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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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Probiotic Pumpkin Pie Anyone?

Filed in Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/24/2015


Thanksgiving just isn’t complete at many of our tables without Pumpkin Pie. Would you agree?

That pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon scent of a baking pie, be it Grandmother’s recipe or Libby’s suggestions off the side of the pumpkin can, is standard beloved aromatherapy of the season, so it’s with a smile and a wink that I post this recipe for you today. If not for the Turkey Day table, it might be a great additional to next Sunday’s dinner!

My friend Donna Schwenk has recently launched her new book called Cultured Food for Health. On page 154 of this wonderful book she offers a “Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie”.

Okay, so ‘raw’ kind of defeats the aromatic aspect of the traditional celebration, but I’m hoping the greater value of this recipe may pique your interest, since it will provide so very many helpful probiotics for your family’s digestive tracts. I’m sitting here laughing at the image of a pie filled with multitudes of good bacteria. And it’s really the truth.

Kefir packs between 30 and 56 different types of bacteria, and research on the health of the gut shows over and over that diversity is the key – the more different types of good guys, the stronger your immune system seems to be. Let me know if you try this, and how you like it!

 

Donna’s Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie

Makes 8 servings

 

For the Probiotic-Packed filling

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 to 4 hours in water and then drained

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup Kefir Cheese

½ cup maple syrup (or a zero calorie sweetener like erythritol/lohan)

½ cup coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

 

For a raw crust (or of course, you can make your own recipe or pick up a frozen gluten free one!)

1 cup walnuts

1cup pecans

1 cup raisins

Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

 

To make the probiotic filling, combine the cashews, pumpkin, kefir cheese, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a blender or food processor on high speed. Pulse until completely smooth. This can take a few minutes.

To assemble the crust, pulse the walnuts and pecans in a food processor until they’re crumbs, then add the raisins and salt and pulse until the moisture begins to stick together.

Pour the filling into the crust, then cover it with plastic wrap.

Place the pie in the freezer until solid, about 5 hours. Before slicing and serving, let the pie sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften a little.

Donna offers a wonderful recipe in her book to make Coconut Whipped Cream to top this fabulous pie! You’ll find it on page 179 of the book when you bring one home for your very own.

As an alternative, I like to whip up some organic heavy cream and add a bit of stevia or zero calorie sweetener to taste. And let’s not forget the eternal crowd pleaser – delicious ice cream as a pie topping.

Whatever your combination, I wish you a Happy Healthy Joyful Thanksgiving filled with lots of great food and love all around! Don’t forget those probiotics! They love you too!

Probiotics Shine in the Fight Against Type 1 Diabetes

Filed in Autoimmune Disease, Children, Diabetes, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/20/2015


The University of South Florida here in Tampa is known for its world-class research and treatment of diabetes. Over the last 15 years grant monies have supported the Diabetes Center’s efforts to examine both prevention and environmental causes of this dramatically rising health risk.

An interesting article in The Tampa Tribune just the other day reported exciting findings of a new study spearheaded by USF researcher Ulla Uusitalo. The results stated that infants with a high genetic risk of developing Type 1 diabetes who were given probiotic-rich formula or supplements in their first 27 days of life were 60% less likely to develop islet autoimmunity, a precursor to the disease. Wow!

Uusitalo, an associate professor of pediatrics at USF, worked with an international team of coauthors and researchers studying the diets and blood samples of 7,473 high-risk children, ages 4 to 10. The study was conducted between 2004 and 2010 and the children studied lived in such diverse places as Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Washington as well as Germany, Finland and Sweden. The study is known as “The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young” and the future intention is to follow the children until they’re 15 years of age.

Although Uusitalo is very clear that the study doesn’t prove that probiotics can prevent the disease, it is nonetheless heartening that research is now looking at what might help prevent a disease from manifesting, as opposed to focusing on what might cause the disease symptoms to develop. What an important distinction!

The article, published this month in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, is one of the first of its kind, and I’m so happy to see that the star of the show is probiotics! Those good bacteria deserve lots of applause!

As Thanksgiving week approaches, I’m very grateful to reflect on the positive direction that awareness of our microbiome (that garden in our gut) seems to be moving. I’m also thankful each time I see another article that educates on the harmful effects of sugars and processed foods and offers healthy alternatives.

I can’t think of anything that has a more profound effect on overall health than feelings of gratitude. So at this happy time, I wish you many grateful moments, and lots of probiotics too.

 

Food as Medicine to Balance Your Blood Sugar

Filed in Diabetes, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Inflammation, Metabolic Syndrome, Sugar | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/13/2015


I’m so happy to see that people are becoming so much more aware of the sugar in their diets, and the impact it has on their health. The term “blood sugar” is now common in conversation and most of us are happy to learn of ways to control the fluctuations that may result in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or other inflammatory conditions like cardiovascular issues.

Obviously eliminating the processed high carb, high sugar offerings is key. Exercise is also an integral piece. I’m not talking about Olympic endurance training. Simple movement like walking on a regular basis will be extremely supportive of your entire well being.

And personally I really enjoy the concept of food as my medicine. Here are some foods that research has found to have blood stabilizing effects on your day.

Anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant pigments found in red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. In addition to balancing blood sugar and decreasing inflammation, they also have exhibited protective actions for the cells of the pancreas. So next time you enjoy berries, eggplant, black currants, red cabbage or dark beans you’re doing your blood sugar a big favor.

Apple cider vinegar slows down actions of your stomach and increases efficient utilization of glucose. It also has a positive effect on enzyme activity. If you are concerned about the possibility of type 2 diabetes, consuming apple cider vinegar at bedtime may help lower your next morning fasting glucose level.

Fiber, a personal favorite of mine, is a true friend to blood sugar balance. In short, fiber absorbs and dilutes the digestion process of carbohydrates and has demonstrated a decrease in post-meal blood sugar readings by an average of 20 percent. Populations in other countries that consume large amounts of fiber are virtually free of bowel diseases.

Both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are found to be helpful, so please be generous with those leafy greens, legumes, low-glycemic fruits, chia, hemp, ground flaxseed and psyllium and even some quality whole grains. Your blood sugar, and your overall digestion will appreciate it.

Chromium is a micromineral that is critical for sugar metabolism, and is widely available in supplement form. However it’s nice to know that you can find chromium in broccoli, organic eggs, barley, oats, green beans, onions, and nuts, so chromium can be delicious too.

This last suggestion may not be supported as conclusively by research as by traditions, and I’ll offer, enjoyment. Although there have been studies linking cinnamon with lower fasting blood glucose, it seems the effects are not long-lasting. Adding cinnamon to your steel cut oatmeal may directly help to balance your blood sugar for that meal, but you better keep the cinnamon shaker around for lunch and dinner as well.

In my experience, when cinnamon is added, many times it seems to satisfy my craving for something sweet. Have you noticed that too? So in a round-about way, that’s sugar control.

I hope these simple “food as medicine” suggestions will serve helpful on your own path to balanced blood sugar and excellent digestive health.

Demon Sugar Strikes Again!

Filed in Adults, Children, Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Diet, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD, Obesity, Sugar, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/06/2015


This week it seemed there was an explosion of information shining the spotlight on the toxic effects of sugar. Not a new battle cry from me, of course. Still, to see such supportive scientific study done, especially with regard to protecting our younger generation, is heartening.

One unique study reported in Time magazine was particularly interesting. Please take a few moments to read Time’s article here.

The study was conducted by Dr. Robert Lustig, from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lustig is no stranger to educating people about the dangers of sugar through both books and research. He and his colleagues wanted to determine if sugar was more than just an incidental finding of metabolic syndrome. He was looking for causation, and he may have found it. He believes his study has produced the “hard and fast data that sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight.” Those are some fighting words!

The design was innovative in that it simply shifted foods containing added sugar to other types of foods, many times other carbohydrates. Children between the ages of 8 and 18 were the subjects of the 9 day trial, and there was no attempt at all to put the subjects on a “healthy” diet or to decrease the number of calories of foods consumed. In fact, the caloric content was held stable. The only difference in the eating plan was that the children were not getting their calories from foods with added sugar. Their total dietary sugar intake was reduced to 10% of their calories.

For example, sweetened yogurt was replaced with baked potato chips, pastries were swapped with bagels and turkey hot dogs were subbed for chicken teriyaki (nixxing that sweet sauce) . Not what I would consider health food (and neither did Dr. Lustig suggest that it was).

Amazing things still happened to the physiology of those young bodies. Fasting blood sugar levels dropped dramatically along with insulin production. No surprise since insulin is needed to metabolize carbohydrates and sugars. Triglyceride and LDL levels also improved and I smiled the widest when I read that they showed less fat in their livers. After only 9 days!

Fatty liver disease, for many years seen most prevalently with alcohol abuse, has been a disturbing and debilitating finding in recent years in overweight people diagnosed with sugar handling issues. Lower liver fat is really something to jump and dance about in my book! Happy liver, happy life! And to think that these great results came about from research only looking at “added sugar”. As you know, in my Sugar Equation, and in Skinny Gut Diet, I also take into account the very real sugars represented by carbs too.

So when I read another article about how the food industry is threatening to withdraw financial support from the World Health Organization, my spirits fell a bit. The WHO’s new guideline on healthy eating is slated to suggest that sugar should account for no more than 10% of a healthy diet. The food industry is pressuring the WHO to restate that recommendation at 25%. Gosh, in that 9 day clinical trial I just shared with you, the 10% number produced wonders!

All I can say is – I think I’m hearing the other side of the coin rearing up against the WHO – profit! Sugar is money, and the huge food industry leaders have a whole lot of clout these days in establishing policy, don’t they?

It was amazing to me that the WHO actually received a letter from ambassadors “insisting the report should be removed on the grounds that it would do irreparable damage to countries in the developing world”. What? The nerve of a statement like that when sadly in developing countries around the world where the soft drink industry is strong, it’s now common to see malnutrition coexisting with the obesity that’s so common in more affluent countries.

So, let’s get back to the good news. Finally the scientific evidence showing “what’s wrong with this picture” is pointing toward the appropriate perpetrator. Sugar is simply poison, or perhaps to use a more societally acceptable word – sugar is a toxin. Please teach your children well, for a brighter future for all!