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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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Toxic Heart, Toxic Body

Filed in Cleansing, Cleansing & Detox, Diet, Environmental Toxins, Exercise, Heart Disease, Heart of Perfect Health, High blood pressure, Inflammation, Skin, Stroke | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/26/2016


As American Heart Month 2016 winds down, I’d like to shift my focus to an area that we don’t always associate with heart issues – toxins. Toxins are everywhere; there is no doubt about it. In the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we eat, in our homes, in most products we use—even in the most pristine places on earth—toxins are there. Truth is, toxin accumulation can directly impact our cardiovascular system, and many times will manifest as high blood pressure, increased atherosclerosis, and ultimately heart issues.

Toxins are chemicals that interfere with normal functions in the body, and most have been associated with adverse health effects. At this point, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regularly measure over 200 toxic compounds, tracking the levels in different aspects of our population. However there are 80,000 chemicals currently in use! Although the CDC adds new chemicals to track annually, it’s simple to see that we will never be able to really understand the full impact of the substances we’re all exposed to. The sad fact is many chemicals contribute to cardiovascular disease – either directly, or indirectly – through an increase in oxidative stress and general systemic inflammation.

So what is oxidative stress, also known as oxidation anyhow? It is one of the main drivers of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is at the root cause of heart disease, and for that matter, all other chronic disease as well.

Consider this analogy illustrating the destructive properties of oxidation: Oxidation is like a punch thrown from a bully (the oxidant), and it can easily lead to a full-blown fight if enough molecules get involved. Destruction results. Oxidation occurs when there are not enough antioxidants (the peacekeepers) around.

Oxidative stress triggers inflammation and regarding cardiovascular issues, it initiates the destruction of the lining of the blood vessels, called endothelial dysfunction.

Atherosclerosis involves endothelial dysfunction and chronic inflammation in the artery walls, progressing to the buildup of plaque and eventual cardiac complications such as heart attack and stroke. So I’m sure you can clearly see how toxins that increase oxidative stress are definitely the enemy. And antioxidants are our friends.

It is a myth that nothing can be done about toxin exposure. The fact of the matter is that supporting the body’s seven channels of elimination – colon, liver, lungs, lymph, kidneys, skin, and blood – through diet and cleansing will help improve the body’s natural detoxification abilities. A healthy eating plan and cleansing routine will fortify your heart right along with every other part of your body.

In addition to the antioxidants your body naturally produces, you also obtain antioxidants from your diet. A diet high in antioxidants includes plenty of deeply colored fruits and vegetables. This important step helps decrease oxidative stress and general systemic inflammation.

Regular exercise stimulates sweating and the release of toxins from your skin. Different herbal formulas help support the organs of elimination. Next month I plan to discuss cleansing in more detail.

In my book, Heart of Perfect Health, I offer information and targeted programs designed to protect your heart for the rest of your life. Toxins may be all around us, but we have ways to release them – and renew our health.

Can Clutter Up My Weight?

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, General, Household, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/19/2016


February seems to bring out the organizing, aligning, revising side of my personality. Maybe it’s the new year, or maybe it’s the coming of spring – I’m just ready to clear the clutter and move forward!

Even in the midst of chaos, the kitchen has always been one place I strive to maintain clean and clear. I was very interested to read this report conducted by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab on the value of an uncluttered kitchen.

In the final analysis it seems that clutter in the kitchen fuels an out of control mindset, and triggers indulging in snacks and comfort food (in this report, cookies).

With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some tips on clearing your kitchen environment and prepping for successful snacks. As we called these types of concepts in Skinny Gut Diet – Power Tools!

First, if your kitchen is cluttered, it could be your cabinets are so full that extra objects have to sit on your counter because they have nowhere else to go. Scan through your cabinets one at a time and lessen the load. Box up the stuff you never use, and move the once or twice a year plates, pots or appliances to a higher, less trafficked shelf. This will help get objects off the counter and out of sight. Ahhh…

A small basket might do the trick for the paperwork that tends to piles up. If you live with others, possibly designate a place where everyone’s homeless mystery items might be placed until they are put in their proper location.

Next let’s organize the kind of snacks that support your clear minded goals. The value of allotting some time on the weekend to plan your weekly snacks cannot be over-emphasized!

Since eating at least an ounce of protein every 2-3 hours helps to balance your blood sugar and eliminate cravings, easy-to-grab protein snacks make things simple.

Roll-ups are a favorite at my house. Sliced proteins like turkey or ham and cheese, with a slice of pickle, a bit of sauerkraut, mustard, a slice of avocado or red pepper in the middle are very satisfying. Sometimes we roll them in a veggie leaf. For clean fingers, cover them with a paper towel and store in a plastic bag, a few at a time.

Pre-measuring single serve packets of almonds or sunflower seeds is a great strategy when you’re on the go. Tip – beware of carrying full canisters of nuts with you. Although nuts can be great snacks, overindulgence in these foods will demolish your low carb eating plan. Remember – nuts and seeds have as many carbs as they do protein in most cases.

Please believe me, the time it takes to pre-prepare your protein snacks (and lunches too) will pay off happily as your cravings cease, your blood sugar stabilizes, and your unwanted pounds shed.

And for a natural boost to your mindset, explore and enjoy lots of fermented foods, from pickles to kefir to sauerkraut to kimchi. According to research, those good bacteria just may balance your mood, helping you remain calm and collected in the midst of a day that may not resemble your clean and tidy kitchen at all!

Clutter – be gone! And let healthy snacks take your place!

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Filed in Exercise, General, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/12/2016


Valentine’s Day this Sunday evokes a lot of expectations, and in most cases the desired outcome is happiness. However, happiness is really an inside job, as the Dalai Lama XIV expresses so well “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

Did you know that research shows that about half your happiness is the result of a genetic set point? How do I know that? Because I spent years in therapy trying to figure out why I was not happy. As I dug into my past I realized that when I was in my mother’s womb she was in grief from the loss of her son (my brother). Sometimes there are very real reasons for your unhappiness that you really have had no control over.

But don’t despair! It’s also been found if your focus becomes happiness, you can attain your goal, no matter. It seems around 40% of ‘daily happy’ is the result of positive day-to-day behaviors and activities. So I thought it might be a perfect time to share some quick tips on “getting happy”.

One of the most powerful tools I can suggest is “choose to be happy!” Right now, simply declare “I’m going to be happy today!” When thoughts cross your mind that don’t support that declaration say to those thoughts “I’m not interested in you! Today I’m happy!” It may take a lot of repetition initially, less as time goes on, and the reward is well worth it.

Many times we think we’re earning happiness as we wait for a big event (like Valentine’s Day) or we finally get ‘THE job’, or we get to go skiing. However, that’s really only a tiny piece of the happiness available to us, and if we depend on those types of events to be happy, let-down is inevitable and intense. My second tip is to practice gratitude – for everything, even little things – on a daily basis. Often at the end of the day I’ll make a list of at least 10 things I’m grateful for that day. It’s not a bad idea to begin your day the same way.

In my experience, with regard to mood, there is no substitute for a healthy eating plan. In Skinny Gut Diet we have 3 simple rules. We could have named them “Rules for Happiness” – 1) Eat more good fats, like olive oil and avocado; 2) Eat living foods every day – greens and fermented goodies; 3) Eat protein at every meal and snack to reduce carb cravings. As these suggestions become your habits, you’ll notice how happy you feel as your blood sugar balances and inflammation decreases in your body.

I’ve always found movement to be essential to uplift my spirits. There’s simply nothing like the feel-good brain chemicals that are released whenever we decide to move our bodies and get the blood really flowing. I’m not talking marathons here – walking, biking, even housework (with the music on perhaps) can offer both brain and body wellness. And if you can find a spot in nature for your exercise, better still.

And here’s a short list of supplements that research has shown to boost mood and health – vitamin D, selenium, B vitamins, omega-3 oils, St. John’s Wort, SAMe, and my personal favorite, probiotics. I’m so grateful these natural substances are being applauded for their mood sustaining benefits.

Of course, happiness is a personal affair. Please be in touch and let me know what brings you happiness. And please enjoy Sunday, in your own unique Valentine way.