• Gut Health
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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.

  • Skin Health
    • 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.

  • Brain Health
    • 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 .

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Finally! The Appendix Gets Recognition

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/29/2010


Notable News – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that we don’t need our appendix and that it has no function. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand removing the appendix if someone has appendicitis (a potentially fatal inflammation of the appendix) but the appendix isn’t completely useless! Did you know that it actually plays an important role in digestive health?

Recently researchers have determined that the appendix acts as a safe storage area for good bacteria in the body—you know, the kinds that help with digestion and immune function? So after a case of diarrhea, or a bout of antibiotics, both of which wipe out populations of good bacteria, the bacteria hidden in the appendix can actually repopulate the colon and bring balance back to your digestive tract! 

It makes perfect sense, really. The appendix is a narrow tube that sits at the bottom of the first part of the large intestine (also called the cecum). A bacterial infection or antibiotics would easily bypass the appendix because of its small opening, so the beneficial bacteria inside would stay protected. But inside the appendix are still enough bacteria to repopulate the gut when needed… which is pretty important when you consider that chronic dysbiosis (or a lack of enough beneficial gut bacteria) can contribute to infection if bad bacteria reach the appendix and multiply. And what happens then? You guessed it! Appendicitis!

So take it from me, your appendix is important, and so is making sure you take probiotics every day to keep your digestive system in balance!

How to Find a Natural Health Practitioner

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/28/2010


Health Links – Searching for a local natural health practitioner but don’t know where to start? Check out this great link I found! Natural Solutions magazine offers a natural health practitioner locator right on their website—just type in your zip code or city and state, and they provide a complete list of practitioners in your area, including acupuncturists, chiropractors, integrative/holistic MDs, massage/bodywork, naturopathic, osteopathic and physical therapy practitioners. What a great resource!

Tomorrow on the Poop Scoop: Gut Health & Immunity with Dr. Leonard Smith

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/26/2010


Did you know that a healthy gut can help you fight back against colds and flu? Tomorrow on the Poop Scoop (my online radio talk show) I’ll be talking with renowned medical doctor and nutrition expert Leonard Smith about the importance of a strong digestive tract for boosting immunity and warding off harmful bacteria and viruses. After all, more than 70 percent of your body’s natural immune defenses live in your gut!

Tune in to Brenda’s Poop Scoop LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5 pm (EST) on the VoiceAmerica™ Talk Radio Network. Missed an episode? Visit the Episode Directory and listen to past shows from the archive!

Bad Habit? Cut it Out!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2010


‘Renew You’ Challenge – We all have bad habits…you know, those little things we do every day that we know we shouldn’t do, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves? So what’s yours? Smoking? Dairy foods? A nightly dessert indulgence?

This week, the Renew You Challenge is to cut out something from your life that is getting in the way of your health. Take a moment to think about it, and choose something that you know you can cut out. Then, envision how much better you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished your goal, and pretty soon you’ll be reaping the benefits of a healthier, happier YOU…. so what are you waiting for? Cut it out!

Gluten-free Diet Affects Gut Bacteria

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/22/2010


Notable News – A few months back a study came out that found that the two most common (not to mention the most important!) types of healthy gut bacteria—Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli—were decreased in people on a gluten-free diet. My first thought was, “Oh great, now everyone is going to think the gluten-free diet is bad for you.” Not true!

The main difference between the gluten-free diet and the ‘normal’ diet in this study was the polysaccharide content (polysaccharides are just complex carbohydrates made of long chains of simple sugars). The gluten-free diet was lower in polysaccharides, which makes sense since polysaccharides often have a prebiotic effect. That means they nourish the good bacteria, or probiotics, and help them multiply, so a diet lower in polysaccharides might mean a decrease in the good bacteria that rely on them for food. But… THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID THE GLUTEN-FREE DIET! 

The gluten-free diet is essential for people who are gluten-sensitive or have a gluten allergy. And today more and more people are discovering that they’re sensitive to gluten and feel better on a gluten-free diet. So what should you do if you’re on a gluten-free diet but worried about a change in your gut bacteria? That’s easy—probiotics!

I can’t say enough about how important probiotics are. Not only do they help balance the good and bad bacteria in our intestines to help with digestion and immunity, but they also help to strengthen the protective intestinal lining, which can become damaged due to inflammation in people who are gluten-sensitive (including those with celiac disease).

So as the old saying goes, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! The gluten-free diet has helped so many people—the key is simply staying informed about the best ways to maximize your health when avoiding gluten.

Discovery Health’s Digestive Machine: Fun Learning for Kids!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/20/2010


Health Links Wednesday Getting kids interested in their digestive health is about as easy as getting them to choose cauliflower over cupcakes, but thanks to Discovery Health’s “Digestive Machine”, now they can get an inside look at just what happens after every mouthful!

This interactive diagram (complete with gurgling, sloshing sounds!) is such a great idea, even I had fun rolling my mouse over the different parts of the digestive system and reading fun facts like how our esophagus muscles work to push food toward the stomach even if we’re upside down or in space.

The Digestive Machine is a terrific resource to help kids learn about the importance of good digestion and how the food we eat supplies our bodies with nutrients for energy and growth, so be sure to check it out!

What’s the Scoop? My New Online Talk Show!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/19/2010


I’m so excited! Last week was the first-ever episode of my new online talk show, Brenda’s Poop Scoop, and it was a huge success! My first guest was Katie, my good friend and personal trainer. Katie had been having problems with her health and was feeling tired and worn out all the time… so tired that she would want to go home and nap right in the middle of her work day—“Katie”, I said “It’s in your gut!”

I helped Katie understand that the cause of her chronic fatigue was an unhealthy, unbalanced digestive system, and pretty soon she was making important changes to get her gut health back on track. What a difference it made! If you missed show, be sure to listen to the archive at http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vshow.aspx?sid=1670 and hear how Katie’s doing today. And you can see Katie’s story on my new webisode series, just click on the media room on my website at http://www.brendawatson.com/media-room/ .

Brenda’s Poop Scoop airs LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5 pm (EST), and on tomorrow’s show I’ll be talking with child psychologist Tara Garlitz, M.A. about how the food your children eat could be affecting their mood and behavior. We’ll talk about how new research links everyday nutrition to behavioral disorders such as ADD, ADHD, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, and learn the important nutrients kids need to do well in school and develop socially. So if you have children or know someone who does, you’ll definitely want to tune in!

Bring on the Beans!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/18/2010


‘Renew You’ Challenge – I heard recently that eating beans on New Year’s Day brings good luck for the coming year, but I say that eating beans at least once or twice every week will bring good digestion for the coming year—which might come in more handy than luck!

Now I know what you’re thinking (we’ve all heard the rhyme), but before you give beans the cold shoulder, consider this: they’re a quick and nutritious way to load up on protein and fiber, and if you don’t know by now that high-fiber foods and good digestion go hand in hand, you haven’t been paying attention!

If you’re not used to eating beans, keep it simple. Thumb through magazines or cookbooks for a yummy bean recipe or two, and commit to eating beans at least twice this week. Canned beans are a lifesaver when you’re strapped for time, but if you’re feeling ambitious, try making beans from scratch!

Worried about gas and bloating? Keep a digestive enzyme on hand to help break down the hard-to-digest starches and sugars found in beans. Many are specially formulated to help relieve flatulence, so that means your loved ones don’t have to run for cover every time beans are on the menu! And if you find a recipe you really like, be sure to share it in the comments!

Bon appétit! Or should I say… Bean appétit!

Gut bacteria linked to breast cancer and other diseases?

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/15/2010


Notable News – You know how I’m always saying that everything comes back to your gut? Turns out scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago are thinking the same thing!

In an upcoming study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (as in, the big guys), researchers are going to look into whether the bacteria in our gut are linked to certain diseases—specifically the rise of breast cancer in women. Interestingly, they think that the gut bacteria passed from mother to child may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. And ladies, if that’s not a reason to show your digestive tract a little more TLC, I don’t know what is!

The exciting thing is that this is just one of many studies in the works to help us better understand how the bacterial environment in our intestines—and even the bacteria on our skin—affects our overall health. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what scientists find out, especially since I’ve been touting the benefits of better digestion for years.

Alright, maybe I sound a little overly excited about these studies, but think about it—those of us in the natural health world have known for decades that our gut bacteria are at the base of total-body health, and now the rest of the world is finally catching up!

Keeping Your Gut in Good Shape

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/13/2010


Health Links Wednesday – We’re always being told to do things like watch our weight, take care of our heart, and even protect our skin—but what about taking care of that part of our bodies where more than 70 percent of our natural immune defenses are?

That’s right—the gut is like the body’s good health powerhouse, so doesn’t it deserve a little extra love? I say yes! And to help you get started, here are a few tips for digestive health from The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition:

  • Eat plenty of foods rich in fiber (at least 35 grams a day!)
  • Consume fish at least 3-5 times weekly
  • Don’t rush while eating (that means slow down and chew your food)
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

This site is right up my alley—talk about some great information! There’s even a quiz that helps you determine your level of “digestive distress,” and a section about the benefits of Omega-3s and probiotics, so be sure to check it out!