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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!

Sleep More in Class, Teens Learn More. Surprise!

Filed in Adults, Heart Disease, Preventable Issues, Sleep, Teens, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/24/2017


Sleep Deprived Teen - brendawatson.com

Sleep. How great it is when we’ve rested well the night before. How distressing it can be when that just wasn’t the case. Over the years I’ve offered many tips and hints on how to grab those extra winks.

Recently I enjoyed reading a report in the Wall Street Journal about organized napping in high school. According to study after study, lack of sleep in adults reduces workplace efficiency, can lead to overeating, and recently was even associated with stress on the heart.

            Short-term sleep deprivation has now been shown to affect heart function. Read more here.

Babies and school age children tend to get the healthful sleep they need, largely because we adults are able to make sure that happens. Stress increases and circumstances shift as our youth enter high school. Studies show that our teenagers are the age group most seriously impacted by lack of sleep. It’s generally agree that 8.5 to 9.5 hours nightly are needed to optimize teen growth. Many of these youth fall very short of that goal and school start times have been associated.

How much sleep is enough? Find out.

Did you realize that in 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement for high school to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., allowing teens to get more sleep nightly? A study of over 9,000 students was conducted that compared early and late school start times. Marked improvements in class performance as well as bettered national test scores were recorded with later arrival to school. Daily attendance improved. And here’s an unexpected stat. Car crashes by drivers 16 to 18 years old were reduced by 70% when school began later, at 8:55 as opposed to 7:35.

Inside of heightened pressure to perform for college and other activities, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believe that insufficient sleep as a teenager may be associated with weight gain, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, drug use – and subsequently, poor academic performance. I’m sure you’ll agree – falling asleep in class just doesn’t bode well for a student’s future.

            Check out the CDC report.

If you parent a teen, you may be thinking “my child’s school never read that report!” Your son or daughter’s required arrival time to class is probably around 7:30. Since institutions tend to be slow to change the way things are structured, it may be by adding napping to the high school curriculum, students may find some additional winks.

Due to increased awareness of sleep teen needs, here are some great napping programs that are cropping up in schools across the country:

  • Students with good grades get a weekly first period free so they can sleep in.
  • Quiet time for students – 20 minutes at the beginning and end of each day with closed eyes, no talking. One group is actually practicing transcendental mediation!
  • The Path Program in Boston has high-schoolers spend one period each day in a special area designed with comfy chairs and yoga balls to rest and de-stress. Counselors are available to offer guidance on good sleep habits.
  • A New Mexico pilot program purchased Restworks EnergyPods through a government grant. These pods, originally designed to afford stress relief in the workplace, seem perfect for students as well. After a 20-minute session, participants report emerging rested and refreshed.

Although most sleep professionals still feel an earlier bedtime is preferred over napping, I feel hopeful when I hear about these innovative rest programs. After all, these are the young people who will be shaping our futures. I for one would like to imagine they will be clear-minded and well-rested.

Heart for the Holidays

Filed in Adults, Heart Disease, Heart of Perfect Health, Stress | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/19/2016


Protecting your heart - from Brenda Watson's official blog

With the holidays now in full swing, rarely do we find a person who doesn’t experience some type of added stress. “Joy to the world” is sometimes difficult to achieve as we frantically shop and make arrangements to accommodate the arrival of friends and family. Some of us are reminded of those that are no longer at our table, and for others, this can be a lonely time for many reasons. Even extreme happiness can be stressful! No matter your situation, please keep these recent articles in mind prompting you to protect your heart – both physically and emotionally.

Intuitively we all know that our hearts work very hard during extreme physical effort. Most of us feel similar strain when we are under severe emotional upset. The INTERHEART Study, a huge global investigation of more than 12,000 people who experienced their first heart attack revealed that anger and emotional upset doubled the risk of an attack. And get this – engaging in heavy physical activity when highly emotional more than tripled the risk! Beware of arguing with your spouse when you’re dragging your Christmas tree into the house!

Last Monday Science Daily shared an article written by a cardiologist from Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center. See that here. There is a phenomenon called “silent heart attack” that primarily strikes women, generally in their mid-50’s to mid-70’s. As we race through these December days striving for perfection, it may be easy to ignore the more subtle symptoms of this stealthy condition. Often the stress of the season may be compounded by another traumatic event like a death in the family, an auto accident, money issues. Ignored, this condition can be fatal so please listen up.

Dr. Kurrelmeyer tells us “Most of the time people who are experiencing a heart attack will have pain in the chest, shortness of breath, etc. Silent heart attack symptoms might be as simple as indigestion, flu-like symptoms, or feeling discomfort like a pulled muscle in the chest or back. It’s important to have these symptoms checked as soon as possible to avoid scarring or damage to the heart.”

Although women are primarily at risk for this condition known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, it can also be experienced by men. Stress hormones actually shock the heart, causing the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart to malfunction.

Since heart problems in women aren’t as obvious as those men experience, I thought it might be helpful to offer a list of symptoms to be aware of right here. Please share this article with those women you love.

  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath.
  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness or pain the chest, arm, below the breastbone or in the middle of the back.
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting or dizziness.
  • Fullness, indigestion, tightness in the throat area.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats.

In my recent book Heart of Perfect Health, I discuss with renowned medical doctors and surgeons the importance of heart health and how disease is created. We also offer instructions on ways to maintain your cardiac health. Tips are given on various cutting-edge testing procedures that will reveal your own heart’s condition along with complete instructions on a heart healthy diet to provide you with vitality throughout this year, and for years to come.

Difficult as it may seem in the moment, male or female, the bottom line is – take a breath and do your best to relax. As Dr. Kurrelmeyer so poignantly reminds us – “The holidays should be a joyous time spent with family and friends at home, not with doctors in an emergency room.”

Self Serving Donations by Coke and Pepsi

Filed in Adults, Children, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, Sugar, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/26/2016


Boy drinking Coke and Pepsi - brendawatson.com

Today I am unhappy to reveal dismaying behaviors of two specific corporations – Coke and Pepsi. This particular study reported by the New York Times examines data from 2009 – 2015 – very recent events.

Just last month I blogged on a study that revealed the dark manipulation of information that had occurred by the sugar industry back in the 1960’s. These deeds played a significant part in shaping the low fat/high carb food trends that in the end resulted in our current health epidemic of diabetes and heart disease.

This new study, published earlier this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, takes a comprehensive look at donations made to health organizations by beverage giants, Pepsi and Coke. At the very same time these corporations were spending millions of dollars lobbying against public health measures designed to tax sodas or educate about the associated dangers of sodas and obesity. Goodness gracious! What’s wrong with this picture?

In a nutshell – the goal of the Coke and Pepsi donations seems to be to distract public health groups from focusing on sugar related reforms. The following organizations are cited in the study as having received large contributions from Coke and/or Pepsi, and in many cases have subsequently “lost interest in” soda reform or tax initiatives, or oddly chose to take no position:

  • Save the Children – $5 million from Pepsi and seeking more from Coke
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – $525,000 from Coke in 2012 and $350,000 in 2013
  • N.A.A.C.P. – $1 million between 2010 & 2015 from Coke
  • Hispanic Federation – $600,000 between 2012 & 2015 from Coke
  • American Diabetes Foundation – $140,000 from Coke between 2012 & 2014
  • American Heart Association – $400,00 from Coke between 2010 & 2015

A tremendous amount of money has been spent in lobbying against soda reforms. In 2009 alone, a federal soda tax was proposed to curb obesity and help fund healthcare reform. Coke, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association together spent $38 million lobbying against the measure. That proposal didn’t have a snowballs chance… Additional millions have been spent in vigorous lobbying since then.

These are a just a few of the discoveries made by the study’s authors, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University school of public health and Daniel Aaron, a student at Boston University’s medical school.

In a quote by Aaron, the study’s co-author “We wanted to look a what these companies (Coke and Pepsi) really stand for, and it looks like they are not helping public health at all – in fact they’re opposing it almost across the board, which called these sponsorships into question.” Sadly it appears that positions of “health groups” can be, and too often are, swayed by funding.

This report clearly shows that Coke and Pepsi spend a lot of money to look good, with thinly veiled ulterior motives. I doubt you’re tremendously surprised at this information. And I’m sure you’ll agree that knowledge is power. In truth, we all vote with the dollars we spend. Perhaps this information regarding how these companies conduct their business will impact the choices you make at the cash register.

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!

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.

Food Pyramid Reconsidered

Filed in Adults, Diabetes, Diet, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/04/2016


A few weeks ago while working on the newsletter about the FDA Guidelines, I came across this article from the Wall Street Journal co-authored by Dr. Stephen Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic. I’d like to share a quote from the article with you. “Congress, concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases, recently mandated the first-ever outside review of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them. The National Academy of Medicine will conduct the review this year. Yet this effort could do more harm than good if the academy endorses the weak science that has shaped the guidelines for decades.”

This excellent article goes on to explain that many of the recommendations which were first issued in 1980 were not based on clinical trials – one of the most reliable ways to show a cause-and-effect relationship. A major issue with clinical trials is human nature itself. We humans don’t like to follow rules.

In a laboratory setting with mice, foods can be administered regularly and changes in weight and various other parameters can be tracked accurately. However, imagine being a part of a study and being required to eat a certain way for weeks, months or even years. I’m sure you’re saying – “no way!” or “they’d have to pay me a fortune to do that!” And there you see the issues. To monitor the subjects as closely as would be required (think cameras in the house and car – and what about work?), or to provide all the food a subject should eat would cost a fortune! We’re not lab mice, after all.

Of course the results would also need to be recorded. Anyone who has ever attempted to maintain a diet diary can attest to how difficult following a specific eating plan can be! I would greatly encourage you to read the WSJ article.

So how were those guidelines assembled in the first place? It’s called prospective epidemiology. That’s a fancy way of describing the process of sending out lots and lots of questionnaires to large groups of people, asking questions about diet and lifestyle, and then following up with more questionnaires over years. If you’ve ever answered questionnaires, you know how variable your answers can be depending on your mood, or even the time of day. At best, the results of this type of study are sketchy.

Its no wonder dietary advice has vacillated so wildly over the last decades. Avoid eggs, eat eggs. Eat a low-fat diet, eat a high-fat diet. Eat more carbs, eat less carbs. The contradictions can make you crazy. And in our country the result has been a population of overweight people with cardiovascular disease and blood sugar issues.

According to this article, way back in 1980 the scientists should have realized that the recommendation to cut fat was unsound, based on already conducted contrary studies. Which of course brings us to the ever-present big money interests in agriculture and marketing. Sadly, money seems to trump health once again

So I have a question for you. Why are we waiting on the government to tell us what to eat anyway? There are certain basic concepts that aren’t rocket science that can guide the food decisions we make. In Skinny Gut Diet, besides offering a sensible healthy eating plan I’ve focused on a very basic concept – don’t eat lots of sugar! It makes you sick and fat! Simple. Doesn’t take Dietary Guidelines for that one!

Bottom line – we are each unique and wonderful individuals. There is no one eating plan that is a perfect fit for everyone. Each person who offers dietary guidance, be it Dr. Nissen or me, organizes their own research and life experience in order to make healthful suggestions. Now it’s time for the American public to do the same. Do your own research and listen to your gut – and I mean that literally.

Toxic Heart, Toxic Body

Filed in Cleansing, Cleansing & Detox, Diet, Environmental Toxins, Exercise, Heart Disease, Heart of Perfect Health, High blood pressure, Inflammation, Skin, Stroke | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/26/2016


As American Heart Month 2016 winds down, I’d like to shift my focus to an area that we don’t always associate with heart issues – toxins. Toxins are everywhere; there is no doubt about it. In the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we eat, in our homes, in most products we use—even in the most pristine places on earth—toxins are there. Truth is, toxin accumulation can directly impact our cardiovascular system, and many times will manifest as high blood pressure, increased atherosclerosis, and ultimately heart issues.

Toxins are chemicals that interfere with normal functions in the body, and most have been associated with adverse health effects. At this point, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regularly measure over 200 toxic compounds, tracking the levels in different aspects of our population. However there are 80,000 chemicals currently in use! Although the CDC adds new chemicals to track annually, it’s simple to see that we will never be able to really understand the full impact of the substances we’re all exposed to. The sad fact is many chemicals contribute to cardiovascular disease – either directly, or indirectly – through an increase in oxidative stress and general systemic inflammation.

So what is oxidative stress, also known as oxidation anyhow? It is one of the main drivers of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is at the root cause of heart disease, and for that matter, all other chronic disease as well.

Consider this analogy illustrating the destructive properties of oxidation: Oxidation is like a punch thrown from a bully (the oxidant), and it can easily lead to a full-blown fight if enough molecules get involved. Destruction results. Oxidation occurs when there are not enough antioxidants (the peacekeepers) around.

Oxidative stress triggers inflammation and regarding cardiovascular issues, it initiates the destruction of the lining of the blood vessels, called endothelial dysfunction.

Atherosclerosis involves endothelial dysfunction and chronic inflammation in the artery walls, progressing to the buildup of plaque and eventual cardiac complications such as heart attack and stroke. So I’m sure you can clearly see how toxins that increase oxidative stress are definitely the enemy. And antioxidants are our friends.

It is a myth that nothing can be done about toxin exposure. The fact of the matter is that supporting the body’s seven channels of elimination – colon, liver, lungs, lymph, kidneys, skin, and blood – through diet and cleansing will help improve the body’s natural detoxification abilities. A healthy eating plan and cleansing routine will fortify your heart right along with every other part of your body.

In addition to the antioxidants your body naturally produces, you also obtain antioxidants from your diet. A diet high in antioxidants includes plenty of deeply colored fruits and vegetables. This important step helps decrease oxidative stress and general systemic inflammation.

Regular exercise stimulates sweating and the release of toxins from your skin. Different herbal formulas help support the organs of elimination. Next month I plan to discuss cleansing in more detail.

In my book, Heart of Perfect Health, I offer information and targeted programs designed to protect your heart for the rest of your life. Toxins may be all around us, but we have ways to release them – and renew our health.

Surprise! You’re Addicted!

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Enzymes, GERD, Heart Disease, Heartburn, Indigestion, PPIs, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Reflux | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/14/2016


Last Monday it was reported by NPR that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) will soon be publishing yet one more reason to leave those PPIs alone! Protect your kidneys! You can now add kidneys to previous evidence of increased risk of bone fracture, infections and possibly even cardiac issues. This is another warning to all of you who regularly choose Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid to quiet your heartburn, indigestion or GERD.

I have been blogging on the potential issues associated with regularly blocking the normal production of stomach acid for many years. These serious medications, not viewed as potentially dangerous by the medical community until recently, have caused unbelievable heartache and misery for countless Americans. I’ve seen and heard about the damage they produce firsthand as I’ve spoken on digestive health and have been privileged to personally meet with so many of you over the years.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been thought to be so safe that they are now available over the counter. The only difference between a person’s prescription PPI and the ones at the drugstore is the dosage. So we can do math, can’t we? More heartburn? Just take more Nexium, omeprazole, or similar. NO!

Don’t get me wrong. These drugs can be life saving – short term. That’s the key – short term. While a person is healing from an ulcer or surgery it can be absolutely essential to decrease the amount of acid that’s created in the stomach so the tissues can heal properly. After the healing is complete, those drugs need to go – fast!

Even after a short period of time it can be challenging to wean off PPIs. The longer you depend on them, the harder it becomes. We think of addictions and what comes to mind is pain pills or heroin. Sadly, proton pump inhibitors are every bit as physically addicting, just in a different way.

Morgan Grams, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health led the research resulting in the upcoming JAMA Internal Medicine article. The study focused on evaluating the potential for PPIs to increase the chances you’ll develop chronic kidney disease. While the report wasn’t conclusive in itself, the findings were disturbing enough to cause Grams to warn all of us to only use these drugs when they are absolutely necessary.

Here’s the core issue. If you experience heartburn or indigestion of any type, there’s a reason. Your body is trying to tell you that something needs to be changed. Often it’s your diet (sorry, but that’s the truth). Actually, dietary shift can make a huge positive impact on digestive issues over 80% of the time.

It also might be that it’s time to purchase some digestive enzymes. As we age, our enzyme and acid production decreases so we can use a little help in that regard.

Commonly, after years of unhealthy eating habits, our internal bacterial balance is way out of wack. Probiotics can be your lifesaver in this case.

I implore you – before you start popping PPIs to quell that burning feeling, get a tiny bit creative. Try other digestive aids. Even bust way out of your box and consider a different eating plan! It’s not fun to suffer. I know that. However ignoring the real issue that is screaming for your attention by covering up the symptom will come back to bite you – possibly in your kidneys.

I wish only good digestion for you always!

The Coffee Table's Turned

Filed in Diabetes, Heart Disease, Inflammation, Sugar | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/30/2015


Coffee in America. To many of us a very desirable liquid that invokes strong emotions of enjoyment, representing a sense of well-being and providing focus. Coffee seems to sharpen us up, help us to get things done. In these stressful times, coffee can offer an important enhancement to the day, or the night.

With my habits I like to find reasons why my chosen patterns might offer me some health benefit in addition to an emotional lift. At the very least I’d like to think that my daily choice isn’t overly harmful.

I recently had to smile as I browsed this information about coffee. I happen to enjoy a morning cup as much as the next person, after all. So when I read that Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health feels coffee is an excellent beverage choice, I wanted to share his positive findings with my fellow coffee lovers.

To sum up the interesting article, Prof. Rimm differs with the generally held opinion that water is the best beverage to consume under all circumstances. He feels other beverages, and in fact food, provide much of the hydration our bodies need. He states there really isn’t a set amount of water that a person requires daily (those 8 glasses are not true for all!). He asserts that the amount of hydration needed is relative to the individual, their energy output, their environment, and their liquid intake. He goes on to say that coffee is definitely healthier than sugary soda (boy, I’m with him there!) and that coffee’s ability to enhance memory for up to 24 hours after consumption is a huge plus.

Prof. Rimm states throughout the article that unsweetened beverages are the way to go (I wonder if he’s seen my Sugar Equation), and he says that since coffee really is almost completely water, a person is actually hydrating when enjoying their cup of Joe.

He also sites a study that shows that coffee isn’t as strong a diuretic as we have been told, and even heavy coffee drinkers build up tolerance to any diuretic effects. Coffee is also high in natural polyphenols, those micronutrients that research is showing more and more to have a positive impact on chronic degenerative illnesses like cancer, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Prof. Rimm even mentioned that people who drink two to three cups of coffee daily show lower rates of diabetes than those who don’t drink any coffee. What an interesting observation.

So if you happen to enjoy your morning Java, you too can smile as you remember the benefits it may offer to you. Just one catch here – if your favorite coffee drink is a mocha with whipped cream – literally overflowing with sugar and perhaps even topped with chocolate shavings, the healthful benefits of the coffee itself may well be lost in the poisonous effects of the added sugar (sorry, I just had to add that!) One tip – erythritol, perhaps monk fruit sweetener, maybe even stevia – all may be great to sweeten your coffee so it’s “just right”~