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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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      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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Texts – New Teenage Health Food?

Filed in Diet, Fermentation, General, Leaky Gut, Skin, Teens, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/19/2016


Texts are like health food for teens - brendawatson.com

Are your kids back to school yet? If not, hang in there, the time is fast approaching! And perhaps this year, you can consider sending healthy texts to make a difference in what your teen chooses to eat! Now that’s a novel idea~

My beloved granddaughter has been staying with me this summer and she’s off to college on Monday. Add to that her birthday was last Wednesday, so to celebrate Stan and I took her on a trip to the Florida Keys. To increase the fun we invited some close friends of ours that have teenage daughters too. It was a non-stop texting and photo shoot (whatever did one do before the selfie?), tons of laughs and of course a food fest!

I had to grin when I checked out the Wall Street Journal and saw this article – “Appeal to Teens Vanity to Get Them to Eat Better”. I just lived and breathed that title!

The study published online in the British Journal of Health Psychology stated that “teenagers are more likely to eat healthier foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, if they are reminded it will improve their emotional well-being, attitude and appearance”.

I’ll bet you’re not surprised that the daily reminders were delivered via text. The abstract of the actual study can be found here. In a nutshell, texting proved to be a helpful tool in stimulating teenagers, ages 14 to 19, to increase their positive nutrient consumption.

While teens who received texts about increased health benefits and decreased cancer risk did consume more fruits and veggies than a control group that didn’t receive texts, the group that showed the most improvement in their eating habits received texts that focused on optimistic attitudes and a more attractive appearance.

That makes perfect sense to me. When I was that age, prevention and disease processes were the furthest things from my mind. After all, when you’re a teenager, it’s very clear you’ll live forever, won’t you? That’s the attitude that makes jumping off bridges and rock climbing just another day in the life! How I looked and how happy I was were of paramount importance!

As I consider these findings, I realize once again that the most important reminders any teenager can receive are those he or she experiences right at home. My granddaughter will come into the kitchen when something different is being prepared, and although her adorable nose may turn up a bit, her curiosity wins out time and again. You see, for years I’ve offered whole food, sometimes unusual substitutes for processed junk food on my table. As a grandmother, my influence goes only so far, but I believe that the seeds of health awareness have been firmly planted.

I find it a bit unsettling that she is recently recognizing more and more food sensitivities. Those allergic reactions point to Leaky Gut Syndrome and damage already done to the intestinal wall. Sadly, gut dysfunctions are happening at earlier ages than ever before, even in those considered “healthy teens”. (Tip for Mom – fortify your teen’s belly with a good probiotic daily!)

My granddaughter’s path is her own, and never before was her independence asserted more than during this vacation. She’s growing up and I look forward to watching her become a fine young woman. She knows I’m always here for her.

I’m thinking perhaps I should consider creating a series of texts that will let her know that live greens and fermented foods will make her skin glow (and that’s the total truth)!

Or maybe I will sneak a copy of Skinny Gut Diet into her suitcase. She just might get bored and read it one day – especially if I tell her she will definitely be even more beautiful if she does!

Dementia Concerns? Speed-training!

Filed in Brain, Dementia, Digestive Health, Exercise, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/05/2016


Dementia in Brain Strengthened by Speed Reading - brendawatson.com

Have you ever worried that dementia might creep up on you? If so, do you have any idea what you might do now to lessen your chances of dementia developing? I know that I’ll do just about anything to maintain the sparkle in my brain! I think I found something great for us. I’d like to introduce you to a computer exercise named “speed-training”.

An article I read in the Wall Street Journal described the results of a 10-year study regarding dementia. It was reported that speed-training may greatly reduce our future risk of developing dementia.

The study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research, involved 2,832 healthy individuals between the ages of 65 and 94. Research was conducted at six sites around the US. It was a random trial where participants would receive one of three cognitive training programs, with a fourth group set up as a control. The study continued for 10 years!

The results of the ‘first of its kind’ study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last July 24th. Toronto was the site of this event which was the world’s largest gathering of Alzheimer’s researchers in one place. The study, named ‘Active’ (Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly) was very happily received.

The speed-training subjects were initially given 10 one-hour training sessions over five weeks, with an instructor on hand should help be needed. Booster sessions were provided for certain participant groups a year later and then three years later. As I mentioned earlier, the subjects were followed for 10 years.

Some participants only received an initial 10 hours of training at the start of the study. This group demonstrated on average a 33% lower risk for developing dementia all those years later. The group that received the additional follow-up sessions showed a risk reduction of 48%! Please note however that these results are still considered preliminary pending peer review and publication.

No matter, I find these initial findings very hopeful! I was pleased to learn that the computer program is available now since it’s common for exciting research data to be presented years ahead of our ability to actually make use of it.

I was interested to read that the Active study included previous research on other brain training as a part of their report. At different points, I have initiated these types of programs into my own daily routines. 

As presented, tthree different types of brain training studied all led to improvements in cognitive function and the ability to perform daily living skills, such as preparing a meal. Especially relevant is that speed-training surpassed the other techniques in reducing the incidence of at-fault car crashes and averting declines in health. I was truly excited to learn that it seemed to be effective in preventing symptoms of depression too. Now that’s some computer program, I’d say!

The specific exercise used in the study was developed by the research team. However usage rights were acquired by Posit Science of San Francisco. They’ve developed a more user-friendly version of the game called Double Decision. That program is now part of the company’s BrainHQ online service. A monthly subscription including access to Double Decision is $14/month or $96/yr.

Speed-training is designed to improve the speed and accuracy of processing visual information and expand the useful field of view (UFOV). UFOV is the visual area within which a person can make quick decisions and pay attention without moving their eye or head. It seems UFOV decreases as we age, and a decline in UFOV is associated with a decreased ability to perform daily tasks, particularly driving a car.

Clinical studies on the brain that validate subjective testimonials can be hard to find. That’s why I am excited to discover a study like this.

“For the majority of brain fitness products sold today the marketing hype has exceeded the science. The Active results will definitely provide a big credibility boost to the field,” says Murali Doraiswamy, director of the neuro-cognitive disorders program at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C.

I certainly imagine this is just the first of many long-term studies with a focus on brain fitness. A future clinical trial has already been proposed to determine the optimal dose of speed-training (that’s a question that occurred to me!). The research team also wants to clarify the effects this activity has on the brain.

Speed-training seems to offer huge benefits with very minimal risk, if any at all. Imagine if we couple brain fitness exercise with food choices that support brain and body health.  Dr. Perlmutter makes excellent suggestions in Brain Maker and I know that Skinny Gut Diet recommendations are great brain food, too! These reasonable efforts can yield giant rewards over time. Brain exercise and brain diet are a natural pair.

By the way, the recommended time to begin speed-training is age 50. Have you tried this exercise or one like it? Did you feel that the time you spent was valuable? Please let me know. My wish for you is a clear mind and healthy body always!