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      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 .

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What’s Going on in Your Gut? Two Essential Tests Can Help You Find Out

Filed in Conditions | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/29/2010


Doing what I do, I have a lot of folks come to me with problems like heartburn, constipation, gas and bloating—things that make you think right off the bat, “That’s a digestive issue.” But what about problems like fatigue or weight gain? Even allergies, joint pain or skin problems? What a lot of people don’t realize is that all of these things are connected, and they all come back to your gut.

I have a new book coming out called The Road to Perfect Health, and in it I talk about the vast numbers of bacteria in your body, especially in your digestive tract (which is where roughly 80 percent of your natural defenses are found). And when a healthy digestive balance is upset because of things like poor diet, stress or other factors, the result can be not only poor digestion, but a total breakdown in health.

If you’ve been having persistent health problems that you and your doctor just can’t seem to figure out no matter what you try, it may be time to look at what’s going on in your gut. And to do that, there are two absolutely essential tests that I recommend starting with. One is called a comprehensive stool analysis (CDSA or CSAP) and it’s really pretty remarkable. It evaluates your poop (now don’t cringe, this is important!) and looks at things like how you are digesting your food, as well as your levels of good and bad bacteria, whether pathogenic organisms such as C. difficile are present, what your yeast levels are, and if there are parasites in the gut.

The CDSA will also show you whether you have Leaky Gut Syndrome or inflammation in your digestive system, and it will show you how well your gut immunity is working, along with important gut health markers such as pH, blood, short-chain fatty acids and even how well your pancreas is functioning. These are all extremely important aspects of gut health that together can help you get to the bottom of what is going on in the rest of your body. Again, I can’t stress enough how connected your overall health is to what’s going on in your gut!

The other test is a gluten sensitivity test. Why gluten sensitivity? Because wheat gluten is a major (if not the worst) food irritant to the digestive system, and it is in a huge number of products on the market today—not just bread. Seriously folks, more than 40 percent of Americans are gluten sensitive and most don’t even know it, and 2 million of those have a serious autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, which causes the body to try to attack gluten in the system. And because even a lot of GI doctors don’t understand the difference between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, most will either label you as having celiac or nothing, which can be extremely frustrating when you don’t feel well and are trying to figure out what’s wrong (read more about this here).The bottom line is that people are having all these problems which could lead to bigger problems later on, and the reality is those problems can be helped.

Both of these tests are non-invasive and can be done right at home (visit www.labtestingdirect.com and www.enterolab.com for more information). Then, all you have to do is send the tests to the lab for analysis (prepaid envelopes are provided) and hopefully take the first step toward getting your health back on track. If they seem expensive, think about it this way: how much money do you spend each week or each month on frivolous things you really don’t need? Isn’t your health a hundred times more important than a $4 latte every morning? And even if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost right away, you may be eligible for reimbursement, so I beg you—make this investment in your health. It’s worth it to get to the root of your problems and start enjoying the vibrant health and energy you deserve!!

Turns Out Toxins Aren’t Choosy about Where they Live

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/29/2010


The other day I read about a recent study that really got me thinking…about toxins. True, I probably think about toxins more than the average person, but this was interesting—especially since when most folks think about environmental toxins, they imagine giant factories polluting the air in big cities. But this study really proves that no matter where you live, dangerous contaminants are probably tagging along!

After analyzing more than 40 homes in California, some of which were in low-income industrial areas and some in higher-income coastal areas, scientists found “similarly high levels” of a particularly hazardous type of toxin called an endocrine disruptor. EDCs include things like phthalates and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that act like hormones in the body and can have damaging effects on healthy reproduction and growth in humans. They are also used in many commercial pesticides and even cosmetic products.

What’s more, after testing indoor/outdoor air samples and indoor dust samples for the presence of over 100 different compounds (70 of which were known EDCs), researchers also found also that the number of EDCs was higher indoors than it was outside the homes in both areas. Yikes! Freeloading toxins!

Still, the really interesting part is that the scientists were “surprised” to find high levels of EDCs present in all the homes they tested…but not me! In fact, this just proves what I’ve been saying all along—that our modern world has become more and more toxic in the last few decades, and whether you live in a big city or in the middle of the desert, we can no longer ignore the truth: toxins are everywhere.

How Toxic are YOU? Take the quiz at www.detoxstrategy.com and read more about how to safeguard your body against harmful toxins!

More Evidence Linking Toxins to ADHD in Kids

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/27/2010


Every time I read about a study like this my heart just breaks. So many kids today are diagnosed with ADHD, and to think that something inside our own homes might be contributing to the problem is really hard to hear.

ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is one of the most common childhood disorders, and it can seriously impact the health and well being of not just children, but of whole families. Kids with ADHD are often severely hyperactive and have a difficult time concentrating and paying attention, and because they have such a hard time controlling their behavior, many of them have problems in school and at home. For parents of kids with ADHD, the last thing they want to worry about is toxins, but now there’s even more evidence that our increasingly toxic world is taking a toll on American families.

Recently a team of experts from Boston University looked at samples from nearly 600 kids between the ages of 12 and 15, and what they found was that those with higher levels of a type of toxin called PFCs in their bodies were more likely to suffer from ADHD. PFC stands for polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, and research suggests that these chemicals may affect healthy nervous system function. And because they’re used so much in things like food packaging and flame-retardant coatings for furniture and upholstery, it’s probably safe to say that PFCs are in most of our homes every day.

While we’ll never really be able to get rid of all the toxins that are inside our bodies, the best way to stay healthy is just to stay informed and do our best to reduce our toxic exposure. Take a good look at the products you use every day, and whenever you can, try to replace chemical-laden products with safer, natural alternatives. Your health—and the health of your kids—might just depend on it!

Conserve Energy—Don’t Waste Your Food!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/25/2010


This week’s “ReNew You” Challenge is about cutting down on wastefulness. It’s estimated that we waste about 27 percent of food in the U.S. That’s nearly 1/3! Yikes!

Next time you go out to eat, take a look at all the food that gets tossed. That doesn’t even include the food that was wasted during the preparation and processing of the many foods that eventually reach our tables.

A recent study suggests that decreasing the amount of food wasted is a great way to conserve energy. Food production consumed between eight to 16 percent of energy production in 2007, so just imagine what being conservative in the kitchen could mean to whittling down energy use!

So this week, get creative. When you shop for ingredients to prepare your meals, think about how much you are REALLY going to eat. (Or should be eating). By planning better, you can avoid leftovers that get tossed, and reduce the human energy needed to prepare it and dispose of it as well. Here are some tips: Prepare larger meals and freeze a portion, or make smaller meals that you know will be eaten. When you go out to eat, share a dish if you think you won’t be able to finish it, or choose an appetizer instead. Most restaurants offer at least double the portions you’re body really needs. Start to notice when you are wasting food and try to come up with creative ways to reduce that waste. Maybe it’s time to start composting your vegetable scraps and egg shells as well? It’s good for your garden, and great for the planet.

Despite the Benefits, Most Moms aren’t Breastfeeding Enough

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/22/2010


As any new mom can tell you, everyone has an opinion when it comes to breastfeeding—why it’s good, why it’s not, how you should do it, how long you should do it for, and the list goes on. But regardless of personal beliefs, the health benefits to both mom and baby have been proven time and time again, which is why this recent study really caught my attention.

According to experts at the CDC, not even half of all U.S. moms breastfeed as long as experts recommend (which in case you’re wondering is 6 months exclusively, then up to 2 years or longer with appropriate foods), and not even a quarter of new moms are still breastfeeding after a year. On top of that, even though a high percentage of moms start breastfeeding right after birth, research shows that many of them switch to bottle feeding pretty soon after.

The main focus of the study was actually to see if there was a connection between breastfeeding and childhood obesity rates, and guess what? Breastfed babies are actually less likely to have problems with obesity as they grow older. I wasn’t surprised by this, since I know how important breastfeeding is for newborn babies.

Breast milk is, in essence, a source of complete nutrition straight from Mother Nature, chock full of essential nutrients and powerful antibodies that help to establish a newborn baby’s natural defense system in the gut, which in turn helps protect them against everything from allergies to digestive problems to chronic disease and yes—even weight gain—later on in life.

Breastfeeding is also important for women, since studies show that mothers who breastfeed lessen their risk of breast, ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers, and it even helps protect against osteoporosis and bone fractures as they age. But to be honest, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overwhelming health benefits of breastfeeding, so if you or someone you know is expecting, be sure to pass the word along!

Love to Clean? Listen Up!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/20/2010


I can be a little neurotic sometimes when it comes to cleaning. What can I say? I love a clean house! But for all you gals like me who spend a lot of your free time scrubbing, polishing, spraying and sprucing up, this recent study published in the journal Environmental Health might be somewhat of an eye-opener.

Scientists looked at the cleaning habits of more than 1,500 women and found that those who used household cleaning products more often had a higher incidence of breast cancer—and that the worst culprits were air fresheners and products used to treat mold and mildew.

More than half of the women in the study had been diagnosed with breast cancer already (the others were healthy), and many admitted that the high amounts of chemicals in household cleaners could have contributed to their disease. I agree!

Really folks, I can’t speak enough about the dangers of those toxins that are lurking right in our very own homes. I know when we hear the word ‘toxins’ we immediately think about giant factories spewing out smoke, but the reality is that we don’t even have to leave the house to be at risk. These days our water, the food we eat, and yes—even the cleaning products we use can pose a serious threat to our bodies and our health.

My advice? Pay attention and read labels, and whenever you can, choose a safer, natural alternative to products made with harsh chemicals. There are so many good natural products out there, or you can even make your own! Because even though this study is one of the first of its kind and more research is planned, it’s enough to make you think twice before grabbing the shower cleaner and heading to the bathroom.

Eat More Veggies, Boost Immunity

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/18/2010


“Renew You” Challenge – Be a part of my Weekly Challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot for bringing health to your week.

So here we are right smack in the middle of another cold and flu season, and all I can hear in my head is mom telling me to eat my fruits and veggies. Why? Well, you know how a lot of folks take multivitamins every day? Fresh fruits and vegetables are like nature’s multivitamin—chock full of important nutrients and natural antioxidants proven to boost immune function and help keep you healthy—which brings me back to cold and flu season.

The best way to ward off seasonal illness is by being proactive. Don’t wait until the first sign of a sneeze or sniffle, but instead practice good habits all year long, and that includes (and you knew this was coming) eating more fruits and veggies. So that’s your challenge this week!

Now before you start to groan, just bear with me. The CDC has this great new website that helps you calculate how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day based on your age, sex and activity level, and from there it’s just a matter of being creative. And parents, pay attention—getting kids to gobble up their fruits and veggies may not be as difficult as you think. Just plan ahead, spend a little time at the beginning of the week slicing and storing, and soon the whole family will be on their way to better health. Here are some tips to help you get started!

 Dip bite-size veggies in low-fat dressing
 Spread natural peanut butter on celery sticks
 Spread hummus on celery, carrots or even whole-wheat pita
 Add pre-sliced veggies and even fruit to sandwiches & wraps
 Prepare individual salad servings for a quick grab-and-go lunch
 Top natural tortilla chips or pita chips with fresh, homemade salsa
 Mix berries or other fruits with yogurt, oatmeal & cereal
 Keep frozen fruit on hand for shakes & smoothies

For more simple, healthful snack ideas and recipes using fresh fruits and veggies, be sure to visit www.fiber35diet.com.

More Chemicals, More Bad News

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/15/2010


A lot of folks ask me where I find the time to stay up to date with current health news when I’m constantly traveling. The truth is, it isn’t always easy, but information sources like the Environmental Health Perspectives journal are a huge help.

EHP helps raise awareness about environmental toxins and their effects on human health—a subject I’m pretty passionate about, as you know!—and the latest issue talks about two studies whose results I just had to share. Even though it’s not exactly good news (okay, I guess you could say it’s just plain bad news), it’s a subject we just can’t afford to ignore any longer: everyday chemicals are wreaking havoc on our bodies and our well being.

In the first study, prenatal exposure to chemical toxins called phthalates (pronounced THA-lātes) was linked to birth defects in newborns and extreme behavioral problems in younger children. Scientists tested the urine of pregnant women for phthalates and then followed up with them as their children aged to track their behavioral development… and guess what? The women with the highest levels of phthalates reported the worst behavior in their children. So about now you’re probably thinking, “Well, what the heck are phthalates and how can I avoid them?” Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.

Phthalates are found in a lot of everyday products, and I mean a lot—especially things like make-up and beauty products. On the bright side, they’ve been removed from children’s products because they were found to be harmful, but exposure for expectant mothers really hasn’t been taken into consideration before now… maybe after hearing these results the regulators will finally listen?? I certainly hope so!

The second study looked at the effects of polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) on women who were trying to get pregnant. PBDEs are flame-retardant chemicals used widely in things like electronics, mattresses, carpet and fabrics, plastic products, and believe me—the list goes on. But what’s really scary is that they’re also found in household dust because the chemicals rub off on the products over time. Now, I hate dusting, but that might make me think twice about putting it off when I’m feeling lazy!

The results of this second study showed that women who had higher levels of PBDEs in their blood had a harder time getting pregnant, and it took them longer to conceive than women with lower blood levels of PBDEs. The point? This toxic soup we’re swimming in is everywhere, folks. But short of moving to Antarctica (oh wait, the ozone layer there is depleting—never mind!), there is no way to avoid them all. My advice is just to take small but sensible steps to reduce your exposure to harmful toxins, beginning with considering the products you buy (and opting for natural alternatives whenever possible), and making sure you cleanse and detox regularly!

Quitting Smoking Boosts Good Bacteria

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/13/2010


A study that looked at dental plaque samples from smokers? Yuck! But it just might surprise you to hear what scientists from Ohio State University and Newcastle University (UK) discovered after following several people with chronic gum disease after they quit smoking.

Knowing that tobacco use causes harmful bacteria to thrive in the mouth (which can eventually lead to gum disease), researchers wondered if quitting smoking could have the reverse effect. Could the numbers of bad bacteria be lowered? Could the beneficial bacteria be replenished?

During the year-long study, half of the more than 20 participants quit for good, but half started smoking again, and guess what the results showed? Yup, you guessed it—quitting smoking (along with non-surgical therapy and counseling) not only resulted in fewer bad bacteria but an increase in healthy, disease-fighting bacteria.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is pretty cool. In fact, it’s one of the first studies to prove that it’s possible to restore a healthy oral bacteria balance after quitting smoking. Just one more reason to kick the habit!

Arizona Residents: Join Me Oct. 13 for a Free Digestive Health Lecture!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/11/2010


Do you know what heartburn, constipation, weight gain, high cholesterol and fatigue have in common? What about things like allergies, arthritis and even chronic disease? Well, you might be surprised to hear it, but ALL of these things are related…and guess why? Because they ALL start in the gut. Want to know more?

Join me on October 13th at Sunflower Farmers Market in Scottsdale for a free digestive health lecture. I’m going to be talking about the link between a properly functioning digestive system and a healthy body, including how our increasingly toxic world is taking a serious toll on the natural defenses found in our gut. We’ll also talk about the natural supplements that are essential for helping you look and feel your best every day, so mark your calendar!

WHEN: Wednesday, October 13th  7:00-9:00 p.m.

WHERE: Sunflower Farmers Market, 4402 N. Miller Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251

RSVP: 480-941-6001