  But Tara wasn't feeling well herself.

"My health was declining rapidly, and I was only in my twenties," she recalls.  "Doctors were coming up with diagnoses like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, they were checking me for lupis, rheumatoid arthritis.  Every joint in my body hurt.  I could barely get out of bed.  I was getting migrane headaches, tension headaches.  I had acne, chemical sensitivity, food alergies, IBS.  It was rapidly getting worse."

During a visit home her mother took her to a nutritional consultant that turned her life around.  Tara says she loved helping people feel better, but 'Sugar Mamas' taught her that she hated the restaurant business.  She not only began feeling better, but by the second visit she knew she wanted to become a nutritional consultant herself.

She had married Bermeo in 2003 and in 2004 the couple decided to move to the United States so she could continue her treatment and later, start the business.  Tara became certified at Ulan Nutritional System in Clearwater, Florida.  In 2006 the couple opened the Nutritional Wellness Center two doors down from their current location.

"We were looking for a place to do it and we visited Ithaca one day," she says.  "We really liked it.  That's how we started here."

nwc_testamonialsTestimonials are everywhere you look at Nutritional Wellness Center

Meanwhile Aaron had gone to Ecuador in 2003 to attend the wedding.  A West point graduate , he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and then worked for a Coca Cola bottler.  He left Coca Cola before going to Ecuador, where he ended up staying for three years, also working for the South American Explorer's Club.  A marathon runner, his own health had been declining, causing shortness of breath and other problems that interfered with his running.

By this time Tara and Xavier had started their business, but Aaron wasn't ready to accept his sister's advice.

"She told me what I should do, but I laughed at her for a couple of years," he says.  "The motive for me wasn't to get healthy, but to run better.  When I finally figured out that when I changed my diet according to what the response testing told me, I could do these things I had always wanted to do -- that was my 'aha moment' and I said maybe I should do this."

He moved to Ithaca and helped out at the business for a year, travelling to Florida to become certified, and eventually joining the practice.

Happy clients seems to be a theme.  As you walk into the building you are likely to meet smiling clients coming out.  Treatment rooms are also plastered with testimonials showing smiling people who talk about how much better they feel after being treated at the center.

"I feel total joy and fulfillment when someone gets well," Tara says.  "It happens every day.  That what is so cool about this work.  We don't see clients who are sick and watch them get sicker.  We see clients who come in sick and get better quickly."