• 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 .

  • 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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Trans Fats—Is Your Label Lying to You?

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/31/2011

For this week’s ‘Renew You’ Challenge, I want to talk about the bad fats in your diet. Since trans fat amounts have appeared in Nutrition Facts panels on packaged foods, food processors have been trying to lower or eliminate trans fats from many foods. But did you know that if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the label can still read 0g? So if it contains 0.49 grams of trans fat, you’d never know!

Hopefully that will be changing, as awareness of this little white lie is revealed. Currently, the daily consumption of over 1.11g of trans fats is considered excessive and may lead to long-term health effects. But with hidden trans fats in foods, it’s easy to see how this limit can be quickly surpassed.

How do you know if your food label is lying to you? The best way to determine if trans fats are still present in your foods is to call the food manufacturer. Doing this for everything you eat is unreasonable, however, so my advice is to steer clear of processed foods, especially those that you know used to contain trans fats. Try to consume mostly whole foods, which don’t contain trans fats, and are naturally high in nutrients and fiber.

Where Do Those Eggs Come From?

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/28/2011

Here is what I found: The Cornucopia Institute has put out a very informative report entitled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.” This 72-page report investigates different forms of egg production, explains the many definitions of the term “organic” and animal welfare standards, as well as shares information on the viewpoint of industrial organic egg producers.

My favorite part is the Organic Egg Scorecard, which rates egg brands according to how the eggs are raised and produced. Each brand has it’s own report if you click the brand name.

If you buy organic eggs but have wondered about just how the eggs are produced (especially with the latest egg recall), check out this report to see how your brand stacks up. It’s a very interesting report.

IBS & IBD—Mind, Body or Both?

Filed in General | Posted by lsmith on 01/26/2011

There is still a general belief with medical doctors and the public as well that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are mostly stress-related psychological disorders. I have personally had many patients who were reluctant to discuss their bowel problems for fear of being labeled a “psych” case. Many practitioners still aren’t aware there can be legitimate causes of disease that come from both mind and body.

With IBS and IBD, as with most discussions, there is often an element of truth on both sides or there would be no controversy. First, let’s look at the validity of the stress factors. People with genetic short serotonin transporter systems react negatively to stress-related increases in cortisol (a stress hormone) than people with normal serotonin transport systems.1 Second, ALL people react to significant stress, which can produce damage to the gut epithelial lining. However, people with a history of IBD generally show more gut lining damage than those without IBD. The damage includes: increased levels of stress hormones, activation and degranulation of mast cells, mitochondrial damage in epithelial cells, and mucosal protein oxidation which can create multiple problems with permeability (leaky gut) and immunity.2 Again, this happens to everyone under stress, but is worse with IBS and IBD because stress can trigger a relapse of either condition.

On the other hand, there are many reports that suggest anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of IBS and IBD patients have had a serious gastrointestinal infection days or weeks before they began having symptoms of chronic bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation (or both diarrhea and constipation) that may have lasted years. A study was done on 111 patients with IBS using the lactulose breath test (measures hydrogen and methane gas produced by too many of the wrong bacteria) and 84 percent of patients were positive, which indicates small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Those who were treated with a non-absorbable antibiotic, Neomycin, had a statistically significant improvement both in symptoms, and normalization of the breath test.3 A more recent study4 showed that patients with IBS, but without constipation, treated with rifaximin (a broad spectrum non-absorbable antibiotic) for two weeks provided significant relief of IBS symptoms including: bloating, abdominal pain, and loose or watery stools.

Both of these studies strongly suggest that bacterial overgrowth, which creates a low-grade infection, is a major part of IBS, and can be treated with antibiotics. In addition, I think the standard of care today strongly suggests using probiotics while on antibiotics. This has been shown to lower the incidence of antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD), and especially Clostridium difficle diarrhea, which can lead to total removal of the colon or even death.

Probiotics alone have been shown to significantly help with IBS. More specifically, probiotics enhance gut barrier function, inhibit pathogen binding and modulate gut inflammatory response. They reduce visceral hypersensitivity associated with both inflammation and psychological stress. More importantly, probiotics can alter colonic fermentation and stabilize the colonic microbiota, show that dietary exposure to pathogens maybe less likely to create another relapse of symptoms.5

Once again we can see that the use of high fiber, essential oils (omegas), probiotics and digestive enzymes (Brenda Watson’s HOPE Formula) can be beneficial in preventing or treating intestinal inflammation—be it IBS or IBD.

1. Way BM. “The Serotonin Transporter Promoter Polymorphism Is Associated with Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress.” Biol Psychiat. 2010 Mar 1;67(5):487-92.
2. Farhadi A, et al. “Heightened Responses to Stressors in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Am J Gastro. 2005;100:1796–1804.
3. Pimentel M., et al. “Normalization of Lactulose Breath Testing Correlates With Symptom Improvement in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Am J Gastro. 2003;98:412-19.
4. Pimentel M., et al. “Rifaximin Therapy for Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome without Constipation.” N Engl J Med. 2011 Jan;364:22-32.
5. Spiller, R. “Review article: probiotics and prebiotics in irritable bowel syndrome.” Aliment Pharmacog Ther. 2008 Jun;28(4):385-96.

Practice What You Preach (or at least what you know)

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/24/2011

For this week’s Renew You Challenge, I wanted to challenge you to put your knowledge to work for you. Health tips abound in today’s world. In magazines, newspapers, on the Internet, and on TV—we are faced with ‘low fat,’ ‘low calories,’ exercise and dieting ads and advice, usually on a daily basis. Some of us even take up the subject like an eager student, learning as much we can about the many ways to boost health and vitality.

Though we’re armed with health knowledge—even if it’s the basics—many of us often don’t put that knowledge to good use. Sure, we know eating too much sugar wreaks havoc on the body. No, we didn’t eat enough fiber today. Exercise can always be done tomorrow… It’s vicious cycle.

And yet, we find that these bad foods and habits slip into our lives almost unknowingly. That is, we try not to pay too much attention to them so that maybe we won’t even notice. I am not saying we need to be perfect. By all means, if you need to cheat for your own sanity—I advise it! But do it with the whole picture in mind.

This week, notice if what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, and how you care for your health, are all in accordance with what you know is best for you. Are there some things that you can do without? Are there other practices that you might like to do more? With what you already know, what changes can you make to bring about a healthier you?

Celiac Disease May Show Up Later in Life

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/21/2011

Celiac disease involves an autoimmune gut reaction to gluten proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. This reaction destroys the intestinal villi. Villi are the finger-like projections that line the small intestine, increasing the surface area of the intestine so that absorption of nutrients can be maximized. When the villi are destroyed, nutrient absorption is hindered, which can lead to serious health complications.

How serious? The autoimmune reaction of celiac (basically, the immune systems mistakes parts of the body as a foreign invader, and attacks the body’s own tissues) can lead to other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid dysfunction.

A recent study has determined that the incidence of celiac disease has doubled every year since 1974, and it also increases with age. If people can develop celiac disease in their 50s and 60s, it indicates that the condition is likely caused by environmental factors.

One important possible environmental trigger of the disease that may be causing late-onset celiac is changes in the composition of gut bacteria. Researchers suggested that a greater understanding of these changes in the gut may allow for the development of a way to keep the disease on hold.

Our gut health is truly related to the health of the rest of the body. Start by healing your gut, and maintaining that health to build a strong foundation that the rest of the body can benefit from, well into our golden years.

Dangerous Pesticide Phase-Out Takes Eight Years!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/19/2011

After the Environmental Protection Agency put out a study on the pesticide aldicarb (brand name Temik) that found it posed a safety risk to infants and young children, the company producing it, Bayer, decided to phase it out. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it will take eight years before the chemical is no longer used on crops like cotton, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and sugar beets. Even worse, this chemical has been in use since 1970. So what’s eight more years, right? Eight more years too many!

The chemical safety standards are about as backwards as they get. Instead of requiring strict safety testing before chemicals like this are introduced, it takes 40 years of spraying it on our crops before it is decided that’s not such a good idea. And that means exposure to millions of infants and young children over the past four decades.


Have IBS? Write Away Your Symptoms

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/17/2011

Ok folks, my weekly challenge involves a very interesting study from Boston University that I came across the other day that I want to share with you. The study looked at a technique known as expressive writing, which involves writing one’s thoughts and feelings about a certain issue. In this study, participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) expressed their thoughts and feelings about having IBS. They wrote for 30 minutes on four consecutive days.

Expressive writing was found to improve IBS severity and cognition in participants with longer-term duration of IBS. More studies are needed to confirm the potential for using this method in IBS treatment, but these preliminary results are hopeful.

It turns out that expressive writing has been found to be beneficial for a number of health conditions, like depression, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, chronic pain, chronic infection, and even length of hospital stay. How cool!

So, this week, if you are suffering from a chronic illness (especially IBS) take 30 minutes out of four days in a row to record your thoughts and feelings about it. Here is an excerpt from the instructions used in the study:

“…Feel free to really let go and explore your very deepest emotions and thoughts. You might tie your topic to your relationships with others, including parents, lovers, friends, or relatives, to your past, your present, your future, or to who you have been, who you would like to be, or who you are now…”

So get out a pen and paper (or your laptop) and let it all out. It may just make you feel better in the long run.

Seven-year-old Girls Becoming Women

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/14/2011

Girls are hitting puberty at an increasingly younger age. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that about 15 percent of girls studied had already begun breast development by age seven. The median age for breast development has dropped from age 10.9 years in 1991 to 9.9 years in 2006.

What makes young girls mature? Hormones. Yet, hormone disruptors are unfortunately all around them. Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals like flame retardants found on furniture and electronics, phthalates and BPA found in plastics and vinyl, and the herbicide atrazine found on non-organic produce could all be contributing to this early maturation.

Hormone disruptors interfere with normal hormone function. Some of these chemicals have been confirmed in human studies to interfere with male sexual development, but the research in humans is only just beginning. In fact, a recent study has found for the first time that daily exposure to BPAS increased levels of testosterone in the blood of men. Another human study found that BPA may decrease the quality and concentration of sperm in male humans. Hopefully more research will expose the dangers of endocrine disruptors in females, too.

My book Detox Strategy will help you find everything you need to begin your personal detoxification journey and take the first steps toward cleaner, healthier living – at any age.

Live Clean!

Join me on CNN-TV Tonight on The Joy Behar Show with Suzanne Somers

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/12/2011

Wonder why American’s are plagued with Heartburn, Constipation and Bloating? Join me on CNN-TV at 9:00pm ET tonight with Joy Behar, Suzanne Somers, Dr. Andrew Weil and Kathy Griffin. Watch as I uncover the direct link between an unbalanced gut and weight gain, and how constipation, bloating and heartburn are just a few of the warning signs of bigger problems down the line. I will be joining Suzanne Somers, who is guest hosting the show to promote her informative and inspiring new book, Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat after Forty – Shed the Toxins, Shed the Fat.

I was one of the main contributors of Suzanne’s new book, helping her understand the complexities of the gut as it pertains to weight loss. Like most of Suzanne’s other books, this is sure to be a New York Times best seller (already at #15 on Amazon).

Look for me in the second segment, right after Dr. Andrew Weil. For more information, here’s a link to Joy’s show: http://joybehar.blogs.cnn.com/

It is sure to be a fun, exciting and eye-opening evening for all of you. Don’t miss it!

Healthy Weight Management for the New Year

Filed in General | Posted by lsmith on 01/12/2011

We have survived another big holiday season! Unfortunately, we may find an unfriendly scale when we return the gym. For many the scale can reveal a five- or even 10-pound weight gain. January is a time for many people to restart a diet program, but most diet seekers don’t understand that calorie reduction alone is a recipe for failure—even damaging to the body. Calorie restriction alone can program the body to store more fat even quicker once normal food intake is resumed (possibly due to epigenomic reprogramming).

In order to be successful at achieving and maintaining an optimum body weight, there are many things to consider: exercise, good quality and quantity of sleep, regular elimination, and stress reduction. Equally important are meals that are higher in protein, fiber, and complex carbs; yet low in simple carbs, trans fats and other processed foods. The ideal diet would be about 80% planted based; rich in micronutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, trace minerals, beneficial pre- and probiotics, and plant and fruit phytochemicals (there are at least two thousand); while not exceeding more than about 500 to 700 calories per meal.

Here is a short list of helpful tips:

• Minimize eating after about 7 pm (ideally, don’t eat at all after then), so when you start a meal between 6 to 8 am, you are truly “breaking a (small) fast.” This is a major way to reset brain leptin receptors which will direct speeding up or slowing down of metabolism.

• Since we all love carbs (and will likely have trouble in this area), take nutrients and amino acids and special types of fiber that will slow absorption of carbs, maintain healthy serotonin levels, and help boost our energy.

• YOU MUST EXERCISE, even if it is just walking—ideally aerobic activity 4 to 5 times per week, resistance training 2 to 3 times per week, with some stretching and/or yoga. Research has shown there is more muscle loss (up to 50%) when using only calorie restriction to reduce weight. Active muscles suck up extra blood sugar, breakdown fat for fuel, and increase metabolism.

• SLEEP at least 7 hours per night. Sleeping less than 6 hours has been shown to increase weight, and begin calcification of your heart arteries.

• Regular ELIMINATION is also essential for lowering toxic burdens and inflammation, which will desensitize insulin receptors and, thus, increase blood sugar and insulin levels—promoting more fat storage. Regular elimination works best with high fiber, good hydration (about half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water per day—if you weight 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water), and exercise. If you need more help with elimination, supplement with magnesium and other mild laxatives, especially while losing weight so as to minimize reabsorption of toxins from fat breakdown.

• Check for food sensitivities. Food sensitivities alone can cause you to hold 20 or more extra pounds! Generally, stay away from grains like wheat, rice and corn, and switch to seed-type grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat.

• Take 10 to 20 minutes per day to sit still and watch your breath and thoughts. Direct thoughts to more positive aspects of life and have an attitude of gratitude. It will literally balance your autonomic nervous system, and help digestion, elimination and sleep.

The above program could not only get you an ideal body weight, but also reawaken the hidden athlete in you, from your childhood and teenage years.