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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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Travel Advice for your Gut

Filed in Constipation, Diarrhea, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Enzymes, GERD, Heartburn, Indigestion, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/24/2016


Travel advice with friends - brendawatson.com

Summer vacation, 4th of July – wonderful opportunities for travel and sampling exciting and different foods. Whether you’re visiting family, or jetting to the Far East, the fun ends abruptly when your digestion becomes distressed! With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some travel advice for your gut that may afford relief for belly troubles during your time away from home – and offer new life to your vacation.

Diarrhea is a common gut reaction when it senses something irritating or a bit too unusual. In many cases, your system simply wants whatever food or drink you’ve chosen out, and quickly! There are also those cases where you may have consumed tainted food or water along your route. Of course, whether camping or simply enjoying a different environment, sanitary conditions can be less than ideal.

When traveling, it’s always a good idea to consume all foods hot and fully cooked to avoid unwelcome food-borne pathogens. And should the hot days entice you to don your bathing suit, avoid swallowing the water that is so refreshing to your body.

Taking your probiotics daily offers you the best insurance against traveller’s diarrhea and peaceful digestion in general. However in case of unpleasant disruption be sure to have a particular probiotic on hand called Saccharomyces boulardii. This probiotic yeast shines in cases of even the toughest diarrhea and doesn’t require refrigeration. You may also want to supplement with goldenseal (constituent berberine) to help additionally curb symptoms and for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Personally, when I travel I tend toward constipation. I’ve read that up to 25% of travelers have reported similar discomfort. For some people, a fiber supplement will be helpful. Truthfully, supplementing on a daily basis with fiber while striving to reach at least 30 – 35 grams daily is a valuable maintenance practice, rather than just using fiber once constipation has set in.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially in this hot summer weather to avoid dehydration and further constipation. I have found consistently that an herbal formula that contains magnesium hydroxide along with aloe, rhubarb, possibly triphala taken with probiotics is a very helpful combination. I never leave home without these.

No travel advice for your gut would be complete without addressing occasional heartburn. The possibilities while traveling to trigger those unpleasant symptoms are abundant. New foods, hearty portions amid friends and family could produce an unhappy gastric result.

Breathe before you begin eating, chew your food thoroughly, and don’t forget your digestive enzymes! Food is to be enjoyed, and paying attention to what’s on your plate rather than eating without a thought can make a huge difference in your digestion. Do your best to focus on taste rather than quantity.

It’s best not to drink liquids with your meals, as that will dilute your stomach’s natural acids whose job it is to effectively break down your food.

When traveling, wear comfortable clothing. Did you realize that tight waistbands can compress the valve that controls acid flow? And whatever you do, avoid laying down to sleep immediately after you eat, as the acidic stomach contents can easily seep into your esophagus when you’re laying in the bed and create irritation.

As a last resort, should symptoms persist, you can immediately relieve heartburn with one or two teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cold water. Please use this method infrequently. Diminishing your stomach acid using any type of antacid today can often lead to even more issues in the future.

Happy, healthy, and comfortable trails to you and yours!

Skinny Gut Your Gumbo

Filed in Diet, General, Recipes | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/17/2016


Amazing Shrimp Gumbo - brendawatson.com

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, our family always starts to plan for picnics and get-togethers. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a simple and delicious gumbo that is always a crowd pleaser! It’s easy to double or triple this recipe and make a delicious offering for a large group!

Seafood Gumbo

(this recipe can be found in my recent book – Heart of Perfect Health)

Only 1.8 teaspoons of sugar per serving!

Prep – 60 minutes (well worth your time!)

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning mix or favorite Creole spice blend
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can low-sodium chopped tomatoes or similar amount raw/chopped
  • 1 pound medium shrimp (30 count) peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup fresh crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra (optional, but delicious – and in season!)

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, peppers, garlic, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaves. Sautee for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions and peppers are softened.

Add the stock and tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the shrimp, crabmeat, hot sauce, and okra. Return the mixture to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Of course, any other seafood you have in your household would be a delicious addition too. More green veggies also only add more nutrients to the fun!

Enjoy!

Probiotics – Good Summer Bugs!

Filed in Adults, Breastfeeding, Fermentation, Human Microbiome, Infancy, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/10/2016


probiotics - brendawatson.com

Although obesity remains one of our most pressing health problems today I’m hoping that for many Americans as the summer days unfold it may be an easier time to let go of some extra weight. In the heat, heavy foods just don’t seem quite as inviting as they were when it was cold outside. Moving around in humidity is much easier when you’re feeling lighter, and salads and light fruits are much more appealing in steamier weather. Fermented foods, which provide good bacteria known as probiotics become an excellent condiment with most any meal. Have you tried fermented salsa lately?

As always, I’m on the lookout for any new information regarding those great bacteria called probiotics. In addition to being present in fermented foods, the probiotics that we carry around inside of us also seem to impact our tendencies to accumulate weight. I found something I’d like to share with you in this article.

In my recent book Skinny Gut Diet we explored the different bacteria that have been researched thus far that play a part in whether we tend to be more fat or skinny. We actually tested our participants’ microbial ratios throughout our study and noticed that as the Bacteriodetes increased, their weight also decreased! That had also been the findings of many research studies and is mentioned in the article above. Fascinating!

Additionally, when I interviewed Rob Knight formerly of the University of Colorado and currently with the University of California, San Diego, it was clear in his studies of the Human Microbiome Project that the greater diversity of bacteria that a person’s gut environment portrayed, the more likely that person was to be healthy and balanced over all. I look forward to sharing that segment along with many more fascinating interviews with you this fall. The upcoming show is called Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson. Keep an eye out on your local Public Television Station.

These type of studies are still in their infancy, and I’m certain much more will be learned about the actual benefits or health challenges that are directly associated with specific microbial species. Whether the research reflects obesity issues, cardiac challenges, or mental disorders, it will certainly be exciting!

What I loved reading most was research that is currently going on in Puerto Rico under the guidance of Maria Gloria Domingues-Bello of N.Y.U. It was found in previous studies that when newborns travel down the birth canal, they ingest bacteria that help them digest milk. There is a lot of evidence that babies raised on formula as opposed to breast milk are much more likely to suffer from allergies, skin conditions and even digestive issues and obesity. Babies raised on formula simply do not receive critical substances in breast milk that promote good bacteria and retard the growth of bad bacteria.

Dominguez-Bello’s new clinical trial will monitor the weight and overall health of babies born by cesarean section. These babies will be swabbed immediately with a cloth laced with the mother’s vaginal fluids and resident microbes as they come into the world. How interesting it will be to see the impact that Mom’s natural bacteria have as these children grow and develop.

I love these studies on newborns, as they are most certainly our future. However, no less important to our world is helping you to understand healthy choices that will nourish the good bacteria in your own life! And it’s easy, especially in this season to enjoy large amounts of fresh veggies and fruits along with fantastic fermented goodies. Here’s my bonus gift for you today – one of my favorite recipes! And easy to make. Happy summer probiotics to you!

Brain Invaders!

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Immune System, Leaky Gut | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/02/2016


Brain Aging - brendawatson.com

Today I’d like to share with you some very though-provoking research I came across that was reported in our local paper, the Tampa Bay Times, regarding brain aging.

A Harvard research team is exploring the idea that Alzheimer’s disease could be the result of the body’s attempt to fight off infection. Their study focus is those plaque balls that are called beta amyloid.

You see, the brain is an area that is absolutely not supposed to be breached by bacteria or foreign substances – at all! For years, scientists believed that the blood-brain barrier was virtually impermeable. Now we know differently.

However should the brain’s defenses be breached, the immune system apparently becomes quite aggressive in walling off the invader, be it a virus, fungi or bacterium.

The groundbreaking evidence thus far seems to show that the defense system of the brain creates a sticky cage out of proteins called beta amyloids, literally trapping an offending microbe until it dies. These cages remain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The true function of the beta amyloids has been a mystery until now. It appears that in the body’s emergency response to protect the brain, the long-term repercussions may produce Alzheimer’s disease!

Once again these beautiful human bodies that we live in show remarkable abilities to protect us from harmful influences. Although no one would hope for Alzheimer’s disease, one day we may realize that without those cages of beta amyloids trapping all sorts of pathogens within them, people could be overcome by myriad brain infections all the time, suffer miserably, perhaps die quickly. Time will tell. I’m very curious.

For now, I reflect on the importance of maintaining the integrity and health of all our body systems to the best of our ability through appropriate eating habits, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

The question remains – how do we protect the brain from infection in the first place? Perhaps the next Harvard research project might be – how do we strengthen the integrity of that delicate blood-brain barrier against initial infection?

I feel certain those future answers to “Leaky Brain” will align perfectly with creating a healthy intestinal wall, further protecting us from Leaky Gut. As our understanding of the Gut-Brain connection expands, it will positively offer us even more amazing breakthroughs for health far into our futures.