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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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Gut Issues. Gluten or Glyphosate?

Filed in Celiac Disease, Diet, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, Gluten, Gluten Sensitivity, Immune System, Organic | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/29/2016

Glyphosate in our wheat? - brendawatson.com

If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you’ll know that I’m an advocate of gluten free eating. Dr. William Davis of Wheat Belly fame has certainly given us ample evidence why the modified wheat of today may be regarded by our bodies as an invader that often causes our immune systems to over-react. Unpleasant symptoms of all types can be the result ranging from low energy to digestive upset to autistic symptoms to chronic health conditions.

Years ago I found out through DNA testing that I had a genetic pre-disposition to celiac disease. That information ended my gluten consumption immediately. However, this is not the case for everyone who believes they may have a gluten issue. Testing can be very helpful to understand your own body.

If you’ve been to Europe or another country and eaten wheat without experiencing symptoms as some of my friends have reported, and then you returned home and found wheat once again your enemy, this blog may be for you. In general, the wheat in Europe seems different from that consumed here in the US. Not always, with our trade avenues these days, but many times. No matter your personal gluten situation, I hope you find some interest in this food for thought.

Mike Adams, well known as the Health Ranger, made some noteworthy points in his post and audio report. I’d like to share some highlights here.

Gluten-free has become a buzzword across our society, similar to fat-free or sugar-free. These terms are used by food manufacturers to imply that the product inside a package is a healthy one, and is often more expensive as well. In too many cases, “healthy” may not be as true an association as we might hope.

Mr. Adams points out that most (not all) gluten-free products that are sold in the grocery store are potentially peppered with GMOs and MSG. If you’re curious, check out the ingredients on the package. Remember, unless specifically labeled “organic” – and I mean each ingredient, there are significant chances that you may be buying GMOs. It’s a darn slippery slope.

The majority of the time, ingredients like corn, maltodextrin (which is derived from corn), soybean oil and soy lecithin may be GMO in nature. And did you realize that “yeast extract” is a favorite way that manufacturers hide MSG on a label? There are many other terms that mask MSG as well.

Here’s the kicker, at least according to Mr. Adams. In many cases it may not be the gluten that you’re sensitive to in the first place – it may be the glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. He believes that the residual toxicity left in wheat from spraying that chemical could create symptoms similar to gluten sensitivity.

So it follows if you’re eating non-organic wheat products like bread, cakes, pasta, cereals – you may be getting a rather unwanted dose of that toxin on a regular basis. If you’ve not read about the potential risks of glyphosate, check out what Dr. Mercola has to say here.

Ultimately, whether products contain gluten or are gluten-free, the conversation comes down to eating REAL food – not processed. If you’re seeking out organic fruits and veggies (which haven’t been sprayed with glyphosate, by the way), if you can access quality protein, and you read your labels carefully, you and your loved ones’ exposure to toxins in our food supply is lessened considerably. And never forget – the healthier your gut is, the better your body can deal with whatever digestive or immune challenges you may encounter.

Time and again we circle back to the importance of making organic choices whenever possible. Understanding the source of our foods is becoming more important daily. Knowing your farmer is indispensable if at all possible.

Many people in our society are legitimately gluten sensitive. If you’re like me, you’re choosing gluten-free foods because you’re striving to achieve more health. Please use this bit of information as support in truly reaching that goal. And for those of you who find you can enjoy organic wheat – good for you!

Here’s to selecting “organic” and “unprocessed” foods for a healthy future!

A Peculiar Solution for Celiac Disease—Hookworms

Filed in Celiac Disease, Diet, Gluten, Parasites | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/05/2014

Celiac disease is a serious digestive disease that involves degradation of the intestinal lining in response to gluten. People with celiac disease must vigilantly avoid gluten in order to steer clear of severe digestive symptoms and intestinal damage. A strict gluten-free diet can be difficult to follow, so researchers have been trying to discover a way for celiacs to be able to eat the dreaded gluten without experiencing the harmful effects.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 12 patients with celiac disease were infected with hookworm larvae and gradually given increasing amounts of gluten over the course of a year, beginning with one-tenth of a gram (less than a one-inch segment of spaghetti) increasing up to three grams (75 spaghetti noodles).

“By the end of the trial, the worms onboard, the trial subjects were eating the equivalent of a medium-sized bowl of spaghetti with no ill effects,” noted Paul Giacomin, PhD. “That’s a meal that would normally trigger a debilitating inflammatory response, leaving a celiac patient suffering symptoms diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting.”

Although eight participants did not finish the trial for reasons mostly unrelated to gluten, the eight remaining participants were able to eat the equivalent of a bowl of spaghetti without symptoms. They were able to increase their gluten tolerance by a factor of 60. That’s impressive.

If you are scratching your head about this strange treatment, you are probably not alone. But the therapy works, mostly because the worms help to reduce the human immune response, which allows them to survive while not compromising their ability to fight other diseases. The researchers found that certain immune cells known as T cells within the intestine were converted from inflammatory to anti-inflammatory cells.

They believe that proteins secreted by the hookworms are responsible for their effects, and they plan to study these compounds further so that they can isolate the proteins and not need to infect people with the parasite. “We do recognize that a protein pill will have broader market appeal than a dose of worms.” Indeed.

As a testament to the efficacy of the treatment, all of the participants refused drugs that that would eliminate the hookworms at the end of the trial, even though they were told to resume a gluten-free diet.

I look forward to future developments of this study. I hope that they will also be applied to people with gluten sensitivity, which is a milder form of celiac disease. Until then, a strict gluten-free diet is the best—and only—treatment for celiac disease.

Brain Fog Improves on Gluten-Free Diet in People with Celiac Disease

Filed in Brain, Celiac Disease, Gluten, Mental Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/18/2014

Celiac disease is a condition that involves damage to the small intestines as a result of an inflammatory response to gluten from the diet.

People with celiac disease commonly report that they experience brain fog, which can include difficulty concentrating, trouble paying attention, lapses in short-term memory, difficulty finding words, temporary loss in mental sharpness or creativity, and confusion or disorientation. These same patients usually report that the brain fog dissipates after following a gluten-free diet for a period of time.

Until recently, these reports of improved symptoms after following a gluten-free diet were confined to doctors’ offices and patients’ homes. It was all anecdotal. No studies had been done to confirm or deny the phenomenon. A recent study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, is confirming what these patients and doctors have known for so long. They found that recently-diagnosed celiac patients with brain fog improved their cognitive function after following a gluten-free diet for a year.

“The study outcomes highlight the importance for individuals with celiac disease of maintaining a gluten-free diet not just for physical well-being but also for mental well-being,” stated Greg Yelland, PhD, lead researcher.

Improvements in short-term memory, movement, and processing speed in these patients occurred along with a healing and recovery of their intestinal lining. Before the diet, the patients were functioning at the level of someone with severe jet lag, and by the end of the study their cognitive function was the equivalent of someone who had recovered from jet leg over a 24-hour period.

This study is important because brain fog may be a sign of underlying celiac disease in people who are undiagnosed. An astonishing 83 percent of people with celiac disease have not been diagnosed with the disease.

I know that brain fog is a common symptom in so many people. It’s not just celiac disease, but also gluten sensitivity that underlies symptoms of brain fog. So many people find that they feel better—mentally and physically—after following a gluten-free diet. If you experience brain fog, you may want to consider this option as well.

Celiac Disease Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Filed in Adults, Celiac Disease, Diet, Digestive Health, General, Heart Disease, Heartburn, Inflammation | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/16/2014

A new study has discovered a link between celiac disease and heart disease, a previously unknown relationship that will likely change the way doctors treat celiac patients. The study found that those people with celiac disease—even people under 65 years—were at increased risk of developing coronary artery disease when compared to controls.

While these findings were surprising to the researchers, they do not surprise me at all. The gut is the foundation for overall health. When digestion is not optimal, inflammation usually results, which moves from the digestive tract into systemic circulation and can affect all areas of the body. I have been talking about this gut connection for many years now. I’m glad to see that scientists are also coming to the same conclusions. (Better late than never, right?)

“People with celiac disease have some persistent low-grade inflammation in the gut that can spill immune mediators into the bloodstream, which can then accelerate the process of atherosclerosis and, in turn, coronary artery disease,” noted R.D. Gujulapalli, MD, co-author of the study. “Our findings reinforce the idea that chronic inflammation, whether it’s from an infection or a disease, can have an adverse role in coronary artery disease and heart health in general.”

This gentleman could not be more correct. He’s talking about the gut connection to chronic disease. And I want you to know that it’s not just celiac disease that works by this mechanism. Gluten sensitivity, a celiac-disease precursor of sorts, produces a similar effect. So does gut bacterial imbalance, which is present in many different digestive conditions and even present in people who think their digestive health is fantastic.

The people in the study were at increased risk for heart disease even when they did not have other markers of poor heart health. “Patients and doctors should be aware of this association,” they stated. Celiac disease affects one in 133 people, but up to 80 percent of them do not know they have it. Four times more people have celiac today than they did just 50 years ago. The researchers recommend that people with celiac disease should maintain a healthy lifestyle and be aware of cardiovascular risk factors that may arise.


Celiac Testing Is Easier Than You Think

Filed in Celiac Disease | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/17/2009

I know it seems that I am obsessed with poop—but trust me, all the answers to life’s problems lie in the poop. Well, OK, not all of them, but certainly all digestive ones. A stool test can be the single most important test you can take, for instance when determining celiac disease.

If you are sensitive to gluten this may in fact be the beginning stages of celiac, as they really are one and the same—just different degrees of reaction within the body. Gluten sensitivity implies that a person’s immune system is intolerant of gluten in the diet and as a result forms antibodies or displays some other evidence of an inflammatory reaction. When these reactions cause small intestinal damage (visible on a biopsy), the syndrome is then called celiac sprue, celiac disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy. Research shows that as many as 30% of Americans are gluten sensitive, and 1 in 225 of those has progressed to the stage of celiac disease. A simple stool test will determine if you are truly gluten sensitive or if you have celiac. You can get the scoop by visiting enterolab.com.

Is your gut making you depressed?

Filed in Adults, Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/15/2009

IBS can be depressing, literally and figuratively! A lot of people who may be suffering from a type of digestive disorder such as crohn’s, colitis, IBS or even chronic constipation, many times also suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety, depression or irritability.  Now, I know that not feeling well can make you cranky, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The link between between the gut and the brain is very real. Serotonin, know as “the feel good hormone” is produced in the gut. One reason for depression could be the lack of serotonin because the gut is out of balance.

Without getting too technical, the same type of cells and neurotransmitters found in our brain are also located within the digestive system – which by the way is the largest part of our immune system.  When we get any type of intestinal irritation, inflammation, bacterial or viral infection our “intestinal” immune system reacts by producing proteins called cytokines. These cytokines tell our body what type of reaction to have, such as swelling, stiffness, pain etc…It has now been shown that these cytokines will travel a very unique pathway from the gut to the brain, setting into motion a chemical reaction that results in the breakdown of the neurotransmitters involved in mood stability.

 So, this is a two-way street. When your digestive system is out of balance, you feel depressed and when it’s in good shape you feel good. This may be why we often get a sense of euphoria after a really good dump – you know what I mean.

Celiac Disease

Filed in Celiac Disease, Conditions, Digestive Health, General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/10/2009

[youtube WXBlNZubPAk]

In this video blog I discuss Celiac Disease. In a recent study performed by the Mayo Clinic they found that celiac disease is more common today than it was 50 years ago? What is celiac disease? Why is it more common today than 50 years ago. Tune and in find out…

Full Script:
I recently read an article about the incidence of celiac disease today compared to the 1950’s. According to findings of a Mayo Clinic study celiac disease is over four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. It now affects about one in one hundred people.

For those of you who do not know – Celiac disease is when the presence of a protein called gluten from grains such as wheat, barley or rye triggers an immune system attack upon the small intestine. This can cause severe damage and result in long term health problems.

A Dr. Murray of the Mayo Clinic study stated “Something has changed in our environment to make it much more common. ….we don’t know why”

Is it really that hard to figure out? How about correlating it with the huge increase in processed carbohydrates people eat today compared to the 1950’s. Wheat gluten is a major, if not the worst, food irritant to the digestive system. It is an ingredient in a huge number of products on the market, not just bread, as some may think. If a product contains wheat, it contains gluten.

I challenge you to take a look in your cupboards for this ingredient or how many food items you have that contain wheat. Look at the packaging label on the products your about to purchase. Those already on a wheat and gluten free diet know how tricky it is to find gluten free products. Luckily, most health food stores have an entire section dedicated to just these type of foods.