• Gut Health
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    • Heart Health

      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

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    • Skin Health

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

  • Brain Health
    • Brain Health

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

  • Diet & Health
    • Diet & Health

      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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    • Pet Health

      Our dog’s health is precious! They provide us with unconditional love and companionship. A daily probiotic formula is a great way to ensure good health. Make sure you choose one that delivers the recommended potency level and strain count. There is nothing quite like a healthy and happy dog. Happy Dog. Happy Life!

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Quick Facts and 9 Simple Tips for IBS Awareness Month

Filed in Adults, Allergies, Conditions, Constipation, Diarrhea, Digestive Health, Inflammation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/04/2014

April is IBS Awareness Month—a time for individuals and communities across the country to spread awareness about irritable bowel syndrome and the millions of Americans it affects every day. Coast to coast, activities and events are in the works to help people understand this debilitating disorder, its signs and symptoms, and how it is diagnosed and treated.

Quick Facts about IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 25 and 45 million Americans every day. Although its cause is still unknown, many experts believe the symptoms of IBS—which include abdominal pain and bloating along with diarrhea, constipation or both—are closely linked to the interaction between the gut, brain, and central nervous system. (It’s possible the nerves along the gut alter normal pain perception so that the bowel becomes oversensitive to normal stimuli.)

If you or someone you know is living with IBS, here are 9 natural solutions to help you take the first steps toward better bowel health:

1.     Add More Fiber. In addition to its role in heart health and weight management, fiber supports healthy digestive function by helping to absorb and eliminate toxins in the colon that may contribute to IBS symptoms.

2.     Limit Fatty Foods. Eating foods that are high in fat such as fried foods and certain meats may contribute to IBS. Be sure to consume these types of foods in moderation.

3.     Cut Back on Caffeine. Highly caffeinated foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.

4.     Avoid Foods High in Sulfur. Some foods that are healthy—including vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions and broccoli—are high in sulfur and may actually trigger IBS symptoms. Opt for low-sulfur veggies such as carrots or green beans.

5.     You May Have a Food Sensitivity. Some people have IBS because they are dealing with an underlying food sensitivity. Gluten and dairy are the two most common foods to which a sensitivity may develop. A gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet, or both can help to improve IBS symptoms in these people.

6.     Show Your Digestive Tract a Little TLC. Many herbs and nutraceuticals such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, and the amino acid L-glutamine can help nourish and soothe the intestinal tract and bowel.

7.     Balance with Probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the gut that work to maintain a balanced internal environment and promote optimal digestion and immune health.

8.     Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces every day) will help flush out toxins and other harmful microbes that may be causing IBS symptoms.

9.     Try Colon Hydrotherapy. IBS sufferers—especially those with severe symptoms—may find that natural colon hydrotherapy can help cleanse the system and improve digestive health and elimination.

Learn More about IBS with the New Mobile App!

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), which first designated April as IBS Awareness Month back in 1997, just launched a new mobile app (for iOS and Android platforms) to help people learn more about IBS, its symptoms and treatment options. The free app is called IBS Info and offers real-time information from experts in the gastrointestinal field to promote awareness and education about irritable bowel syndrome. Be sure to check it out!

The more we study and understand, the closer we come to helping millions of IBS sufferers live healthier, happier lives—so help me spread the word this month and all year long!

Sugar Cravings? Gas & Bloating? Fatigue? It May Be Parasites.

Filed in Allergies, Cleansing & Detox, Constipation, Dietary Fiber, Enzymes, General, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Parasites | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/26/2014

Even the word parasites is unpleasant, but worse is what they can do in your gut—so listen up! Although I’ve talked about parasites before, I wanted to give you a quick refresher course. A balanced digestive environment is essential to your overall health, but there will always be organisms trying to move in and upset that balance. And when parasites move in, they can compromise immune health and your good digestion.

Just What Is a Parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives by feeding upon another organism. Parasites living in the human body feed on our cells, our energy, our blood, the food we eat and even the supplements we take. There are several types of parasites: protozoa are single-celled organisms that are only visible under a microscope, while worms come in all different sizes, from threadworms measuring less than a centimeter to tapeworms that can grow up to 12 meters in length!

Parasites Can Cause That?

Take a look at the list of symptoms below. Do any of them sound familiar?

  • Occasional diarrhea or constipation
  • Gas, bloating and/or cramps
  • Irritability/nervousness
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Persistent skin problems
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia/disturbed sleep
  • Anemia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Teeth grinding
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Sugar cravings
  • Allergies
  • Rectal itching
  • Brain fog
  • Pain in the umbilicus
  • Bed-wetting

5 Simple Steps to a Balanced Digestive Environment

A buildup of toxins and waste material in the colon increases your risk of parasites, which is why the right diet and nutrition are essential. Here are five simple steps to promote a healthy internal balance:

1.      Eat plenty of fresh, non-starchy vegetables, lean meats and legumes, and avoid carbohydrates, sugar and starchy vegetables.

2.      Get at least 35 grams of fiber each day to help stimulate the muscular contractions of the colon (peristalsis) that remove the contamination on which parasites thrive.

3.      Consider an internal cleansing program to promote a healthy balance of intestinal microbes.

4.      Maintain a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria with daily probiotics.

5.      Supplement with enzymes and hydrochloric acid to enhance digestion and help deter parasites in the stomach.

IBS or parasites? Or both!

Filed in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Parasites | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/21/2009

Believe it or not, at any given time one third of the U.S. population has parasites. And when I tell you it can happen to you, you better believe it! Keep in mind that parasites can range from bacterial types to microscopic amoebas and even larger worms. Remember Biology 101? Pretty gross. In a stool analysis study performed by Dr. Amin of the Parasitology Center in Tempe, Arizona, the most notable parasite, blastocystis hominus, was revealed—a microscopic intestinal little bugger that causes symptoms almost exactly like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I have seen many people who have been diagnosed with IBS, and when they have a stool analysis they find that they actually have blastocystis. This is one reason why some IBS sufferers, despite everything they try, never see any improvement. Not only that, but larger parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms are no longer present only in third-world countries… beware, they are here!

 For some good information and moments that will make you squirm, just watch the show “Monsters Inside Me” on Discovery’s Animal Planet channel.

Is your gut making you depressed?

Filed in Adults, Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/15/2009

IBS can be depressing, literally and figuratively! A lot of people who may be suffering from a type of digestive disorder such as crohn’s, colitis, IBS or even chronic constipation, many times also suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety, depression or irritability.  Now, I know that not feeling well can make you cranky, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The link between between the gut and the brain is very real. Serotonin, know as “the feel good hormone” is produced in the gut. One reason for depression could be the lack of serotonin because the gut is out of balance.

Without getting too technical, the same type of cells and neurotransmitters found in our brain are also located within the digestive system – which by the way is the largest part of our immune system.  When we get any type of intestinal irritation, inflammation, bacterial or viral infection our “intestinal” immune system reacts by producing proteins called cytokines. These cytokines tell our body what type of reaction to have, such as swelling, stiffness, pain etc…It has now been shown that these cytokines will travel a very unique pathway from the gut to the brain, setting into motion a chemical reaction that results in the breakdown of the neurotransmitters involved in mood stability.

 So, this is a two-way street. When your digestive system is out of balance, you feel depressed and when it’s in good shape you feel good. This may be why we often get a sense of euphoria after a really good dump – you know what I mean.

The Gut-Brain Connection

Filed in Adults, Conditions, Digestive Health, Enzymes, General, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Supplements | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/02/2009

My assistant recently returned from the latest Institute for Functional Medicine conference in southern Florida. For those not familiar with Functional Medicine it is a personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease. In other words, they teach Medical Doctors as well as all other specialties how to evaluate a person to get to the route of a problem or disease and treating the cause verses just treating the symptoms.

A big part of Functional Medicine includes the use of nutraceuticals in treatment.

This year’s conference centered on Mood Disorders, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder as well as touching base on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Amazingly, one of the focuses of the lectures was the gut-brain connection in relation to mood disorders. More specifically, how reactions of our immune system and gut inflammation can directly affect our brain.

Remember that most of our immune system is in our gut.

Without getting too technical, the same type of cells and neurotransmitters found in our brain are also located within the digestive system. The development of an infection or inflammation anywhere in the body will set the immune system in action. Again, most of this reaction takes place first within the immune system of the digestive tract. Our immune system responds by the reaction of proteins called cytokines. These cytokines tell our body what type of reaction to have, such as swelling, stiffness, pain etc…It has now been shown that these cytokines will travel a very unique pathway and arrive at the brain, setting into motion a chemical reaction that results in the breakdown of the neurotransmitters involved in mood stability and inflammation within the brain itself.

Once this brain inflammation develops, it can remain for months even though the initial problem in the other part of our body gets resolved. This brain reaction can result in symptoms such as brain fog, memory problems, depression and anxiety. In addition, the influx of these cytokines to the brain can disrupt the lining of the brain called the blood-brain-barrier, causing what they now call “Leaky Brain” syndrome, making the brain more susceptible to other agents that do not normally pass this barrier. This is very similar indeed to what we know as Leaky Gut syndrome.

The more inflammation and irritation of the gut lining, as in Leaky Gut, will in turn send more of the cytokines to the brain, resulting in more inflammation and irritation there. In reverse, they are now seeing that healing the gut, reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system with the proper nutraceuticals can in turn reduce depression, anxiety and even reduce some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

All the more reason to take precautionary measures by supporting your immune system with probiotics, as well as your vitamins and minerals. Taking a glutamine supplement such as IntestiNew will help keep your intestinal tract healthy, reduce inflammation and defer the development of leaky gut.

It is funny that years ago scientists and doctors treated the brain and mood disorders as a total separate entity from the rest of the body. It is nice to see that they now realize the brain is connected to the body, through something called the neck!

Chronic Disease and the Balance of Good and Bad Bacteria in the Gut

Filed in Digestive Health, General, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/27/2009

For many years now scientists have been studying how the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can contribute to, or influence all kinds of chronic diseases. Diseases such as IBS, Chron’s, colitis, even diabetes, asthma and liver disease. But recently coming into the limelight is research showing that your gut bacteria, specifically the type you have, may be making you fat.

Recent research performed by Cornell University microbiologist Ruth Ley has shown that obese people have a different mix of bacteria in the gut than skinny people. When she fed gut bacteria from obese mice to sterile mice, they got fat, but when the sterile mice consumed the gut bacteria from skinny mice, they gained very little.

The theory behind this is that certain microbial populations allow the body to harvest more calories from food. Over time this could contribute to weight gain. The bacteria found in obese individuals and the one believed to cause this effect belonged to a particular microbial subgroup, hydrogen-producing bacteria known as prevotellaceae.

This research is still in the early stages, but some studies suggest that altering or modifying the gut bacteria may result in weight loss. One way to do just that would be to take a high potency probiotic supplement like Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora 50 Billion that could crowd out this unwanted obesity bacteria. This is not to say that this bacteria is the only factor by any means in obesity.

Adding a good probiotic supplement to your weight loss regime could prove helpful.