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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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Food Allergy and Sensitivities—A Growing Problem

Filed in General | Posted by lsmith on 06/29/2011


A recent study to be published in the journal Pediatrics found that the prevalence of food allergy in children is higher than previously thought.1 It turns out that 8 percent of children—that’s about 1 in every 13 children—are affected by food allergy. Food allergies and sensitivities are far-reaching problems contributing to many autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, arthritis and psoriasis, and to neuro-inflammatory conditions like autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).2-5

Food allergies and sensitivities are essentially the result of a breakdown in gut mucosal immune regulation in response to food antigens that pass through the gut. The gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) makes up about 80 percent of the body’s immune system, and it resides in and around the gut. The job of the immune system in the gut is to respond to foreign invaders, like pathogens, by destroying them. At the same time, it must also not respond to the large amount of food that passes through the gut every day—this is known as oral tolerance.

When it comes to food allergies and sensitivities, building and maintaining a healthy gut lining is key. The HOPE Formula can help you to achieve this with High fiber, Omega oils, Probiotics and digestive Enzymes.

If you have the right bacterial balance, as can be achieved with probiotics, the gut lining will be minimally inflamed and therefore minimal leakage of microbial toxins will be available to activate the GALT. The beneficial bacteria also create more of an immune tolerance with the epithelial cells that line the intestine—especially the mucosal-associated lymphocytes that are part of the epithelial lining.6

The right balance of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber can also minimize allergies—the soluble fiber by producing beneficial short chain fatty acids, especially butyrate, which is the primary fuel of the colonocytes; and insoluble fiber by diluting out any toxins associated with allergens that are exposed to the intestinal lining. In addition, it holds water and bulks the stools to promote better and quicker elimination, thus reducing the time of exposure to allergens.

The essential omega-3 and omega-6 oils in the right ratio promote immune balance in the gut lining and gut-associated immune system. Most people consume too many omega-6 oils and too few anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils. Omega-3 supplements can help reverse this imbalance. Digestive enzymes help by effectively breaking down proteins, fats, and carbs into less-antigenic food particles so that the intestinal (epithelial) lining does not react in an allergic, immunologic manner.

HOPE should be a foundational health concept to help eliminate and/or prevent food allergies, especially when combined with avoidance of known allergenic foods and a rotation diet that avoids repetition of any given sensitive food for at least 3 to 4 days before eating it again.

  1. Gupta RS, et al., “The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States.” Pediatrics. 2011 Jun 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Wasmuth HE and Kolb H, “Cow’s milk and immune-mediated diabetes.” Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Nov;59(4):573-9.
  3. Hvatum M, et al., “The gut-joint axis: cross reactive food antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis.” Gut. 2006 Sep;55(9):1240-7.
  4. Abenavoli M, et al., “Celiac disease and skin: psoriasis association.” World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Apr 14;13(14):2138-9.
  5. Curtis LT and Patel K, “Nutritional and environmental approaches to preventing and treating autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a review.” J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jan-Feb;14(1):79-85.
  6. Savilahti E, et al., “Pre and probiotics in the prevention and treatment of food allergy.” Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Jun;8(3):243-8.

Five Ways to Reduce Children’s Toxin Exposure

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/27/2011


Renew You Challenge

Let’s start this week off right!

Weekly challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot and in the right direction for bringing health to your week. You could even add it to your calendar. Join us!

The Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment is an affiliation of organizations with a common goal of improving children’s environmental health in Canada. They have recently released recommendations to reduce common sources of toxic exposure associated with health risks to children. Here are their five tips for creating a healthy home environment for kids:

Bust that dust. Dust is one of the main sources of toxin exposure for children. Toxins collect in house dust after being released from carpet, furniture, electronics, upholstery and more. Because children play closer to the ground they are exposed to more dust than adults. Also, their smaller bodies cannot process toxins as well as those of adults.

Go green when you clean. Many cleaning products contain an array of toxic chemicals used for everything from window shining to wood polishing. Similar to house dust, children spend their time closer to these surfaces, placing their hands all over tables and windows (and then placing those fingers in their mouth). Using non-toxic cleaners can give you peace of mind next time little Suzie tries to fit her whole fist in her mouth after smearing mashed potatoes on the coffee table.

Renovate right. House renovations can introduce a host of toxins from building materials, and can put pregnant women and children at risk of toxin exposure. If you can avoid renovating during these times, that would be ideal. However, if renovation must be done, be sure that all dust is properly cleaned up each day, and that the renovation area is well sealed off from living areas.

Get drastic with plastic. The experts recommend against using plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave, to store food in ceramic or glass containers instead of plastic containers, to eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in order to avoid BPA (bisphenol A) found in canned foods, and to avoid teething toys, bibs, bath toys, shower curtains and other items that contain PVC or vinyl.

Dish safer fish. They recommend choosing fish low in mercury, like Atlantic mackerel, herring, rainbow trout, wild or canned salmon, and tilapia. When tuna is preferred, choosing the light variety over albacore tuna is best due to a higher mercury content in albacore tuna.

This week, if you aren’t following these tips, begin to implement them where you can. These recommendations are right on. I hope this information gets into the hands of many parents. Pass it on!

Reusable Grocery Bags Are High In Lead!

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/24/2011


 

Some disturbing news came to my attention recently. You know those reusable bags that are replacing plastic and paper bags; those bags that help reduce waste in our landfills? Well, a recent investigation in the Tampa Bay area (my hometown) has found that many of these bags contain dangerous levels of lead!

The investigation was lead by the local newspaper, the Tampa Tribune. They tested an array of bags from different stores. As it turns out, the bags vary in the amount of lead they contain. Bags with more elaborate illustrations (especially green and yellow in color) contain the highest amounts of lead—enough that may qualify the bags as hazardous if disposed with household trash.

The current allowable level of paint on consumer products is 90 parts per million (ppm), but some bags tested contained levels as high as 194 ppm. Even more alarming, a separate, independent study performed this past summer found that some bags contained lead at levels up to 799 ppm! Bags with the simplest illustrations had the lowest levels of lead. But if customers are concerned about the bags, taking them back to the store is a good idea.

Lead is a neurotoxin, associated with lowering IQ levels in children and with fertility problems in adults. Lead can remain in the body for many years. Experts are still discovering the adverse health effects of lead, and as this occurs, acceptable levels of lead in many products are continually lowered. Researchers agree that there is no possible “safe” level of lead.

What to do about saving the earth, then? The way I see it, changing to canvas bags (plain bags with no designs) will be the best way to avoid lead, but still be ecologically minded. There will probably be many new types of bags produced as a result of this lead scare, so be on the lookout for replacements at you local health food stores in coming weeks.

Alzheimer’s Disease Link to Cholesterol and Inflammation

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/22/2011


 

Did you know there is a link between Alzheimer’s disease and cholesterol levels? This has been known for sometime, actually. Middle-aged adults with high total cholesterol levels—even moderately high—are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. And, very high HDL (good) cholesterol levels in older adults puts them at reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

Two new studies takes this link even further. Researchers are trying to find genes that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The APOE gene has already been strongly linked to the disease—if you have two versions of APOE4 (one from mom, one from dad) then you are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s because this APOE version is inefficient at breaking down amyloid beta plaques in the brain. Amyloid beta plaques are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new studies have found five more genes related to the development of Alzheimer’s, The interesting part is the function of these genes. The genes are involved with cholesterol and inflammation—both of which have been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have found that a chemical formed when cholesterol reacts with ozone (formed by inflammation) is involved in misfolding of amyloid beta, which makes it difficult to remove from the brain. The cholesterol link is interesting because cholesterol is produced in the liver, and the liver may be the actual source of amyloid beta in the first place, according to yet another recent study I blogged on recently.

Another finding comes from the University of California at Irvine. Cortisol, a hormone produced during stress, may also play a role in misfolding of amyloid beta. All the more reason to find some stress relief!

All these links of Alzheimer’s disease to processes that occur in other areas of the body make it even more important to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and find ways to relieve stress. And if you have high cholesterol—do something about it! Your body is telling you that something is off. Are you listening to it?

Omega-3 and Your Mouth

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/20/2011


Omega-3 fatty acids are wonder nutrients that offer many benefits to the body, from head to toe. Now, even the mouth is included in the long list of body areas that function better after intake of omega-3s.

A recent study found that a moderate, daily intake of the omega-3s DHA and EPA (found in marine sources, usually fish oil) was associated with up to a 20 percent decreased risk of gum disease (periodontitis).

Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that is caused by microorganisms like the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. Usually antibiotics are prescribed in an effort to eliminate these bacteria, but other treatments have been used that target the inflammation of gum disease, like scaling and root planing (ouch!) and in extreme cases surgery.   

Omega-3s are most known for their anti-inflammatory effects, so it is not surprising that they would help quell inflammation in the mouth. Additionally, this study also found that omega-3 fatty acids also demonstrated antibacterial activity against oral pathogens.

The mouth is the very beginning of the digestive tract, and the bacterial balance in the mouth is proving to be more important than previously thought. In fact, gum disease is also associated with the development of heart disease! Everything is connected, folks, and it all goes back to the gut!

You Snooze, You Lose

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/17/2011


I mention sleep from time to time because it is so important to your well-being.  Studies are finding that inadequate sleep can trigger a slew of health conditions.  These days, people are cramming more and more things to do into their days, but there are only so many hours in a day.  So what gets cut?  You guessed it—sleep!

A recent study found that dieters who got adequate sleep lost more fat weight than dieters who cut back on their sleep.  They also experienced less hunger. This is just one of the many benefits of a good night’s sleep.  

This week, I want you to pay attention to what you are cramming into your days.  You may even want to write down your actions for a week.  Now, make note of which tasks simply must be done.  Then notice which tasks are not necessary.  Also, check out which days are busiest.  Can some of the necessary tasks be moved to another day?  Spreading your tasks throughout the week can help even out your schedule.  And be sure to record how many hours of sleep you get. 

Recording your week can help you step back and take a good look at what is going on, day by day, hour by hour.  From there, you can make little adjustments that can add up to more sleep for you, and less hustle and bustle when you’re awake.

Toxic Flame Retardants in Most Baby Products

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/13/2011


Renew You Challenge

Let’s start this week off right!

Weekly challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot and in the right direction for bringing health to your week. You could even add it to your calendar.  Join us! 

Flame retardants are just about everywhere. They are especially concentrated in the home due to their presence on such items as upholstery, carpets, bedding, electronics and clothing, like children’s pajamas. 

Say what? Yes, they put these horrible chemicals on children’s pajamas. Luckily, you might be able to check the tags to be sure you are buying pajamas that do not contain these toxins. The tight-fitting pajamas are allowed to be sold without flame retardants, thankfully.

Many other baby items may be covered with the chemicals—car seats, changing pads, portable cribs, nursing pillows, the list goes on. A recent article in USA today reported on a study that found flame retardants in 80 percent of baby products tested. Children already have the highest levels of these chemicals in their bodies because they are always crawling around on the floor (where the chemicals settle in dust).  

Products containing fire retardants are not required to be labeled, but you can look for companies that choose to not use flame retardants. The article listed four brands claiming their products meet safety standards without chemical flame retardants—BabyLuxe Organic, Baby Bjorn, Orbit Baby and Boppy.  If you can, choosing products without these toxins is best, though at this point, we can’t avoid them all.

Plastics Leach Toxins

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/10/2011


 

Plastic products are made with an array of toxic chemicals—different chemicals depending on the final function of the plastic. Sure, plastics are convenient, there is no doubt. But I have to say, we’ve gone overboard with our dependence on plastic products.

A recent study has found that one-third of plastic products tested released toxic substances. The test they did was simple—they soaked 83 randomly selected plastic items in pure water for 1 to 3 days. Then, they were able to test for acute toxicity by adding water fleas to the water. As it turned out, one-third of those plastic products released chemicals that were acutely toxic to the fleas.

This was an eye-opener, because think about how little it took to leach chemicals off these plastics. All it took was pure water! Think about that bottle of water you drink every day. Think about that baby bath, filled with plastic toys. Think about that swimming pool. In fact, five out of 13 children’s products, including bath toys and inflatable armbands, were found to release toxins.

Plastics are everywhere, and they’re almost impossible to avoid. But if you can take measures to reduce your exposure and lessen the amount of plastics you use, you’ll be exposed to fewer chemicals. Obviously from this study, it doesn’t take much for toxins from plastic to be released.

Check Out My Latest Radio Interview With Vibrant Living Radio…

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/08/2011


Many of my newest readers probably don’t know that even though I’ve been in the natural health industry for years, I was still stuck in a daily cycle of brain fog, fatigue, sinus pressure, and anxiety. Me! It was hard to believe, but I was living it. And I couldn’t figure out why. I had a balanced gut. I was using the right hormones. I was eating properly. So, I went to my MD and we ran some tests…

Based on my test results, my trusted, respected friend recommended a one-of-a-kind resource that had an enormous impact and improved my life in ways I could not have imagined. Now I’m recommending that resource to you. I felt better in just 20 minutes following their advice.

To find out what worked for me, click on the links below and listen to the in-depth conversation I had with Jacqui Close and Glenn Brooks recently on Vibrant Living Radio.

Vibrant Living Radio Interview – Part 1

Vibrant Living Radio Interview – Part 2

Vibrant Living Radio Interview – Part 3

Now, I am so happy to tell you that these two wonderful people that helped me are offering you, my cherished online family, a free 30-minute consultation for the first 100 people who call 1-877-756-6753 (their toll-free number) to schedule an appointment. Their names are Dr. Ed and Jacqui Close.

Who knows? This may be just what you are looking for to get you back on the road to perfect health. It certainly made a difference for me.

 

Anxiety—It’s Not All in Your Head

Filed in General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/08/2011


 

The gut-brain connection is fascinating. It involves an intimate communication between the gut and the brain, and it goes in both directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. I mean, isn’t it cool that what happens in your gut can affect your brain?

Yet another study looking at the gut-brain connection has found that gut bacteria are associated with anxiety. The researchers used an animal model to study this link, as it is easier to work out the details of these connections in animal models. Researchers found that antibiotic treatment altered the normal gut bacterial count, producing a change in behavior—the mice became anxious. They also experienced an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), linked to anxiety and depression. When the antibiotics were stopped, behavior returned to normal.

To take this one step further, the researchers added gut bacteria from mice genetically prone to be passive, to mice prone to be more active and exploratory, and vice versa. They found that by giving the mice a different set of bacteria, the mice began to behave as the mice from which the bacteria were originally isolated. One of the researchers stated, “these results lay the foundation for investigating the therapeutic potential of probiotic bacteria and their products in the treatment of behavioral disorders, particularly those associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.”

Like I said, the gut-brain connection is fascinating.  Did you know your gut had so much power over your health?