• Gut Health
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    • Heart Health

      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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    • Skin Health

      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.

  • Brain Health
    • 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 .

  • Diet & Health
    • 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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    • Pet Health

      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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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!

Breastfeeding May Protect Against ADHD and Improve IQ

Filed in Breastfeeding, Mental Health | Posted by lsmith on 01/21/2015

The beneficial effects of breastfeeding are many. Children who are breastfed are at less risk of developing ear infections, colds, asthma, obesity, diabetes, and even leukemia.1 Breastfeeding has also been linked to improved brain development and lower risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral problems. Because ADHD and other behavioral problems are also linked to the child’s IQ—which is, itself, also affected by breastfeeding—a group of researchers sought to determine whether or not the link between breastfeeding and behavioral development is simply the effect of the child’s IQ.

In a study published in Nutrition Journal, researchers studied almost 900 Korean children aged eight to 11 years.2 As expected, they found an association between breastfeeding and the risk of developing ADHD. When they adjusted the results to account for differences in both the child’s and mother’s IQ, they still found an association, although it was a weakened link. Also as expected, the researchers found a link between a lack of breastfeeding and lower IQ. When they adjusted the results to account for mother’s IQ and a diagnosis of ADHD, they still found an association, although also somewhat weakened.

What all this means is that breastfeeding is linked to a decreased risk of developing ADHD and also to increased IQ level. It also means that higher IQ may have a mild protective effect on the development of ADHD, and having ADHD may contribute to a somewhat lowered IQ whether or not the child was breastfed. This study is a good example of how interconnected are the various factors that contribute to our well-being. Our environment—lifestyle, diet, and habits—affects how our genes—our potential—will be played out, and almost none of it is black and white or written in stone.

ADHD affects eight to 12 percent of school-aged children.3 While ADHD tends to run in families, associated factors like lack of breastfeeding, exposure to tobacco smoke, and alcohol exposure during pregnancy also play a role. Learning how to minimize ADHD risk by optimizing these lifestyle factors can go a long way toward curbing the current trend of increased ADHD incidence.



  1. Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, et al., “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries.” Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007 Apr;(153):1-186.
  2. Park S, Kin BN, Kim JW, et al., “Protective effect of breastfeeding with regard to children’s behavioral and cognitive problems.” Nutr J. 2014 Nov 29;13(1):111.
  3. Biederman J and Fafaone SV, et al., “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Lancet. 2005 Jul 16-22;366(9481):237-48.

Breastfeeding and Birth Weight Predict Inflammation Later in Life

Filed in Breastfeeding, Inflammation, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by lsmith on 08/20/2014

Inflammation is one of the main ways in which the body heals itself. When inflammation is employed in the short term, it comes and goes when needed, and is resolved in due time. When you get a cut or bruise, or when your body fights a cold, you usually feel worse for a short while before you feel better—that’s inflammation at its best. Acute inflammation is an important part of the body’s function. It becomes a problem when the inflammation is chronic. Chronic inflammation contributes to most, if not all, chronic disease, and it can be triggered by a wide range of factors.

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the Royal B Society journal, researchers found that low birth weight and insufficient or no breastfeeding increases the risk of inflammation later in life.1 To measure inflammation, blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a well-known marker of systemic inflammation, were measured in over 15,000 adults aged 24 to 32 years old. Those infants who weighed more than 6.18 pounds at birth and those who were breastfed for at least three months were less likely to have inflammation in young adulthood.

“Breastfeeding provides nutritional and immunological support to infants following delivery and has sensitive period effects on immune development and metabolic processes related to obesity—two potential avenues of influence on adult CRP production,” noted the researchers.

Although they measured CRP at one point in time, they excluded data for anyone who also exhibited symptoms of infection so that they would have a better marker of chronic vs acute inflammation.

Current breastfeeding guidelines in the United States recommend exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age, followed by continued breastfeeding to at least one year. Yet only a small percentage of infants meet these recommendations. Brenda and I have blogged many times on the benefits of breastfeeding. Most importantly, breastfeeding helps to boost the beneficial gut bacteria in infants, which helps set them up for a lifetime of better health. Breast milk contains the prebiotic GOS (galactoligosaccharide), which feeds good bacteria in the gut. It also contains beneficial Bifidobacteria, as some researchers recently discovered.

It would have been interesting to see the gut bacteria levels in the participants of this study. My guess is that those with longer breastfeeding (and lower inflammation) would have a healthier balance of gut bacteria.

If you have been on the fence about breastfeeding, please know that it’s one of the best things you can do for your infant. Strive to breastfeed for a minimum (longer, if possible) of one year. If you are unable to breastfeed for health reasons or because you do not produce enough milk, a probiotic supplement formulated for infants is recommended.


McDade TW, Metzger MW, Chyu L, et al., “Long-term effects of birth weight and breastfeeding duration on inflammation in early adulthood.”Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Apr 23;281(1784):20133116.

Breastfeeding Protective against Obesity When Follow-Up Diet is Healthy

Filed in Breastfeeding, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/19/2014

Although many studies have linked breastfeeding to a protection against obesity, not all studies agree. A recent paper published in The Journal of Pediatrics sought to determine why this might be. They considered one important factor that previous studies had not—the quality of the diet following breastfeeding. When taking this important factor into consideration, they found that breastfeeding is protective against obesity when the follow-up diet follows official recommendations that do not limit fat intake before 2 to 3 years of age.

Breast milk is rich in fat and rightly so. The first few years of life are vital to the development of the nervous system—a system that happens to be rich in fat itself. Babies need fat to fuel the rapid growth of the brain and nerves throughout the body. Many mothers may place infants on low-fat dairy thinking it’s the healthiest choice for their children, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. This diet may actually program the child’s metabolism to make do with much less fat than it needs, which could make the infant more susceptible to obesity later in life, when a high-fat intake overwhelms an unprepared metabolism.

“The beneficial effect of breast milk may be masked by a low-fat diet following breastfeeding, while a diet following official recommendations (no restriction of fats before the age of two to three years) allows its beneficial effect to appear,” noted Sandrine Peneau, PhD, one of the researchers.

This study helps explain why not all studies agree on the protection of breastfeeding against obesity. Now we know, not surprisingly, that diet after breastfeeding also plays an important role.