• Gut Health
  • Heart Health
    • 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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Introduce Solid Food + Breastfeeding after 17 Weeks in Infants

Filed in Allergies, Children, Infancy, Omega-3 & Fish Oil | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/30/2013


Introducing solid food after the 17th week of birth could reduce food allergies in babies who are also breastfed, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers found that children who had developed allergies started eating solid food before age 16 weeks. They were also more likely to not be breastfed.

“Introducing solid foods alongside breastfeeding can benefit the immune system,” stated Kate Grimshaw, PhD, RD. “It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic [tolerant] mechanisms against the solids.” The study involved over 1,100 children, 41 of whom developed allergies by age two. Diets of those children were compared with the diets of 82 other infants who did not develop allergies.

A couple years ago I reported on a study that found the omega-3 content of mother’s diets also plays a role in the development of allergies in infants. The immune systems of infants are very much in a developmental stage—along with their gut bacteria—so supporting this delicate process is important. The more we know about how to set our infants up for great health from an early age, the better they will fare in the long run.

Bold NYC Health Department Ads Target Obesity

Filed in Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/27/2013


The New York City Health Department is taking a new angle on addressing the obesity epidemic by creating ads and television commercials that state, “Sugary drinks can bring on obesity, which can lead to diabetes and risk factors for heart disease” with the headline, “Your Kids Could be Drinking Themselves Sick.”

The ads, part of the Pouring on the Pounds campaign, will run for three weeks and encourage New York residents to replace sugary drinks with water, seltzer, unsweetened tea, fat-free milk, or fresh fruit. “Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and in New York City and it has, in turn, fueled the diabetes epidemic,” stated New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD.

A couple years ago New York City tried unsuccessfully to limit the size of sugary beverages, so it is clear that this is an issue close to their hearts. I have to say, they are not far off. Sugar-sweetened beverages—even those “healthy” fruit juices—are not the innocent drink you may have thought they were. I agree with their message in these ads. Let’s hope they make the right kind of impact.

Watch My Segment On ColonicsTV

Filed in Cleansing | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/23/2013


ColonicTV

Over the years we realize more and more how many toxins our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis. Before you become depressed or overwhelmed by that thought, here’s the good news—it seems that in most cases our bodies, through regular bowel movements, can eliminate lots of toxins, and we can continue living our lives in a happy and healthy way. By regular, I mean at least one, if not two, healthy bowel movements daily. Read more here.

If you’re not removing your waste properly you become a walking toxic dump. The natural result over time is all sorts of chronic, and sometimes acute, health conditions. No kidding.

That’s why I’ve spent years and years both practicing and educating about colon health, and also colon hydrotherapy. Colon hydrotherapy gently helps remove accumulated waste from the colon using an infusion of filtered water.

In addition to running colon hydrotherapy clinics across Florida, I also developed and taught the Florida Colon Hydrotherapy Curriculum for licensure and collaborated with various doctors who adapted my services for patients with cancer and cardiovascular issues as well as gastrointestinal conditions. Through the years, I’ve also been very active with I-ACT, the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy. As you can see, this has been my passion!

Recently I was asked by ColonicsTV producer Julie Tyler to appear in their very first online episode, which is now live at: http://colonicstv.com. Julie is dedicated to increasing awareness about colon hydrotherapy and helping practitioners become licensed and/or legally protected through Safe Harbor laws and statutes in ALL 50 states—and to get colonic treatments covered by insurance.

This may not be your idea of a sexy topic, or fun party conversation, but I have a feeling you’ll agree that when your gut is happy, you’re a much happier (and sexier) person. If you haven’t yet tried colon hydrotherapy, at least check out ColonicsTV to expand your health possibilities. I promise, you’ll be glad you did. It’s actually a terrific holiday gift to yourself.

My wish for you is peace and vitality through this glorious season and beyond.

Your Belly Could be Due to Your Great-Grandmother’s DDT Exposure

Filed in Environmental Toxins, General, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/20/2013


Exposure to the now-banned insecticide DDT by previous generations may be a factor contributing to the rise in obesity, according to a recent study published in the journal BMC Medicine. Not only may your great-grandmother’s DDT exposure increase your risk of susceptibility to obesity, but you will also pass it down to your grandchildren even if you are not exposed to DDT at all.

Researchers from Washington State University used an animal model to determine the effect of DDT exposure through a number of generations. Interestingly, they found that the offspring of DDT-exposed mice were not at increased risk of obesity, but obesity developed in more than half of the third-generation offspring. They think that the insecticide may affect how genes are turned on and off—a phenomenon known as epigenetics.

Previously, the scientists had found epigenetic effects from many other environmental toxins, but the effects of DDT were far greater than other toxicants they had reviewed, highlighting the importance of the research. “The potential transgenerational actions of DDT need to be considered in the risk-benefit analysis of its use,” noted lead researcher Michael Skinner, PhD.

These findings point to the need for more regulation of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use today. These chemicals are not tested sufficiently and, in fact, are “innocent until proven guilty.”  Yet we might not be able to detect the harmful effects of such toxins until long after we’ve been exposed, as is the case with DDT. Toxic environmental exposures are not given the proper attention they deserve. That’s why I’m trying to help increase awareness.

High Blood Sugar is a Toxic Risk for Alzheimer’s

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Diabetes, General, Seniors | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/18/2013


High blood sugar levels make beta amyloid protein—found in people with Alzheimer’s disease—more toxic to the cells that line blood vessels in the brain, according to a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. High blood sugar is receiving increased attention for its role in Alzheimer’s, so much so that Alzheimer’s disease is also known by some experts as type 3 diabetes.

“While neuronal involvement is a major factor in Alzheimer’s development, recent evidence indicates damaged cerebral blood vessels compromised by high blood sugar play a role,” noted David Busija, PhD. “Even though the links among type 2 diabetes, brain vessels, and Alzheimer’s progression are unclear, hyperglycemia [high blood sugar] appears to play a role.”

The researchers used an animal model to determine that the viability of cells lining blood vessels in the brain decreases by 40 percent when exposed to high blood sugar. This damage is thought to be due to oxidative stress from the mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells. They call for aggressive control of blood sugar levels in diabetic patients to protect against such damage.

Current guidelines for normal blood sugar levels are less than 100 mg/dL, but some experts say that even lower blood sugar levels of 75 to 85 mg/dL are most protective. Indeed, even this study found that so-called normal blood sugar levels increased risk of triggering toxic beta amyloid. What increases blood sugar levels? A diet high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates (read: bread, pasta, pastries, cereal, chips, grains) does.

By lowering your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates and replacing these foods with non-starchy fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you will achieve healthy blood sugar levels as well as a healthy weight and metabolism.

Inflammatory Diet Linked to Depression in Women

Filed in Brain, Depression, General, Inflammation | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/16/2013


Women who eat a diet high in inflammatory foods—sugars, refined and starchy carbohydrates, processed meats, and trans fats to name the most common offenders—and low in anti-inflammatory foods—non-starchy fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats—are up to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression according to a new study by Harvard researchers published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Previous studies have linked inflammation to depression, but until now, a connection between depression and an inflammatory diet had not been investigated. The Harvard researchers performed a detailed dietary analysis to determine how diet, as a whole, is linked to the disorder. They followed over 43,000 women for more than 12 years, tracking their dietary patterns and depression along with several biomarkers for inflammation.

“These results converge with parallel findings on the relation between diet and physical health. From a public health perspective, it is reassuring that what is good for the body is also good for the mind,” stated lead researcher Alberto Ascherio, MD, PhD.

Diet is always 80 percent of the game, so I’m glad this study was done. When we understand that depression is linked to inflammation, we begin to want to reduce that inflammation. And sure, there are medications and supplements that reduce inflammation, but if you don’t address the main contributor to inflammation—the diet—then you are only addressing 20 percent of the problem. A healthy diet is key to lasting wellness.

Butyrate and the Immune System

Filed in Adults, Autoimmune Disease, Children, Digestive Health, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/13/2013


Some of your gut bacteria—especially the beneficial Bifidobacteria—produce an important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) called butyrate. They do this by fermenting fiber in the digestive tract. Butyrate acts as a food for the cells of the intestinal lining, helping to maintain the integrity of this one-cell-thick layer that separates the digestive system from the rest of the body. A recent study in the journal Nature found that butyrate acts as a switch that programs the immune system to produce important cells—regulatory T cells (T reg cells for short).

That may not sound like much, or may sound like a foreign language to you, but I want you to understand the vital role regulatory T cells play in our immune function. T reg cells help to balance your immune system by helping your immune system tolerate certain foreign particles rather than mounting an unnecessary immune response that could end in an autoimmune condition (in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissue/ misidentifying it as a foreign particle). In effect T reg cells help your immune system respond appropriately to that which it encounters—including the food that passes through your digestive tract.

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is an autoimmune disease, have been found to lack butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut. In the study, researchers used an animal model of colitis (a form of IBD) and found that the administration of butyrate increased T reg cells and improved colitis symptoms. This shows that not only is butyrate important in maintaining a healthy intestinal lining, but also in immune function.

The production of butyrate is just one of numerous ways in which beneficial gut bacteria help balance the immune system. Achieving and maintaining gut balance is vital for digestive and overall health.

Antibiotic Resistance—A Call for Global Response

Filed in Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Cold and Flu, General, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Respiratory issues | Posted by lsmith on 12/11/2013


A new report published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal warns that “we are at the dawn of a post-antibiotic era,” with “almost all disease-causing bacteria resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.”1 The gravity of the problem was summed up in a commentary on the report: “Rarely has modern medicine faced such a grave threat. Without antibiotics, treatments from minor surgery to major transplants could become impossible,” and “infection-related mortality rates in developed countries might return to those of the early 20th century.2 The report describes the global situation of antibiotic resistance, its major causes and consequences (which affect “everybody in the world”), and identifies key areas in which action is urgently needed.

The report states that the global burden of resistance is probably concentrated in three major categories: longer duration of illness and higher death rates in patients with resistant infections, increasing costs of treatment for resistant infections, and inability to perform procedures (i.e. surgeries) that rely on antibiotics to prevent infection. Sadly, this message is not new. In fact, back in 1945 Sir Alexander Fleming warned of the danger of antibiotic resistance resulting from overuse of antibiotics. Yet here we are almost 70 years later, still largely ignoring age-old advice.

The report calls for national commitment, on a global scale, to the implementation of successful strategies for “getting out of the impasse.” They call for rational use of antibiotics in hospitals and in the community. They call for education and changing social norms. (The attitude, “But I always take/prescribe antibiotics for a cough/sore throat/cold/urinary tract infection/acne/etc.” must change if we are to reverse the impasse.) They call for an increased role of better diagnostics, a reduction of the inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture, and for new antibiotics and alternative strategies to treat existing and future antibiotic-resistant infections.

“The future of antibiotics and survival of every human being that acquires a bacterial infection will depend on the serious commitment of many stakeholders, including government authorities, policy makers, health-care workers, university teachers, pharmaceutical companies, and consumers,” they warn.

The judicious use of antibiotics is crucial not only at the global population level, but also at the individual level. If you take antibiotics frequently, your bacteria gradually become more resistant to those antibiotics and one day you find that the antibiotic that always worked suddenly does not. Then you have to take a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which targets a broad range of bacteria. But the more you take broad spectrum antibiotics, the more likely a broad range of your bacteria are to become resistant. Do you see the vicious cycle here?

According to the CDC, “nearly 2 million people in the United States acquire an infection while in a hospital, resulting in 90,000 deaths. More than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause these infections are resistant to at least one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.”3

Certainly, if you are treating an infection that cannot be addressed by any other means, then antibiotics are necessary. But there are many conditions for which antibiotics should not be used, yet their use continues. Brenda and I have written many times about the inappropriate use of antibiotics and the threat of antibiotic resistance. See those articles for more information.

The opposite of danger, some say, is opportunity. I think it is high time that the medical science and the medical profession look at nutritional and lifestyle factors that predispose to infection and cause prolonged illness and/or death.

A real preventative health care program would include the following: prebiotics, probiotics, and cultured beverages/foods, a plant-based diet, optimum amounts of omega-3 oils and fish, vitamin D3, vitamin C (oral and intravenous), zinc, selenium, magnesium, and multiple mushrooms (from supplements and/or food) to name a few.

If you are under your physician’s care and you are doing all of the above, it is possible that you may be able to shorten your antibiotic course from 10 days to 3 to 5 days, which may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea as well as further resistance to antibiotics. If you do this and your symptoms return, immediately recontact your physician.

All of the above have been shown to balance immunity and prevent, treat, and survive many microbial infections, be they bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic. There is testing that can assure that the levels of most of these nutrients are in the high normal range and would confer protection, as well as be therapeutic. It would be interesting to see how nutrient deficient are the 23,000 people who die annually from an infection that has high antibiotic resistance.

So we are now basically being forced back to the natural order of things in which bacteria fight bacteria. With healthy, flexible immune balance most people will likely survive serious infections with appropriate lifestyle, diet, supplements, stress reduction, exercise, sleep, and good elimination.

 

References

  1. Laxminarayan R, Duse A, Wattal C, et al., “Antibiotic resistance—the need for global solutions.” Lancet Infect Dis. 2013;13(12):1057–98.
  2. Howard SJ, Catchpole M, Watson J, et al., “Antibiotic resistance: global response needed.” Lancet Infect Dis. 2013;12(13):1001–3.
  3. http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm143568.htm

Gut Microbes in Children Carry Numerous Antibiotic Resistance Genes

Filed in Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Children, Digestive Health, General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/09/2013


The microbes inside digestive tracts of healthy children have many antibiotic resistance genes, according to a recent study published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal. These genes may place the children at higher risk of developing resistance to antibiotic treatments.

“From birth to age 5, children receive more antibiotics than during any other five-year time span in their lives,” noted Gautam Dantas, PhD, lead author. “Frequent exposure to antibiotics accelerates the spread of antibiotic resistance. Our research highlights how important it is to only use these drugs when they are truly needed.”

The researchers analyzed microbial genomes of the microbes present in fecal samples from 22 children aged six months to 19 years. They were able to identify 2,500 new antibiotic resistance genes—30 percent more than were currently known—in this relatively small sample of individuals.

“There were quite a few resistance genes in microbes from every child we looked at. This was true even in children who were only six months old,” stated Dantas. They plan to study these children at multiple points throughout their lives. Antibiotic-resistant infections cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year (and that’s a conservative estimate according to the Centers for Disease Control).

I often highlight the latest news about antibiotic resistance because it’s an issue that needs to be taken more seriously. Although scientists have been warning of the detriments of antibiotic resistance since the 1940s, little has been done to change our course, which is headed toward the ineffectiveness of antibiotics, arguably the most important class of drugs ever created. Antibiotics need to be used only when necessary. Period.

Is Your Diet Too Acidic?

Filed in Adults, Diabetes, Digestive Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/06/2013


Did you know that the acidity of the foods you eat has an effect on your health? Acidic foods include meat, dairy, grains, nuts, and seafood, while alkaline foods are mostly fruits and vegetables. In a recent study published in the journal Diabetologia and involving over 60,000 women, diets with a higher overall acidity level were found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 56 percent.

“A diet rich in animal protein may favor net acid intake, while most fruits and vegetables form alkaline precursors that neutralize acidity,” noted the researchers. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in acidic foods and low in alkaline foods, creating what is known as metabolic acidosis, or too much acid in the body. That sure helps explain the current epidemic of type 2 diabetes, doesn’t it?

I cannot express strongly enough the importance of eating plenty of non-starchy fruits and vegetables, which are some of the most alkaline foods you can eat. Not only does your body avoid being hit by a sugar bomb (non-starchy fruits and vegetables do not convert to sugar nearly as much as starchy carbs like potatoes and grains), but your overall acid level will remain in a healthy range when you load up on these vital foods. Not to mention, your digestion will move along at a healthy pace, if you know what I mean.

If you are someone who struggles to eat your veggies, I urge you make an effort to reacquaint yourself with these health-promoting foods on a regular basis. Need some more inspiration? Read some of my past blogs on the many benefits of eating your greens.