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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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      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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Cut the Stress, Free Your Mind

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Depression, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/01/2016

Free Your Mind From Stress - brendawatson.com

One of the joys of the holiday season is when we reconnect with our families, young and old. Of course, it’s great fun when we get to hear of our Grandparent’s exciting trip they took to Ireland last year. But for some families the reunions are more bittersweet, as we notice the progressive changes that a year has taken on our loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Last weekend I saw an impactful edition of 60 Minutes on TV. Follow this link to view it yourself. In summary, it documents the struggles of a unique Columbian family that has a rare and disastrous genetic mutation, resulting in roughly 50% of their lineage to fall prey to very early onset Alzheimer’s followed by an approximate 10 year decline into oblivion. The episode is extraordinary to watch (grab your Kleenex box), and a clinical trial has begun that may offer incredible insights and even a possible cure into this dismaying disease. Please note that this type of Alzheimer’s is very rare. My prayers go out to this brave family.

Don’t despair, I have some good news for you here should you have concern about a bit too much forgetfulness lately. From an entirely different perspective, an encouraging article I read in the Wall Street Journal this week wants us to know that although Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, the chances of actually having a dementia condition like Alzheimer’s at a relatively early age – and early is defined as between 50 and 65 – is actually more remote than you might have imagined.

If you’ve been concerned, it’s far more likely that you are simply experiencing very normal age-associated declines in cognitive skills that can be greatly exacerbated by other lifestyle factors like exhaustion due to sleep issues, overwork, drug side effects, substance abuse, depression or adult attention deficit disorder. The general term for this situation is “brain fog”. Yes.

STRESS, along with a buffet of the choices we are casually offered in our society to deal with demanding circumstances to the best of our ability can magnify memory and cognition issues – and fog us up like we live across the bay from San Francisco. Uncover the stress that is intensifying the symptoms and clarity can again be yours.

Of course, if you have watched a family member decline into senility, you may be more sensitive to changes you note in your own life. And worrying that you are not at the top of your game can be absolutely debilitating. A well-intentioned physician may prescribe you an aid that doesn’t really benefit your particular situation. Or a seemingly relaxing habit like a drink or medication before bed may rob you of much needed deep sleep and clarity in the long run.

I’m not saying to ignore memory and cognition lapses. I am saying to love yourself, take a deep breath and attempt to evaluate the stress level you’re expecting yourself to function at. Would you even suggest that level of stress to your 30 year old niece? Probably not.

And if you are seriously concerned that your thoughts seem to be slipping, seek out an expert such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist who can review your symptoms and run appropriate tests.

In my experience, dietary choices and toxicity are always involved in any type of cognitive and mental issues. Caring for ourselves by making healthy meal choices, drinking plenty of water, exercise – all these are guaranteed to clear away a bit of that fog. And a great research study I read the other day (one of many) clearly demonstrates that probiotics, those good bacteria in your gut, may help boost memory and learning for Alzheimer’s patients. If they can do that for someone that already has symptoms, imagine how helpful they may be for the rest of us!

My greatest wishes are for you to enjoy a clear and joy-filled holiday – and please remember – cut the stress! You’ll free your mind!

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.

Need a Natural Health Breakthrough?

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Cats, Dementia, Depression, Dogs - Pets, Environmental Toxins, Fermentation, Heart Disease, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Longevity, Obesity, Parkinson's, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/18/2015

Many of you who know me or have followed me for years know I’ve dedicated a great deal of my life to sharing knowledge on natural health options that you may not have known about.  Things like digestive health, cardiovascular care, toxicity, weight loss and more.  Well I’m at it again!

I am currently working on a new television series called Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson.

What is Natural Health Breakthroughs?

This new series is designed to bring you the latest and most innovative health care options.

Health options that you can benefit from such as Stem Cell Therapy, Integrative Cardiovascular Therapy, Fecal Transplant, and the latest Genetic Testing.  I also cover topics such as Food Sensitivities, Brain Health, Gut Health, Effects of Environmental and Chemical Toxicity, even Natural Health for your pets.

These things are not secret, but they are not widely known either. And what’s not being shared are the amazing success stories all around us – people like you and me doing things far better than relying on drugs or having unnecessary procedures.

This information is something everyone should have, but I need your help to make that happen.

So far I have been able to fund and produce five episodes.  These five episodes are complete and ready to go and include: Integrative Cardiovascular Care; Better Health For Your Brain; How Fermented Foods Could Change Your Life; The Gut Microbiome and How It’s Changing Health Care; Toxicity and It’s Detrimental Effects on Generations to Come.

Now I need your help to finish the next five episodes.

The next five episodes are slated to include:   Stem Cell research and therapies and how to get them; how genetic testing could change your health care; food sensitivities and why they may be your hidden issue; latest research on obesity and surprising factors in your weight gain; natural health options for your pet and much more.

Now, here’s the thing! In order for any television station to air this series they need at least 10 episodes.  With your help we can finish the next 5 and be able to bring this information to you and your family.

I can’t imagine the information I already have in the 5 episodes so far just sitting there not able to be viewed by the thousands of people it can help.  That thought just makes my stomach turn!

In order to make the right decision about your health you have to have the information. It is a choice after all.  And that’s exactly what I am trying to do – give you choices for your health.

To find out more about my new show and how you can help please visit my page on the website Indiegogo: http://igg.me/at/BrendaWatson

Diabetes Linked to Memory Decline

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Diabetes, Mental Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/30/2015

According to recent statistics, 29.1 million people—that’s 9.3 percent of the population—have diabetes. Almost 30 percent of these people have not been diagnosed, however. It gets worse. Fully 86 million more people—that’s over one third of U.S. adults—have prediabetes (high blood sugar, the precursor to diabetes), yet ninety percent of them don’t know it. Truly, these numbers reveal the epidemic nature of this largely preventable disease.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people diagnosed with diabetes during midlife are more likely to experience memory and cognitive problems during the next 20 years than those people with healthy blood sugar levels. A 60-year-old with diabetes will exhibit the same cognitive decline as a healthy person who is five years older. Diabetes shaves five years off your cognitive health, just like that.

“The lesson is that to have a healthy brain when you’re 70, you need to eat right and exercise when you’re 50,” noted lead researcher Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH.

The study followed a group of almost 16,000 middle-aged adults and found 19 percent more cognitive and memory decline in people with poorly controlled diabetes, and found smaller declines even in people with controlled diabetes and prediabetes.

“Knowing that the risk for cognitive impairments begins with diabetes and other risk factors in midlife can be a strong motivator for patients and their doctors to adopt and maintain long-term healthy practices,” noted A. Richey Sharrett, MD, DrPH, another researcher.

News that high blood sugar increases risk for dementia is not new. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is also known as type 3 diabetes. If you have not had your blood sugar checked recently, please do. Ask your doctor to also check your insulin level, which is a sign that blood sugar abnormalities may be on the horizon.

Reversing Memory Loss with Personalized Natural Treatments

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Seniors | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/26/2015

Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million patients in the United States and 30 million worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. Women are affected more than men, such that a woman’s chance of developing the disease is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer.

There is currently no medication that effectively treats the disease despite billions of dollars spent on research. In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Aging, Dale Bredesen, MD, director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA reports on case studies using a personalized therapeutic program that involves multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration.

Each patient was treated in an individualized way based on lab results obtained at the beginning of the study. All patients followed a diet that eliminated simple carbohydrates and processed foods, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption. They fasted for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime, and for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. They exercised on a regular basis and tried to sleep as close to eight hours as possible, taking melatonin if needed. Some patients added meditation and relaxation to address stress. Additional supplementation, sometimes extensive, was given to the patients based on their lab results. Many of the patients received vitamin D, coQ10, probiotics, fish oil, active B vitamins, and antioxidants. For a complete list of supplements, see the full study here. Some patients received hormone replacement therapy, again based on lab results.

Of the ten patients Bredesen treated, nine displayed improvement in cognition within three to six months. The one patient who did not improve had a very late stage Alzheimer’s disease, which may explain the lack of response. Of the six patients who had discontinued working or were struggling with their work, all of them experienced improved performance and could return to work or continue working.

“Results from the ten patients reported here suggest that memory loss in patients with subjective cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment, and at least the early phase of Alzheimer’s disease, may be reversed, and improvement sustained, with the therapeutic program described here,” noted Bredesen. “However, at the current time the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is warranted.”

Although the protocol was not easy to follow, these patients were aware of the poor prognosis of their disease and that the cognitive decline was, for the most part, untreatable, so they were motivated to adhere to the treatment.

Dr. Bredesen is a pioneer in his field. His personalized approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease is commendable. His work is similar to the work done by other functional medicine doctors like Dr. David Perlmutter. More studies are needed to help bring such treatments to more doctors around the country so that we can finally get to the root cause of the imbalances that lead to such chronic diseases as Alzheimer’s.

Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease—The Jury is Still Out

Filed in Alzheimer's, Dementia, Environmental Toxins, Mental Health, Seniors | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/05/2015

You may have heard, at one time or another, that aluminum exposure increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Until recently, this link has been swept under the rug, so to speak. There are no conclusive results when it comes to the role of aluminum on the disease, yet all the while, some researchers have continued to find harmful effects of aluminum on the brain.

One such researcher, Christopher Exley, PhD, has devoted his life to the study of aluminum. In his paper recently published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, he says that it may be inevitable that aluminum plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. He talks about the lack of awareness around such a risk:

“We are all accumulating a known neurotoxin in our brain from our conception to our death. Why do we treat this inevitability with almost total complacency?”

Aluminum is the third-most abundant element of the Earth’s crust, and is commonly used throughout the world. Thus, humans are widely exposed to the element, both in the natural environment and through the use of everyday household items. Humans accumulate aluminum in every cell in the body—an accumulation that is increasing as time goes on—and yet there is not yet an identified beneficial role for aluminum in the body.

Exley’s paper is a call to action:

“How do we know that Alzheimer’s disease is not the manifestation of chronic aluminum toxicity in humans? Why are we choosing to miss out on this opportunity? Surely the time has come to test the aluminum hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease once and for all?”

He has a good point. Studies have not refuted the connection. They simply haven’t confirmed it. Exley says that industry propaganda and political interference play a huge role in disguising the “inevitable role played by human exposure to aluminum in neurodegenerative diseases.” That is, there is a lot of money to be made in the aluminum industry. If we knew how detrimental it was, entire industries would be disrupted. They have an interest in our not finding out about it.

Exley suggests the non-invasive method of drinking silicon-rich mineral water as being a potential solution for the accumulation of aluminum in the body. Silicon is thought to promote the excretion of aluminum out of the body. He calls for more studies to determine just how much water and what silicon concentration is required to significantly lower body burdens of aluminum. In a small study of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, they were able to demonstrate removal of aluminum by daily consumption of one liter of silicon-rich mineral water at 30 mg/L of “silica.” Silicon-rich bottled mineral water is widely available, and is usually labeled with the silica concentration.

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Dementia

Filed in Alzheimer's, Dementia | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/15/2014

In addition to the everyday digestive support supplements that I recommend everyone take on a daily basis (whether or not they have “digestive” issues)—High fiber, Omega-3, Probiotics, and digestive Enyzmes (I call it the H.O.P.E. Formula)—I always recommend vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is very common, even in “healthy” people and in those who get regular sun exposure. (Sun is a major source of vitamin D.)

A recent study published in the journal Neurology found that people who are severely vitamin D deficient are more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as those with normal vitamin D levels. Even those people who were moderately deficient still had a 53 percent increased risk of dementia and a 69 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

“We expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising—we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” stated David Llewellyn, PhD.

The study involved over 1,650 adults over the age of 65 who were free from dementia, cardiovascular disease, and stroke at the beginning of the study. They were followed for six years to determine who would develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“Clinical trials are now needed to establish whether eating foods such as oily fish or taking vitamin D supplements can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” noted Llewellyn.

Daily supplementation with vitamin D is recommended for most people. Regular testing of vitamin D levels is helpful to determine what dosage you need. The Vitamin D Council is an excellent resource for all you need to know about vitamin D.

New Book Recommendation: The Grain Brain Cookbook, Released Today!

Filed in Alzheimer's, Gluten, Mental Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/09/2014

grain-brainIf you loved reading Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter as much as I did, you’re going to love what I have to say next. The Grain Brain Cookbook is now available—with over 150 recipes for everything from Eggs Benedict with Zucchini Pancakes to Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese. Yum!

But healthful and delicious recipes aside, the real message is one Dr. Perlmutter carries through from his previous book: the more we know about the damaging effects of wheat, grains, carbs and sugar on the human brain (and consequently the whole body) the closer we come to understanding the critical role of diet and nutrition in preserving and maintaining our well-being. It’s a message both he and I are working hard to spread.

Fatigue, brain fog, depression—all of these can be blamed on a body weighed down by carbs, sugar and unhealthy fats. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the beginning of The Grain Brain Cookbook Dr. Perlmutter talks about the dangers of silent inflammation and its effects on the human brain, as well as the connection between blood sugar, dietary fats (they’re not all evil), grains and brain health. From there, you’ll learn how to choose and prepare foods that will truly benefit your whole body with the Grain Brain Diet.

Wouldn’t it be nice to finally put an end to your carb and sugar addiction? And to fill your body with foods that make you feel healthy from the inside out? Once you learn exactly what to keep and what to toss from your pantry (and why), you’ll be ready to start making all those yummy recipes.

Happy (and healthy) cooking!

Regular Fish Oil Use Linked to Better Brain

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Omega-3 & Fish Oil | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/29/2014

I regularly blog about the brain benefits of fish oil because the science behind them is so extensive and I want to pass the knowledge on to others. When you have the knowledge to heal your body, you become your own health advocate, and you realize how much power you have to change your health.

In yet another study highlighting the brain power of fish oil, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, researchers found that people who regularly take fish oil supplements were least likely to suffer from mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease when compared to those people who did not take fish oil. The only exception was in people with the genetic variant known as APOE4, which is known to increase risk of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers analyzed data from 819 people with cognitive function ranging from normal to Alzheimer’s. Those people who regularly took fish oil supplements (and who did not have the APOE4 gene) had better cognitive function and less brain shrinkage in two areas of the brain critical to memory and thinking when compared to people who did not take fish oil.

“These findings may suggest a potential role for fish oil supplements by reducing neurodegeneration [brain damage] over time,” noted the researchers.

When looking for a fish oil supplement, you want to look for the following features:

High potency: You want to know how much omega-3 is in each capsule, not how much fish oil. Look for a softgel that contains at least 1,000 mg omega-3 per softgel.

Purity: Look for the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) seal to be sure that your fish oil exceeds published international standards for the lowest levels of toxins.

Freshness: Look for fish oil in dark-colored glass bottles and softgels to protect the oils from light and moisture. In addition, look for added lipase, which helps with digestion of the oils.

Enteric coating: Look for enteric coated fish oil softgels that deliver omega-3s directly to the intestines where they are absorbed.

A Test for Early Alzheimer’s

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/14/2014

It sometimes seems as though the research behind Alzheimer’s disease moves forward at a snail’s pace. There are still no effective medications for the disease, no way to prevent it, and little hope that it can be detected early. But researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center are trying to change that. According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers were able to predict with over 90 percent accuracy whether someone would develop Alzheimer’s or not within the next three years.

The researchers created a test that identifies 10 lipids, or fats, that are found in the blood of people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s within three years. “Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families, and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder,” stated lead author, Howard Federoff, MD, PhD.

While the test is not ready for prime time—or even clinical trials—it shows that we are making some progress toward identifying this devastating disease at an earlier stage. The researchers plan to further test the lipid panel for use in people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s so that they can investigate a therapeutic drug that might delay or prevent its development. Only time will tell what they find. For now, any progress is a step forward. But we still have a long way to go.