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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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Getting the Poop Scoop on Autism

Filed in Autism, C. difficile, Children, fecal transplant, General, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2017


Autism Hope

A report in Science Daily entitled “Autism symptoms improve after fecal transplant, small study finds” caught my eye immediately.

You see, in one of the episodes of my recent PBS special, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson, I interviewed a woman who had undergone fecal transplant with great success. She had been extremely ill with recurrent C. difficile bacterial infections when this innovative treatment was suggested. She felt she regained her life through this process. Now I see it’s being used to help young people with autism!

For those of you unaware of this procedure, fecal transplantation is done by processing donor feces and screening it for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Then the “healthy” microbes are inserted into the participant’s digestive tract to rebalance the gut, known as the microbiome.

The boys and girls diagnosed with autism, ages 7 to 16, initially were administered a two week course of antibiotics to essentially wipe out existing bacteria, with hopes to start with a “clean slate”. Then doctors then gave the participants a high-dose fecal transplant of healthy donors’ bacteria and viruses in liquid form. Over the 7-8 weeks that followed the youngsters drank smoothies blended with a lower dose powder.

Although it was a small study (18 children), the results appeared to be extremely positive. Diarrhea and stomach pains decreased markedly – up to 82%, and parents also reported that behavioral autism symptoms significantly changed for the better. The study followed the participants for 8 weeks after the implantation, and positive results appeared to continue.

Researchers were also able to use laboratory testing to compare the autistic children’s bacterial diversity with their healthy peers following treatment. The participants’ bacterial diversity had improved to the point that the test results were indistinguishable from healthy children. This is such an important finding since previous research has shown that children with autism typically have less diversity of bacteria in their guts, and are also missing some important bacteria that are regarded as markers of a healthy microbiome, as I discussed in this blog.

The relationship between mental health and gut microbes has been researched often as well. So it seems logical that attempts to restore balance to the autistic child’s gut, as so many parents have worked to do over the years with great results through diet and probiotics, would and does result in better health.

It’s exciting to see that research may offer a more direct tool in the future with the potential to improve so many lives. As larger studies are done, it is hoped that researchers will uncover the precise bacteria and viruses that impact very specific diseases. What an interesting future we have to look forward to!

Diet Heals Kids with Crohn’s and UC!

Filed in Children, Crohn's, Diet, The Skinny Gut Diet, Ulcerative Colitis, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/18/2017


For those of you who may have been following me for some time, I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve written many times about the relationship of food to your overall health. The truth is, your diet heals. I’ve even written very specifically relating diet choices to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although the following information may not be necessarily new to you, I hope you’re as excited as I am to read this study that I found in Science Daily – “Novel diet therapy helps children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis reach remission”. It’s really great to see that “food as medicine” concepts are becoming more accepted in the scientific and medical communities.

The ‘novel’ therapy they are using is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and in fact is the work from which my Skinny Gut plan emerged. You may even be familiar with my recent book, Skinny Gut Diet where I outline the principles I practice on a daily basis for my own health.

To see this type of study published by a leading gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Suskind, warms my heart beyond description.

In a nutshell, 8 out of 10 young patients with inflammatory bowel disease, after only 12 weeks on the therapeutic diet showed significant improvement of their symptoms and achieved remission implementing the dietary treatment alone. Once again, I suggest – diet heals.

For the medical establishment to actually consider a “cure” that is entirely diet-based is groundbreaking!

The well-known book that brought SCD to the public’s attention, Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elizabeth Gottschall, was first published in 1994. That’s over two decades ago. And the first edition of that book was named Food and the Gut Reaction, and was published in 1987. As with so many other wonderful discoveries, the lag time between the initial discovery and public acceptance can be decades, as indeed it was in this case.

No matter. Thanks to all of you over the years who have been reading labels, completing food journals, making new choices and asking great questions about health and digestion. Also, thanks to you who are now becoming interested in lifestyle modifications today. You all are the embodiment of the new paradigm, the wave of change that recognizes “food as medicine”. Together, along with doctors like Dr. Suskin and mothers like Nicole Kittleson from the study we are making incredible positive changes for humanity! Thank you for being on my team!

Sunlight Offers New Benefits

Filed in General, Immune System, Longevity, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/09/2017


Blue Healing Sunlight - brendawatson.com

Through the years I have blogged repeatedly on the importance of vitamin D to our immunity, and actually all aspects of our health. Today I read some interesting research out of Georgetown University Medical Center that suggests another powerful benefit of getting some sunlight on your skin – totally separate from vitamin D yet still related to our immune systems.

The researchers are talking about “blue light”. In fact, some of the positive attributes of vitamin D may actually be due to the helpful activity stimulated by this particular band of sunlight.

Apparently blue light actually makes your T cells move faster. The cells themselves literally respond to the light. In order to work, T cells need to move. Their job is to get to the site of an infection as quickly as possible, like you’re body’s own ambulance service. Sunlight increases how fast your T cell ambulances get to the scene of the accident!

Technically speaking, sunlight helps to create hydrogen peroxide in T cells, and that hydrogen peroxide is what makes them move, like gasoline for the ambulance.

Interestingly, stimulating vitamin D through the skin requires UV light, too much of which can promote skin cancer, however it seems this blue light is very safe. Of course the next step is to determine how much blue light might be most effective in a therapeutic situation and possibly apply that through blue light lamps to increase immunity and health.

Those of us familiar with alternative therapies are no strangers to various light therapies. I love to see scientific research supporting the practices that many of us have embraced decades ago.

As winter is upon us it may become much more difficult to spend time in the sunshine, although most of us realize the benefits. Supplementing with vitamin D is always an excellent choice, and also adding in vitamin K as support adds even more benefit. I’d like to encourage you to consider an outdoor activity with friends and family that will up your exposure to the blue in sunlight, and make some great memories as well.

Lutein Ups “Crystalized Intelligence”

Filed in Adults, Brain, Diet, Longevity, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 01/04/2017


Lutein, greens and crucifers - brendawatson.com

The time-honored phrase “eat your greens” has taken on a new twist – with a spotlight on lutein. It has to do with “crystallized intelligence” which is the brain’s ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime. I read about this last week in an article in Science Daily.

A recent study reported in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience focused on lutein, one of several plant pigments that are contained in a living diet. Lutein is found primarily in leafy green vegetables, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and also in egg yolks. Lutein has been found to accumulate in the brain (this is a good thing!) where it seems to protect the neurons.

The areas in the brain where lutein is discovered have been associated in previous research with healthy functioning of the brain as it ages. In particular, this study imaged parts of the temporal cortex through MRI and also collected blood samples to determine lutein levels. High blood lutein levels seemed to parallel the appearance of thicker gray matter in the parahippocampal cortex.

Researchers feel, and I quote “We did find that lutein is linked to crystallized intelligence through the parahippocampal cortex.’ And they go on to say “…our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging”.

As our abilities to identify and scan the brain continue to grow I know that more and more nutrients that we take for granted in healthy diets will be shown to be star players in healthy brain and body aging. Generally, this information probably seems as obvious to you as it does to me, and as we know, the more scientific evidence that is gathered, the more people sit up and pay attention. That will increase our chances for a truly healthy future.

One more little tidbit – in a study done by the University of Warwick it was actually found that eating more fruits and vegetables, up to eight portions per day, can substantially increase people’s happiness levels over time!

So there you have it. Improved cognitive function, more happy! As we love to say in Rule 2 of Skinny Gut Diet – Eat Living Foods Every Day to Balance Your Gut! In addition to balancing your gut, as an extra bonus you will balance your brain and your emotions too.