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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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Healthy Gut Function 101

Filed in Constipation, Diarrhea, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Exercise, Gut Solutions, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/16/2017


Healthy Gut Anatomy - brendawatson.com

In this post let’s continue looking at digestive functions, in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Understanding good digestion is key to a healthy gut. So I’m offering a quick review of how your digestive system works, top to bottom – when it’s working properly that is.

Let me show you the path your food takes in a healthy gut.

Did you realize that the digestive process – the breakdown of your food into nutrients that can be absorbed – actually begins in the mouth? It starts with the secretion of the enzyme ptyalin. At the other end from the colon! This enzyme, mixed with saliva, is crucial to proper digestion of carbohydrates. Food properly chewed into small particles will be completely mixed with the saliva/enzyme mixture. When a person swallows their food after only a few short chews, as so many of us busy people do, there is insufficient time for ptyalin to do its job. Consequently, when you gulp your food, your digestion is impaired. Those large, inadequately chewed food particles are harder for the body to handle and can result in gas, bloating and indigestion. Sound familiar?

In addition to chewing food thoroughly, care should be taken to restrict fluid intake with meals. Over-consumption of liquids may dilute some specific digestive agents which are manufactured in your stomach. The breakdown of protein requires an extremely acid environment, and to handle that job, HCl and the enzyme pepsin are synthesized there. Diluting these digestive substances can result in impaired digestion as well.

It’s important to know that enzymes are complex proteins that cause chemical changes in other substances. They are the basis of all metabolic activity in the body, facilitating more than 150,000 biochemical reactions. They literally empower every cell in the body to function. There are three types of enzymes in the body: metabolic, digestive and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes run, heal and repair the body. Your body could not function or heal without them.

Most enzymes required for digestion are manufactured by the pancreas. There are about 22 pancreatic enzymes, chief of which are protease (digests protein), lipase (for fat digestion) and amylase (for carbohydrate digestion).

Food enzymes also digest food: however they are supplied to the body solely through the diet, only from raw foods. These raw foods primarily supply enzymes to digest the food in which they’re found, and aren’t particularly helpful to digest other foods.

By the way, cooking at temperatures of more than 116 degrees destroys food enzymes. Enzyme deficiencies are widespread in the American culture because virtually all food in the standard diet is heated during processing.

The majority of nutrient absorption is accomplished in the small intestine through intricate interactions between enzymes, probiotics (good bacteria) and the various foods being digested. In a healthy gut the food particles have been broken down well. If not small enough, bloating and gas can be the uncomfortable result.

In addition to absorption of nutrients, your intestinal tract is also home to a large part of your lymphatic system. That system consists of the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and other tissues responsible for defense against infection. In fact, the number of cells of gut associated lymphatic tissue (GALT) exceeds the number of plasma cells in the other parts combined! Your intestinal tract is a huge player in your immunity as well as your digestion.

I could share many blogs just focused on the amazing abilities of your intestine as it maintains your healthy gut, but I promised a brief discussion here.

So on to the colon! The final stages of digestion occur in the colon with the absorption of water and a small number of nutrients not absorbed by the small intestine.

Important point – one needs to have one good bowel movement per day, but two to three are ideal. A “good” bowel movement is one that is walnut brown in color, with a formed consistency, about the length of a banana. The stool should be free of odor, leave the body easily, settle in the toilet water and gently submerge. (Forgive me for TMI!)

Take a look at this chart to determine if you have a healthy gut!

The transit time for food – the elapsed time it takes for a meal to enter the mouth and then exit the rectum – should ideally be less than 24 hours. However, too short a transit time may result in a loose stool. Transit time is related to exercise and the consumption of fiber and water. When transit time slows, putrefied material stays in the colon longer, and toxins can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall. One possible result might be constipation.

The colon houses three types of bacteria: good, neutral and bad. In fact, the majority of bacteria can be found in the colon. A balance of approximately 85% good to no more than 15% neutral or bad is desirable for health maintenance. This balance will assist the body in normal elimination of solid waste.

Now that you have a sense of good digestive function, in my next post I’ll take a look at factors that negatively impact your healthy gut. An unhealthy gut will ultimately set the stage for different disease processes.

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?

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!

Shed Pounds Slowly? Gut Bugs May Be Missing Link

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/08/2017


Shed Pounds - brendawatson.com

Attempting to shed pounds but feeling a bit discouraged? I read some fascinating research that I hope will motivate you. Please give the healthy choices you’re making a bit more time!

The study itself was published last week in the journal Cell Host & Microbe and was conducted by a team led by Jeffrey Gordon, Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University. I’ve been following Gordon’s lab for some time. In fact, I shared their previous research in my book, Skinny Gut Diet. If you have a copy you know that Gordon suggested that a person’s potential for obesity can partially be predicted. He measures the ratio of Bacteriodetes (I called those the Be Skinny bacteria) to Firmicutes (Fat bacteria) in their gut. Gordon’s initial research was done with mice. We decided to run our own lay research study with our human Skinny Gut group (you can meet them all in the book) and we found Gordon’s observations to hold true. Fascinating.

Understand what microbes are in your gut!

Gordon’s more recent lab results suggest that despite your best efforts, your gut may not be on your side with regards to losing those extra pounds quickly! If you’re hosting an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, your microbiome (the community of microbes in your gut) may actually require extra time to reset back to health if you are making a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD), high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats to more healthy, calorie restricted, plant-based fare.

Initially in the study, fecal samples from humans following the SAD diet were compared to those following a healthy diet. I’ve blogged often on bacterial diversity, and how increased diversity of bacteria in the gut is often an indicator of vibrant health. Once again this has been found to be the case. The people on the SAD diet demonstrated a much less diverse microbiome than those on the healthy diet, suggesting generally that the SAD group would also be more prone to immune issues, digestive issues and silent inflammation.

Read more about bacterial diversity

Next the researchers implanted germ-free mice with the two sets of human donor’s gut microbes. Once implanted, both groups of mice were then fed the same healthy plant based diet.

Listen up here – this is the very interesting part. Although all of the mice responded overall to the diets, the group implanted with the SAD diet microbes responded more slowly than the mice that had only received more healthy microbes. Apparently there seems to be a transitional time needed for the mice with the SAD guts to shed pounds and regain health as efficiently as the more healthy ones.

A fascinating additional quirk in this study was when the SAD mice were placed into the same cages with the healthy mice, their gut health improved more quickly than the SAD mice who were living only with other SAD mice. How wild is that? Communal living anyone?

The practical goal of this research was to gather information that would pinpoint specific bacterial strains. Gordon’s team was seeking microbes that might be used to diversify and balance the gut. Normalized weight and increased health are most certainly the desired outcomes. No doubt, this research will continue well into the future. Hopefully one day research like this will result in a specific probiotic formula designed to combat obesity. But that’s still in the future.

Probiotics help you shed pounds.

So lets get back to you! If you recently switched from a SAD diet to more healthy choices and your weight loss isn’t diminishing as quickly as you might hope – hang in there. Good news – prior research shows clearly that your good microbe populations actually shift quickly. It just may take some time until you notice those changes in your skinny jeans.

Check out 4 excellent things you can do to fuel your weight loss

Shed pounds TODAY!

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.

Getting the Poop Scoop on Autism

Filed in Autism, C. difficile, Children, fecal transplant, General, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2017


Autism Hope

A report in Science Daily entitled “Autism symptoms improve after fecal transplant, small study finds” caught my eye immediately.

You see, in one of the episodes of my recent PBS special, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson, I interviewed a woman who had undergone fecal transplant with great success. She had been extremely ill with recurrent C. difficile bacterial infections when this innovative treatment was suggested. She felt she regained her life through this process. Now I see it’s being used to help young people with autism!

For those of you unaware of this procedure, fecal transplantation is done by processing donor feces and screening it for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Then the “healthy” microbes are inserted into the participant’s digestive tract to rebalance the gut, known as the microbiome.

The boys and girls diagnosed with autism, ages 7 to 16, initially were administered a two week course of antibiotics to essentially wipe out existing bacteria, with hopes to start with a “clean slate”. Then doctors then gave the participants a high-dose fecal transplant of healthy donors’ bacteria and viruses in liquid form. Over the 7-8 weeks that followed the youngsters drank smoothies blended with a lower dose powder.

Although it was a small study (18 children), the results appeared to be extremely positive. Diarrhea and stomach pains decreased markedly – up to 82%, and parents also reported that behavioral autism symptoms significantly changed for the better. The study followed the participants for 8 weeks after the implantation, and positive results appeared to continue.

Researchers were also able to use laboratory testing to compare the autistic children’s bacterial diversity with their healthy peers following treatment. The participants’ bacterial diversity had improved to the point that the test results were indistinguishable from healthy children. This is such an important finding since previous research has shown that children with autism typically have less diversity of bacteria in their guts, and are also missing some important bacteria that are regarded as markers of a healthy microbiome, as I discussed in this blog.

The relationship between mental health and gut microbes has been researched often as well. So it seems logical that attempts to restore balance to the autistic child’s gut, as so many parents have worked to do over the years with great results through diet and probiotics, would and does result in better health.

It’s exciting to see that research may offer a more direct tool in the future with the potential to improve so many lives. As larger studies are done, it is hoped that researchers will uncover the precise bacteria and viruses that impact very specific diseases. What an interesting future we have to look forward to!

Social Media for Weight Loss

Filed in Adults, Diet, Fermentation, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 12/27/2016


Social Media Support

By now we’ve traversed the majority of the most sinful food offerings this holiday season, and the residuals may still be with us on our hips. No worries. Let’s simply begin again. It’s time to make a few sincere decisions to enjoy some different foods and behaviors to usher in a healthier new year. Notice I mentioned different foods – not less. I’m not talking about deprivation here. So please let’s consider how using social media may drive success.

Are you thinking – “what?” I know – neither Facebook or Twitter taste delicious. Not a lot of calories are burned as you furiously type. And I still insist that social media can make a great impact on your health – no chewing required.

Would you agree that the trick to creating a positive outcome around any goal you set is accountability? In my experience, goals really do manifest when we write them down and – here’s the most important part – when we tell other people. We recently experienced that first hand with our Skinny Gut Diet group.

So think about it – where better than on Facebook or Twitter to announce your intentions to your friends – all at once? You will undoubtedly get lots of “likes”, a few “loves” and many words of support. These can be motivational nuggets when those treats you’ve gotten used to nibbling on over the holidays seem to be calling your name. We’ve had a Skinny Gut Facebook closed group for some time now. Stop by and check it out. You’ll notice a lot of evidence of tremendous motivation and encouragement there!

You may even find that a few of your friends continue to inquire as to how you’re progressing toward your objectives. Again, support and encouragement are vital to reaching any goal that makes a difference in your life! I think you may find others eager to join in your commitment too! Stating a goal publicly is courageous, and inspiring beyond what you might imagine!

Moving into 2017, I challenge you to get creative and design some new habits around your food choices. Fermenting veggies is totally fun and easy, and you know these efforts will ultimately be a great gift for everyone’s digestion and waistline! Here’s even a probiotic-rich dessert snack, perfect for football season, that provides those good bacteria and is amazingly delicious.

Let’s face it, deprivation rarely results in a real-life eating plan that makes a long term difference. The trick is to find a program that offers simple concepts and basic rules for success. Also recipes that provide a lot of tasty enjoyment and at the same time, contain healthy ingredients. I’m very proud of my book Skinny Gut Diet, as I have seen hundreds of people make real lifestyle changes and enjoy great success with the program.

We are so fortunate these days to have many options and ways to substitute ingredients to surprise our friends and neighbors. My favorites are grain free, gluten free, minimal sugar recipes. Recently I blogged on making brownies with pinto beans and a bit of almond flour. I’d suggest you wait to mention the pinto beans until your friends are chewing up their last bite. They’ll be clamoring for the recipe, no doubt. It’s so much fun to create guilt-free decadent desserts! Post those on social media too to spread the fun around~

Most importantly, don’t by shy – share your triumphant moments! We can all succeed together as your own determination and momentum builds. Happy healthy motivated 2017 to you!

Cut the Stress, Free Your Mind

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Depression, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/01/2016


Free Your Mind From Stress - brendawatson.com

One of the joys of the holiday season is when we reconnect with our families, young and old. Of course, it’s great fun when we get to hear of our Grandparent’s exciting trip they took to Ireland last year. But for some families the reunions are more bittersweet, as we notice the progressive changes that a year has taken on our loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Last weekend I saw an impactful edition of 60 Minutes on TV. Follow this link to view it yourself. In summary, it documents the struggles of a unique Columbian family that has a rare and disastrous genetic mutation, resulting in roughly 50% of their lineage to fall prey to very early onset Alzheimer’s followed by an approximate 10 year decline into oblivion. The episode is extraordinary to watch (grab your Kleenex box), and a clinical trial has begun that may offer incredible insights and even a possible cure into this dismaying disease. Please note that this type of Alzheimer’s is very rare. My prayers go out to this brave family.

Don’t despair, I have some good news for you here should you have concern about a bit too much forgetfulness lately. From an entirely different perspective, an encouraging article I read in the Wall Street Journal this week wants us to know that although Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, the chances of actually having a dementia condition like Alzheimer’s at a relatively early age – and early is defined as between 50 and 65 – is actually more remote than you might have imagined.

If you’ve been concerned, it’s far more likely that you are simply experiencing very normal age-associated declines in cognitive skills that can be greatly exacerbated by other lifestyle factors like exhaustion due to sleep issues, overwork, drug side effects, substance abuse, depression or adult attention deficit disorder. The general term for this situation is “brain fog”. Yes.

STRESS, along with a buffet of the choices we are casually offered in our society to deal with demanding circumstances to the best of our ability can magnify memory and cognition issues – and fog us up like we live across the bay from San Francisco. Uncover the stress that is intensifying the symptoms and clarity can again be yours.

Of course, if you have watched a family member decline into senility, you may be more sensitive to changes you note in your own life. And worrying that you are not at the top of your game can be absolutely debilitating. A well-intentioned physician may prescribe you an aid that doesn’t really benefit your particular situation. Or a seemingly relaxing habit like a drink or medication before bed may rob you of much needed deep sleep and clarity in the long run.

I’m not saying to ignore memory and cognition lapses. I am saying to love yourself, take a deep breath and attempt to evaluate the stress level you’re expecting yourself to function at. Would you even suggest that level of stress to your 30 year old niece? Probably not.

And if you are seriously concerned that your thoughts seem to be slipping, seek out an expert such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist who can review your symptoms and run appropriate tests.

In my experience, dietary choices and toxicity are always involved in any type of cognitive and mental issues. Caring for ourselves by making healthy meal choices, drinking plenty of water, exercise – all these are guaranteed to clear away a bit of that fog. And a great research study I read the other day (one of many) clearly demonstrates that probiotics, those good bacteria in your gut, may help boost memory and learning for Alzheimer’s patients. If they can do that for someone that already has symptoms, imagine how helpful they may be for the rest of us!

My greatest wishes are for you to enjoy a clear and joy-filled holiday – and please remember – cut the stress! You’ll free your mind!

Glowing Skin From Your Gut

Filed in Diet, Fermentation, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Skin, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/22/2016


Biking, hiking, picnics, swimming – all these activities can place stress on your skin. While a small amount of sun helps support your vitamin D levels, too much can provide more than just a healthy glow.

While we all have sunscreen and hats, the truth of the matter is that a really healthy skin glow actually comes from inside out.

I thought I would take a few minutes to offer some easy and very effective tips on maintaining that glow we hope will last on our skin for decades.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that – essential for skin health, specifically omega-3s and omega-6s. Your body can’t produce those EFAs, so they need to be included in our daily nutritional choices. Omega-6s are easily obtained from our diets. In fact, there is more concern about too many omega-6s than too few, so lets discuss how to up those critical omega-3 levels.

Did you know that walnuts, flaxseeds, leafy green veggies are high in omega-3s. However, in order for your body to convert these foods to the form that your skin requires it takes energy, enzymes and a properly functioning digestive system. That’s why if you’re serious about making sure your omega-3 levels are up to par, you’ll probably choose high quality fish or omega-3 fish oil supplements.

Increasing antioxidants is a good idea as well, as they are depleted by not only sun exposure, but also by stress and environmental chemicals. Antioxidants block cellular destruction and slow the aging process.

Great news – your diet can easily and deliciously be rich in antioxidants! Goji berries, wild blue berries, cranberries, blackberries and dark chocolate are excellent sources, (keeping in mind your teaspoons of sugar if you’re following the Skinny Gut Diet). I’m happy to tell you that spinach and kale are also rich with antioxidants along with artichokes, cilantro and pecans.

Green tea has long been appreciated for its antioxidant properties as well. And of course, supplements can fill the gap if you’re on the go and don’t feel you’re getting enough dietary support.

Fermented foods and probiotics support digestive balance. Skin health ultimately comes back to the gut. Your skin is a reflection of your digestive system. If your intestinal system is inflamed, your skin, which is your largest organ of elimination, may be the avenue your body uses to deal with those toxins! Fermented foods and probiotics maintain digestive balance while providing additional immune support and myriad other critical functions for vibrant health.

And last but not least (for right now anyway) – your vitamin D levels could surely benefit from some supplementation too. We are almost universally as a nation vitamin D deficient. Make a point to have those levels checked, as vitamin D is critical to skin health and overall well being.

I love the water, I love the Florida sun, and I also really love my skin. I hope these tips will be helpful for you as you enjoy the rest of the summer along with me.

 

Travel Advice for your Gut

Filed in Constipation, Diarrhea, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Enzymes, GERD, Heartburn, Indigestion, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/24/2016


Travel advice with friends - brendawatson.com

Summer vacation, 4th of July – wonderful opportunities for travel and sampling exciting and different foods. Whether you’re visiting family, or jetting to the Far East, the fun ends abruptly when your digestion becomes distressed! With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some travel advice for your gut that may afford relief for belly troubles during your time away from home – and offer new life to your vacation.

Diarrhea is a common gut reaction when it senses something irritating or a bit too unusual. In many cases, your system simply wants whatever food or drink you’ve chosen out, and quickly! There are also those cases where you may have consumed tainted food or water along your route. Of course, whether camping or simply enjoying a different environment, sanitary conditions can be less than ideal.

When traveling, it’s always a good idea to consume all foods hot and fully cooked to avoid unwelcome food-borne pathogens. And should the hot days entice you to don your bathing suit, avoid swallowing the water that is so refreshing to your body.

Taking your probiotics daily offers you the best insurance against traveller’s diarrhea and peaceful digestion in general. However in case of unpleasant disruption be sure to have a particular probiotic on hand called Saccharomyces boulardii. This probiotic yeast shines in cases of even the toughest diarrhea and doesn’t require refrigeration. You may also want to supplement with goldenseal (constituent berberine) to help additionally curb symptoms and for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Personally, when I travel I tend toward constipation. I’ve read that up to 25% of travelers have reported similar discomfort. For some people, a fiber supplement will be helpful. Truthfully, supplementing on a daily basis with fiber while striving to reach at least 30 – 35 grams daily is a valuable maintenance practice, rather than just using fiber once constipation has set in.

Drink plenty of fluids, especially in this hot summer weather to avoid dehydration and further constipation. I have found consistently that an herbal formula that contains magnesium hydroxide along with aloe, rhubarb, possibly triphala taken with probiotics is a very helpful combination. I never leave home without these.

No travel advice for your gut would be complete without addressing occasional heartburn. The possibilities while traveling to trigger those unpleasant symptoms are abundant. New foods, hearty portions amid friends and family could produce an unhappy gastric result.

Breathe before you begin eating, chew your food thoroughly, and don’t forget your digestive enzymes! Food is to be enjoyed, and paying attention to what’s on your plate rather than eating without a thought can make a huge difference in your digestion. Do your best to focus on taste rather than quantity.

It’s best not to drink liquids with your meals, as that will dilute your stomach’s natural acids whose job it is to effectively break down your food.

When traveling, wear comfortable clothing. Did you realize that tight waistbands can compress the valve that controls acid flow? And whatever you do, avoid laying down to sleep immediately after you eat, as the acidic stomach contents can easily seep into your esophagus when you’re laying in the bed and create irritation.

As a last resort, should symptoms persist, you can immediately relieve heartburn with one or two teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cold water. Please use this method infrequently. Diminishing your stomach acid using any type of antacid today can often lead to even more issues in the future.

Happy, healthy, and comfortable trails to you and yours!