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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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    • Skin Health

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

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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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Bacteria and the Elderly – Better Days Ahead

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, C. difficile, Conditions, Dementia, Diet, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Road to Perfect Health, Urinary Tract Infections | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/23/2015

Recently I was pleased to come across an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the very positive shift away from overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes.

Being the defender of the microbiome that I am, when I read that up to 70% of nursing home residents receive one or more courses of antibiotics every year and up to 75% of those prescriptions are given incorrectly – well that information had the hair all over my body on end! It was reported that the prescriptions were written for the wrong drug, dose, or duration – and this information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oh my!

Apparently, one of the biggest antibiotic misdiagnoses is for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections. Believe it or not, antibiotics to treat supposed UTIs are being given to the elderly for vague symptoms like confusion, the discovery of bacteria in just one urine sample, or even in the case of a random misstep resulting in a fall.

Sadly, since women are much more likely to develop UTIs then men, many of us ladies have experienced the misery of a UTI. Although it’s possible to have a UTI and not experience obvious symptoms, that is much more the exception than the rule. In the companion book to the public television special The Road to Perfect Health, I list symptoms for UTIs. A few are a persistent urge to urinate, painful or burning urination, frequent urination, and the list continues with other very clear indicators. Finding bacteria in the urine is just one piece of a diagnosis. “Confusion” wasn’t even on my list. So does this mean that confusion is only a symptom of UTIs in elderly people? How can this be?

Dr. Christopher Crnich, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health states that generally 50% of women and 25% of men in nursing homes have bacteria in their urine. He then emphasized that didn’t automatically indicate a UTI. Bacteria can develop for many other reasons – immune system and hormonal issues for example. I’ll include an imbalanced gut here, resulting from a diet containing too many sugars. By the way, this is true for people of all ages.

This article really got me thinking as I approached the end. According to Dr. Diane Kane, chief medical officer for St. Ann’s Community, a not-for-profit health-care system in Rochester, NY, who is a passionate critic of UTI over-diagnosis, “When you have dementia, you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. When you have dementia and you have a bad day, please don’t send a urine, because it’s going to be positive.”

As I interpret Dr. Kane’s statement, “bad days” of dementia (more confusion) will physically manifest as an increase of pathogenic bacteria in a person’s urinary system. Following that line of thought, a decrease in the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body could potentially alleviate some symptoms of dementia or confusion. That could certainly explain why a patient’s confused mental state may seem to improve while on a round of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, if no effort is made to repopulate the gut with good bacteria after antibiotics, research has shown that bad bacteria and yeast readily re-establish. Upon the return of a confused mental state, further urine testing would reveal more bacteria, perpetuating another misdiagnosis of UTI and laying the groundwork for additional antibiotic treatment. Round and round we go.

In my mind, a much better and more logical step toward improved daily function and cognition for the elderly in nursing homes might be to dramatically increase the amount of good bacteria provided to the gut on a daily basis. The good bacteria will displace the bad, supporting and maintaining the integrity of all the organs of elimination, bladder included. And perhaps positively impact confusion and dementia. I’d love to see more research studies created that look at these parameters. Are you with me?

I’ve blogged often on how declining gut health, toxicity and dementia seem to go hand in hand. I’ve also shared research highlighting how probiotics can be effective treatment for that dreaded C. difficile infection that occurs most often in hospitals and long term care facilities, haunting the weak and elderly.

Let’s all envision a day when antibiotics are the last resort should a person be confused, perhaps has fallen, or mild amounts of bacteria are found in their urine. Instead let’s picture a standard of care designed to increase the good bacteria in the body through daily probiotics, kefir, fermented veggies and/or kombucha. Now that’s HEALTH care!

Watch Me on PBS this November and December!

Filed in Adults, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, Heart of Perfect Health, Inflammation, The Road to Perfect Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/06/2013

This holiday season I have just the thing to help you stay focused on looking and feeling your best—from your gut to your heart! Two of my most popular health specials will be airing on public television during the November/December pledge drive, so be sure to tune in and spread the word to your friends and family.

Are you or is someone you know affected by heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or high blood sugar? Do you know about the dangers of silent inflammation? My newest special, Brenda Watson’s Heart of Perfect Health: The Startling Truths about Heart Disease and the Power You Have to Stop It, reveals the truth about America’s #1 killer: heart disease. You may not realize it, but a healthy heart has more to do with your gut than you might think!

Also airing in November and December, Brenda Watson’s The Road to Perfect Health: Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body is one of my most successful PBS health specials ever. In it, I reveal the truth about chronic disease and how it begins with an unhealthy digestive system. Join me to learn more about the protective power of your gut and the natural solutions that can help you achieve and maintain vibrant health and energy.

Now more than ever, staying informed about chronic disease, heart health, and the importance of digestive care and nutrition is essential to your well-being, which is why I’m so excited for the opportunity to reach millions of viewers this holiday season. See you on public television!

When will I be on TV in your area? Click here for local listings by state. If you can’t find me here, just check with your local station during their pledge drive this season. Please let me know how you like the show!

Along with MLK, I too “Have a Dream”! Perhaps it’s coming true…. Please read the good news!

Filed in Digestive Health, Digestive Health Care Books by Brenda Watson, The Road to Perfect Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/19/2012

Did someone at Stanford U. see “The Road to Perfect Health” PBS special? Now THIS is exciting! http://on.wsj.com/x0n5Yk

I know that way too often the articles that stimulate my comments border on the absurd – in my mind anyhow. FINALLY, in the WSJ (thank you Shirly S. Wang, author) – “A Gut Check for Many Ailments”.

Back in the late 90s, Dr. Michael Gershon (considered the ‘father of neurogastroenterology’) wrote about “The Second Brain”, where he credits two British scientists, Bayliss and Starling, with identifying the “law of the intestine” – peristalsis. This is a muscular movement which happens without direction from the brain. So the word about the important independence of the gut has been out, even if not well appreciated in modern times!

“The gut is important in medical research, not just for problems pertaining to the digestive system, but also problems pertaining to the rest of the body.” says Pankaj J. Pasricha, chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Stanford University School of Medicine. So encouraging to think a well-known training center for future physicians is expanding their awareness! How many more of you, in a few short years, will be able to finally find a doctor who doesn’t shake his/her head at your symptoms, or inform you it’s just “all in your head”!?

Dr. Gershon, a professor at Columbia University, was quoted to say “The brain is a CEO that doesn’t like to micromanage”. He would undoubtedly enjoy my reference to probiotics as your own body’s “GPS” – Gut Protection System”. Friends, we all know, don’t we, that the balance of bacteria in your gut determines the health of your your digestive system, and, in turn, the health of your entire body!

I’m so happy that Dr. Gershon recognizes that 95% of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut! Besides increasing peaceful and tranquil feelings, it was reported that serotonin is necessary for repair of cells in the liver and lungs, and plays a role in normal heart development and bone-mass accumulation. Definitely important functions beyond elimination, I would say.

How great it was to read that perhaps one day, Parkinson’s disease may be diagnosed and tracked through a routine colonoscopy, rather than an invasive brain biopsy! Apparently gut neurons may mirror the damage experienced by brain neurons, according to Pascal Derkinderen, a professor of neurology at Inserm, Frances national institute of health.

Sometimes, through the years of sharing my understanding of the gut – as a colonhydrotherapist, as a nutritionist/herbologist, as an author in book after book, and more recently on PBS through all the specials, I still feel as though I’m holding up a little candle in the dark. As I hear your stories of suffering, sometimes for months and years with gut issues, and your deep frustration when you can’t find a knowledgeable, compassionate doctor, my heart breaks….  And we move forward, changing diets together, cleansing, supporting, sharing — and we wait.

Today, after reading this WSJ article, I feel a surge of hope and joy!  Working together, you and I, we are educating with love and expanding an awareness of true health that will serve and heal for generations to come.