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    • Heart Health

      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

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    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

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    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

  • Diet & Health
    • Diet & Health

      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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    • Pet Health

      Our dog’s health is precious! They provide us with unconditional love and companionship. A daily probiotic formula is a great way to ensure good health. Make sure you choose one that delivers the recommended potency level and strain count. There is nothing quite like a healthy and happy dog. Happy Dog. Happy Life!

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The high stomach acid conspiracy!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/30/2009


I know too many people who are swallowing antacid pills and potions and even taking prescription drugs on a daily basis, and it got me thinking about stomach acid and pH levels. I recently read an article titled “Too Little Stomach Acid Can Be a Problem Too” by Pharmacist Suzy Cohen. Imagine my surprise—finally someone in mainstream medicine was echoing what we in the natural health field have been saying for years now: most physicians do not test you for pH levels and just assume you have a high stomach acid level, and they hand you a prescription to reduce stomach acid—not what you need!

In reality you likely have a condition known as hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) and can be setting yourself up for compounded health issues by taking the acid-blocking meds that are commonly prescribed. The article then goes on to say that a simple blood test for gastrin levels can indicate whether or not you have low stomach acid.

Gastrin is a hormone that is produced to stimulate the production of stomach acid.  Because it works on negative feedback, high blood levels of gastrin can indicate that your body is producing too much in an attempt to produce more stomach acid.  This could be one way to test for hypochlorhydria, but a more accurate test would be the Heidelberg capsule test.

I have to say, I was very impressed by the information contained in this article and by Dr. Cohen’s understanding of basic physiology and natural health approaches to this growing problem. Check it out for yourself, or better still, take a copy to your physician and get properly tested before swallowing any more meds.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/sfl-suzy-cohen-columnist,0,2948334.columnist

Diarrhea that just won't go away?

Filed in Diarrhea, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/28/2009


Notable News

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) – More than Difficult!  Chances are you’ve probably heard of C. diff before, or at least its most common (and least pleasant) side effect – the gut-wrenching diarrhea. I know, I know, here I go talking about poop again, but this is important! C. diff infections are becoming more common every year. Studies tell us that 7,000 people are infected each day, and 300 of those die from the infection. So I say the more we know about C. diff, the better.

Okay, let’s start with the basics – just what is C. diff anyway? It’s short for Clostridium difficile, a disease-causing bacterium that most often appears after a person has taken antibiotics. This happens because the good bacteria that are normally present in the intestines (and which help keep our immunity strong) are also destroyed by antibiotics. Basically, when we take antibiotics to fight infection, they kill a lot of the good bacteria in our gut along with the bad, which disrupts our normally healthy intestinal balance. And C. diff is one of those opportunistic little buggers that will quickly take over and multiply if it has the chance, causing a potentially dangerous infection whose symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping and nausea.

Interestingly, another culprit in the C. diff epidemic has come to light. The use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) has been associated with a risk for C. diff infection.  PPIs are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux. These drugs suppress the secretion of acid in the stomach. 

But Wait! We Need Our Stomach Acid!  One of the functions of stomach acid is to kill bacteria that comes in with food. When there is not enough stomach acid, as occurs in people taking PPIs, harmful bacteria like C. diff can enter the intestinal tract and quickly multiply.

Can You Say Superbug? Have you heard the term Superbug?  C. diff is a Superbug. Superbugs are bacteria that become resistant to antibiotic treatment, which means that after a while, taking antibiotics won’t do anything to stop the harmful effects of the bug. Antibiotic resistance is largely the result of over-prescribing antibiotics for every little sneeze or sniffle instead of giving the body a chance to fight off the infection on its own, and it’s become a huge concern in the medical community today. I’ll talk about this more in a later post, so stay tuned!

Bottom Line? Our intestinal flora – the friendly bacteria in our intestines – play a major role in our health. One particular probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii has been found to be especially useful for people with C. diff, particularly those that have recurrent C. diff infections. The reason is because S. boulardii is actually a yeast organism, so it’s not destroyed by antibiotics like most bacteria, which means it can keep working in the body to protect against C. diff – even if you’re taking antibiotics. The bottom line is, maintaining a good balance of beneficial microorganisms (probiotics) in the gut is a vital part of creating digestive health, which as we all know is the foundation for total-body health!

Pay attention to HOW you eat as well as what you eat!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/28/2009


Renew You Challenge

Be a part of my Weekly Challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot and in the right direction for bringing better health to your week. Add it to your calendar and  join us every Monday! 

Pay Attention to Your Food!  Be honest – how many times have you found yourself standing at the kitchen counter or over the sink just popping stuff in your mouth without even thinking about it? Or do you do things like read the newspaper, surf the net or watch TV during meals? I’ll give you a second to wipe that guilty look off your face…

The truth is, most of the time we’re so distracted that we never even take the time to chew our food let alone taste it, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how bad that is! So this week’s challenge is all about getting rid of those pesky distractions when you’re about to eat.

It’s called mindful eating, and I want you to eat at least one meal every day without distractions – just you and your food. That means sitting down, and yes, chewing your food thoroughly so those helpful enzymes in your saliva have time to start the digestive process.(And don’t even get me started about how important healthy digestion is!)

Also when you’re eating, try to really taste your food. Think about how it breaks down in your digestive tract and gives nourishment to your body. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating – you really are what you eat!

Let Me Know How it’s Going!  What opportunities has this challenge opened up for you? Was it easy? Any revelations?  Did you enjoy your food more?

You are what you eat!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/23/2009


Health Links Wednesday

Just How Much Do I Need? I’m always telling folks how important it is to eat their fruits and veggies. Not only are they a great source of nutrients, but they’re also loaded with fiber, which is important for good digestion and keeping your bowel movements regular – and remember that good digestion equals a healthier body!

If you’re not sure how many fruits and vegetables you need to eat to meet your daily requirements, relax – it’s easy! The CDC has a website that lets you calculate exactly how much you need (in cups) based on your age, sex and activity level – just type it in and voila! It does the work for you!

www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov even gives examples of 1-cup servings of different fruits and veggies so you don’t have to get out the measuring cups, and they have hundreds of delicious recipes (complete with nutrition facts) based on the fruits or vegetables you want to use – how easy is that??

Oh, and just because you meet your requirements doesn’t mean you have to stop there – If you can eat more, go for it!!!

Now I know if we were talking about chocolate you’d be more excited, but hey, your body needs this, so check it out!

IBS or parasites? Or both!

Filed in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Parasites | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/21/2009


Believe it or not, at any given time one third of the U.S. population has parasites. And when I tell you it can happen to you, you better believe it! Keep in mind that parasites can range from bacterial types to microscopic amoebas and even larger worms. Remember Biology 101? Pretty gross. In a stool analysis study performed by Dr. Amin of the Parasitology Center in Tempe, Arizona, the most notable parasite, blastocystis hominus, was revealed—a microscopic intestinal little bugger that causes symptoms almost exactly like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I have seen many people who have been diagnosed with IBS, and when they have a stool analysis they find that they actually have blastocystis. This is one reason why some IBS sufferers, despite everything they try, never see any improvement. Not only that, but larger parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms are no longer present only in third-world countries… beware, they are here!

 For some good information and moments that will make you squirm, just watch the show “Monsters Inside Me” on Discovery’s Animal Planet channel.

Celiac Testing Is Easier Than You Think

Filed in Celiac Disease | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/17/2009


I know it seems that I am obsessed with poop—but trust me, all the answers to life’s problems lie in the poop. Well, OK, not all of them, but certainly all digestive ones. A stool test can be the single most important test you can take, for instance when determining celiac disease.

If you are sensitive to gluten this may in fact be the beginning stages of celiac, as they really are one and the same—just different degrees of reaction within the body. Gluten sensitivity implies that a person’s immune system is intolerant of gluten in the diet and as a result forms antibodies or displays some other evidence of an inflammatory reaction. When these reactions cause small intestinal damage (visible on a biopsy), the syndrome is then called celiac sprue, celiac disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy. Research shows that as many as 30% of Americans are gluten sensitive, and 1 in 225 of those has progressed to the stage of celiac disease. A simple stool test will determine if you are truly gluten sensitive or if you have celiac. You can get the scoop by visiting enterolab.com.

Is your gut making you depressed?

Filed in Adults, Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/15/2009


IBS can be depressing, literally and figuratively! A lot of people who may be suffering from a type of digestive disorder such as crohn’s, colitis, IBS or even chronic constipation, many times also suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety, depression or irritability.  Now, I know that not feeling well can make you cranky, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The link between between the gut and the brain is very real. Serotonin, know as “the feel good hormone” is produced in the gut. One reason for depression could be the lack of serotonin because the gut is out of balance.

Without getting too technical, the same type of cells and neurotransmitters found in our brain are also located within the digestive system – which by the way is the largest part of our immune system.  When we get any type of intestinal irritation, inflammation, bacterial or viral infection our “intestinal” immune system reacts by producing proteins called cytokines. These cytokines tell our body what type of reaction to have, such as swelling, stiffness, pain etc…It has now been shown that these cytokines will travel a very unique pathway from the gut to the brain, setting into motion a chemical reaction that results in the breakdown of the neurotransmitters involved in mood stability.

 So, this is a two-way street. When your digestive system is out of balance, you feel depressed and when it’s in good shape you feel good. This may be why we often get a sense of euphoria after a really good dump – you know what I mean.

Insect Repellents Have Dangerous Chemical

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/02/2009


[youtube iS9ccum6mTE]

Summary:
In this video blog I discuss how a team of researchers have new information about the chemical DEET. This chemical is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. What did the researchers find out? Is it safe? Tune in and find out

Full Script:
It is now the mid summer and here in Florida- it is hot and it is humid. With this weather comes an increase in mosquitoes, especially with all the rain this year. Every store, from Target to Walmart and even grocery stores have numerous displays of the most popular brands of insect repellents. For a very long time now the active ingredient in most all of these insect repellents, designed to be sprayed on your skin, is a chemical called DEET. Until recently there has been questions on whether deet was really a safe enough chemical to be spraying in the air and all over ours and our children’s bodies. Personally, I never felt this type of chemical was “safe enough”.

Last week a team of researchers found the chemical deet to be toxic to the central nervous system. They explained that this chemical is not simply a behavior modifying chemical but it inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme called acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals. This last part is of crucial importance, because they found that this chemical does not just affect the insects, as once believed, but has an affect on humans as well. They also found that deet interacts with other insecticides, which it is often combined with, and increases their toxicity as well.

This does not sound like something I want to take a can of and spray all over my young grandchildren. There is enough exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment without purposely spraying them all over us.

There are some alternatives to these toxic laden sprays that do not contain deet. Products like GONE from Aubrey or a product called Bite Blocker from the manufacturer Homs use essential oils that are known to repel bugs including mosquitoes, knats and ticks. These products work well and are safe for children.

Look for these safe alternatives in your local health food store or online and have a safe-bug free summer.