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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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    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

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    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

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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.

BFF – Your Liver!

Filed in Cleansing, Environmental Toxins, Gut Solutions, Liver, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/18/2016


In terms of your health, one of your very best friends is your liver. It works tirelessly for you, performing myriad critical functions, keeping your body pure of toxins and harmful substances. It supports nearly every other organ in the body in some way.

We are all besieged daily by various substances that are foreign to normal body function. Pesticides, petrochemicals, plastics – and I’ve just mentioned a few that begin with “p”. Sadly, there are certainly toxins that begin with all of the other letters of the alphabet as well.

I was reading an article discussing a paper published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. It stated that more than 10 percent of the world’s population suffers from some form of liver disease. It also mentioned that many of these people choose natural remedies instead of pharmaceuticals as their therapy. Glad to hear that.

Liver cleansing is near and dear to my heart and I’ve been using herbal formulations for decades to support healthy liver function. What’s really remarkable about these herbs is that they are time and tradition tested across our globe, and found to be safe and effective, without the harmful side effects that we regularly encounter with man-made chemical medications.

So now let’s celebrate some natural herbs that can provide you with protection against liver cancer and various other forms of liver damage. Yes, there is a lot you can do to safeguard this essential ally of your health.

  • Turmeric, whose active ingredient is curcumin, has been extensively used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gut issues, arthritis, and low-energy or fatigue. It demonstrates anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. No wonder it gets such great press as one of the world’s healthiest foods!
  • Skullcap, active ingredient wogonin, has shown positive results in studies relating to Hepatitis B and C, as well as various forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Interestingly, it has also been used in the treatment of a wide variety of nervous conditions, including epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety.
  • Licorice Root, active ingredient glycyrrhizin, exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. In Chinese medicine licorice root has long been used to protect liver function and also to combat tumors, and is widely recognized as a go-to support in cases of chronic hepatitis.
  • Resveratrol is known widely for it’s anti-aging properties. It’s not surprising that it also protects the liver, helping to guard against the damage caused by free radicals and inflammatory processes. Resveratrol elevates levels of glutathione and promotes antioxidants in the body. It shines as a great liver-supporting herb.
  • Milk Thistle, active compound silymarin, is probably the most well researched supportive herb for the liver. Used medicinally for over 2,000 years and appreciated as a strong “liver tonic” worldwide, it is used extensively in preventing and even reversing liver toxicity caused by toxins and drugs. And if you heard that milk thistle should be avoided due to its possible effect on estrogen, disregard that information. Although some parts of the plant contain phytoestrogens, clinical evidence shows no significant effects on estrogen levels, and in fact is potentially beneficial for estrogen dominant conditions such as breast cancer.

There are many excellent liver cleanse formulas that contain most if not all of these fine herbs. As I discuss in my book, Gut Solutions, a liver cleanse is recommended for everyone. Always remember – Good Liver, Great Life!