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      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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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!

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?

Sunlight Offers New Benefits

Filed in General, Immune System, Longevity, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/09/2017


Blue Healing Sunlight - brendawatson.com

Through the years I have blogged repeatedly on the importance of vitamin D to our immunity, and actually all aspects of our health. Today I read some interesting research out of Georgetown University Medical Center that suggests another powerful benefit of getting some sunlight on your skin – totally separate from vitamin D yet still related to our immune systems.

The researchers are talking about “blue light”. In fact, some of the positive attributes of vitamin D may actually be due to the helpful activity stimulated by this particular band of sunlight.

Apparently blue light actually makes your T cells move faster. The cells themselves literally respond to the light. In order to work, T cells need to move. Their job is to get to the site of an infection as quickly as possible, like you’re body’s own ambulance service. Sunlight increases how fast your T cell ambulances get to the scene of the accident!

Technically speaking, sunlight helps to create hydrogen peroxide in T cells, and that hydrogen peroxide is what makes them move, like gasoline for the ambulance.

Interestingly, stimulating vitamin D through the skin requires UV light, too much of which can promote skin cancer, however it seems this blue light is very safe. Of course the next step is to determine how much blue light might be most effective in a therapeutic situation and possibly apply that through blue light lamps to increase immunity and health.

Those of us familiar with alternative therapies are no strangers to various light therapies. I love to see scientific research supporting the practices that many of us have embraced decades ago.

As winter is upon us it may become much more difficult to spend time in the sunshine, although most of us realize the benefits. Supplementing with vitamin D is always an excellent choice, and also adding in vitamin K as support adds even more benefit. I’d like to encourage you to consider an outdoor activity with friends and family that will up your exposure to the blue in sunlight, and make some great memories as well.

Type 1 Diabetes On The Rise

Filed in Antibiotics, Autoimmune Disease, Children, Gluten Sensitivity, Immune System, Teens, Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/02/2016


Type 1 Diabetes - brendawatson.com

Parents, please listen up! I have some important research to share with you right now! It has to do with the possibility of preventing the development of type 1 diabetes in your children!

When I read the results of this recent study in Science Daily, my heart fell. In a nutshell, it informs us that repeated antibiotic exposure greatly increases the risk for type 1 diabetes.

My own nephew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at around 13 years old, along with severe gluten sensitivity. Just last week my dear friend’s daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. I can tell you that both of these young people had round after round of antibiotics as children.

The article states that the average American child currently receives 10 courses of antibiotics by age 10. Of course, when given, the doctors are very convincing and assert that the antibiotics are very necessary. That’s why it’s so important that you, the parents, are well-informed.

Type 1 diabetes is no fun, period. It used to be called juvenile diabetes and was quite rare. However as children’s exposure to antibiotics has increased in recent years, the diversity and density of good gut bacteria, responsible for strong immunity, has dramatically shifted. Along with that shift in the gut environment, the occurrence of auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes has more than doubled.

Our immune systems are designed to protect us from harm. In the case of a person with an auto-immune disease, their immune system mistakenly attacks their healthy tissues or organs. With type 1 diabetes, the misguided immune system destroys the islet cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced. Islet cells don’t grow back. Insulin is essential to control blood sugar levels. Without insulin, excess sugar builds up and will ultimately damage nerves and blood vessels. The unfortunate person with this condition will need to be closely monitored and remain on medication daily for the rest of their life. As I said, no fun.

The summary of the clinical trial I mentioned above, which was conducted by well-known researcher Dr. Martin Blaser at NYU Langone Medical Center, reads “In doses equivalent to those used regularly in human children, antibiotics changed the mix of gut microbes in young mice to dramatically increase their risk for type 1 diabetes.” I find that to be a very frightening statement.

Jessica Dunne, director of Discovery Research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, puts it this way. “This is the first study of its kind suggesting that antibiotic use can alter the microbiota and have lasting effects on immunological and metabolic development, resulting in autoimmunity.”

So I say to you, please, please consider all other options before allowing antibiotics to be administered to your beloved young son or daughter (or yourself!). During cold and flu season, antibiotics are often prescribed for common respiratory issues. In the case of a viral infection, antibiotics are absolutely ineffective as I shared in this recent blog. Here’s a short list of natural products known for their anti-viral and in most cases, also antibacterial properties. These can be found in your local health food store and may be wise to keep on hand:

  • Monolaurin
  • Biocidin
  • Colostrum
  • Bee propolis
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Oregano oil

It’s always a good idea to consult a trusted health practitioner to determine which might be the best fit for you and your family.

I’ve blogged often about antibiotics and their consequences. It’s a crusade I will not surrender, as I know that through education and awareness, all of our immune systems – both of our children and ourselves – have the best chance for a healthy tomorrow!

Brain Invaders!

Filed in Alzheimer's, Brain, Immune System, Leaky Gut | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/02/2016


Brain Aging - brendawatson.com

Today I’d like to share with you some very though-provoking research I came across that was reported in our local paper, the Tampa Bay Times, regarding brain aging.

A Harvard research team is exploring the idea that Alzheimer’s disease could be the result of the body’s attempt to fight off infection. Their study focus is those plaque balls that are called beta amyloid.

You see, the brain is an area that is absolutely not supposed to be breached by bacteria or foreign substances – at all! For years, scientists believed that the blood-brain barrier was virtually impermeable. Now we know differently.

However should the brain’s defenses be breached, the immune system apparently becomes quite aggressive in walling off the invader, be it a virus, fungi or bacterium.

The groundbreaking evidence thus far seems to show that the defense system of the brain creates a sticky cage out of proteins called beta amyloids, literally trapping an offending microbe until it dies. These cages remain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The true function of the beta amyloids has been a mystery until now. It appears that in the body’s emergency response to protect the brain, the long-term repercussions may produce Alzheimer’s disease!

Once again these beautiful human bodies that we live in show remarkable abilities to protect us from harmful influences. Although no one would hope for Alzheimer’s disease, one day we may realize that without those cages of beta amyloids trapping all sorts of pathogens within them, people could be overcome by myriad brain infections all the time, suffer miserably, perhaps die quickly. Time will tell. I’m very curious.

For now, I reflect on the importance of maintaining the integrity and health of all our body systems to the best of our ability through appropriate eating habits, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

The question remains – how do we protect the brain from infection in the first place? Perhaps the next Harvard research project might be – how do we strengthen the integrity of that delicate blood-brain barrier against initial infection?

I feel certain those future answers to “Leaky Brain” will align perfectly with creating a healthy intestinal wall, further protecting us from Leaky Gut. As our understanding of the Gut-Brain connection expands, it will positively offer us even more amazing breakthroughs for health far into our futures.

Research That Matters

Filed in Diabetes, Immune System, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/29/2016


Research thumbs-up - brendawatson.com

Research is near and dear to my heart. Both when I design supplement formulations as well as when I educate through books and talks, I pride myself on making sure that the information I share is as grounded in scientific study as it can be.

I was delighted to read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Carrying the Torch for Basic Research” that quotes Elizabeth Blackburn, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009 and president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Check it out right here. The post shared that Dr. Blackburn is helping to identify which research questions are on the horizon for scientific review.

In my mind, what she’s doing is in the “most critical decisions for the future” category. Many years ago, medical research was done to learn how the world and our bodies functioned, and researchers looked for any way to improve wellbeing. Funding was scarce, and research was expensive. Colleges would receive endowments from philanthropic individuals and organizations. Competition for the money was fierce. Seeming failures, which always precede success, were expensive and depressing.

Then came the era of the pharmaceutical companies. Research monies began to flow. Although on the surface, clinical studies were funded to learn about healing one condition or another, far too soon the financial endowments became directed toward very specific outcomes, engineered to develop yet one more drug that could produce a financial fortune, and perhaps a modicum of relief to a percentage of patients. Rarely were future health repercussions considered seriously.

In the natural products industry, it’s been much more difficult to find research dollars. We have always been interested in looking at the core biological processes that become imbalanced, creating a condition of un-wellness. We are then committed to identifying natural ways to redirect those systems toward health.

Here’s the bummer. There is no money to be made from researching natural ginger, or maybe milk thistle or licorice. Not unless the substance is molecularly changed in some way so a patent can be given to a company for a “new” product. Those slight changes offer yet more foreign substances to our bodies – yet another unique “can of worms”!

Yet modern medicine demands that we in the supplement industry offer proof of the efficacy of our offerings. They are smacking their lips to get their hands on every natural substance to find a way to make it “better”. Fortunately, the National Institutes of Science have funded the Human Microbiome Project and we are now understanding so much more about those amazing probiotics that live within. Additionally, the positive effects of omega-3s have proven health benefits that are irrefutable.

Dr. Blackburn thankfully states “If you want to make a big impact, you have to go all the way through to understanding disease processes, though the impulse is to treat.” She continues to offer an example of looking at a form of diabetes to observe how the immune cells interact with the body in that condition. Her focus throughout the article seemed to be immune system directed, which I believe is where the answers are nestled. And that brings us, as always, back to the gut.

I look forward to Dr. Blackburn’s new projects highlighting neuroscience, genomics, and immunity. Her questions are process oriented, not focused on creating a new drug. This may not be the answer to our country’s twisted medical research, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

It’s heartening to know that such a brilliant thinker like Dr. Blackburn is at the prow of at least one major research facility.

For the time being let’s all continue to enjoy natural, unprocessed foods along with supportive natural supplements like probiotics and omegas. Let’s exercise our bodies with movements that bring us joy along with good circulation. We can live our research, exhibiting the health benefits that humans have enjoyed throughout the ages and around the world – and we’ll enjoy watching the clinical studies catch up with what we already know!

Gut Issues. Gluten or Glyphosate?

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


Glyphosate in our wheat? - brendawatson.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probiotic Pumpkin Pie Anyone?

Filed in Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/24/2015


Thanksgiving just isn’t complete at many of our tables without Pumpkin Pie. Would you agree?

That pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon scent of a baking pie, be it Grandmother’s recipe or Libby’s suggestions off the side of the pumpkin can, is standard beloved aromatherapy of the season, so it’s with a smile and a wink that I post this recipe for you today. If not for the Turkey Day table, it might be a great additional to next Sunday’s dinner!

My friend Donna Schwenk has recently launched her new book called Cultured Food for Health. On page 154 of this wonderful book she offers a “Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie”.

Okay, so ‘raw’ kind of defeats the aromatic aspect of the traditional celebration, but I’m hoping the greater value of this recipe may pique your interest, since it will provide so very many helpful probiotics for your family’s digestive tracts. I’m sitting here laughing at the image of a pie filled with multitudes of good bacteria. And it’s really the truth.

Kefir packs between 30 and 56 different types of bacteria, and research on the health of the gut shows over and over that diversity is the key – the more different types of good guys, the stronger your immune system seems to be. Let me know if you try this, and how you like it!

 

Donna’s Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie

Makes 8 servings

 

For the Probiotic-Packed filling

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 to 4 hours in water and then drained

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup Kefir Cheese

½ cup maple syrup (or a zero calorie sweetener like erythritol/lohan)

½ cup coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

 

For a raw crust (or of course, you can make your own recipe or pick up a frozen gluten free one!)

1 cup walnuts

1cup pecans

1 cup raisins

Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

 

To make the probiotic filling, combine the cashews, pumpkin, kefir cheese, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a blender or food processor on high speed. Pulse until completely smooth. This can take a few minutes.

To assemble the crust, pulse the walnuts and pecans in a food processor until they’re crumbs, then add the raisins and salt and pulse until the moisture begins to stick together.

Pour the filling into the crust, then cover it with plastic wrap.

Place the pie in the freezer until solid, about 5 hours. Before slicing and serving, let the pie sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften a little.

Donna offers a wonderful recipe in her book to make Coconut Whipped Cream to top this fabulous pie! You’ll find it on page 179 of the book when you bring one home for your very own.

As an alternative, I like to whip up some organic heavy cream and add a bit of stevia or zero calorie sweetener to taste. And let’s not forget the eternal crowd pleaser – delicious ice cream as a pie topping.

Whatever your combination, I wish you a Happy Healthy Joyful Thanksgiving filled with lots of great food and love all around! Don’t forget those probiotics! They love you too!

Bacteria and the Elderly – Better Days Ahead

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, C. difficile, Conditions, Dementia, Diet, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Road to Perfect Health, Urinary Tract Infections | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/23/2015


Recently I was pleased to come across an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the very positive shift away from overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes.

Being the defender of the microbiome that I am, when I read that up to 70% of nursing home residents receive one or more courses of antibiotics every year and up to 75% of those prescriptions are given incorrectly – well that information had the hair all over my body on end! It was reported that the prescriptions were written for the wrong drug, dose, or duration – and this information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oh my!

Apparently, one of the biggest antibiotic misdiagnoses is for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections. Believe it or not, antibiotics to treat supposed UTIs are being given to the elderly for vague symptoms like confusion, the discovery of bacteria in just one urine sample, or even in the case of a random misstep resulting in a fall.

Sadly, since women are much more likely to develop UTIs then men, many of us ladies have experienced the misery of a UTI. Although it’s possible to have a UTI and not experience obvious symptoms, that is much more the exception than the rule. In the companion book to the public television special The Road to Perfect Health, I list symptoms for UTIs. A few are a persistent urge to urinate, painful or burning urination, frequent urination, and the list continues with other very clear indicators. Finding bacteria in the urine is just one piece of a diagnosis. “Confusion” wasn’t even on my list. So does this mean that confusion is only a symptom of UTIs in elderly people? How can this be?

Dr. Christopher Crnich, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health states that generally 50% of women and 25% of men in nursing homes have bacteria in their urine. He then emphasized that didn’t automatically indicate a UTI. Bacteria can develop for many other reasons – immune system and hormonal issues for example. I’ll include an imbalanced gut here, resulting from a diet containing too many sugars. By the way, this is true for people of all ages.

This article really got me thinking as I approached the end. According to Dr. Diane Kane, chief medical officer for St. Ann’s Community, a not-for-profit health-care system in Rochester, NY, who is a passionate critic of UTI over-diagnosis, “When you have dementia, you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. When you have dementia and you have a bad day, please don’t send a urine, because it’s going to be positive.”

As I interpret Dr. Kane’s statement, “bad days” of dementia (more confusion) will physically manifest as an increase of pathogenic bacteria in a person’s urinary system. Following that line of thought, a decrease in the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body could potentially alleviate some symptoms of dementia or confusion. That could certainly explain why a patient’s confused mental state may seem to improve while on a round of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, if no effort is made to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after antibiotics, research has shown that bad bacteria and yeast readily re-establish. Upon the return of a confused mental state, further urine testing would reveal more bacteria, perpetuating another misdiagnosis of UTI and laying the groundwork for additional antibiotic treatment. Round and round we go.

In my mind, a much better and more logical step toward improved daily function and cognition for the elderly in nursing homes might be to dramatically increase the amount of good bacteria provided to the gut on a daily basis. The good bacteria will displace the bad, supporting and maintaining the integrity of all the organs of elimination, bladder included. And perhaps positively impact confusion and dementia. I’d love to see more research studies created that look at these parameters. Are you with me?

I’ve blogged often on how declining gut health, toxicity and dementia seem to go hand in hand. I’ve also shared research highlighting how probiotics can be effective treatment for that dreaded C. difficile infection that occurs most often in hospitals and long term care facilities, haunting the weak and elderly.

Let’s all envision a day when antibiotics are the last resort should a person be confused, perhaps has fallen, or mild amounts of bacteria are found in their urine. Instead let’s picture a standard of care designed to increase the good bacteria in the body through daily probiotics, kefir, fermented veggies and/or kombucha. Now that’s HEALTH care!

If Not Milk, Maybe Kefir?

Filed in Adults, Children, Digestive Health, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/16/2015


You may have seen my newsletter this week where I discuss the low-fat misinformation that set so many of us on the SAD way of eating! (Standard American Diet). Contrary to the assertions of the Dietary Guidelines created in the 80’s, current research points out that full fat dairy can for many people actually be a very healthful food.

Yet for some, milk may cause allergic reactions due to the lactose (milk sugar) it contains. That group of people may have found in the past that they can tolerate dairy products when they take specific enzymes called lactase.

Another, even better way to reduce the lactose in dairy is to ferment milk, which then produces kefir. Through this process, most of the milk sugars are reduced making the milk more digestible (for everyone) and also giving kefir it’s somewhat sour taste.

The best news is that kefir can provide you an inexpensive and easy way to dramatically increase your daily dose of probiotics – those good bacteria we all know and love!

Do you like yogurt? If so, you’ll most likely enjoy kefir. I’ve been talking about the probiotic benefits of some types of yogurt for many years now. Where yogurt provides only a few different types (strains) of good bacteria, kefir has been found to offer between 30 and 50 different ones! The more strains the better it seems, whether we’re looking at estrogen balance, as protection against childhood allergies, or even regarding weight loss.

Making kefir actually predates refrigeration as a way to preserve milk longer. We now realize all the great probiotic benefits we gain from the process – benefits like healthy bowel movements, a strong immune system and more restful sleep, just to name a few.

You can find kefir at your local grocery or health food store in the refrigerated section next to milk. Be sure and choose the unsweetened variety. The process is so easy though, I would recommend making your own. Donna Schwenk, author of Cultured Food for Life, offers great how-to instructions on making kefir and other fermented goodies.

I know you’ll love the many wonderful ways to use this healthy food. I add kefir to my smoothie, I use it as a topping for berries, often as an ingredient in salad dressing, and it makes a wonderful probiotic coleslaw too!

This season invite some fermented foods into your life. You might begin with guilt-free dairy by choosing full fat organic milk (or even goat’s milk) and culture some kefir. It’s always a great day to support the good bacteria in your gut!