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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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Digestive Dysfunction = Gut Gone Bad!

Filed in Adults, Cancer, Chronic Disease, Constipation, Diarrhea, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Heart Disease, Heartburn, Immune System, Indigestion, Inflammation, Liver, Preventable Issues, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/21/2017


digestive dysfunction girl - brenda watson.com

As we move into the third week of Colon Cancer Awareness Month it’s time to discuss what can go wrong in your gut. Last week I presented a very brief overview of how a healthy gut works. This week I’d like to help you recognize signs of digestive dysfunction. The result is multiple disease processes like constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, myriad chronic health conditions and even cancer.

However there is one critical point I must make, and I can’t stress this too strongly. In my 30+ years of working closely with people experiencing all levels of digestive issues, I have seen far too many cases of colon cancer. The unfortunate thing I’ve noticed time and again was this – when a person was diagnosed with colon cancer – they thought they had healthy digestion! Needless to say, they were floored by the diagnosis. When I questioned them further, I might hear “I had a little indigestion here and there” or “sometimes I was constipated”. Often they didn’t notice anything that might have tipped them off to a life-threatening situation brewing inside them.

That’s why it’s so important to truly understand and appreciate what really happens in your own body to do with digestion and absorption. The colon can be very quiet for a long time as disease smolders within. I believe this knowledge has fueled my passion to continue, day after day, to implore people to recognize that their gut is literally the core of their health.

What can go wrong? Intestinal toxemia = poisoning of the intestines!

Intestinal toxemia occurs when the bacteria in the gut act upon undigested food. This interaction can produce toxic chemical and gases. These toxins, in turn, can damage the mucosal lining, resulting in increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). The net result is that the toxins are then able to spread throughout the body via the bloodstream.

7 common habits that may be poisoning your intestines:

  1. Inadequate amounts of living foods and quality proteins in our dietary choices
  2. Not chewing our foods thoroughly
  3. Drinking with meals
  4. Over-consumption of processed foods (including sugar!)
  5. Overeating in general
  6. Eating foods that we know we are sensitive or allergic to
  7. Inadequate water consumption between meals resulting in low-grade dehydration

Poisoning your intestines is a process that progresses over time. The good news is that you can reverse that process by changing your behaviors.

In the words of Dr. John Matsen, ND, “If you don’t digest your food quickly, some microorganism will digest it for you, making toxins.” These toxins created inside our bodies are called “endotoxins”. I want you to know that they are every bit as damaging to your body as external environmental toxins. We call those “exotoxins”, and are very familiar with the dangers of substances like pesticides, radon or car exhaust.

If the above mentioned habits continue for an extended period of time, the certain result is an overtaxed digestive system. That happens whether you experience mild to severe digestive symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Supporting organs such as your liver and pancreas become overburdened.

Ultimately, your once healthy gut begins its downhill spiral toward altered digestive function. Diagnoses like constipation, diarrhea, IBS or even IBD, along with cardiovascular issues, hormone imbalances, arthritis, fibromyalgia – the list goes on and on. And yes, even cancer.

This is primarily how the sad tale of disease begins – and if you truly understand this, you have the power to change your story and restore your health once more!

Digestive dysfunction. Please don’t let this happen!

Some major dysfunctional results of poor habits:

  • Deficiency of HCL – disrupted protein digestion and decreased stomach pH allowing harmful organisms access to the body
  • Pancreatic insufficiency – reduced enzyme and bicarbonate secretion – inefficient digestion of foods, reduced absorption of nutrients
  • Imbalanced intestinal pH – also reduces proper food breakdown and absorption and compromises immunity

You may think I’m being overdramatic – linking almost all variations of chronic disease processes to the gut. In two words – I’m NOT! Daily more and more supporting evidence is disclosed in clinical trials that prove that your digestion – breaking down and absorbing the nutrients you intake – is absolutely essential to every function in your body.

The premise is so simple it’s unbelievable that many Americans still fail to see the relationship between what goes in their mouths and the way they feel and function. As I mentioned, I think it’s largely due to the forgiving nature of the gut. Symptoms often don’t occur until quite a large amount of damage has been done. And it also has to do with our society’s obsession with simply eliminating symptoms. Many people don’t seem to care to understand what may have been causing that discomfort in the first place. Nexium be gone!

Next post I will give you an action list of exactly what you need to do to understand and heal your gut! Until then, eat lots of living foods!

Healthy Gut Function 101

Filed in Constipation, Diarrhea, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Exercise, Gut Solutions, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/16/2017


Healthy Gut Anatomy - brendawatson.com

In this post let’s continue looking at digestive functions, in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Understanding good digestion is key to a healthy gut. So I’m offering a quick review of how your digestive system works, top to bottom – when it’s working properly that is.

Let me show you the path your food takes in a healthy gut.

Did you realize that the digestive process – the breakdown of your food into nutrients that can be absorbed – actually begins in the mouth? It starts with the secretion of the enzyme ptyalin. At the other end from the colon! This enzyme, mixed with saliva, is crucial to proper digestion of carbohydrates. Food properly chewed into small particles will be completely mixed with the saliva/enzyme mixture. When a person swallows their food after only a few short chews, as so many of us busy people do, there is insufficient time for ptyalin to do its job. Consequently, when you gulp your food, your digestion is impaired. Those large, inadequately chewed food particles are harder for the body to handle and can result in gas, bloating and indigestion. Sound familiar?

In addition to chewing food thoroughly, care should be taken to restrict fluid intake with meals. Over-consumption of liquids may dilute some specific digestive agents which are manufactured in your stomach. The breakdown of protein requires an extremely acid environment, and to handle that job, HCl and the enzyme pepsin are synthesized there. Diluting these digestive substances can result in impaired digestion as well.

It’s important to know that enzymes are complex proteins that cause chemical changes in other substances. They are the basis of all metabolic activity in the body, facilitating more than 150,000 biochemical reactions. They literally empower every cell in the body to function. There are three types of enzymes in the body: metabolic, digestive and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes run, heal and repair the body. Your body could not function or heal without them.

Most enzymes required for digestion are manufactured by the pancreas. There are about 22 pancreatic enzymes, chief of which are protease (digests protein), lipase (for fat digestion) and amylase (for carbohydrate digestion).

Food enzymes also digest food: however they are supplied to the body solely through the diet, only from raw foods. These raw foods primarily supply enzymes to digest the food in which they’re found, and aren’t particularly helpful to digest other foods.

By the way, cooking at temperatures of more than 116 degrees destroys food enzymes. Enzyme deficiencies are widespread in the American culture because virtually all food in the standard diet is heated during processing.

The majority of nutrient absorption is accomplished in the small intestine through intricate interactions between enzymes, probiotics (good bacteria) and the various foods being digested. In a healthy gut the food particles have been broken down well. If not small enough, bloating and gas can be the uncomfortable result.

In addition to absorption of nutrients, your intestinal tract is also home to a large part of your lymphatic system. That system consists of the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and other tissues responsible for defense against infection. In fact, the number of cells of gut associated lymphatic tissue (GALT) exceeds the number of plasma cells in the other parts combined! Your intestinal tract is a huge player in your immunity as well as your digestion.

I could share many blogs just focused on the amazing abilities of your intestine as it maintains your healthy gut, but I promised a brief discussion here.

So on to the colon! The final stages of digestion occur in the colon with the absorption of water and a small number of nutrients not absorbed by the small intestine.

Important point – one needs to have one good bowel movement per day, but two to three are ideal. A “good” bowel movement is one that is walnut brown in color, with a formed consistency, about the length of a banana. The stool should be free of odor, leave the body easily, settle in the toilet water and gently submerge. (Forgive me for TMI!)

Take a look at this chart to determine if you have a healthy gut!

The transit time for food – the elapsed time it takes for a meal to enter the mouth and then exit the rectum – should ideally be less than 24 hours. However, too short a transit time may result in a loose stool. Transit time is related to exercise and the consumption of fiber and water. When transit time slows, putrefied material stays in the colon longer, and toxins can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall. One possible result might be constipation.

The colon houses three types of bacteria: good, neutral and bad. In fact, the majority of bacteria can be found in the colon. A balance of approximately 85% good to no more than 15% neutral or bad is desirable for health maintenance. This balance will assist the body in normal elimination of solid waste.

Now that you have a sense of good digestive function, in my next post I’ll take a look at factors that negatively impact your healthy gut. An unhealthy gut will ultimately set the stage for different disease processes.

4 Ways to Fuel Weight Loss

Filed in Adults, Constipation, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Fermentation, Inflammation, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/02/2017


Fuel Weight Loss - brendawatson.com

As we say goodbye to the month of January, and begin to notice Valentine’s Day candy donning the grocery store shelves, I hope that your New Year’s resolutions to shift your dietary choices have not waned! No Peeps for you! With that thought in mind, I wanted to share 4 things that will most definitely fuel your weight loss. Let’s say goodbye to that plateau! Don’t give up! Remember, it takes three weeks to establish a new habit and we are barely beyond that in 2017~

It’s time to give yourself a break, especially if you made a dramatic switch from a so-called “Western diet” last month, one that was high in saturated fats and sugars, to a more healthy, calorie restricted, plant based diet. Am I talking to you? There is a good reason that your weight loss may have stalled. It’s all about your microbiome, the microbes in your gut.

You need to know that in many cases it takes time for your good gut bacteria populations to multiply and restore. Increasing your probiotic (good guy) population is at the core of successful and lasting weight loss. Do not despair – there are excellent things you can do help rebalance your gut TODAY, and continue to melt those pounds away!

 

1. Include a daily probiotic supplement.

That choice will directly encourage positive changes in those communities of good bacteria in your gut. When you’re considering a probiotic, look for one that offers at least 10 different types/strains of bacteria and at least 30 billion live cultures to increase your diversity. Make sure the formula includes bifidobacteria, the main bacteria in your colon.

 

2. Add fermented foods to your diet.

Fermented goodies are an excellent way to invite new and different microbes into your life. The process of fermentation provides lactobacillus strains of bacteria – necessary for proper absorption of nutrients along with intestinal repair and decreased inflammation, just to name a few important jobs those good guys do. Fermented veggies are delicious as condiments or even side dishes daily. Kefir provides you with an extensive variety of bacterial strains. Kombucha is rich in both healthy yeasts and bacteria. Let these foods be your friends!

 

3. Increase fiber in your diet.

Soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding those good microbes in your gut. Prebiotic foods like raw dandelion greens, garlic, leaks, jicama, and raw or cooked onions are delicious to include in your daily meals. Acacia fiber is an excellent fiber supplement that is tasteless and simple to add to your foods or smoothies for an extra fiber boost. Insoluble fiber found in vegetables, oats, beans and legumes provides bulk for your stool, which leads to me to #4.

 

4. Avoid constipation!

Many people notice initially when they make a dramatic dietary shift, they begin to experience changes in bowel habits. That makes total sense since the bacteria and other microbes also reorganize with dietary change. During the shift, both weight loss and bowel regularity may slow. Bottom line, constipated people simply don’t lose weight easily. Their bodies are too overwhelmed with toxicity and inflammation.

Should you experience constipation, please make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. All three of my previous suggestions help to normalize your bowel and relieve constipation. However, depending on your circumstance, for a short time it may be wise to consider supplementing with a natural laxative formula. Remember, it’s imperative to avoid constipation, no matter what. Look for natural ingredients in a supplement formulation like magnesium, aloe, rhubarb and triphala.

Many people have great success adding magnesium citrate or other form of magnesium into their daily regimen. Magnesium deficiency is widespread so looking into ways to add magnesium for optimal health is always a great idea for well-being.

Learn more about magnesium here.

AND, hang in there! Be kind to yourself. Please don’t stress about immediate results. We know that stress itself decreases your ability to lose those pounds. Instead focus on your increased energy levels, perhaps a skin condition is resolving or you notice your mood has improved and/or your mind has cleared! It only gets better as your gut balances.

Travel Advice for your Gut

Filed in Constipation, Diarrhea, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Enzymes, GERD, Heartburn, Indigestion, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/24/2016


Travel advice with friends - brendawatson.com

Summer vacation, 4th of July – wonderful opportunities for travel and sampling exciting and different foods. Whether you’re visiting family, or jetting to the Far East, the fun ends abruptly when your digestion becomes distressed! With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some travel advice for your gut that may afford relief for belly troubles during your time away from home – and offer new life to your vacation.

Diarrhea is a common gut reaction when it senses something irritating or a bit too unusual. In many cases, your system simply wants whatever food or drink you’ve chosen out, and quickly! There are also those cases where you may have consumed tainted food or water along your route. Of course, whether camping or simply enjoying a different environment, sanitary conditions can be less than ideal.

When traveling, it’s always a good idea to consume all foods hot and fully cooked to avoid unwelcome food-borne pathogens. And should the hot days entice you to don your bathing suit, avoid swallowing the water that is so refreshing to your body.

Taking your probiotics daily offers you the best insurance against traveller’s diarrhea and peaceful digestion in general. However in case of unpleasant disruption be sure to have a particular probiotic on hand called Saccharomyces boulardii. This probiotic yeast shines in cases of even the toughest diarrhea and doesn’t require refrigeration. You may also want to supplement with goldenseal (constituent berberine) to help additionally curb symptoms and for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Personally, when I travel I tend toward constipation. I’ve read that up to 25% of travelers have reported similar discomfort. For some people, a fiber supplement will be helpful. Truthfully, supplementing on a daily basis with fiber while striving to reach at least 30 – 35 grams daily is a valuable maintenance practice, rather than just using fiber once constipation has set in.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially in this hot summer weather to avoid dehydration and further constipation. I have found consistently that an herbal formula that contains magnesium hydroxide along with aloe, rhubarb, possibly triphala taken with probiotics is a very helpful combination. I never leave home without these.

No travel advice for your gut would be complete without addressing occasional heartburn. The possibilities while traveling to trigger those unpleasant symptoms are abundant. New foods, hearty portions amid friends and family could produce an unhappy gastric result.

Breathe before you begin eating, chew your food thoroughly, and don’t forget your digestive enzymes! Food is to be enjoyed, and paying attention to what’s on your plate rather than eating without a thought can make a huge difference in your digestion. Do your best to focus on taste rather than quantity.

It’s best not to drink liquids with your meals, as that will dilute your stomach’s natural acids whose job it is to effectively break down your food.

When traveling, wear comfortable clothing. Did you realize that tight waistbands can compress the valve that controls acid flow? And whatever you do, avoid laying down to sleep immediately after you eat, as the acidic stomach contents can easily seep into your esophagus when you’re laying in the bed and create irritation.

As a last resort, should symptoms persist, you can immediately relieve heartburn with one or two teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cold water. Please use this method infrequently. Diminishing your stomach acid using any type of antacid today can often lead to even more issues in the future.

Happy, healthy, and comfortable trails to you and yours!

Defeating Anemia

Filed in Adults, Anemia, Children, Constipation | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/13/2016


Anemia fighting skillet with meal - brendawatson.com

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), iron deficiency is the single most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide. Its primary symptom is extreme fatigue. Iron deficiency accounts for anemia in 5% of American women and 2% of American men and impacts nearly 3.5 billion people around the globe. Additionally, children, vegetarians and blood donors are at increased risk.

The most common treatment for this type of anemia is oral supplementation with iron. Unfortunately a program of iron supplementation commonly results in constipation or other types of gastrointestinal discomfort. As you know, gut issues are always an interesting topic for me. With iron therapy, it’s critical to manage the gut since constipation will only increase overall toxicity and magnify the debilitating exhaustion symptoms of anemia.

When I saw the article “Can a Pan Add Iron to Your Diet?” in the Wall Street Journal, it immediately caught my eye.

There has been some thought that cooking with cast iron could potentially add iron to your food. I’m always seeking easy, inexpensive and accessible solutions to any issue. Interestingly, there are a lot of factors that impact how therapeutic your cast iron skillet might be. So let’s take a quick closer look:

  1. If you’re cooking acidic foods like apples or tomatoes in your cast iron, more iron will become soluble and available for absorption, so it’s good to cook with acidic foods. Acid dissolves iron.
  2. If you cook with water (not frying in oil) there will potentially be more iron transfer occurring.
  3. If you love your skillet and over the years you’re thrilled that it’s become covered in oil and offers you a more non-stick surface, your gourmet pan will provide you with wonderful delicacies, but it won’t transfer much iron into your food. The patina-like finish won’t allow the iron to break down.
  4. A nearly new pan will transfer more iron that one that has been used regularly.

With this information in mind, here comes the Lucky Iron Fish! Check this out. This is an iron ingot in the shape of a fish that is recommended for use in soups or boiled with drinking water. It’s also suggested to include acids, such as citrus juice or vinegar along with your fish in your soup pot or dinner pan for the reasons explained above.

A research project followed 304 Cambodian women over the course of a year. The study was reported in the journal Tropical Medicine & Surgery. Regular use of the Lucky Iron Fish increased hemoglobin concentration in the blood (an important marker of anemia), compared with a control group that didn’t use the ingot. Anemia in the 3 villages studied dropped by 46%! That’s darn impressive.

The company has a vision of a Lucky Iron Fish in every pot for those populations where anemia is prevalent. For every fish a person purchases, one is donated to a community in need. There’s something very heartwarming about this.

It’s important to be aware that even when iron is transferred to food, certain conditions don’t allow it to be easily absorbed by the body. FYI – the type of iron in meat, called heme iron, is easiest for our bodies to absorb (now you see why vegetarians are more susceptible to anemia). However it’s reported if you ingest vitamin C at the same time as non-heme iron (the type from the cast iron pans or the Lucky Iron Fish), the iron is much more available to be absorbed by the body.

Of course, this makes total sense. Whether you’re adding vitamin C, vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes (all are acids) as you cook in an unseasoned cast iron pot or pan or you choose to simply drop in the Lucky Iron Fish ingot – you just may have a recipe for increased energy and a ‘gentle on the gut’ restoration of your iron reserves over time – in addition to a delicious meal.

Keep it in mind. I’ll bet you know someone who is diagnosed anemic. Lucky Iron Fish – maybe this year’s different kind of birthday gift?

4 Tips to Light Up 2016!

Filed in Adults, Cold and Flu, Constipation, Diet, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sleep, Sugar | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/02/2016


So now the decadent celebrations are behind us and it’s time to recommit to our healthy selves. However, there may be some leftovers in the frig, and also those delicious gifts you may have received may still be close by! If the gifts were well-sealed, re-gifting may be an option. Donation is a good idea too. Okay, I’m smiling.

I was devilishly curious, and decided to search “Favorite New Year’s Foods” on the internet. Whew! I felt bloated just reading the ideas! Between the Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Peanut Butter Parfait (peanut butter, banana and bacon with waffle cookies – aptly labeled ‘Year-End Splurge’) not to mention the various New Year’s liquid libations – all I can say is WOW!

If your holiday season included any of these type of foods or drink, your digestion and overall health may be on a downslide about now. Not only that, but with so many people out and around, you’re more likely to be exposed to winter-time bugs that could land you on the couch with a cold or the flu. And it may have been, and might continue to be, difficult to pull off eight hours of sleep each night. After all, it’s time to get back to “real” life. The holidays many times take a toll, even as we love them so much.

I’d like to suggest some crucial supplements to light up your health in 2016. If you’re not already including these in your daily routine, visit your local health food or vitamin store to get the following today. Your body will thank you.

Digestive Enzymes
Let’s start by giving your digestive system some help breaking down those higher quality foods I’m sure you’ll be choosing now. Even good foods need the help of enzymes to release and absorb the nutrients within! Why end up with a stomachache when you can plan ahead by taking digestive enzymes with every meal and snack? Look for an enzyme formula that has:  Protease for protein digestion, Lipase for fat digestion and Amylase for carbohydrate digestion.  Take with or immediately after your meals to help you digest better during your days ahead.

Probiotics
Up to 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut. That one fact still fascinates me to this day—and I’ve been saying it for years! The 100 trillion bacteria in your digestive system play a vital role on your immune health. Eating a diet high in starchy carbohydrates and sugar—the epitome of what might have been your holiday fare—throws off the balance of bacteria in your gut. Taking a high-potency multistrain probiotic every day will help to keep your gut in balance and your immune system in check.

Constipation Control
If you tend toward constipation, especially when your diet is less than stellar, arm yourself with an effective constipation formula. Look for a product that contains magnesium hydroxide, which acts as a stool softener that will gently, yet effectively, help to improve your bowel movements. If you are not experiencing at least one healthy bowel movement per day (and by healthy I mean well-formed and at least one and a half feet long), then you need to do something about it. A good constipation formula without harsh stimulant herbs is your best bet to get your digestion moving regularly in the first place.

Sleep Help
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, your body and mind could be suffering. Adequate sleep is essential for you to perform at your best and make those new year’s resolutions your reality. If you can’t seem to settle in without tossing and turning each night, a sleep formula may help you. Look for a formula that contains L-theanine, 5-HTP, and melatonin, three ingredients that will help you rest easy as you make ready for this New Year.

I wish you good health and happiness as we say “Hello” and “Welcome” to 2016 together!

Increase Your Magnesium – A Message Worth Repeating!

Filed in Adults, Conditions, Constipation, Diabetes, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/15/2015


I’ve been addressing constipation issues a lot recently, due to the fact that they seem epidemic in our country! And constipated people are very commonly magnesium deficient.

It’s been really great to interact with the people on the Skinny Gut Facebook group – and whenever someone seems stuck in terms of weight loss, my first question is always – are you eliminating? If the answer is no, then shortly thereafter comes the inevitable magnesium discussion.

Simply, magnesium is critical for an amazing number of processes in your body – heart function probably topping the list. According to the World Health Organization, low levels have been implicated in hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Besides those serious conditions, Dr. Dean who wrote the excellent book The Magnesium Miracle cites heart palpitations, leg and muscle cramps, migraines, insomnia and fatigue are associated symptoms. Do I have your attention?

Since magnesium is so important to simply living, it’s easy to see why our bodies will use whatever is available as soon as it can be absorbed into our circulation, and many times, magnesium doesn’t make its way to the colon to assist in elimination if needed.

In times past, we were able to get most of our magnesium from our foods, but farming and food production practices have disturbed the mineral content of the soil. Couple that with increased toxins that our bodies need added magnesium to process daily, we find ourselves at a magnesium deficit. So you are aware, high magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and more. Bone broths are also a great source of magnesium (make sure they come from a clean animal source though – free range, hormone free or organic). Keep in mind, to get the magnesium (and other nutrients) from foods you eat, you need a relatively balanced digestive system that’s able to properly breakdown and then absorb the nutrients.

Since magnesium is responsible for so many basic health processes, it would be logical to assume that it might be a go-to product to suggest to anyone in a doctor’s office presenting with the symptoms I mentioned. It’s cheap too. Maybe that’s the reason that medical doctors don’t know about it! No profit for pharmaceutical companies there!

Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide are the two forms that are most commonly used to increase bowel movements. Magnesium oxide is the least absorbable form – meaning that it doesn’t get into your body easily. That’s why it can make its way to the colon to help with stubborn constipation issues. It won’t be absorbed in the upper intestine.

Keep in mind that if you’re taking magnesium oxide, you really aren’t improving your magnesium level overall. It’s not unusual to take different forms in various products to effectively help your body repair and resume normal function.

The worst side effect you will have with magnesium supplementation will possibly be a watery stool. Many of us who have dealt with stubborn constipation issues don’t see that as a bad temporary issue. Magnesium will not harm you, and you can increase your dosage, and then taper off when your bowel begins to eliminate regularly and normally. Don’t be frightened of a bit of experimentation with increasing dosages.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if inexpensive and easy magnesium supplementation could truly make a difference in our daily health and vitality? I honestly think it can.

What have been your experiences with magnesium? I’d love to hear.

Is Your Best Friend Constipated?

Filed in Constipation, Diet, Digestive Health, Dogs - Pets, Exercise, Heart Disease, Joints, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/24/2015


Constipation may not be a topic you’d choose for daily conversation, but it’s really nothing to be embarrassed about. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another – and we realize how debilitating it can become. Although in our society, the medical professionals still say that 3 bowel movements weekly is “normal” – let me tell you, you don’t want to be “normal”. A healthy human being should eliminate daily. And it’s the same for our faithful canine companions.

Dogs also suffer from constipation. If your dog is showing signs of having trouble eliminating, take him to the vet to make sure there is not an underlying condition. If there’s not a physical problem, then it’s up to us, and what we provide as owners, to help our dogs eliminate better.

Dogs show signs of being constipated by straining to defecate – with small volume expelled. You may notice hard bowel movements. As I mentioned, dogs need to eliminate everyday to be healthy. They may also look bloated and/or show signs of pain when attempting to defecate. Lack of appetite or even depression could be a sign of toxic buildup or discomfort due to constipation. Be sure to notice any differences in color or texture.

Well, what exactly can we do at home to help our dogs? Making sure they eat a good diet with moist food – not just dry food – is a must. Supply your pet with plenty of clean water and exercise.

Certain supplements have also been shown to help. Just like people, dogs need the good bacteria from probiotics to balance their guts and help with regularity. Choose a supplement that is potent enough to make a difference – at least 20 billion cultures per serving (whether in pill or powder) and containing 10 different strains of lactobacillus and bifido bacteria. Dogs have many of the same strains of good bacteria in their gut as their owners so providing them with a high culture count and multi strain supplement is as important for them as it is for us.

Here’s another important tip that many may not know – Omega 3s, which vets suggest for many other problems in dogs like kidney, heart and joint diseases, is also very effective in relieving constipation. A high dose omega blend of EPA and DHA totaling about 750mg of total omega3 is best.

Chances are good that you regularly clean up as your dog eliminates. That poop helps you to notice any changes that may be occurring in your pet’s health. Our dogs are so willing to give us unconditional love – and we enjoy it thoroughly! However they depend on us totally for their digestive needs. Let’s make sure they have the same opportunities for vital health that we do!

 

Constipation Just a Human Issue? I Think Not!

Filed in Adults, Cats, Constipation, Dogs - Pets, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/17/2015


Statistics show constipation in humans is an extremely common and sometimes very expensive issue. Too often people end up in the doctor’s office or emergency room when the problem becomes painful or even potentially dangerous due to the fact there could be a blockage of some kind.

Well, our dogs and cats can have the same problem with constipation, even though diarrhea is seen more often in pets.

I’ll bet most loving pet owners pay more attention to how their animals poop then they do to their own poop – an interesting thought in itself.

What is the very first thing a vet will ask you when you take your animal in for a problem or an exam? “How are they pooping?” Right? Wouldn’t it be great if our human doctors asked us that on our regular check-ups? Most doctors haven’t been trained to consider it very important. I’ll sadly tell you that from lots of experience.

Back to our pets. Let’s start with cats. Cats should poop every single day. If you are disciplined about cleaning out that litter box you will be able to monitor this easily. Their poop should be brown, formed (not loose) and soft and moist enough for the litter to stick to it. Simple enough. If this is not happening then your cat is constipated.

Not every cat is going to let you know if they are uncomfortable because they are constipated. People will think it’s normal for their cat to go once every 2 or 3 days! Cats, like humans, are supposed to detox through their poop – every day.

So if you believe your cat is constipated, first take them to the vet to be checked. It’s important to make sure there is not a blockage or serious problem. After that, it’s time to consider some steps you can take at home to help remedy the problem.

The biggest issue with cats and constipation is dehydration, so make sure your cat is eating a moisture rich food. Did you know that cats are designed to get the majority of the water they need from what they eat? Actually 70-75%. Studies show that generally a dry food diet may not be the best choice for your cats. They won’t realize they need to make up the moisture difference by drinking more water. It’s impossible to force them to drink more water than they normally desire. Of course, be sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times so they can drink when they’re thirsty.

Natural remedies for constipation are as effective and safe as those made for humans. The addition of aloe vera juice into your cat’s food may be very helpful.

Perhaps one of the best solutions is to increase the good bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract with probiotics. Make sure you choose a probiotic that is formulated specifically for cats. Just like in people cats need a high potency probiotic with at least 10 strains.

Using a powdered probiotic that can be added to your cat’s food makes supplementing with probiotics effortless. I’m sure you’ve experienced how interesting (or impossible) it can be in many cases to persuade your cat to take a pill. A powdered form removes that issue all together.

I’ll bet you’re relieved to know that there is so much that can be done to help your feline friends should they suffer from constipation. I can say with sincerity, having suffered from it myself and having worked to help countless others – you just feel miserable. We certainly don’t want our loving pets to live in misery, as they bring us so much JOY!!!!

Let’s help them out.

Quick Facts and 9 Simple Tips for IBS Awareness Month

Filed in Adults, Allergies, Conditions, Constipation, Diarrhea, Digestive Health, Inflammation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/04/2014


April is IBS Awareness Month—a time for individuals and communities across the country to spread awareness about irritable bowel syndrome and the millions of Americans it affects every day. Coast to coast, activities and events are in the works to help people understand this debilitating disorder, its signs and symptoms, and how it is diagnosed and treated.

Quick Facts about IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 25 and 45 million Americans every day. Although its cause is still unknown, many experts believe the symptoms of IBS—which include abdominal pain and bloating along with diarrhea, constipation or both—are closely linked to the interaction between the gut, brain, and central nervous system. (It’s possible the nerves along the gut alter normal pain perception so that the bowel becomes oversensitive to normal stimuli.)

If you or someone you know is living with IBS, here are 9 natural solutions to help you take the first steps toward better bowel health:

1.     Add More Fiber. In addition to its role in heart health and weight management, fiber supports healthy digestive function by helping to absorb and eliminate toxins in the colon that may contribute to IBS symptoms.

2.     Limit Fatty Foods. Eating foods that are high in fat such as fried foods and certain meats may contribute to IBS. Be sure to consume these types of foods in moderation.

3.     Cut Back on Caffeine. Highly caffeinated foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.

4.     Avoid Foods High in Sulfur. Some foods that are healthy—including vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions and broccoli—are high in sulfur and may actually trigger IBS symptoms. Opt for low-sulfur veggies such as carrots or green beans.

5.     You May Have a Food Sensitivity. Some people have IBS because they are dealing with an underlying food sensitivity. Gluten and dairy are the two most common foods to which a sensitivity may develop. A gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet, or both can help to improve IBS symptoms in these people.

6.     Show Your Digestive Tract a Little TLC. Many herbs and nutraceuticals such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, and the amino acid L-glutamine can help nourish and soothe the intestinal tract and bowel.

7.     Balance with Probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the gut that work to maintain a balanced internal environment and promote optimal digestion and immune health.

8.     Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces every day) will help flush out toxins and other harmful microbes that may be causing IBS symptoms.

9.     Try Colon Hydrotherapy. IBS sufferers—especially those with severe symptoms—may find that natural colon hydrotherapy can help cleanse the system and improve digestive health and elimination.

Learn More about IBS with the New Mobile App!

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), which first designated April as IBS Awareness Month back in 1997, just launched a new mobile app (for iOS and Android platforms) to help people learn more about IBS, its symptoms and treatment options. The free app is called IBS Info and offers real-time information from experts in the gastrointestinal field to promote awareness and education about irritable bowel syndrome. Be sure to check it out!

The more we study and understand, the closer we come to helping millions of IBS sufferers live healthier, happier lives—so help me spread the word this month and all year long!