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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!

Feeling Sexy? It Could Be Microbes!

Filed in Adults, Human Microbiome, Inflammation, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/14/2017


Love microbes - brendawatson.com

Here’s a different twist on Valentine’s Day! Your attraction to your sexy mate may have less to do with the clothes he/she wears, the sweet nothings he/she whispers and the chocolates he/she buys for you – and much more to do with his/her particular microbes!

While flourishing science is replete with the fabulous abilities of microbes – everything from supporting our immune systems, balancing our digestion, and even affecting our moods, I have to say that I hadn’t considered adding “how sexy a person is” to the good bacteria’s list of accomplishments.

This information was reported last weekend in the New York Times and was offered by Susan Erdman, a microbiologist at M.I.T. She calls this microbial phenomenon the “glow of health”.

Years ago while working with mice in a study of probiotics isolated from human breast milk, she noticed that the male mice began growing very shiny and beautiful fur! Upon further testing, it was noted that their testosterone levels were elevated. They were preening and posturing noticeably. The house mouse transformed into Mick Jagger!

The female mice given this particular probiotic had an extremely fascinating response as well. Two important female substances increased. One was Interleukin 10, which decreases inflammation and helps sustain pregnancy. And the other substance, oxytocin, is chemically the hormonal place where love and cuddles combine.

Oxytocin has been called the love hormone due to the warm and close feelings that it stimulates – for both men and women. Not surprisingly, women produce it abundantly when breast feeding. It’s been observed to increase on occasion of a meaningful kiss. It even rises when close time is spent with dear friends. Important in both sexes in sexual relations, oxytocin infuses the warmth and closeness in the night! Incredible thought – microbes may be furnishing the stimulus that literally creates loving and nurturing behaviors.

Learn more interesting facts about oxytocin here~

Dr. Erdman submits that the possible role microbes play in love and procreation has a twofold effect. It not only results in our own species evolving, but also microbial communities are assured their continued existence too. Humans and microbes working together for the common good of all!

I like this synergistic vision of our future. Much research has been done on the negative parasites and disease causing microbes. However we now recognize that at least 80%, if not more of the residents of our microbiome, from our bellies to our skin, fall into the benevolent and helpful category. Dr. Erdman happened on some Valentine microbes!

So as you look tenderly at your love partner, sharing microbes in the glow of candles in a romantic embrace, it’s a nice thought that your bacterial communities are in your corner, approving and supporting your loving relationship. I wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

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.

Loving Basil!

Filed in Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Diet, Dietary Fiber, High blood pressure, Inflammation, Mental Health, Recipes | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/08/2016


Wonderful Basil - brendawatson.com

One of my favorite summer friends is basil. Not the man, the herb! Between the lovely aroma, the list of health benefits, and the delicious taste addition to so many dishes, this green beauty stands tall as a winner on all fronts.

Fairly heat tolerant, we’re able to grow our own basil plants and harvest at will, even here in very hot Florida! Whether you grow your own or find yours at a local farmer’s market, I’d like to offer an interesting harvesting tip.

At some point I’ll bet you’ve placed your basil into the fridge, and fairly soon you noticed that the leaves turned an unsightly black color. To keep this herb fresh and robust, you can make the most of the its wonderful scent and also create a summer bouquet right on your kitchen counter. Trim the stems as you would roses, place them in cold water away from direct sunlight. Change the water daily and your sprigs will last around 5 days.

Varieties of basil abound! Check these out in addition to the classic Genovese:
• Thai basil has a unique flavor of anise
• Lemon basil – extra special for seafood and salads
• Holy basil – pungent flavor
• Spicy cinnamon basil – yes, delicious on desserts!
• Purple basil – especially rich in anthocyanins – the same type of strong anti-oxidants found in blueberries and red cabbage

Okay, I teased you with a list of health benefits. Here you go, 5 great facts about fabulous basil:
1. Is a great source of vitamin K. There have been studies that suggest increasing your vitamin K intake may help guard against diabetes as well as other chronic issues.
2. Contains potent flavonoid antioxidants, which may wield anti-aging properties and possibly even protect against cancer.
3. Contains oils like eugenol and linalool that have strong antibacterial properties. Keep this in mind when cooking chicken and ground meat, making them safer to enjoy.
4. Offers high levels of carotenoids, which studies have shown may actually improve mood, decreasing anxiety as well as balancing cholesterol in the blood. Wow!
5. Along with other herbs adds wonderful flavor to our foods, minimizing the desire for added salt, and indirectly helping to keep blood pressure in check.

I love this fabulous herb in blended green drinks. In this hot weather, my green drinks are the fuel that keeps me going! Not juices, mind you, blended drinks which leave the fiber in the final product! So I wanted to share one of my favorite concoctions with you right here.

To prepare approximately 2 servings. Place the following ingredients in a Ninja or Vitamix;
• 1 inch water
• 1 medium beet
• 3 or 4 basil tops
• 2 handfuls of spinach
• ½ lemon including peel
• 1 small Granny Smith apple
• Handful of ice cubes

Blend — and get ready to feel just great!

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.

Food as Medicine to Balance Your Blood Sugar

Filed in Diabetes, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Inflammation, Metabolic Syndrome, Sugar | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/13/2015


I’m so happy to see that people are becoming so much more aware of the sugar in their diets, and the impact it has on their health. The term “blood sugar” is now common in conversation and most of us are happy to learn of ways to control the fluctuations that may result in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or other inflammatory conditions like cardiovascular issues.

Obviously eliminating the processed high carb, high sugar offerings is key. Exercise is also an integral piece. I’m not talking about Olympic endurance training. Simple movement like walking on a regular basis will be extremely supportive of your entire well being.

And personally I really enjoy the concept of food as my medicine. Here are some foods that research has found to have blood stabilizing effects on your day.

Anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant pigments found in red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. In addition to balancing blood sugar and decreasing inflammation, they also have exhibited protective actions for the cells of the pancreas. So next time you enjoy berries, eggplant, black currants, red cabbage or dark beans you’re doing your blood sugar a big favor.

Apple cider vinegar slows down actions of your stomach and increases efficient utilization of glucose. It also has a positive effect on enzyme activity. If you are concerned about the possibility of type 2 diabetes, consuming apple cider vinegar at bedtime may help lower your next morning fasting glucose level.

Fiber, a personal favorite of mine, is a true friend to blood sugar balance. In short, fiber absorbs and dilutes the digestion process of carbohydrates and has demonstrated a decrease in post-meal blood sugar readings by an average of 20 percent. Populations in other countries that consume large amounts of fiber are virtually free of bowel diseases.

Both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are found to be helpful, so please be generous with those leafy greens, legumes, low-glycemic fruits, chia, hemp, ground flaxseed and psyllium and even some quality whole grains. Your blood sugar, and your overall digestion will appreciate it.

Chromium is a micromineral that is critical for sugar metabolism, and is widely available in supplement form. However it’s nice to know that you can find chromium in broccoli, organic eggs, barley, oats, green beans, onions, and nuts, so chromium can be delicious too.

This last suggestion may not be supported as conclusively by research as by traditions, and I’ll offer, enjoyment. Although there have been studies linking cinnamon with lower fasting blood glucose, it seems the effects are not long-lasting. Adding cinnamon to your steel cut oatmeal may directly help to balance your blood sugar for that meal, but you better keep the cinnamon shaker around for lunch and dinner as well.

In my experience, when cinnamon is added, many times it seems to satisfy my craving for something sweet. Have you noticed that too? So in a round-about way, that’s sugar control.

I hope these simple “food as medicine” suggestions will serve helpful on your own path to balanced blood sugar and excellent digestive health.

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”~

Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Filed in Conditions, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Inflammation, Stress | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/02/2015


Since the age of 17 I have studied a large number of the spiritual philosophies from around the world. Ultimately, the unifying piece of all for me has been meditation, or commonly these days, it seems to be termed ‘mindfulness’. I have blogged many times about the healthful effects of mindfulness – a state of active, open attention to the present moment. The myriad chronic conditions that benefit from decreasing stress and allowing the moment to just “be” are notable – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, depression – and the list continues.

So what is it in our lives that keeps us from taking that small amount of time for ourselves to relax into our breath and go within? Many times the simple practices of mindfulness get lost, and often in the best of times, leaving us feeling empty when we thought we might be overflowing with happiness. The regular practice of going within offers far-reaching joyful benefits – and there’s a reason it’s called a practice.

I’ve noticed that through the years, my own personal “rules” for how things must be to contact that peace within have shifted spaces and formats.

These days there are free resources all over the internet to help us let go of anxiety and find peace within our seemingly chaotic days.

Recently I suffered an intense loss in my life and like many others in times of grief, my meditation practice has grown even more dear to me. What has shifted strongly through my own letting-go process is not only do I have a certain place where go to practice, I have recently placed objects there that have deep significance to me.

I am a vibrational person, as I believe we all are, and I use my toning bowl to create sounds I love. I may play some music. I may read for a while, perhaps light a candle, sometimes chant. There may be alligator tears, or giggles that surprise me. I’ve seen my willingness increase dramatically to confront the inevitable painful mental blocks and searing emotions that arise around those times of loss in our lives. I’m allowing the love and light that is present in all to heal me. And no matter when I arrive, I always walk away closer to the heart of beloved peace.

In the past, even 5 minutes would do. However now as I recognize my own need for healing, I’ve made a serious commitment to my daily practice. Without fail I spend a minimum of 20 minutes which may turn to an hour. Some days I have to get up at 5 a.m. to keep this commitment. And believe me, it’s worth it.

For you, it may be a place in the woods, a tiny spot in a garden, or even a chair in a library where you find yourself willing to breathe and be still. Others are able to meditate through physical movement like tai-chi. I’ve watched artists in meditation as they create their own form of beauty. It’s all good.

For now, I’d like to offer you 7 points that may be helpful if you’re considering a regular mindfulness practice.

  1. Whether you’re sitting on the floor, a chair, or wherever – be comfortable.
  2. I believe it’s most effective for you to make a sacred place where you return each day, at least in the beginning. There is something soothing about repetition.
  3. Be sure your legs are at ease. If you’re sitting in a chair, have your feet flat and spaced a few inches apart.
  4. From your head to your seat, it’s best to have your spine upright, not slouching.
  5. Allow your hands to be open with your palms resting on your thighs.
  6. My suggestion is to keep your eyes open and relaxed, gazing downward and directed 4-6 feet in front of you. This is not nap-time.
  7. Leave your mouth slightly open so your jaw is relaxed. That way air can move easily through your mouth and nose.

Remember, breath is your spirit. If you find your mind wandering and you’re thinking about situations, emotions or sensations, you can let them go by saying (even out loud) “I’m thinking” – and then focus your attention on an out-breath. Repeat as necessary. There is no wrong way. You are loved.

Ultimately it comes down to the question of how willing are we to commit our time, to loosen our grip on daily life, and be honest with ourselves.

My request for you today is that you take some breaths and moments just for you – and yes, do that each day. It will be my pleasure to meet you across time and space in the present moment of peace.

Happy mindful meditation to you.

Recipe for a Healthy Liver

Filed in Adults, Cleansing & Detox, Diet, Digestive Health, Inflammation, Liver, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD, Obesity, Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/05/2015


If you happened to catch my newsletter this week, you’ll know that my mind has been on your liver (and mine).

In the grand scheme of health, your liver is one of your very dearest and most important friends, one to maintain an excellent relationship with – every bit as important as your Mom or Dad, spouse/partner or children.

Calling the liver a workhorse is putting it very mildly. In our toxic world, a properly functioning liver may be where the line is drawn between life and death – and it’s certainly critical for a vibrant quality of daily living. In my newsletter I shared with you how it functions and the many implications of dysfunction.

I thought it might be fun to offer you a favorite delicious and easy “liver support” recipe, and then describe for you what it is about the liver reinforcing ingredients that make them super heroes of good health.

Since my eating plan, Skinny Gut Diet, is an 85% plant based program, I’m always looking for yummy salad dressings to dress up the essential and foundational veggies. Here’s a favorite of mine.

 

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Sun Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • juice + zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
  • a little less than a teaspoon of ground pepper (added by me)
  • 1 Tbsp. raw local honey — (I personally like some stevia or erythritol here)
  • pinch of Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Add more avocado if you desire a thicker consistency.

 

And now to describe those ingredient super heroes:

Olive oil – cold-pressed oils (flax and hemp too) support the liver by providing a lipid (good fat) base that sucks up harmful toxins during digestion.

Lemon – contains high amounts of vitamin C, which aids your body into converting toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. By the way, drinking freshly squeezed lemon in the morning helps stimulate your liver.

Avocado – helps your body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.

Garlic – activates liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains high amounts of allicin and selenium that aid in liver cleansing.

Turmeric, as mentioned in the name of the dressing, is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory nutrient. It’s actually the liver’s favorite spice and boosts liver detox by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens. In order for turmeric to be absorbed into your circulation, it’s helpful to eat it along with pepper in a roughly 8 to 1 ratio.

And of course, pour your liver-loving dressing over your favorite salad, making sure to include leafy greens like arugula, dandelion or spinach. These greens help increase the production and flow of bile, which removes waste from the organs and blood and assists the liver in detoxification.

I think it’s interesting to see specific functions of liver supportive foods. More options are listed here. Come to think of it, the list looks a lot like the shopping guide from Skinny Gut Diet! Come join us in our Facebook Group, and let’s support our livers together.

To Your Health~

Leaky Gut in Multiple Sclerosis

Filed in Human Microbiome, Inflammation, Leaky Gut, Multiple Sclerosis | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/03/2014


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that involves an immune system attack of the protective sheath (myelin sheath) that covers nerves. This destruction has a damaging effect on the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The disease process varies widely per person, ranging from symptoms of weakness, tingling, numbness, blurred vision, muscle stiffness, and difficult thinking to, in some cases, loss of the ability to walk.

Scientists are not entirely sure how MS develops, but a recent study may help explain the early disease process. Published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal, researchers from Lund University in Sweden discovered that inflammation and changes in intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut syndrome) occur early in the disease.

“Our studies indicate a leaky gut and increased inflammation in the intestinal mucous membrane and related lymphoid tissue before clinical symptoms of MS are discernible,” noted Shahram Lavasani, PhD, one of the researchers. “It also appears that inflammation increases as the disease develops.”

Previously Dr. Lavasani’s team showed that probiotic bacteria were protective against MS, which is what prompted them to take a closer look at the function of the intestinal lining. They found increases in inflammatory immune cells common in people with inflammatory bowel disease, another autoimmune condition.

“In most cases, we don’t know what triggers autoimmune diseases, but we know that pathogenic cells frequent and disrupt the intestines,” stated Lavasani. “A leaky gut enables harmful bacteria and toxic substances in the body to enter the intestine, which creases even more inflammation. Our findings provide support for the idea that a damaged intestinal barrier can prevent the body ending an autoimmune reaction in the normal manner, leading to a chronic disease such as MS.”

Exactly! This process, which begins with gut bacteria imbalance that triggers inflammation and leads to leaky gut, opening the doorway for inflammation to enter systemic circulation and reach any area of the body, is a central theme of the gut connection, a topic that I have been educating about for years. It’s why I strongly stress the importance of beginning any health journey by optimizing digestive health. It all begins with gut balance and healing the intestinal lining. This study is a great example of a process that occurs in countless chronic diseases.

As I always say, balance your gut, heal your body.