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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.

My Own Colon Awareness Story

Filed in Adults, Antibiotics, Cancer, Digestive Health, Immune System, Preventable Issues, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/07/2017


Colon Cancer Awareness Day - brendawatson.com

Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month I thought I would offer a series of posts this month focused on colon health. Initially, I would like to share with you some personal challenges that led me to the conclusion that your gut is the core of your health. As the truth of this concept became more and more clear to me, I became passionate about educating people on the importance of colon health. I’ve dedicated my whole career to this path, which has spanned over 25 years.

There are two occurrences I believe shaped my desire to first learn, and then teach that the colon is the reason you experience health or ultimately, disease.

The first was when I was in my mother’s womb she lost her son (my brother) at 1 year old to a colon problem. He died when his colon kinked and the doctors did not “catch it” in time. This was devastating to say the least for my mother. I believe that in many ways we absorb whatever is going on with our mother during pregnancy. I feel this made a big imprint on my thoughts even though I didn’t put this together until much later in life.

The other is that I was an unhealthy child from the start of my life. I was given an abundance of antibiotics early, which destroyed my good bacteria, impacting my digestive and immune system, leading to many health problems.

By the time I was born in 1953, antibiotics were already being widely prescribed for children. Of course there is a time and place for these prescriptions in our world. However, having multiple throat and ear infections as many children do I lived on the “pink stuff”. I am convinced those antibiotics instigated the health decline that continued well into my adult life.

By the time I was in elementary school I began to experience migraine headaches, and my hair fell out in patches all over my head. Quite embarrassing to say the least. Of course none of this was thought to have anything to do with my colon. My health conditions continued with chronic fatigue in high school and in my 20’s, hormonal issues and kidney problems.

You may say – well how was this related to your colon? I didn’t realize until I started looking into natural solutions in my 20’s that I had been severely constipated my whole life! In my family we never talked about bowel movements. No one mentioned (or knew) or that it was healthy (and important) to have at least one every day.

Screening helps to prevent colorectal cancer.

As I embarked on a path to change my diet, began to detoxify my digestive system and focus on daily elimination I began to feel better and better. This was in the 1980’s. At that time it was still considered weird to even talk about bowel movements. But as my health and vitality began to return I was convinced even back then, with little supporting scientific research, that my out of balance colon was at the core of my health issues. This proved to be true as my health continued to improve at a remarkable pace.

As a result of my own healing path, I became more aware of how many people might also enjoy better health if only they could cleanse their digestive system, restore and maintain good bacteria in their gut, and support healthy elimination. I realized that colon problems and cancer could be greatly reduced if more education and attention were put on this simple process.

My point is this – the gut is clearly the core of our health. After all, we extract the nutrients from our food that feed the cells, tissues and organs of our body in our digestive system. Think about it – every bite of food we eat, every sip of liquid we drink, goes to the gut first.

The critical question is – how do we keep our guts healthy so they continue to nourish us? No one wants to end up with colon disease!

There are a variety of tools necessary to accomplish this task. In the next few blogs I intend to arm you with simple tools that are absolutely essential to keeping your digestive system healthy.

Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month – what better time to do this?

Shed Pounds Slowly? Gut Bugs May Be Missing Link

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/08/2017


Shed Pounds - brendawatson.com

Attempting to shed pounds but feeling a bit discouraged? I read some fascinating research that I hope will motivate you. Please give the healthy choices you’re making a bit more time!

The study itself was published last week in the journal Cell Host & Microbe and was conducted by a team led by Jeffrey Gordon, Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University. I’ve been following Gordon’s lab for some time. In fact, I shared their previous research in my book, Skinny Gut Diet. If you have a copy you know that Gordon suggested that a person’s potential for obesity can partially be predicted. He measures the ratio of Bacteriodetes (I called those the Be Skinny bacteria) to Firmicutes (Fat bacteria) in their gut. Gordon’s initial research was done with mice. We decided to run our own lay research study with our human Skinny Gut group (you can meet them all in the book) and we found Gordon’s observations to hold true. Fascinating.

Understand what microbes are in your gut!

Gordon’s more recent lab results suggest that despite your best efforts, your gut may not be on your side with regards to losing those extra pounds quickly! If you’re hosting an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, your microbiome (the community of microbes in your gut) may actually require extra time to reset back to health if you are making a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD), high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats to more healthy, calorie restricted, plant-based fare.

Initially in the study, fecal samples from humans following the SAD diet were compared to those following a healthy diet. I’ve blogged often on bacterial diversity, and how increased diversity of bacteria in the gut is often an indicator of vibrant health. Once again this has been found to be the case. The people on the SAD diet demonstrated a much less diverse microbiome than those on the healthy diet, suggesting generally that the SAD group would also be more prone to immune issues, digestive issues and silent inflammation.

Read more about bacterial diversity

Next the researchers implanted germ-free mice with the two sets of human donor’s gut microbes. Once implanted, both groups of mice were then fed the same healthy plant based diet.

Listen up here – this is the very interesting part. Although all of the mice responded overall to the diets, the group implanted with the SAD diet microbes responded more slowly than the mice that had only received more healthy microbes. Apparently there seems to be a transitional time needed for the mice with the SAD guts to shed pounds and regain health as efficiently as the more healthy ones.

A fascinating additional quirk in this study was when the SAD mice were placed into the same cages with the healthy mice, their gut health improved more quickly than the SAD mice who were living only with other SAD mice. How wild is that? Communal living anyone?

The practical goal of this research was to gather information that would pinpoint specific bacterial strains. Gordon’s team was seeking microbes that might be used to diversify and balance the gut. Normalized weight and increased health are most certainly the desired outcomes. No doubt, this research will continue well into the future. Hopefully one day research like this will result in a specific probiotic formula designed to combat obesity. But that’s still in the future.

Probiotics help you shed pounds.

So lets get back to you! If you recently switched from a SAD diet to more healthy choices and your weight loss isn’t diminishing as quickly as you might hope – hang in there. Good news – prior research shows clearly that your good microbe populations actually shift quickly. It just may take some time until you notice those changes in your skinny jeans.

Check out 4 excellent things you can do to fuel your weight loss

Shed pounds TODAY!

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.

Sickeningly Sweet Sugar Cover-up

Filed in Diabetes, Diet, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, Obesity, Sugar, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/23/2016


Hand Refuses Sugar - brendawatson.com

When I hear Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), I think of reports I’ve read on clinical trials, animal studies, and information that impacts disease processes. Last Monday a very different type of study was released, as reported by the The New York Times. This study reveals how the sugar industry paid scientists back in the 1960s to cover up the link between sugar and heart disease while purposefully blaming fat for cardiovascular issues. No kidding!

A large number of documents have been uncovered clearly proving that the Sugar Research Foundation, (today the Sugar Association) generously funded three well-respected Harvard scientists to write a prestigious article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Studies presented by men of this caliber shaped the conversations around nutritional practices at that time, and still do today. The handpicked studies that were included focused on the negative effects of saturated fat on heart health, minimizing any potential sugar issues, simply linking sugar to tooth decay.

Back in the 60’s, scientific discoveries were revered. Food manufacturers completely embraced the idea that fat was literally the cause of cardiovascular disease. As a result they removed the fat in their products. Removing fat left them with a big problem – fat makes food taste delicious! No fat, no flavor.

The sugar manufacturers were prepared. Sugar also stimulates taste buds. The switch was made. Food manufacturers from that point c hose to add sugar rather than fat to flavor their foods. The impact that one decision had on the American public is literally obscene.

Interesting tidbit – Mark Hegsted, one of the paid-off scientists, became the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1977 he helped create the precursor to our governmental dietary guidelines. I’m sure you remember that chart. At the base of that old food pyramid was carb after carb after carb. These days we realize that carbs become sugar in our bodies, with a very similar impact to eating table sugar! Seeds of obesity and diabetes were planted.

Fast forward to 2016. Diabetes and obesity are now in full force. In retrospect we can clearly grasp the sickening of America.

Back in the 60’s, science was revered. And at that time researchers were not required to disclose their funding sources. That transparency wasn’t encouraged as regular practice until the 80’s. Who knows what other scientific research was manipulated by unscrupulous nutritional (or pharmaceutical) factions? Someone does, and they’re not talking, we can be sure.

By the way, all associates in this group, executives as well as scientists, are no longer alive.

As our future unfolds, I would like to believe that our citizens today are more discerning with regard to information that they accept. Even mainstream news regularly offers sound advice to avoid sugars, processed carbs and processed foods of any sort these days. I’m happy to notice that we’ve come a long way!

I wrote Skinny Gut Diet specifically geared to help the busiest person achieve lasting health. This easy eating plan minimizes dietary sugars while maximizing the high quality proteins and fats that diminish aggravating sugar cravings. The great bonus is that these food choices help balance blood sugar and eliminate unwanted pounds too.

I invite you to check out our Skinny Gut principles and do some of research for yourself and your family. After all, those are the results that count the most!

And please, keep in touch with me as you shift your lifestyle and support your health!

Dementia Concerns? Speed-training!

Filed in Brain, Dementia, Digestive Health, Exercise, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/05/2016


Dementia in Brain Strengthened by Speed Reading - brendawatson.com

Have you ever worried that dementia might creep up on you? If so, do you have any idea what you might do now to lessen your chances of dementia developing? I know that I’ll do just about anything to maintain the sparkle in my brain! I think I found something great for us. I’d like to introduce you to a computer exercise named “speed-training”.

An article I read in the Wall Street Journal described the results of a 10-year study regarding dementia. It was reported that speed-training may greatly reduce our future risk of developing dementia.

The study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research, involved 2,832 healthy individuals between the ages of 65 and 94. Research was conducted at six sites around the US. It was a random trial where participants would receive one of three cognitive training programs, with a fourth group set up as a control. The study continued for 10 years!

The results of the ‘first of its kind’ study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last July 24th. Toronto was the site of this event which was the world’s largest gathering of Alzheimer’s researchers in one place. The study, named ‘Active’ (Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly) was very happily received.

The speed-training subjects were initially given 10 one-hour training sessions over five weeks, with an instructor on hand should help be needed. Booster sessions were provided for certain participant groups a year later and then three years later. As I mentioned earlier, the subjects were followed for 10 years.

Some participants only received an initial 10 hours of training at the start of the study. This group demonstrated on average a 33% lower risk for developing dementia all those years later. The group that received the additional follow-up sessions showed a risk reduction of 48%! Please note however that these results are still considered preliminary pending peer review and publication.

No matter, I find these initial findings very hopeful! I was pleased to learn that the computer program is available now since it’s common for exciting research data to be presented years ahead of our ability to actually make use of it.

I was interested to read that the Active study included previous research on other brain training as a part of their report. At different points, I have initiated these types of programs into my own daily routines. 

As presented, tthree different types of brain training studied all led to improvements in cognitive function and the ability to perform daily living skills, such as preparing a meal. Especially relevant is that speed-training surpassed the other techniques in reducing the incidence of at-fault car crashes and averting declines in health. I was truly excited to learn that it seemed to be effective in preventing symptoms of depression too. Now that’s some computer program, I’d say!

The specific exercise used in the study was developed by the research team. However usage rights were acquired by Posit Science of San Francisco. They’ve developed a more user-friendly version of the game called Double Decision. That program is now part of the company’s BrainHQ online service. A monthly subscription including access to Double Decision is $14/month or $96/yr.

Speed-training is designed to improve the speed and accuracy of processing visual information and expand the useful field of view (UFOV). UFOV is the visual area within which a person can make quick decisions and pay attention without moving their eye or head. It seems UFOV decreases as we age, and a decline in UFOV is associated with a decreased ability to perform daily tasks, particularly driving a car.

Clinical studies on the brain that validate subjective testimonials can be hard to find. That’s why I am excited to discover a study like this.

“For the majority of brain fitness products sold today the marketing hype has exceeded the science. The Active results will definitely provide a big credibility boost to the field,” says Murali Doraiswamy, director of the neuro-cognitive disorders program at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C.

I certainly imagine this is just the first of many long-term studies with a focus on brain fitness. A future clinical trial has already been proposed to determine the optimal dose of speed-training (that’s a question that occurred to me!). The research team also wants to clarify the effects this activity has on the brain.

Speed-training seems to offer huge benefits with very minimal risk, if any at all. Imagine if we couple brain fitness exercise with food choices that support brain and body health.  Dr. Perlmutter makes excellent suggestions in Brain Maker and I know that Skinny Gut Diet recommendations are great brain food, too! These reasonable efforts can yield giant rewards over time. Brain exercise and brain diet are a natural pair.

By the way, the recommended time to begin speed-training is age 50. Have you tried this exercise or one like it? Did you feel that the time you spent was valuable? Please let me know. My wish for you is a clear mind and healthy body always!

Food Journal Into Summer Clothes

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Exercise, General, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/20/2016


Food Journal for Weight Loss - brendawatson.com

As the days get longer (and in this area of the country, much hotter) thoughts turn to swimming prospects, and inevitably to bathing suits. While it’s easy to ignore weight loss goals while bundled in coats and boots, once again at this time of year, they tend to move up in priority.
So let’s dust off an excellent tool that will help jumpstart your quest to attain your perfect weight for your frame – and this year’s bathing suit. Begin a new food journal!

Please don’t groan. The whole experience can now be much less labor intensive than years ago. In the past you could only write in your daily entries manually and then you had to research the nutrient content in a separate way. I’m so grateful to our original Renew HOPE Foundation clients who tracked their foods carefully during the years we offered those programs. The data we gathered multiplied in value later as we gathered research for Skinny Gut Diet.

Fortunately, with the wonderful apps available to anyone with a computer or cell phone, the information gathered by the participants in our Skinny Gut Diet project was considerably less tedious. Today digital options for recording your daily eats abound, even including photo journaling.

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion of food journaling recently in the Wall Street Journal. While very useful for identifying food allergies and triggers for gut symptoms, far and away food journals are most commonly used for weight loss.

The article points out a number of interesting studies that validate food journaling as a great tool in support of your weight loss goals.

Over the years I have observed the people most successful with their food journal are consistent and accurate, carefully logging their foods until the habit is established. Then the accountability factor kicks in. As weeks go by, “aha” moments are joyfully attained and real and lasting change takes place.

So why do a large number of people find the food journal process, whether computerized or handwritten, nothing but a tiresome chore? Truth is, it takes more than a just few days to achieve those “aha!” realizations, and far too often the commitment to journaling ends in the length of time it takes fish to spoil in the refrigerator!

I appreciate the study info provided by My Fitness Pal stating that people who have friends on the app and connect regularly seem to lose twice as much weight as those who don’t connect with friends. Personally I think that interpersonal support is critical for almost everything in life. Another Power Tool – Sharing with Others!

By the way, My Fitness Pal was the app we were able to edit and use in Skinny Gut Diet and we continue to appreciate it in our community today. Because Skinny Gut Diet focuses on counting nutrients rather than calories, it was fortunate that the program allowed changes to be made regarding nutrients tracked.

I also really liked the suggestion in the article to write out what you plan to eat and record it in your food journal before eating it. It seems the process can be a deterrent to poor choices. Planning ahead has always been the cornerstone of success – for me at least. Great idea!

Some people enjoy merging food journaling with exercise tracking. It seems to help them to maintain interest. Others are best engaged when they can comment on emotional and physical experiences and relate them back to food choices.

In Skinny Gut Diet we used food journaling as one of our Power Tools. Have you had success with journaling in the past? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Is Dog-kissing for You? 

Filed in Adults, Digestive Health, Dogs - Pets | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/22/2016


Dog-kissing - brendawatson.com

I really enjoyed sharing information about pet supplementation in a recent episode of Pet Talk on National Geographic Wild. I was featured in a segment on Episode 3 that originally aired March 4th. I believe it’s still available for viewing, and I think you’d really enjoy it, especially if you’re an animal lover like me. It offers a lot of interesting information about many different animal species. One of the segments centered on dog-kissing.

Doris and her boyfriend Mark were the guests in the dog-kissing segment along with Doris’ two dogs, Buddy and Miss B. According to Doris, Miss B “is the best kisser in the whole wide world”. I must say I had never considered kissing a dog with the open mouthed intensity that Doris demonstrated. Mark had reached a point where he was no longer interested in kissing Doris (imagine that!). However Doris states that the unconditional love she receives from her canine friends “makes her day worth living”. It was certainly a thought provoking stalemate, and it was also interesting to see the reactions that Doris’ exuberant kissing created on the faces of the hosts of the show and also the audience. It’s probably the same face you have right now.

Bacterial swabs were taken from the throats of both Doris and Mark to determine if there was any harmful bacteria growing there that might have originated from the dogs. Although no disease-causing pathogenic bacteria were detected, Doris’ swab did reveal a type of bacteria that is not normally found in the mouth. Instead that particular bacteria is generally found only in the intestine. Although there was no way to prove it, the general consensus seemed to be that the bacteria was transferred to Doris from one of the dog’s mouths after they licked their own feces (dogs do like to clean all areas!) and then found it’s way into Doris’ mouth from a very affectionate kiss. Eeek!

Another true story was shared with the audience about a roundworm found in a different dog-kissing person. It seems the larvae of the worm traveled up into the lung of the dog, was coughed up into the dog’s mouth and then transferred to the human through a smooch.

I’m thinking perhaps open mouth kissing might be best avoided with our four legged friends! What do you think?

Imagine my surprise when shortly after the filming I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal named “Burning Question: Can Kissing Your Dog Make You Sick?” .

A good awareness point that was made in the WSJ article is to be sure and wash your hands after throwing a ball for your dog, as the saliva could be transferred from your hands onto your face and perhaps contain bacteria best avoided.

Additionally, it’s possible that sleeping with your dog could transfer fleas or other infection. However if you have a healthy dog that is currently maintained on flea and tick meds regularly, your risk is very low.

There is no one who loves dogs more than I do on this planet, so I totally understand the the appeal of dog-kissing and close contact. Ultimately, simple washing with soap and water after you may have received that affectionate lick will generally eliminate contamination. However, please don’t allow your pet to lick an open wound. The potential there is for a parasite or germ to sneak directly into your bloodstream.

I’m looking forward to filming more segments of Pet Talk in the upcoming year. Please keep an eye out and let me know how you like them!

Red Wine for Heart Health?

Filed in Adults, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, Human Microbiome, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/15/2016


Red Wine for your Heart - brendawatson.com

Reducing your risk of heart disease may have just become a bit more fun. A new study done by researchers from China explores the actual mechanism of how a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Resveratrol, found in peanuts, grapes, red wine and some berries has been touted as a health promoting substance, which supports cardiovascular health and infers anti-atherosclerotic benefits. However understanding exactly how that takes place has been murky and debated.

This study has uncovered evidence that the protective effect of resveratrol actually closely involves the gut microbiome – the extensive community of microbes that inhabit the digestive system of each of us.

Specifically, it seems resveratrol is able to inhibit gut bacteria from creating a compound called TMA. TMA is required to produce TMAO – an inflammatory compound well known to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. The concept is that the less TMA produced = less atherosclerosis in your blood vessels = better cardiovascular health! Great news for red wine drinkers!

In my book Skinny Gut Diet we actually conducted our own small research project on gut bacteria right here in sunny Florida. We observed that when people in our group increased their ratio of Bacteroidetes (we called these the “Be Skinny” bacteria) to Firmicutes (our nickname was “Fat” bacteria) by shifting their eating habits and using digestive supplementation, weight reduction was the happy result. We used comparative Comprehensive Stool Analysis testing to measure the shifting bacterial ratios over time.

In the recent study I mentioned above, the principal investigator Dr. Man-tian Mi said, and I quote “we found that resveratrol can remodel the gut microbiota including increasing the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratios, significantly inhibiting the growth of Prevotella, and increasing the abundance of Bacterioides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia in mice.”

Stay with me here, please. Essentially Dr. Mi is telling us that resveratrol helps to rebalance the ‘good guy-to-bad guy ratio’ of different bacterial species in the gut. The Chinese study was focused on the ratio of different species of bacteria as they related to cardiovascular disease specifically.

In Skinny Gut Diet, we were looking more at bacterial ratios and their impact on obesity and weight loss. Certainly obesity and heart disease sadly go hand in hand. Any food or substance that will lessen obesity is sure to improve cardiovascular health. Bottom line – substances like resveratrol, healthful diet and probiotics that positively impact your microbiome have the greatest potential to protect your health.

I never tire of reading innovative studies from around the world that deepen my understanding of how those helpful probiotics we have in our bellies function. From China to Florida, our research agrees. Heal your gut, heal your body – and in this case, your heart.