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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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    • 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 .

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    • 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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      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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How to Keep Your Kids (and Dogs) Calm During Summer Travels

Filed in Adults, Children, Diet, Digestive Health, Dogs - Pets, Preventable Issues, Sleep, Stress, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/13/2017


summer travels - brendawatson.com

Summer is setting in, and that means, for most of us, it’s time for travel. There is no doubt, traveling is a stressful event for most people. Even if your kids are excited about going on a big adventure, the disruption to routine that comes along with travel is enough to throw off even the most cheerful children. Whether you are planning a road trip or taking a flight to your destination of choice, you’ll want to do all you can to make sure your kids stay as calm as possible. And if you’re bringing a pet (or pets!), I’ll drop a couple tips to keep your fur babies calm too. Implement my tips below to keep your little ones, furry or not, calm and collected during your next summer trip.

 

Set Yourself Up for Success with Adequate Sleep

Travel preparation begins long before you load up the car or step foot into the airport. You may have noticed that the days and even weeks leading up to your trips are packed with extra to-dos and stress, and as a result, not enough sleep. It’s likely your kids are also affected. They feel the added stress and may be losing sleep along with you. If there’s one thing that’s sure to foster extra fussiness in your kids, it’s lack of sleep.

Make it a priority to adhere to your child’s normal sleep schedule in the days leading up to your vacation. That extra hour of sleep your child gets the three nights before vacation can make or break her mood when it matters most. Make this a non-negotiable. If that means you need to start planning your trip a few days sooner than usual, make it happen.

Not as easy, but doable, is the sleep your child gets during the vacation itself. You don’t have to be the time keeper every single night, but for two or three nights before your departure, if you get your kids to sleep on time, your chances of sailing smoothly through your six-hour flight will be greatly increased. You may have to ward off a few “But mo-om!”s, but trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Don’t Forget the Role of Diet on Behavior

Did you know that what your child eats can have a huge impact on his behavior? Many parents miss this important link. If your child is naturally a handful, or even has a diagnosis of ADHD or autism, if you haven’t experimented with his diet, you’ll want to get a head start on it.

For many children, eliminating foods that your child may be sensitive to, like, gluten, dairy, sugar, and even corn, soy, or peanuts, can work wonders on improving behavior.

I’ve heard countless success stories, and read studies that back this theory up. In the weeks or months leading up to your vacation, cutting gluten, sugar, and maybe dairy out of your child’s diet can make a big difference. You could even implement a full elimination diet, but you’ll want to do that with plenty of preparation.

If the idea of implementing an elimination diet before vacation feels like more than you want to handle, at the very least, cut the sugar. Dessert before bedtime is a sure way to interfere with her needed rest. Offer her some berries and whipped cream if she really needs a sweet treat. (It’s a low-sugar dessert, but she’ll never know.)

And if your child doesn’t regularly eat sardines and salmon, consider a fish oil supplement, which won’t work short-term, but over time, adequate omega-3 intake can make a big difference in your child’s behavior. It’s worth adding to your child’s regular supplement regimen if you haven’t already.

 

Pack the Essentials

Children are busy creatures. They jump from activity to activity all day long. Sitting in a car or on a plane for hours at a time is not a normal day for a child. To combat their restlessness, you can pack some essentials to keep them occupied.

First, be sure to pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks. Relying on vending machines is a recipe for disaster. A nourished, hydrated child will have two less reasons to get irritable. Pack healthy snacks that are not high in sugar. Nuts, granola, apples, and yogurt are great options to hand out every couple hours. And keep plenty of water on hand. Sugary beverages are the last thing you want your child to fill up on while traveling. You don’t want to deal with the repercussions of a sugar high or a sugar low.

If you think that I am going to recommend loading a few movies in your tablet to keep your kids calm, think again. Sure, you might be able to lull your kids into a daze with the screen, but their reliance on this method is sure to backfire on you later. Instead, why not download a fun-filled audio book or two? Your child can listen while still engaging with the world around her. Her imagination will be stimulated while she sits quietly, engrossed in a thought-provoking story.

You can also pack some activity books to keep your children occupied—and their minds working. And for older kids on road trips, set them up with a camera and ask them to take pictures of your journey. Maybe they catch a nice shot of your family in the car, or of the mountains as you pass by them. Activities like these are perfect for avoiding that confused look your children give you after peeling themselves away from too many hours of screen time.

 

Bach Flower Remedies

If you haven’t heard of Back Flower remedies, you’re in for a treat. Their line of flower essences are perfect for travel time. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, in particular, is one product I don’t leave home without. It’s perfect for bringing calm to stressful situations. Bach flowers work on an energy level to rebalance emotional states. And these mild products are completely safe, even for babies and pets.

 

Don’t Forget Fido

Does your dog hate to travel? If a car or airplane ride is the last place your dog wants to be, you are not alone! You’ll want to try Vital Planet’s CALM for dogs. Formulated with nutraceuticals, herbs, and flower essences, CALM supports calmness and relaxation in dogs experiencing anxiousness and stress. The product comes in tasty chewable tablets or powder that you can mix into food or water.

Next post I’ll take a look at your Summer Diet Reboot!

Manage Stress Effectively – Energize!

Filed in Adults, Cleansing, Cleansing & Detox, Exercise, Sleep, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/26/2017


manage stress with bands - brendawatson.com

Today let’s continue to Energize as we move through the RENEW Total Body Detox program, fully described in Detox Strategy! I’d like to share two of my favorite movement programs with you – as I promised in my last post. As we Energize we are better able to manage stress in all areas of our lives.

 

Rebounding to Health

A rebounder, aka mini-trampoline, is an excellent detoxification tool. Most sporting goods stores carry rebounders or you can find many rebounder suppliers online.

No matter your fitness level, there is a rebounder program for you. Even a “soft walk”, where you simply shift your weight from one foot to another, lifting your heels as you do so, serves to stimulate that ever-important lymph flow. Rebounding so effectively moves lymphatic fluid that it has been referred to as “lymphasizing”.

In addition to clearing the lymph glands, rebounding will provide aerobic exercise (once you’ve worked up to a sustained motion for fifteen to twenty minutes), oxygenating your body.

When you jump up and down on a rebounder, the force of gravity alternately pulls and then releases each cell. Toxic material is flushed out and nutrients are absorbed. During this process white blood cells are also produced. Even a short (two- to three-minute) rebounding session will dramatically increase your white blood cell production, again strengthening your immunity.

Rebounding also exercises the musculoskeletal system, protects and strengthens the cardiovascular and peripheral vascular systems, and helps restore bone density.

It’s best to use your rebounder at least once daily. Short, frequent rebounding sessions can be as beneficial as a single long one. You may find this a simple way to effectively manage stress.

Of course, if you have health issues, always consult with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise routine.

 

Exercise Bands for Strength Training

There are many benefits that are realized as you increase your strength. These include:

  • Injury prevention through correction of muscle imbalances
  • Delay (or even reversal) of muscle mass loss experienced with aging
  • Decrease in total cholesterol and improvement in the ratio of good to bad cholesterol (lowering the risk of heart disease
  • Increased bone density
  • Increased circulation that moves toxins and amplified the body’s detox process

It may be difficult to find time to visit a gym inside of the busy lifestyles that we live these days. Using exercise bands for strength training allows for a work out anytime.

These flexible elastic bands or tubes provide a progressive stimulus to your muscles to help build lean mass and increase your strength. Initially used in rehabilitation setting, exercise bands are rapidly becoming common in a variety of fitness and sports settings.

The bands are extremely portable and don’t take up much space, fitting easily into your overnight bag, purse or backpack. You can go through a complete workout program using just a couple of bands with different resistance levels. And you don’t need a lot of space to do your routine.

Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of exercise bands for me personally is that they don’t aggravate my chronic neck problems. People with pain issues can safely and comfortably work with resistance bands in a number of effective ways. Bands don’t rely on the force of gravity to provide resistance like exercise machines and dumbbells. Instead, it’s the stretching of the band that creates the resistance: the further you stretch it, the greater the resistance. Simple, safe and easy to manage.

Not only do the bands increase strength, but they also help build flexibility, power, balance, and speed. And because they improve circulation, they help you maximize your body’s detoxification at the cellular level. Extra added benefit – they stimulate burning off fat, which eliminates more toxins, while increasing lean muscle mass and improving your overall fitness! And all these improved functions will serve to help you manage stress with ease.

 

In Conclusion – Mind Your Spirit to Manage Stress

To Energize, sometimes we need to exercise more than our physical bodies by addressing and nurturing that all-important mind-body connection.

I’m a big believer in engaging in activities that help one cope with inevitable stress and create a relaxed mind. We all live busy lives and typically have more to-dos than we can possibly handle. Learning to relax both mind and body is the key to inner peace, increased confidence and a sense of wellbeing. More accomplishment will be yours, both at home and at work. You’ll feel more alive and capable to handle whatever stressors may present.

I have blogged often on the importance of getting enough sleep to reduce the stress levels in your body. Just about every system in the body, including the detoxification process, is affected by the quality and amount of sleep you get nightly. A full eight hours has been found optimal to maintain your metabolism and supporting hormonal balance. Establishing habits that support healthful sleep patterns will result in boundless rewards in the areas of vitality and energy.

For some people, physical exercise is enough to de-stress and provide much needed relaxation. For others, a practice such as yoga and mediation prove more effective. As I mentioned previously, I find yoga to truly help me become more attuned to my body and its needs. I’m able to tap a source of renewed strength and spirit to deal with life effectively.

Your personal journey to manage stress can take many forms. Many people find great value in counseling or perhaps reading and listening to enlightening material. Whatever form works for you, choose to engage regularly. Dedication to the practice of decreasing stress, perhaps more than any other pursuit, will reward you with the life you love to live.

Healthy Colon Action Steps for a Happy Life!

Filed in Adults, Cancer, Colon, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Exercise, Fermentation, Heart of Perfect Health, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sleep, Stress, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/06/2017


Healthy Colon Awareness Ribbon - brendawatson.com

There are many ways to look directly at the gut connection to cancer. I believe the most important information you can receive is how to support and maintain a healthy colon.

I realize now that in these four posts honoring Colon Cancer Awareness Month I have only scratched the surface of the information I would love to share with you. Over the years, I have learned so very much interacting closely with so many people. In the 1990’s, I also practiced colon hydrotherapy in a holistic cancer clinic in conjunction with a medical doctor who cared primarily for cancer patients. It was an honor to witness the amazing health changes that occurred for people who used natural methods of healing. I was also regularly humbled by the devastating effects that chronic disease and cancer can have on the body.

Today I’m offering you tests and natural solutions that I hope will be informative and helpful to you. Whether you are personally touched by cancer or simply looking to maintain vibrant health (and that most important healthy colon), there are valuable tips for you here.

To begin, I previously mentioned that colon cancer can, in some cases, manifest silently. What I mean is that the patient reports having no symptoms. For this very important reason, please be sure to schedule a colonoscopy screening when your doctor advises.

Do you have a healthy colon? Find out about cancer screening now

Over the years I’ve seen colon hydrotherapy be a profound therapy for people. I never thought I would see the day when traditional gastroenterologists would embrace colon hydrotherapy. But the time has finally come. One of the first digestive care clinics that I founded began receiving patients from a local GI doctor for pre-colonoscopy treatment. He reported positive feedback from his patients. He also noticed beneficial results in their digestive tracts. I’m so happy that acceptance of colonoscopy by mainstream GI doctors is increasing. Today, you may find it acknowledged as an alternative to the toxic and uncomfortable pre-colonoscopy treatment. Additionally, many alternative cancer doctors are embracing colon hydrotherapy in the design of their total programs. This therapy fits perfectly with other integrative therapies that seek to restore total health to cancer patients.

Learn more about colon hydrotherapy here

There are a number of functional tests that I believe provide extremely important baseline health information. They are useful for both understanding your colon and maintaining your overall well being. I explained and listed them in detail in my recent book, Heart of Perfect Health.

In my mind, no discussion of cancer is complete without addressing nutritional choices. Revising a person’s diet and providing supportive natural supplementation in the face of a cancer diagnosis is now widely embraced. Thank goodness! So lets talk specifically about what I believe to be the basic, essential nutritional support for both maintenance and healing.

It’s important to realize that a chronic microbial imbalance or overgrowth (dysbiosis ) anywhere in the digestive tract can trigger immune imbalance. From mouth to anal canal, this imbalance can negatively impact your body’s immune system. In a healthy, balanced system, the thousands of genetically damaged cells, which can become cancer, are easily destroyed and recycled by your natural defenses. There is evidence to suggest we all have abnormal cells most of the time. It’s how your body’s immune system handles these cells that will determine if and when you develop cancer. In addition, with aging there is often a depletion of beneficial bacteria (especially bifidobacteria) with an associated decrease in natural killer cells (protector cells). This may partly explain the increased incidence of most cancers with aging.

The HOPE program (High fiber – balanced soluble/insoluble, balance of Omega-3 and 6 essential oils, pre & Probiotics, and digestive Enzymes) may do much to help prevent cancer. A supplemental HOPE program would also be wise to follow if you or a loved one are currently dealing with cancer.

The HOPE Program + Skinny Gut Diet eating plan = The Best YOU ever!

High-fiber Prebiotic soluble fibers plus good bacteria (probiotics) create short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Butyrate is the most notable SGFA with regard to colon cancer. Butyrate levels are generally accepted even by traditional medicine as an indicator for colon cancer risk. Butyrate is the fuel for the cells that line the colon. In addition, butyrate triggers the destruction of sick colonic cells (exposed to toxins and harmful microbes).  This happens especially when combined with EPA/DHA omega-3s. Without healthy levels of butyrate, the colon cells may grow uncontrolled, turning into cancerous cells.

Omega oils Both the balance (ratio) and total amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential oils have profound effects on cellular function. This balance of oils can result in either health – or cancer. There is much evidence that too much omega-6, or too high of an omega-6/omega-3 ratio can actually be a factor in promoting cancer. The current ratio in our society is believed to be anywhere from 12/1 to 20/1, but should be about 4 to 6/1! There is much scientific evidence that suggests this very high imbalance, the result of eating too much omega-6 (the oils most used in salad dressings, food additives, and cooking), is responsible for many of our modern illnesses, including cancer.

On the other hand, high normal levels of omega-3s have been shown to prevent and even be helpful in overcoming various cancers. This includes colon cancer. Omega 3s are already recognized as a companion therapy with chemotherapy treatments.

However, we must remember that everything is a question of balance, and that too much omega-3 is not recommended either. There are several labs that can measure both the omega-6, omega-3 ratios and other important fats in red blood cell (RBC) membranes. I think it is important to periodically (2 to 3 times per year) check your levels if using any more than a maintenance dose of fish oil, and especially if using high doses for any serious illness.

Cost effective lab test to measure your Omega 3/6 ratio, and more!

Probiotics Another way to look at the value of probiotics in the prevention of cancer is to look at what happens to the food we eat when it is acted on and transformed by pathogenic bacteria. Normal proteins, fats and carbohydrates in our daily diet can be converted into toxins, known as carcinogens, when acted upon by harmful bacteria as I mentioned in my last post.

The good news is that this toxic build-up can be minimized by regular consumption of prebiotics and probiotics and/or fermented foods along with an 80 to 90 percent plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is supportive of the lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and beneficial E. coli and S. thermophilus strains as well as other probiotics so necessary for a healthy colon. However diet alone may not be enough. I suggest a high potency, multistrain probiotic daily to insure your continued health.

Enzymes We discussed how enzymes maintain good health in our last post. Well, the lack of different enzymes has been strongly implicated in prevalence of various cancers. In some cases this seems to be related to a chronic shortage of pancreatic enzymes specifically. There is evidence to support that proteolytic enzymes, either from the pancreas or taken orally, are absorbed systemically. These enzymes have been found to decrease tumor production and growth through many mechanisms.

In summary, a predominantly plant-based diet plus the HOPE program, coupled with appropriate detoxification programs, good bowel elimination with colon hydrotherapy, high-quality sleep, moderate exercise and stress reduction with meditation, including psycho-emotional-spiritual reconnection, will all be helpful in both prevention and as alternative therapies for cancer recovery – and will support and maintain your healthy colon for life!

Sleep More in Class, Teens Learn More. Surprise!

Filed in Adults, Heart Disease, Preventable Issues, Sleep, Teens, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/24/2017


Sleep Deprived Teen - brendawatson.com

Sleep. How great it is when we’ve rested well the night before. How distressing it can be when that just wasn’t the case. Over the years I’ve offered many tips and hints on how to grab those extra winks.

Recently I enjoyed reading a report in the Wall Street Journal about organized napping in high school. According to study after study, lack of sleep in adults reduces workplace efficiency, can lead to overeating, and recently was even associated with stress on the heart.

            Short-term sleep deprivation has now been shown to affect heart function. Read more here.

Babies and school age children tend to get the healthful sleep they need, largely because we adults are able to make sure that happens. Stress increases and circumstances shift as our youth enter high school. Studies show that our teenagers are the age group most seriously impacted by lack of sleep. It’s generally agree that 8.5 to 9.5 hours nightly are needed to optimize teen growth. Many of these youth fall very short of that goal and school start times have been associated.

How much sleep is enough? Find out.

Did you realize that in 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement for high school to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., allowing teens to get more sleep nightly? A study of over 9,000 students was conducted that compared early and late school start times. Marked improvements in class performance as well as bettered national test scores were recorded with later arrival to school. Daily attendance improved. And here’s an unexpected stat. Car crashes by drivers 16 to 18 years old were reduced by 70% when school began later, at 8:55 as opposed to 7:35.

Inside of heightened pressure to perform for college and other activities, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believe that insufficient sleep as a teenager may be associated with weight gain, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, drug use – and subsequently, poor academic performance. I’m sure you’ll agree – falling asleep in class just doesn’t bode well for a student’s future.

            Check out the CDC report.

If you parent a teen, you may be thinking “my child’s school never read that report!” Your son or daughter’s required arrival time to class is probably around 7:30. Since institutions tend to be slow to change the way things are structured, it may be by adding napping to the high school curriculum, students may find some additional winks.

Due to increased awareness of sleep teen needs, here are some great napping programs that are cropping up in schools across the country:

  • Students with good grades get a weekly first period free so they can sleep in.
  • Quiet time for students – 20 minutes at the beginning and end of each day with closed eyes, no talking. One group is actually practicing transcendental mediation!
  • The Path Program in Boston has high-schoolers spend one period each day in a special area designed with comfy chairs and yoga balls to rest and de-stress. Counselors are available to offer guidance on good sleep habits.
  • A New Mexico pilot program purchased Restworks EnergyPods through a government grant. These pods, originally designed to afford stress relief in the workplace, seem perfect for students as well. After a 20-minute session, participants report emerging rested and refreshed.

Although most sleep professionals still feel an earlier bedtime is preferred over napping, I feel hopeful when I hear about these innovative rest programs. After all, these are the young people who will be shaping our futures. I for one would like to imagine they will be clear-minded and well-rested.

4 Tips to Light Up 2016!

Filed in Adults, Cold and Flu, Constipation, Diet, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sleep, Sugar | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/02/2016


So now the decadent celebrations are behind us and it’s time to recommit to our healthy selves. However, there may be some leftovers in the frig, and also those delicious gifts you may have received may still be close by! If the gifts were well-sealed, re-gifting may be an option. Donation is a good idea too. Okay, I’m smiling.

I was devilishly curious, and decided to search “Favorite New Year’s Foods” on the internet. Whew! I felt bloated just reading the ideas! Between the Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Peanut Butter Parfait (peanut butter, banana and bacon with waffle cookies – aptly labeled ‘Year-End Splurge’) not to mention the various New Year’s liquid libations – all I can say is WOW!

If your holiday season included any of these type of foods or drink, your digestion and overall health may be on a downslide about now. Not only that, but with so many people out and around, you’re more likely to be exposed to winter-time bugs that could land you on the couch with a cold or the flu. And it may have been, and might continue to be, difficult to pull off eight hours of sleep each night. After all, it’s time to get back to “real” life. The holidays many times take a toll, even as we love them so much.

I’d like to suggest some crucial supplements to light up your health in 2016. If you’re not already including these in your daily routine, visit your local health food or vitamin store to get the following today. Your body will thank you.

Digestive Enzymes
Let’s start by giving your digestive system some help breaking down those higher quality foods I’m sure you’ll be choosing now. Even good foods need the help of enzymes to release and absorb the nutrients within! Why end up with a stomachache when you can plan ahead by taking digestive enzymes with every meal and snack? Look for an enzyme formula that has:  Protease for protein digestion, Lipase for fat digestion and Amylase for carbohydrate digestion.  Take with or immediately after your meals to help you digest better during your days ahead.

Probiotics
Up to 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut. That one fact still fascinates me to this day—and I’ve been saying it for years! The 100 trillion bacteria in your digestive system play a vital role on your immune health. Eating a diet high in starchy carbohydrates and sugar—the epitome of what might have been your holiday fare—throws off the balance of bacteria in your gut. Taking a high-potency multistrain probiotic every day will help to keep your gut in balance and your immune system in check.

Constipation Control
If you tend toward constipation, especially when your diet is less than stellar, arm yourself with an effective constipation formula. Look for a product that contains magnesium hydroxide, which acts as a stool softener that will gently, yet effectively, help to improve your bowel movements. If you are not experiencing at least one healthy bowel movement per day (and by healthy I mean well-formed and at least one and a half feet long), then you need to do something about it. A good constipation formula without harsh stimulant herbs is your best bet to get your digestion moving regularly in the first place.

Sleep Help
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, your body and mind could be suffering. Adequate sleep is essential for you to perform at your best and make those new year’s resolutions your reality. If you can’t seem to settle in without tossing and turning each night, a sleep formula may help you. Look for a formula that contains L-theanine, 5-HTP, and melatonin, three ingredients that will help you rest easy as you make ready for this New Year.

I wish you good health and happiness as we say “Hello” and “Welcome” to 2016 together!

Sleep Your Way to Happy and Thin

Filed in Adults, Chronic Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, Sleep, Stress, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/11/2015


At this extremely busy time of year, it may seem like even more of a challenge to maintain your weight along with your good attitude. Could it be because you are not getting enough sleep?

Through the years I’ve blogged often on how important sleep is to your health. And it’s simply so important that I wanted to have a chat about it again.

I read an interesting article describing how metabolic syndrome, described as insulin resistance, a pro-inflammatory state, hypertension-elevated sympathetic tone, dyslipidemia, dysglycemia and obesity – is actually a survival advantage for animals in the wild during seasons of stress, like in the winter. Their physiological processes are tied to their biological clocks, which regulate all the major activities of the body like behavior, metabolism, reproduction and immunity. As days shorten and animals behave differently, they sleep more or less. As a response, their bodies create “metabolic syndrome” which helps them to survive. Here’s the news. Animals don’t suffer any pathology from the metabolic changes since they are not chronic, ongoing adaptations.

The biological clock pacemaker system for our own bodies is located primarily in the hypothalamus. Sleep disruptions whether too little sleep, even too much sleep or medical conditions like sleep apnea over time have been found to lead consistently to metabolic syndrome in humans. Sadly for us, due to chronic stress and sleep disruptions, our bodies respond as though winter survival is necessary all year long, every day! This may explain why, although we may try to lose weight through excellent dietary shifts, the pounds may stubbornly stay glued to our hips.

Sleep deprivation can also change your genes! In one study conducted in the UK, blood samples taken after just one week of getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night showed changes to more than 700 genes due to sleep deprivation alone. Eek! The genes affected seemed to be in the area of immune, stress and inflammatory responses. I don’t know about you, but I really want those particular types of genes to be in top form in my body!

An entertaining episode of Secret Eaters, a UK based TV show that examines weight issues in England, conducted a research project with two groups of people. One group was allowed to sleep soundly through the night. The other group was awakened a number of times to focus and complete a survey. The groups weren’t told the true reason for this study. The next day, the two groups were offered the same foods. The group whose sleep was disrupted actually consumed 35% more carbs and fats than the well-rested group. Wow!

If you’re confounded by weight that just won’t budge, please carefully review your sleeping habits. Turn off the television, drink hot tea, journal, pray, meditate, breathe. Here are some other great tips to help you get to sleep.

Allowing your body and mind to recognize that it can rest and restore itself will pay off in so many ways, and certainly give you a happier holiday season. Although it may be winter outside at this time of year, our bodies in our warm, safe houses don’t need to behave as though it’s “metabolic winter” in the wild. That good night sleep may keep those pounds at bay and put big smiles on your face too!

Day-Night Cycles Affect Gut Balance

Filed in Human Microbiome, Obesity, Sleep | Posted by lsmith on 11/12/2014


Only over the last century have humans been exposed to such a huge alteration in the sleep-wake cycle that, previously, was dependent only upon the revolution of the earth in relation to the sun. With the advent of lighting and airplanes, the rhythms of daily life have changed for most of us, and have changed drastically for some of us who engage in shiftwork or who travel great distances on a regular basis via plane.

Might these alterations of daily life have an effect on the microbes living within our guts? And if so, might those alterations play a role on our health? Researchers from the Weismann Institute of Science set out to find the answers to these questions. In a study published in the journal Cell, the scientists determined that yes, disruptions in daily cycles do have an impact on gut bacterial composition and function, and those alterations trigger obesity and other metabolic abnormalities.

Shift workers and frequent flyers, especially those who cross numerous time zones on a regular basis, are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and infections. The scientists wondered if gut microbes play a role.

The researchers first used an animal model to determine whether alterations in day-night cycles play a role on gut microbes. They found that changes in day-night cycles, powered by the circadian clock, triggered changes in gut microbial composition and function. Sixty percent of the gut microbe composition was altered (dysbiosis) in those mice who experienced a change in day-night cycle. They determined that these alterations were the result of an altered feeding schedule, and that they could be reversed by reverting to a feeding schedule that mimicked the normal day-night cycle.

Next, the researchers determined that these fluctuations of the gut microbiota triggered metabolic abnormalities such as fat accumulation and glucose intolerance (simply put, high blood sugar), which were ameliorated after administration of antibiotics, confirming the fact that the gut microbe dysbiosis was responsible for the metabolic abnormalities.

To test these effects in humans, they analyzed the gut microbes of two adults over the course of several days and found similar fluctuations in composition and function. Next, they analyzed stool of two adults who took a flight from the United States to Israel. They tested stool before the flight, 24 hours after the flight (jet lag), and two weeks after the flight. They found dysbiosis of the gut microbes under conditions of jet lag when compared to before the flight or two weeks after. Interestingly, they also found an abundance of the Firmicutes bacteria, which have been linked to obesity and metabolic abnormalities in humans.2

To take the study yet one step further, they transplanted stool from the dysbiotic, jet lagged humans into the digestive tracts of mice without gut microbes and found that those mice gained more weight and body fat and had higher blood sugar levels compared to mice that received stool from the individuals before and after being jet lagged.

“Our inner microbial rhythm represents a new therapeutic target that may be exploited in future studies to normalize the microbiota in people whose lifestyle involves frequent alterations in sleep patterns, hopefully to reduce or even prevent their risk of developing obesity and its complications,” noted the researchers. They recommend that “probiotic or antimicrobial therapy may be tested as potential new preventive or therapeutic approaches.”

Another recent study from the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found an increased risk of ulcerative colitis in people who get less than six hours of sleep per night. Ulcerative colitis is a severe digestive disease that involves inflammation of the colon and has been linked to gut bacterial imbalance. The results of this study are not surprising, given what we have just learned about the effects of the sleep-wake cycle.

The adverse health effects of sleep deprivation are widespread. Perhaps one day we will be able to combat these effects by improving our gut microbes without having to alter our poor sleep habits. Time and more research will tell.

References

  1. Thaiss CA, Zeevi D, Levy M, et al., “Transkingdom control of microbiota diurnal oscillations promotes metabolic homeostasis.” Cell. 23 Oct 2014;159(3):514–29.
  2. Ley RE, Turnbaugh PJ, Klein, et al., “Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity.” Nature. 2006 Dec 21;444(7122):1022–3.
  3. Ridaura VK, Faith JJ, Rey FE, et al., “Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice.” Science. 2013 Sep 6;341(6150):1241214.
  4. Ananthakrishnan AN, Khalili H, Konijeti GG, et al., “Sleep duration affects risk for ulcerative colitis: A prospective cohort study.” Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Apr 26.

Omega-3 Linked to Sleep Quality in Children

Filed in Children, General, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Sleep | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/29/2013


In a new study by the researchers from Oxford University, data from the DOLAB research project showed that low blood omega-3 levels—particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)—were associated with decreased sleep quality and an increased risk of sleep disorders in children. Upon further study, the researchers found that supplementation with DHA increased sleep quality.

“We have got far less waking during the night. We’ve got more sleeping, and more efficient sleeping as the ratio of time in bed to time asleep is significantly improved,” stated Paul Montgomery, PhD, lead researcher. “These are not small changes. These are substantial changes. I think clinically they are very significant changes too.”

In addition to linking omega-3 levels to sleep quality, they also noted that, “As sleep problems increased, so did behavioral problems,” not surprisingly. “We know that sleep is very important for behavior. It’s been demonstrated in a large number of trials. But what has not been shown [until now] is what fatty acids might have to do with it,” noted Montgomery.

I recently blogged about another of Paul Montgomery’s omega-3 studies in children, and also about how children are not getting enough omega-3 from the diet. Fortunately, it’s easy for children to take an omega-3 supplement to increase their omega-3 levels.