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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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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!

What Does “Fresh” Really Mean?

Filed in Diet, Organic | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/08/2015


I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store the other day and a lady looked at me and asked where the locally grown produce was located. I replied with “I usually look for the areas of organic vs. conventionally grown”. Her question got me thinking because the locally grown conventional produce could actually have just as much pesticide residue as regular conventional produce, wherever it is grown.

I started considering the new “food vocabulary” we now have to know as we walk into a grocery store. It’s an ever-changing environment when it comes to food. So what does it all mean? Let’s look at some of the words we frequently use these days to describe our food.

At least the term “organic” has strict guidelines. Technically, “organic” on a label certifies that the food was processed in accordance with US Department of Agriculture regulations that promote sustainability and MINIMIZE exposure to pesticide and other synthetic materials. Notice the word ‘minimize’. Believe me, this gets crazy. I decided to follow the link above to view the “allowed synthetic substances”. The list alone had me feeling like I was being sucked down into quicksand – and yet, all these regulations are certainly better than no regulations by far! I’m so glad someone takes the time to make those lists!

The term “natural”, when seen on meats and egg products means MINIMALLY processed (that word again). If you’re interested, here’s more explanation on what that could include – and bottom line – that word “natural” means next to nothing. The FDA doesn’t technically define the word, however the agency says it won’t object to the claim “natural” as long as there are no artificial or synthetic ingredients in a particular product. The truth is that the word “natural” has become a billion dollar marketing ploy, with 60% of Americans purchasing a food more readily if that word is on the label.

“Local” may be defined as products from a person’s own state, or sometimes from bordering states as well. A different definition could be anything brought into a store within 24 hours of harvest. Wow, now that’s a big difference! To get it to the store within 24 hours, it better be close – and that sounds fresh to me!

“Artisan” products of all types have historically been defined as ‘handcrafted, made in small batches’. This term was used to denote premium quality, explaining higher prices. In today’s world, it’s a term fast food chains are now claiming. I just cannot imagine “artisan” and “Domino’s” in the same sentence. Can you?

“Seasonal” is a term that’s heard often as well. One definition refers to the window of time in which a given food is freshest, ripest and most abundant in a particular region. In other words, ‘grown near me now’. That has a good ring to it.

And one more – the term “fresh”! Another mind boggler!! “Fresh” could mean the following – ‘just picked or gathered produce, live or unprocessed’, or even ‘dishes made the day they are sold’ – I read this in Consumer Reports. HMMM?? Really, that could mean just about anything.

I hope you’re laughing along with me – or at least a bit confused too. I don’t think I’m alone in all this. One thing, I’m grateful we’re defining and considering words like “organic” and “seasonal” instead of “processed”, “artificially flavored” and “trans fat” today. Hopefully those terms are on their way out! We’ve come a long way.

I can tell you though, the next food related definitions I would really like to understand are the words MINIMIZED and MINIMALLY!! What are your favorites?

Eat Organic to Reduce Pesticide Exposure

Filed in Environmental Toxins, Organic | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/06/2015


The best way to reduce pesticide exposure—especially when it comes to organophosphate pesticides, which are some of the most common pesticides in use—is to eat organic foods. A recent study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal supports this notion.

Researchers analyzed dietary organophosphate pesticide exposure of over 4,500 people from six cities in the United States. They found that among people who were eating similar amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower pesticide levels than those eating conventionally grown produce.

“For most Americans, diet is the primary source of organophosphate pesticide exposure,” said Cynthia Curl, PhD. “The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies.”

The researchers were able to predict pesticide exposure levels based on the amount and type of produce each participant consumed. “The next step is to use these exposure predictions to examine the relationship between dietary exposure to pesticides and health outcomes, including neurological and cognitive endpoints,” Curl noted.

She recommended, as I do, eating organic versions of the foods highest in pesticide levels, as identified by the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.

Organic Diet Significantly Reduces Pesticide Levels

Filed in Diet, Environmental Toxins, Organic | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/21/2014


America’s toxic burden may not be getting any lighter, but that doesn’t mean we’re defenseless in the war against toxins. There are simple steps we can take every day to protect our bodies, such as investing in household air and water filters, choosing natural cleaners and personal care products, and opting for organically grown foods whenever possible.

A recent study out of  RMIT University in Australia—one of the first studies of its kind to look at the effects of organic diets on pesticide levels in adults—found that just one week on an organic diet was shown to reduce pesticide levels by nearly 90 percent.

Dr. Liza Oates and a team of researchers followed more than a dozen adults for a period of two weeks, during which time participants spent one week on an 80% organic diet and one week on an 80% “conventional” diet. According to Dr. Oates, organophosphate pesticides—a type of neurotoxin shown to have damaging effects on the human nervous system—are used widely in conventional food production.

After each week, urine samples were taken from the participants and tested for dialkylphosphates (DAPs), which are produced in the body as it metabolizes organophosphate pesticides. Results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Research, showed urinary DAP levels were 89% lower after just a week on a primarily organic diet.

“Our results show that people who switch to eating mainly organic food for just one week can dramatically reduce their exposure to pesticides, demonstrating that an organic diet has a key role to play in a precautionary approach to reducing pesticide exposure,” said Dr. Oates. If that’s not a good incentive to go organic, I don’t know what is!

On your next trip to the market, pay attention to the fresh produce, meats and other products you put in your cart and try to “go organic” whenever possible. Yes, some organic foods can be pricey, so if you can only afford some organic check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen™ Plus list of particularly “dirty” foods containing high levels of hazardous pesticides.