Digestive Care Expert Brenda Watson

Constipation may not be a topic you’d choose for daily conversation, but it’s really nothing to be embarrassed about. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another – and we realize how debilitating it can become. Although in our society, the medical professionals still say that 3 bowel movements weekly is “normal” – let me tell you, you don’t want to be “normal”. A healthy human being should eliminate daily. And it’s the same for our faithful canine companions.

Dogs also suffer from constipation. If your dog is showing signs of having trouble eliminating, take him to the vet to make sure there is not an underlying condition. If there’s not a physical problem, then it’s up to us, and what we provide as owners, to help our dogs eliminate better.

Dogs show signs of being constipated by straining to defecate – with small volume expelled. You may notice hard bowel movements. As I mentioned, dogs need to eliminate everyday to be healthy. They may also look bloated and/or show signs of pain when attempting to defecate. Lack of appetite or even depression could be a sign of toxic buildup or discomfort due to constipation. Be sure to notice any differences in color or texture.

Well, what exactly can we do at home to help our dogs? Making sure they eat a good diet with moist food – not just dry food – is a must. Supply your pet with plenty of clean water and exercise.

Certain supplements have also been shown to help. Just like people, dogs need the good bacteria from probiotics to balance their guts and help with regularity. Choose a supplement that is potent enough to make a difference – at least 20 billion cultures per serving (whether in pill or powder) and containing 10 different strains of lactobacillus and bifido bacteria. Dogs have many of the same strains of good bacteria in their gut as their owners so providing them with a high culture count and multi strain supplement is as important for them as it is for us.

Here’s another important tip that many may not know – Omega 3s, which vets suggest for many other problems in dogs like kidney, heart and joint diseases, is also very effective in relieving constipation. A high dose omega blend of EPA and DHA totaling about 750mg of total omega3 is best.

Chances are good that you regularly clean up as your dog eliminates. That poop helps you to notice any changes that may be occurring in your pet’s health. Our dogs are so willing to give us unconditional love – and we enjoy it thoroughly! However they depend on us totally for their digestive needs. Let’s make sure they have the same opportunities for vital health that we do!

 

Constipation, digestion, dogs, heart disease, joint disease, kidney disease, omega-3, Probiotics

Statistics show constipation in humans is an extremely common and sometimes very expensive issue. Too often people end up in the doctor’s office or emergency room when the problem becomes painful or even potentially dangerous due to the fact there could be a blockage of some kind.

Well, our dogs and cats can have the same problem with constipation, even though diarrhea is seen more often in pets.

I’ll bet most loving pet owners pay more attention to how their animals poop then they do to their own poop – an interesting thought in itself.

What is the very first thing a vet will ask you when you take your animal in for a problem or an exam? “How are they pooping?” Right? Wouldn’t it be great if our human doctors asked us that on our regular check-ups? Most doctors haven’t been trained to consider it very important. I’ll sadly tell you that from lots of experience.

Back to our pets. Let’s start with cats. Cats should poop every single day. If you are disciplined about cleaning out that litter box you will be able to monitor this easily. Their poop should be brown, formed (not loose) and soft and moist enough for the litter to stick to it. Simple enough. If this is not happening then your cat is constipated.

Not every cat is going to let you know if they are uncomfortable because they are constipated. People will think it’s normal for their cat to go once every 2 or 3 days! Cats, like humans, are supposed to detox through their poop – every day.

So if you believe your cat is constipated, first take them to the vet to be checked. It’s important to make sure there is not a blockage or serious problem. After that, it’s time to consider some steps you can take at home to help remedy the problem.

The biggest issue with cats and constipation is dehydration, so make sure your cat is eating a moisture rich food. Did you know that cats are designed to get the majority of the water they need from what they eat? Actually 70-75%. Studies show that generally a dry food diet may not be the best choice for your cats. They won’t realize they need to make up the moisture difference by drinking more water. It’s impossible to force them to drink more water than they normally desire. Of course, be sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times so they can drink when they’re thirsty.

Natural remedies for constipation are as effective and safe as those made for humans. The addition of aloe vera juice into your cat’s food may be very helpful.

Perhaps one of the best solutions is to increase the good bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract with probiotics. Make sure you choose a probiotic that is formulated specifically for cats. Just like in people cats need a high potency probiotic with at least 10 strains.

Using a powdered probiotic that can be added to your cat’s food makes supplementing with probiotics effortless. I’m sure you’ve experienced how interesting (or impossible) it can be in many cases to persuade your cat to take a pill. A powdered form removes that issue all together.

I’ll bet you’re relieved to know that there is so much that can be done to help your feline friends should they suffer from constipation. I can say with sincerity, having suffered from it myself and having worked to help countless others – you just feel miserable. We certainly don’t want our loving pets to live in misery, as they bring us so much JOY!!!!

Let’s help them out.

aloe, cats, Constipation, dehydration, dogs, pets, Probiotics

In recent years we have seen a drastic increase in the number of people in this country who are overweight and obese. This has led to a scary increase in many chronic health conditions ranging from diabetes and metabolic syndrome to heart disease. We are also seeing a rise in NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) in humans. I’ve written many blogs on this topic. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. People usually don’t have symptoms, or if they do, the symptoms are mild—most commonly, episodes of fatigue. But we now know that the increase in NAFLD is due in part to obesity. It is no secret that weight loss is an important factor in improving a fatty liver.

As a big proponent of supporting liver function in people by using detoxing programs, I have always suggested the use of herbs, amino acids, and nutraceuticals in a combination formula. I have seen this formula help countless people over the years as they work on improving their health and losing weight.

Veterinarians are also finding that, just like people, dogs and cats that carry extra weight place additional demands on their organs too, especially on their livers.

So the question is: how do we help our furry friends who are overweight? We can’t exactly offer our pets suggestions like “Push away your plate before you are full,” or “Stop opening the refrigerator after 7 PM for that extra snack!” I sometimes joke about our dogs with my husband Stan, “I’ll bet they wish they had thumbs so they could open the refrigerator.” You see, I am also trying to control the weight in my dogs at this time, yet they have learned so many ways to control me and devour more food! I often read articles that claim overweight pets habitually hang around during mealtimes and while food is being prepared. Well, where else would they be?

Hepatic lipidosis (commonly known as fatty liver) is one of the most common feline liver diseases in cats. But dogs can also suffer from fatty liver, which results in a decrease in liver function and leads to myriad other health conditions. Once again, we share the same problems with our health as our pets when it comes to both weight and liver disease.

Guess what? The answer to this problem is the same for both humans and pets: lose the extra pounds. When we—and our pets—lose weight, the liver then loses fat. And by detoxing the liver, it will naturally become healthier.

Many pet owners have been detoxing their own livers for years. We now know that liver detox is important for our beloved pets as well. A very important point to remember is to choose a gentle daily detox for our pets (just as we do for ourselves) that will not cause them to feel poorly as their livers detox. You’ll want to find a formula that includes milk thistle, turmeric, and MSM. These gentle ingredients support and assist in liver detoxification in animals just as they do in humans. Look for a product that includes the above ingredients. Make sure that it’s specifically formulated for pets.

Now to address the issue of helping our furry friends lose weight; the responsibility is ours. We must make sure to not overfeed them or give them too many treats. I have one important rule with my dogs: I never feed them from the table!

Admittedly, it’s not easy to refuse those pitiful eyes when they look up at me asking for a treat. But I know that their health depends on it.

 

detoxification, dogs, fatigue, fatty liver, hepatic lipidosis, milk thistle, MSM, NAFLD, non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, obese, overweight, pets, turmeric

For many years I have written about the benefit of probiotics on our health. In my early years, working in a Natural Health Clinic that offered total health solutions, I experienced first hand the great effects probiotics have on people. I worked one on one with many who were trying to reverse health conditions naturally or in conjunction with traditional medicine. In my own practice as well as throughout the clinic our goal was to assist people in detoxification of their bodies. These cleansing practices were found effective in prevention of disease, as well as in supporting the healing of many conditions that traditional medicine had not been able to solve.

In our Clinic this was accomplished with modalities like massage, sauna, herbs, colon hydrotherapy, juice fasting and nutrition. During this period of time probiotics were a vital part of my practice. My specialty was the digestive system (I’ll bet you might have guessed!) and I was performing colonics as well as suggesting herbal remedies and teaching good nutrition. So in this way very early on, through practical application, I observed over and over how probiotics could greatly improve people’s health.

Now let’s fast forward to today – many years later! We have entered the age of the study of the Human Microbiome (fancy name for gut population) and its effects on human health and disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported this so scientists can have the funding to study all aspects of bacteria, both in and on our bodies. Almost daily we can read more research studies touting the benefits of probiotics on everything from GI problems to anxiety and depression. As new studies have come forth, we have even offered many of them to you on this blog.

Since we have trillions of bacteria and over 180 different strains of bacteria in our guts, we now fully realize two important things – how critical it is to replenish our good bacteria if we want to be healthy, and also just what type of probiotic supplement our bodies need most – one that is high potency (meaning a high culture count) and that also contains many different good bacterial strains.

BUT – have we forgotten about the digestive systems of our babies? Those wonderful animals that keep us company, are always excited to see us and never criticize us for our shortcomings? Gosh I hope not.

Come to find out these guys (dogs and cats) need probiotics just like we do. In fact their digestive systems take a beating from antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and toxins just like ours do. Actually they are finding that the gut bacteria of the animals we live with actually mimic ours, having many of the same bacteria – even though there are certain strains that are specific to animals.

I interviewed Dr. Rob Knight who is a scientist studying the gut microbiome and founded The American Gut Project. These scientists actually analyze stool samples (for a fee) from anyone, and they will accept your animal’s sample as well. Dr. Knight explained to me that he can take samples from humans and match them to their dog by simply comparing their bacterial composition, without knowing anything else about them. He can literally match owners with their dogs through their similarities of bacteria!

Even though “official” research is beginning to demonstrate that dogs and cats derive many health benefits from probiotics, Stan and I and countless other dog owners and vets have already experienced that high dose, multi-strain probiotics can help pets with digestive upsets like vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, skin issues – the list goes on. For cats and dogs, a healthy population of gut bacteria is vital for gut health, and just like with their humans, plays a critical role in removing toxins, enhancing digestion and out-competing many strains of disease causing microorganisms.

In conclusion, I know I am going to make sure my animals have the benefit of quality probiotics – ones made especially for cats and dogs – with at least 20 billion cultures per capsule and 10 different probiotic strains.

In this simple way we can provide our animals a much better chance of keeping their health on the right track — so that we have them around longer to love!!! YEA!!!

anxiety, cat health, Cleansing, colon hydrotherapy, depression, detoxification, dog health, Dr. Rob Knight, GI problems, herbs, human microbiome, juice fasting, Massage, nutrition, Probiotics, sauna, The American Gut Project

Proper diet and nutrition provide the building blocks for optimal health. This is also true for mental health. In a recent paper published in The Lancet Psychiatry Today, researchers stated that, as with other medical conditions, the field of psychiatry and public health should recognize and embrace diet and nutrition as important contributors to mental health.

“While the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology,” Jerome Sarris, PhD, lead author. “In the last few years, significant links have been established between nutritional quality and mental health. Scientifically rigorous studies have made important contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health.”

The researchers recommend nutrient-based prescription of those nutrients that have a clear link to brain health, including omega-3s, B vitamins, choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids when they cannot be consumed in sufficient amounts from the diet.

Diet during pregnancy and through childhood is a crucial part of incorporating diet and nutrition into mental health care, note the authors. Early-life nutrition and deficiencies are emerging as a significant contributor to poor mental health status in children and adolescents.

“It’s time for clinicians to consider diet and additional nutrients as part of the treating package to manage the enormous burden of mental ill health,” noted Sarris.

I agree. Hopefully more doctors in the mental health field get the message.

Children, diet, early-life nutrition, mental health, nutrients, nutrition, psychiatry

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

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

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

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

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

fruits and vegetables, organic, organophosphate pesticides, Pesticide, pesticide exposure

Type 1 diabetes involves the inability of beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections and carefully monitor their food intake to properly regulate blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed during childhood in children who are genetically predisposed to the disease. In a recent study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, researchers followed 33 infants who were genetically predisposed to type 1 diabetes. Out of these 33 children, a handful went on to develop the disease.

From birth to age three the researchers collected data on the composition of the gut microbiome of these children. They found a 25 percent decrease in community diversity, or the number of species, one year prior to diagnosis, suggesting that a decrease in gut microbial diversity may trigger the onset of the disease.

“This study is unique because we have taken a cohort of children at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes and then followed what changes in the microbiome tip the balance toward progression to the disease,” said Ramnik Xavier, MD, PhD. Another author called the study “a compelling piece of evidence pointing toward a direct role of the microbiome in type 1 diabetes.”

The researchers noted a decrease in bacterial species known to help regulate gut health and an increase in potentially harmful bacteria known to promote inflammation. This gut imbalance, or dysbiosis, is common among many health conditions, and research shows that it may be the trigger that leads to many chronic diseases.

More studies are needed to determine whether type 1 diabetes can be prevented or treated by making modifications to the gut microbiota. The positive results of this study will certainly spur more research in this area. I will keep you posted as I learn more.

bacteria, blood sugar, disease, dysbiosis, gut microbial diversity, gut microbiome, insulin, microbiota, type 1 diabetes

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 11 percent of children aged four to 17—that’s 6.4 million children diagnosed as of 2011. Boys are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. While there are certain hereditary factors that make some children more likely to develop ADHD more than others, environmental factors are also thought to play an important role.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), researchers discovered that exposure to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin while in utero and through lactation was linked to the development of several features of ADHD in an animal model. Dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, attention deficits, and impulsive-like behavior were observed.

“Although we can’t change genetic susceptibility to ADHD, there may be modifiable environmental factors, including exposures to pesticides that we should be examining in more detail,” noted Jason Richardson, PhD.

Male mice were more affected than female mice in the study, similar to what is seen in children. The ADHD behaviors continued through adulthood even long after the pesticide exposure was no longer detected, highlighting the potential long-term effects of pesticide exposure.

The researchers then analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found that children with higher levels of pyrethroid pesticide metabolites in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, supporting the findings of the animal study. The authors caution that young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to pesticide exposure. “We need to make sure these pesticides are being used correctly and not unduly expose those who may be at a higher risk,” said Richardson.

ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, boys, Children, hyperactivity, impulsive, Pesticide, pesticide exposure, pyrethroid

There is something about social connection that enhances our ability to stick with a new habit or practice. The feeling of “we’re in this together” seems to encourage success within a group setting. In a recent study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers found that online dieters who were well connected and participated in an online dieting program were most likely to lose weight when compared to those who participated less.

“Our findings suggest that people can do very well at losing weight with minimal professional help when they become centrally connected to others on the same weight loss journey,” noted Bonnie Spring, PhD.

The researchers found that users who did not connect to others lost about five percent of their body weight over the course of six months while those who were somewhat connected lost almost seven percent and those who were most connected lost over eight percent of their weight.

That’s good news for our Skinny Gut Forum. If you are following the Skinny Gut Diet (or want to be!), the Skinny Gut Forum is a place where you can interact with me and others to get support and encouragement.

Or, why not start a support group of your own? Maybe you have a few friends who want to try the diet. You could create a Facebook group to check in and encourage each other while sharing tips about how to be successful. Clinical studies have found that regular tracking of progress helps people to lose more weight. Report your weekly weight and inches lost in your group to help keep you on track.

diet, lose more weight, Skinny Gut Forum, social connection, weight, Weight Loss

If you’ve ever struggled to lose weight or improve your health, I want to let you in on a secret: until now, you have probably been taking the wrong approach. Be sure to watch my Skinny Gut, Vibrant You special on public television throughout the month, and I will show you how to get back on track!

The truth is, you are not entirely responsible for your weight gain or poor health. There is actually a missing piece to the puzzle, and it has to do with the trillions of bacteria inside your gut and whether they are in balance or out of balance. In fact, they are the underlying reason why you still have a hard time losing weight and staying healthy.

In Skinny Gut, Vibrant You I reveal the science behind your inner weight loss secret and provide surprisingly simple ways to help you lose weight and achieve vibrant health. You will learn how to address your internal gut balance so you can finally reach your weight loss goal—plus enjoy the side benefits of fewer digestive problems, a stronger immune system, and even a better mood!

Click here to find out when it will be airing locally, and be sure to tune in to Skinny Gut, Vibrant You all through March on your public television station.

lose weight, Public Television, secret, Skinny Gut Vibrant You, vibrant health, weight gain, Weight Loss

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