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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 Heals Kids with Crohn’s and UC!

Filed in Children, Crohn's, Diet, The Skinny Gut Diet, Ulcerative Colitis, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/18/2017


For those of you who may have been following me for some time, I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve written many times about the relationship of food to your overall health. The truth is, your diet heals. I’ve even written very specifically relating diet choices to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Although the following information may not be necessarily new to you, I hope you’re as excited as I am to read this study that I found in Science Daily – “Novel diet therapy helps children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis reach remission”. It’s really great to see that “food as medicine” concepts are becoming more accepted in the scientific and medical communities.

The ‘novel’ therapy they are using is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and in fact is the work from which my Skinny Gut plan emerged. You may even be familiar with my recent book, Skinny Gut Diet where I outline the principles I practice on a daily basis for my own health.

To see this type of study published by a leading gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Suskind, warms my heart beyond description.

In a nutshell, 8 out of 10 young patients with inflammatory bowel disease, after only 12 weeks on the therapeutic diet showed significant improvement of their symptoms and achieved remission implementing the dietary treatment alone. Once again, I suggest – diet heals.

For the medical establishment to actually consider a “cure” that is entirely diet-based is groundbreaking!

The well-known book that brought SCD to the public’s attention, Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elizabeth Gottschall, was first published in 1994. That’s over two decades ago. And the first edition of that book was named Food and the Gut Reaction, and was published in 1987. As with so many other wonderful discoveries, the lag time between the initial discovery and public acceptance can be decades, as indeed it was in this case.

No matter. Thanks to all of you over the years who have been reading labels, completing food journals, making new choices and asking great questions about health and digestion. Also, thanks to you who are now becoming interested in lifestyle modifications today. You all are the embodiment of the new paradigm, the wave of change that recognizes “food as medicine”. Together, along with doctors like Dr. Suskin and mothers like Nicole Kittleson from the study we are making incredible positive changes for humanity! Thank you for being on my team!

HOPE after Cancer – A Clinical Trial

Filed in Adults, Cancer, Chronic Disease, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Immune System, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Ulcerative Colitis | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/30/2015


I’m writing to you today as I fly home from Baltimore. My assistant, Dr. Jemma Sinclaire and I traveled there to officially begin a clinical trial that has been in the works for a couple of years now. I hope you enjoy the story of how this project came to be.

Years ago I met Dr. Amando Sardi. He’s an extraordinary gastroenterologist and oncological surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Sardi and his team have perfected a surgical technique that has saved countless lives. When cancer is found in the gastrointestinal tract, many times a part of the intestine needs to be removed, along with other organs, like the gall bladder, spleen, and/or parts of the liver or stomach that may also be cancerous. Removal of parts of the intestine is called “bowel resection”.

Historically, after a surgery of this type, a person would then have to undergo whole body chemotherapy, a difficult and extremely taxing process to endure. It was not uncommon for the cancer to be technically gone, however the patient may have passed away from complications of the treatment.

Dr. Sardi’s unique treatment “perfuses the peritoneum” with chemotherapy. That means that after he removes the obvious cancerous growths and parts of the intestines that are involved, he fills the intestinal cavity with the cancer killing drug instead of allowing it to travel the entire body. In this way, the medicine is focused in the exact area where any remaining cancer cells may be, sparing the rest of the body from the debilitating side effects of chemo.

The total procedure is called Cytoreductive Surgery with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) and Dr. Sardi has an amazing survival rate when he performs this protocol. However, after the initial healing phase, the quality of life the patients experience is often “in the toilet”. Sadly, chronic diarrhea is often unrelenting.

The term “Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)” is used to describe those symptoms that may arise after bowel resection, diarrhea being one of the most persistent.

Initially, after a dramatic procedure of this type, there is a period of time during which a person’s body is stabilizing and adjusting, attempting to compensate for functional loss. It constantly amazes me how the human body is able to recover from that level of trauma.

Then the next phase of healing begins. Dr. Sardi’s vision, to be explored during the clinical trial, is to introduce appropriate nutritional support, through diet and supplementation along with targeted medication that will help a person to experience the highest quality of life possible. Surviving cancer surgery is one thing. Living life after cancer with a compromised intestinal tract is quite another.

This clinical trial was birthed in a conversation Dr. Sardi and I had about what might be possible for these people who had already endured so very much.

Through the Renew HOPE Foundation, Dr. Leonard Smith, Jemma and I along with Dr. Sardi’s team have designed a one-year research project that includes 10 patients who are all at least 2 years post surgery. Their cancer markers are within normal ranges. They are grateful to be alive.

We are teaching them about the HOPE Formula (High fiber, Omega-3s, Probiotics and digestive Enzymes) which I believe are the foundation of digestive health – for everyone.

Additionally we’re using aspects of the Skinny Gut Diet and are helping these people to rebalance the bacteria in their remaining bowel. It always comes back to supporting the good bacteria when you’re goal is improving digestive wellness and supporting the immune system.

I hope that soon we will be able to relate to you that the quality of life these people experience will be much improved.

I felt truly honored to meet with our first 5 patients along with Dr. Sardi and his excellent team, and I look forward to our next year together. I promise to keep you updated.

 

 

Guess What? Gut Microbes Don’t Thrive on Yo-Yo Dieting Either!

Filed in Adults, Conditions, Diabetes, Diet, Dietary Fiber, General, Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Ulcerative Colitis | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/01/2015


We have a war going on inside of our guts! It is a constant battle between all kinds of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Do you know what they are all fighting about? FOOD! So to support our health it logically follows we should find out what feeds the good guys and stick to those foods. Right?

The specific foods of choice vary for the different bacteria – good and bad (tip – the bad guys love sugar and carbs). I wrote a lot about that recently in The Skinny Gut Diet. The book is based on how the ratio of different bacteria in the gut reflects whether we are lean or overweight. One of the main nutrients necessary to support good bacteria is fiber.

An interesting recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber they actually feed on your gut lining!!! This certainly explains why people very commonly end up with leaky gut (intestinal permeability). The average American only gets about 12-15 grams of fiber a day in their diet. This amount is well below the amount documented as necessary for a healthy digestive system. I’ve been suggesting 35-40 grams daily for years.

Apparently, in the absence of fiber, the microbes are gobbling up the delicate mucosal lining. A thick healthy mucosal lining creates a natural barrier between our gut and our bloodstream, keeping undesirable toxins and undigested proteins where they belong – in the bowel. A thin mucosal lining begins to allow those irritating substances to pass into general circulation – the lining begins to “leak”. Various inflammatory conditions throughout our bodies are the eventual outcome – diseases like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are some examples.

The study shows that dietary fiber and the diversity of the gut microbes are the crucial elements with regard to keeping your gut lining healthy.

How does this work? A group of researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School found when they fed a group of mice a high-fiber diet the result was a healthy gut lining. When they switched the mice to a more fiber-free diet the mucosal lining layer dramatically diminished.

They then took a different group of mice and fed them a high fiber diet and a fiber-free diet on alternating days. It would be like us having a healthy day of eating with plenty of fiber in our diet and the next day eating all low fiber foods like those found at McDonald’s. I call this Yo-Yo eating. On examination, they then found that the Yo-Yo diet created a thinner mucosal lining – ½ the thickness of mice consistently fed fiber. Obviously the mucosal lining was seriously affected by dietary input.

In another study, adults with diminished gut linings were given a high fiber bar daily. Their mucosal lining thickened. As soon as the daily fiber was discontinued, their lining returned to its original compromised state.

When the gut lining thins it can manifest in severe health consequences in humans as well. A Swedish research team published a study last year that showed a link between bacteria penetrating a diminished mucus lining and the condition called ulcerative colitis, a form of severe bowel inflammation.

I hope you find these studies as interesting as I do. They show how extremely reactive the gut microbiota is to dietary input, specifically lack of fiber. Rapid diet changes likely served us in our evolutionary history in times of feast or famine, but they don’t do us any favors today.

In our culture, with so much junk food at our fingertips, we commonly shift back and forth between healthy and unhealthy food choices, often from one day to the next. We make poor food choices, and then feel guilty the next day and choose better foods = Yo-Yo dieting. Admit it, we always knew that way of eating couldn’t be healthful, and now here’s even more evidence. Science is showing us how choosing chronic low fiber diets over our lifetime, and worse yet, over generations, might very well permanently alter our guts and our health.

Studies like these make it even clearer how our gut bacteria are our key to vibrant health or debilitating disease. So keep eating that fiber! Lets feed the good guys and maintain our gut lining!

Air Pollution and Bowel Disease—Is There a Link?

Filed in Adults, Crohn's, Digestive Health, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Ulcerative Colitis | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/18/2013


The rate of bowel disease—most notably ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease—is increasing in different areas around the world, emerging as a global disease. Researchers are looking for clues about what causes these diseases so that one day they might be prevented. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada (the country with the highest rate of bowel disease in the world) are investigating the link between air pollution and bowel disease.

“We tend to think about air pollution in terms of lung health, but the GI tract is also being bathed in it continuously. Fine pollution particles are cleared from the respiratory tract by mucous that makes its way to the gut,” stated Karen Madsen, a gastroenterological scientist.

Evidence suggests that inhaling fine particles may disrupt immune function and trigger inflammation in the gut, making it more permeable and altering the gut bacterial balance. “Those changes can lead to inflammation and may set up someone who is genetically predisposed to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD),” noted Madsen. “In the gut, you have a barrier between the immune system and the bacteria that live there. It’s important that barrier gets maintained.”

“The interplay between the gut microbiome and the immune system is really on the forefront of IBD research. The air pollution research looks promising, but right now it’s still too soon to know for sure whether the link is real,” said Melissa Rosen, MD, a gastroenterologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

I believe the link between air pollution—and other toxins, for that matter—and bowel disease will become clear as research extends into this field. Toxins trigger an inflammatory response in the body that can lead to a host of chronic diseases. Toxins are just one trigger of inflammation. Reducing our toxin exposure and increasing our body’s ability to remove toxins is an important part of achieving vibrant health.