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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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BFF – Your Liver!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demon Sugar Strikes Again!

Filed in Adults, Children, Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Diet, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD, Obesity, Sugar, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/06/2015


This week it seemed there was an explosion of information shining the spotlight on the toxic effects of sugar. Not a new battle cry from me, of course. Still, to see such supportive scientific study done, especially with regard to protecting our younger generation, is heartening.

One unique study reported in Time magazine was particularly interesting. Please take a few moments to read Time’s article here.

The study was conducted by Dr. Robert Lustig, from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lustig is no stranger to educating people about the dangers of sugar through both books and research. He and his colleagues wanted to determine if sugar was more than just an incidental finding of metabolic syndrome. He was looking for causation, and he may have found it. He believes his study has produced the “hard and fast data that sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight.” Those are some fighting words!

The design was innovative in that it simply shifted foods containing added sugar to other types of foods, many times other carbohydrates. Children between the ages of 8 and 18 were the subjects of the 9 day trial, and there was no attempt at all to put the subjects on a “healthy” diet or to decrease the number of calories of foods consumed. In fact, the caloric content was held stable. The only difference in the eating plan was that the children were not getting their calories from foods with added sugar. Their total dietary sugar intake was reduced to 10% of their calories.

For example, sweetened yogurt was replaced with baked potato chips, pastries were swapped with bagels and turkey hot dogs were subbed for chicken teriyaki (nixxing that sweet sauce) . Not what I would consider health food (and neither did Dr. Lustig suggest that it was).

Amazing things still happened to the physiology of those young bodies. Fasting blood sugar levels dropped dramatically along with insulin production. No surprise since insulin is needed to metabolize carbohydrates and sugars. Triglyceride and LDL levels also improved and I smiled the widest when I read that they showed less fat in their livers. After only 9 days!

Fatty liver disease, for many years seen most prevalently with alcohol abuse, has been a disturbing and debilitating finding in recent years in overweight people diagnosed with sugar handling issues. Lower liver fat is really something to jump and dance about in my book! Happy liver, happy life! And to think that these great results came about from research only looking at “added sugar”. As you know, in my Sugar Equation, and in Skinny Gut Diet, I also take into account the very real sugars represented by carbs too.

So when I read another article about how the food industry is threatening to withdraw financial support from the World Health Organization, my spirits fell a bit. The WHO’s new guideline on healthy eating is slated to suggest that sugar should account for no more than 10% of a healthy diet. The food industry is pressuring the WHO to restate that recommendation at 25%. Gosh, in that 9 day clinical trial I just shared with you, the 10% number produced wonders!

All I can say is – I think I’m hearing the other side of the coin rearing up against the WHO – profit! Sugar is money, and the huge food industry leaders have a whole lot of clout these days in establishing policy, don’t they?

It was amazing to me that the WHO actually received a letter from ambassadors “insisting the report should be removed on the grounds that it would do irreparable damage to countries in the developing world”. What? The nerve of a statement like that when sadly in developing countries around the world where the soft drink industry is strong, it’s now common to see malnutrition coexisting with the obesity that’s so common in more affluent countries.

So, let’s get back to the good news. Finally the scientific evidence showing “what’s wrong with this picture” is pointing toward the appropriate perpetrator. Sugar is simply poison, or perhaps to use a more societally acceptable word – sugar is a toxin. Please teach your children well, for a brighter future for all!

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~

Do Pets Need to Detox Just Like People?

Filed in Cleansing, Diabetes, Dogs - Pets, Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/09/2015


In recent years we have seen a drastic increase in the number of people in this country who are overweight and obese. This has led to a scary increase in many chronic health conditions ranging from diabetes and metabolic syndrome to heart disease. We are also seeing a rise in NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) in humans. I’ve written many blogs on this topic. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. People usually don’t have symptoms, or if they do, the symptoms are mild—most commonly, episodes of fatigue. But we now know that the increase in NAFLD is due in part to obesity. It is no secret that weight loss is an important factor in improving a fatty liver.

As a big proponent of supporting liver function in people by using detoxing programs, I have always suggested the use of herbs, amino acids, and nutraceuticals in a combination formula. I have seen this formula help countless people over the years as they work on improving their health and losing weight.

Veterinarians are also finding that, just like people, dogs and cats that carry extra weight place additional demands on their organs too, especially on their livers.

So the question is: how do we help our furry friends who are overweight? We can’t exactly offer our pets suggestions like “Push away your plate before you are full,” or “Stop opening the refrigerator after 7 PM for that extra snack!” I sometimes joke about our dogs with my husband Stan, “I’ll bet they wish they had thumbs so they could open the refrigerator.” You see, I am also trying to control the weight in my dogs at this time, yet they have learned so many ways to control me and devour more food! I often read articles that claim overweight pets habitually hang around during mealtimes and while food is being prepared. Well, where else would they be?

Hepatic lipidosis (commonly known as fatty liver) is one of the most common feline liver diseases in cats. But dogs can also suffer from fatty liver, which results in a decrease in liver function and leads to myriad other health conditions. Once again, we share the same problems with our health as our pets when it comes to both weight and liver disease.

Guess what? The answer to this problem is the same for both humans and pets: lose the extra pounds. When we—and our pets—lose weight, the liver then loses fat. And by detoxing the liver, it will naturally become healthier.

Many pet owners have been detoxing their own livers for years. We now know that liver detox is important for our beloved pets as well. A very important point to remember is to choose a gentle daily detox for our pets (just as we do for ourselves) that will not cause them to feel poorly as their livers detox. You’ll want to find a formula that includes milk thistle, turmeric, and MSM. These gentle ingredients support and assist in liver detoxification in animals just as they do in humans. Look for a product that includes the above ingredients. Make sure that it’s specifically formulated for pets.

Now to address the issue of helping our furry friends lose weight; the responsibility is ours. We must make sure to not overfeed them or give them too many treats. I have one important rule with my dogs: I never feed them from the table!

Admittedly, it’s not easy to refuse those pitiful eyes when they look up at me asking for a treat. But I know that their health depends on it.