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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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      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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    • 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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      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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Back to School Health Tips

Filed in Children, Cold and Flu, Common Cold, Diet, Digestive Health, General, Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sugar, Teens | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/28/2015


Goodbye to summer! I hope yours was enjoyable and relaxing.

Here in Florida, we’re hoping that the heat will lift soon. The kids are headed back to their classes and with the new school year comes the inevitable increase in colds and flu. Lots of excited little human beings in an enclosed space together, laughing, touching and generally sharing their bacteria with anyone in coughing or sneezing range.

How can we parents help to support our children’s immune systems and overall health while minimizing the chances of bringing home the newest variety of bacteria or virus?

Although these simple habits can be taken for granted as obvious, verbal suggestions and leading by example seem to make all the difference. We all remind each other to:

  • Wash hands after using the bathroom.
  • Sneeze or cough into our inner elbow, rather than into our hands
  • Try not to put fingers into noses or mouths – generally avoid touching the face
  • Avoid the drinking fountain at school – bring bottled water if possible – there are some great eco friendly options available

And my favorite – it’s never too soon to teach our children about the dangers of sugar, and that sugar actually increases their chances of getting sick by feeding bad bacteria that make for unhappy sneezes and coughs. So minimizing sugar, both at school and at home, is one of the healthiest things we can all do together.

Which brings me to something I’d really like to say. Over the last decade, I’ve watched our awareness slowly shift from simply treating symptoms of disease to the sound concept that maintaining our natural health is the most intelligent choice we can make – on a daily basis. Sadly, American marketing techniques are often ahead of our best intentions.

Natural health isn’t always “natural” or “healthy”. We can be tricked by products that might contain a few positive nutrients lost in other ingredients that are downright unhealthy, like sugars. Gummy vitamins are the perfect example.

Sure, our kids love them because they taste like candy. Guess what – they ARE candy! And candy isn’t the way to maintain health – period.

Moms and Dads, please read the labels on those supposed healthy vitamins. If you go to your local health food store and ask, they will show you products that are sweetened with stevia or erythritol or other healthy sweeteners. Spend wisely and really preserve your children’s wellness.

Two other valuable tips:

  1. After breakfast, be sure to give your children a quality multi-vitamin that contains extra vitamin D and,
  2. Before bed, give your kids a probiotic. Their immune systems will love you for it!

Misery and suffering can be optional. Let’s all maintain our health together.

Summer Kebob Fun!

Filed in Adults, Recipes | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/14/2015


I love grilled food. I prep it in the kitchen and hand it over to my husband Stan. He then dons his alter-ego of Fabulous Grill Master! Hopefully you have someone in your house who undergoes the same transformation. I have only to wait patiently for a marvelous meal to appear after that.

My single assistant tells me that no husband is required. She assumes the same Grill Master alter-ego herself. Grilling just seems to mean “fun” for everyone!

Two appealing aspects of kebob (also known as kebab) recipes – they’re extremely easy to prepare and most are naturally high in protein while relatively low in carbs. If there’s a place for virtually risk-free experimentation, it seems to be with kebobs. Your wild idea will most likely turn out to be a big hit!

In this particular creation, beyond the base of chicken or shrimp, one mango is shared between 8 servings, giving us the heavenly taste of that summer fruit with very little sugar per person. The avocado provides tasty and healthy really “good” fat.

I hope you like them as much as we do.

 

1 ¼ lb of chicken tenders, cut into chunks or large shrimp, peeled

1 mango, peeled and cubed – approx. 1 inch diameter

2 small avocados cubed into approx. ¾ inch pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes

Juice of ½ orange

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove grated

1 tsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

Alternate threading either chicken or shrimp with mango, avocado and tomatoes onto 8 skewers. Whisk together orange juice, oil, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Brush some of the liquid mixture on the completed skewers and set aside in the frig for a quick marinate. 15 minutes will do just fine.

Preheat your grill to medium-high and grease the grate. You’ll want to grill your kebobs until your chicken or shrimp are done through. Turn your skewers and baste with more of your liquid mixture at around 3 minutes. It will probably take 6 minutes or so to fully cook your chicken or shrimp, but keep a watchful eye on them in case they’re ready earlier.

Serve your kebobs garnished with basil.

Kebobs and a side salad based in bitter greens like I suggested last week in this refreshing recipe are a great pair. Makes 8 kebobs and one happy group of people!

Summer Salad Treat

Filed in Adults, Cleansing & Detox, Digestive Health, Recipes | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/07/2015


Is it summer enough for you yet? Here in Florida it’s either hot, or raining, or hot and humid from the recent rain. In the spirit of cooling off, I’m offering a recipe treat this week.

I seem to crave light foods almost exclusively – and easy prep is a must. So salads and more salads are appealing. Adding in bitter greens makes this combination especially valuable as a gentle cleanse for your liver.

And although watermelon is not a low sugar food, how can you go an entire summer without a little taste of the fruit that seems to represent summer itself?

It’s also a great season to find beautifully colored tomatoes that can really dress up this delicious mixture. Artistic vision meets simple nutritious delight!

 

Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Yummy Roasted Nuts

1 cup mixture of walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkins seeds

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or coconut vinegar

1 garlic clove – pressed or minced

1 tsp raw honey

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of cubed watermelon

3 tomatoes, colors optional, cut in wedges

3 cups arugula

Place nuts on a roasting pan in the oven or toaster oven on ‘broil’ or ‘toast’ – just until you hear the pumpkin seeds pop – usually a little over 5 minutes, depending on your oven. Set them aside to cool.

For dressing, combine oil, basil, vinegar, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Place watermelon, tomatoes, arugula and dressing in a medium-sized bowl and toss together.

Garnish with roasted nuts.

Serves 2 to 3.

Happy Summer!