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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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      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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Your Very Own New Year’s Miracle

Filed in Adults, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Obesity, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/26/2015


At this holiday time, exclamations of “how delicious those sugar cookies are!” always seem to accompany an unspoken fervent prayer that “this time – just this time – please don’t end up on my hips!”

Well, I have a New Years Miracle to share with you to help you stay slim through the last of 2015, and beyond!

Two years ago at this season it was my great pleasure to be working closely with ten wonderful people conducting research on weight loss, food choices and digestive care supplements. That project resulted in the best-selling book Skinny Gut Diet. I’m happy to report, since it was published last October I’ve received multitudes of testimonials reporting healthy lifestyle changes along with hundreds of unwanted pounds shed.

Fast forward to last week. The magazine Woman’s World delivered their December 21, 2015 issue to the newsstands. Please pick up a copy and flip immediately to page 18 to see one of our Skinny Gut group, Danielle Andrew, looking absolutely beautiful in her holiday attire. Danielle lost 22 pounds (and has kept it off), achieving her results eating her way through not one, but two holiday seasons. How does she do that?

So here’s your New Years Miracle. Hold onto your hat. The wonderful miracle is FIBER! Yes, soluble, stir-in fiber! Danielle achieved and maintains her weight loss goals with fiber as one of her foremost allies.

Here’s the deal. Stir-in fiber is tasteless. It soaks up extra calories and toxins from your digestive system. It helps you feel full while eating less, and also assists in balancing your blood sugar. Remember your fiber before parties or meals that could offer potentially irresistible temptations, and you’ll be able to say “no, thank you” with a smile.

And as a bonus for you java lovers out there – soluble fiber is a great addition to coffee. Although it can easily be mixed into any type of beverage, or soft food for that matter, coffee stands out as a great choice.

Coffee has a natural diuretic effect, it boosts energy (which we all need at this time of year) and that cup of Joe has properties that increase the appetite suppressing effects of fiber. And adding some holiday flavors to your coffee like peppermint or eggnog definitely makes the spirit bright!

Additionally, there are some terrific anti-oxidants in coffee to help enhance your immune system that also support the immune boosting effects that fiber offers. Research out of the University of Illinois has shown that soluble fiber actually helps people recover 50% faster from bacterial infections (you MUST read the article!).

So next time you find yourself in the digestive care aisle, do your hips a favor and pick up some stir-in, soluble fiber. You can join Danielle in losing weight during the rest of the holiday season, and then keeping it off through the year! Now that’s my kind of miracle!

Sleep Your Way to Happy and Thin

Filed in Adults, Chronic Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, Sleep, Stress, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/11/2015


At this extremely busy time of year, it may seem like even more of a challenge to maintain your weight along with your good attitude. Could it be because you are not getting enough sleep?

Through the years I’ve blogged often on how important sleep is to your health. And it’s simply so important that I wanted to have a chat about it again.

I read an interesting article describing how metabolic syndrome, described as insulin resistance, a pro-inflammatory state, hypertension-elevated sympathetic tone, dyslipidemia, dysglycemia and obesity – is actually a survival advantage for animals in the wild during seasons of stress, like in the winter. Their physiological processes are tied to their biological clocks, which regulate all the major activities of the body like behavior, metabolism, reproduction and immunity. As days shorten and animals behave differently, they sleep more or less. As a response, their bodies create “metabolic syndrome” which helps them to survive. Here’s the news. Animals don’t suffer any pathology from the metabolic changes since they are not chronic, ongoing adaptations.

The biological clock pacemaker system for our own bodies is located primarily in the hypothalamus. Sleep disruptions whether too little sleep, even too much sleep or medical conditions like sleep apnea over time have been found to lead consistently to metabolic syndrome in humans. Sadly for us, due to chronic stress and sleep disruptions, our bodies respond as though winter survival is necessary all year long, every day! This may explain why, although we may try to lose weight through excellent dietary shifts, the pounds may stubbornly stay glued to our hips.

Sleep deprivation can also change your genes! In one study conducted in the UK, blood samples taken after just one week of getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night showed changes to more than 700 genes due to sleep deprivation alone. Eek! The genes affected seemed to be in the area of immune, stress and inflammatory responses. I don’t know about you, but I really want those particular types of genes to be in top form in my body!

An entertaining episode of Secret Eaters, a UK based TV show that examines weight issues in England, conducted a research project with two groups of people. One group was allowed to sleep soundly through the night. The other group was awakened a number of times to focus and complete a survey. The groups weren’t told the true reason for this study. The next day, the two groups were offered the same foods. The group whose sleep was disrupted actually consumed 35% more carbs and fats than the well-rested group. Wow!

If you’re confounded by weight that just won’t budge, please carefully review your sleeping habits. Turn off the television, drink hot tea, journal, pray, meditate, breathe. Here are some other great tips to help you get to sleep.

Allowing your body and mind to recognize that it can rest and restore itself will pay off in so many ways, and certainly give you a happier holiday season. Although it may be winter outside at this time of year, our bodies in our warm, safe houses don’t need to behave as though it’s “metabolic winter” in the wild. That good night sleep may keep those pounds at bay and put big smiles on your face too!

A Bright Idea – with Dogs

Filed in Cancer, Cats, Dogs - Pets, Environmental Toxins, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/04/2015


Dogs are a huge part of my life. My husband Stan and I share our home with three King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and they are a source of constant joy, giggles, and craziness. Their sweet spirits actually inspired our new company, Vital Planet Pets.

At Vital Planet we offer the highest quality dog supplements that can be found anywhere. From exemplary probiotic formulas to condition specific nutritional/herbal/energetic formulations, our products are life changing and effective for our canine friends.

We even have a great cat probiotic! Cats don’t despair, we’re coming out with a full line for you in 2016.

Which leads me to this week’s blog topic. I have a great present for dog lovers out there! I hope you enjoy reading this article that I found in the Wall Street Journal as much as I did entitled “Why Dogs Are Some Scientists’ New Best Friends”.

Dogs actually develop a lot of the same diseases that we humans do, making them valuable subjects for research.

Hold on now, don’t freak – we’re not talking lab rat experiments here. No scalpels or cages! What’s so cool about this research is it’s being conducted using saliva samples for DNA testing and behavioral observation.

The University of Massachusettes Medical School is launching a study of canine genetics, behavior and personality. Interestingly named Darwin’s Dogs, the team is attempting to answer important questions about human conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. Somehow I wouldn’t have imagined that. Seems Dobermans are known for “canine compulsive disorder” that’s similar to OCD in humans!

When we at Vital Planet talk to people about the value of ongoing maintenance of the health of their dogs rather than waiting for nasty disease to show up, I always remind them that dogs are essentially like us. They have the same endocrine system, the same organs, a skeletal system, a nervous system. One major difference is that they have a shorter digestive tract and longer teeth, which impacts their food requirements of course. However, the similarities far outweigh the differences.

In this article I enjoyed learning that a dog’s DNA is so close to ours that they can be our best friends in even more ways than ever. For example, recent research on osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children and frequently found in dogs showed that the composition of the tumors in children compared to those in dogs was virtually indistinguishable. Collecting more specimens from dogs could result in positive progress in understanding the etiology of this heartbreaking disease process.

One of our Vital Planet products, Daily Detox, is designed to support healthy functioning of a dog’s liver. Along with probiotics, the liver is our front line defense against our poisonous environment. If you think about it, dogs are even more toxic than we are. They’re smaller and closer to the ground. They are exposed to the same pollutants in their environments as we are, at closer range in some cases. Studies have been done clearly showing their increased toxic levels. This comparison information can allow us to better understand the impact that these toxins are having on humans on a day-to-day basis.

There’s actually a company called Dognition that enrolls dog owners as “citizen scientists”. The humans are asked to have their dogs complete different games or specific tasks. Then the collected data is submitted.

I must say, I was wondering how reliable that data might be. Apparently studies have also been conducted comparing data validity between lab and this type of at-home collection. The citizen-scientist data was found “useful and reliable”. I love this!

Dr. Hare from Dognition is looking at the environmental or behavioral factors that affect both the human and their dog. He calls this concept “one health” and defines that as ‘how animal research can help human health, and vice versa’.

For far too long an animal’s position in research has been a frightful one-way street. It delights me to imagine that our awareness is expanding in these avenues to recognize our dogs much more as beings deserving of respect and appreciation – for their salivary DNA and even their behaviors!