• Gut Health
  • Heart Health
    • Heart Health

      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.

  • Skin Health
    • 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.

  • Brain Health
    • 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 .

  • Skinny Gut Diet
  • About Brenda
  • Blog
  • Shop
  • Cart

Food Journal Into Summer Clothes

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Exercise, General, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/20/2016


Food Journal for Weight Loss - brendawatson.com

As the days get longer (and in this area of the country, much hotter) thoughts turn to swimming prospects, and inevitably to bathing suits. While it’s easy to ignore weight loss goals while bundled in coats and boots, once again at this time of year, they tend to move up in priority.
So let’s dust off an excellent tool that will help jumpstart your quest to attain your perfect weight for your frame – and this year’s bathing suit. Begin a new food journal!

Please don’t groan. The whole experience can now be much less labor intensive than years ago. In the past you could only write in your daily entries manually and then you had to research the nutrient content in a separate way. I’m so grateful to our original Renew HOPE Foundation clients who tracked their foods carefully during the years we offered those programs. The data we gathered multiplied in value later as we gathered research for Skinny Gut Diet.

Fortunately, with the wonderful apps available to anyone with a computer or cell phone, the information gathered by the participants in our Skinny Gut Diet project was considerably less tedious. Today digital options for recording your daily eats abound, even including photo journaling.

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion of food journaling recently in the Wall Street Journal. While very useful for identifying food allergies and triggers for gut symptoms, far and away food journals are most commonly used for weight loss.

The article points out a number of interesting studies that validate food journaling as a great tool in support of your weight loss goals.

Over the years I have observed the people most successful with their food journal are consistent and accurate, carefully logging their foods until the habit is established. Then the accountability factor kicks in. As weeks go by, “aha” moments are joyfully attained and real and lasting change takes place.

So why do a large number of people find the food journal process, whether computerized or handwritten, nothing but a tiresome chore? Truth is, it takes more than a just few days to achieve those “aha!” realizations, and far too often the commitment to journaling ends in the length of time it takes fish to spoil in the refrigerator!

I appreciate the study info provided by My Fitness Pal stating that people who have friends on the app and connect regularly seem to lose twice as much weight as those who don’t connect with friends. Personally I think that interpersonal support is critical for almost everything in life. Another Power Tool – Sharing with Others!

By the way, My Fitness Pal was the app we were able to edit and use in Skinny Gut Diet and we continue to appreciate it in our community today. Because Skinny Gut Diet focuses on counting nutrients rather than calories, it was fortunate that the program allowed changes to be made regarding nutrients tracked.

I also really liked the suggestion in the article to write out what you plan to eat and record it in your food journal before eating it. It seems the process can be a deterrent to poor choices. Planning ahead has always been the cornerstone of success – for me at least. Great idea!

Some people enjoy merging food journaling with exercise tracking. It seems to help them to maintain interest. Others are best engaged when they can comment on emotional and physical experiences and relate them back to food choices.

In Skinny Gut Diet we used food journaling as one of our Power Tools. Have you had success with journaling in the past? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Defeating Anemia

Filed in Adults, Anemia, Children, Constipation | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/13/2016


Anemia fighting skillet with meal - brendawatson.com

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), iron deficiency is the single most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide. Its primary symptom is extreme fatigue. Iron deficiency accounts for anemia in 5% of American women and 2% of American men and impacts nearly 3.5 billion people around the globe. Additionally, children, vegetarians and blood donors are at increased risk.

The most common treatment for this type of anemia is oral supplementation with iron. Unfortunately a program of iron supplementation commonly results in constipation or other types of gastrointestinal discomfort. As you know, gut issues are always an interesting topic for me. With iron therapy, it’s critical to manage the gut since constipation will only increase overall toxicity and magnify the debilitating exhaustion symptoms of anemia.

When I saw the article “Can a Pan Add Iron to Your Diet?” in the Wall Street Journal, it immediately caught my eye.

There has been some thought that cooking with cast iron could potentially add iron to your food. I’m always seeking easy, inexpensive and accessible solutions to any issue. Interestingly, there are a lot of factors that impact how therapeutic your cast iron skillet might be. So let’s take a quick closer look:

  1. If you’re cooking acidic foods like apples or tomatoes in your cast iron, more iron will become soluble and available for absorption, so it’s good to cook with acidic foods. Acid dissolves iron.
  2. If you cook with water (not frying in oil) there will potentially be more iron transfer occurring.
  3. If you love your skillet and over the years you’re thrilled that it’s become covered in oil and offers you a more non-stick surface, your gourmet pan will provide you with wonderful delicacies, but it won’t transfer much iron into your food. The patina-like finish won’t allow the iron to break down.
  4. A nearly new pan will transfer more iron that one that has been used regularly.

With this information in mind, here comes the Lucky Iron Fish! Check this out. This is an iron ingot in the shape of a fish that is recommended for use in soups or boiled with drinking water. It’s also suggested to include acids, such as citrus juice or vinegar along with your fish in your soup pot or dinner pan for the reasons explained above.

A research project followed 304 Cambodian women over the course of a year. The study was reported in the journal Tropical Medicine & Surgery. Regular use of the Lucky Iron Fish increased hemoglobin concentration in the blood (an important marker of anemia), compared with a control group that didn’t use the ingot. Anemia in the 3 villages studied dropped by 46%! That’s darn impressive.

The company has a vision of a Lucky Iron Fish in every pot for those populations where anemia is prevalent. For every fish a person purchases, one is donated to a community in need. There’s something very heartwarming about this.

It’s important to be aware that even when iron is transferred to food, certain conditions don’t allow it to be easily absorbed by the body. FYI – the type of iron in meat, called heme iron, is easiest for our bodies to absorb (now you see why vegetarians are more susceptible to anemia). However it’s reported if you ingest vitamin C at the same time as non-heme iron (the type from the cast iron pans or the Lucky Iron Fish), the iron is much more available to be absorbed by the body.

Of course, this makes total sense. Whether you’re adding vitamin C, vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes (all are acids) as you cook in an unseasoned cast iron pot or pan or you choose to simply drop in the Lucky Iron Fish ingot – you just may have a recipe for increased energy and a ‘gentle on the gut’ restoration of your iron reserves over time – in addition to a delicious meal.

Keep it in mind. I’ll bet you know someone who is diagnosed anemic. Lucky Iron Fish – maybe this year’s different kind of birthday gift?

Gardening Naked?

Filed in Gardening, hydroponics, Organic vegetables | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/06/2016


Gardening in Florida - brendawatson.com

Gardening naked. I have to be honest, it never occurred to me. Just the idea of bug bites where you normally would never get them defeats my enthusiasm.  I can imagine that you’d definitely want to stock up on natural insect repellent!  I guess that’s what makes life so interesting – people express such different ideas!

I was reading in our local paper that Saturday is World Naked Gardening Day – you can read more about that here. This celebration marks its 12th year – birthed in 2005 in Seattle by a philosophy teacher named Mark Storey. He taught social justice at Bellevue College and talked about civic activism with his students. Civic activism is mainly noted for the misery it causes in actions like roadblocks and strikes. He was interested in doing something that would make people smile and was curious if doing something good together could actually effect change.

After polling people on activities they enjoy, or dream of doing naked (bedroom pursuits notwithstanding), he found that swimming naked came in first. Interestingly, gardening naked came in second. World Naked Gardening Day was born!

Quoting Mark “Anything that makes the world more food-friendly or flower-pretty and helps get people comfortable with their bodies is good. We wanted to make it fun; no one cares how you do it and no one owns it. You can pot plants naked in your Manhattan kitchen or rake leaves in your back yard. Then tell people about it.”

Admit it, you’re smiling, so Mark’s project is a success! As for gardening naked, I really don’t think it’s my style, but to each his or her own.

Here at Vital Planet we are gardening in a much different way. Florida offers sandy soil and lots of insects (as mentioned previously), along with beautiful beaches and sunshine. Let’s just say we’re not known for ease in gardening. So we’ve decided to give our veggies the best opportunity they can have for nourishment using hydroponics.

With the help of our friends at Urban Oasis Farm we are expanding our garden – to farm proportions! Yesterday we were planting – beans, parsley, lettuces, cucumbers, tomatillos – the list continues (with our clothes on).

It was a beautiful spring Florida day – probably one of the last relatively cool ones we will enjoy. Starting some crops from seeds as well as others from starter plants, we hope soon to be gathering veggies from our garden for lunch and dinner on a daily basis.

Our goal is to offer an example of growing your own food in the community. In the future we may even be able to water the plants using water we filter directly from the pond behind our building! We will be able to provide fresh produce for all our employees, their families and beyond.

As our farm is located along a public bicycle path, like Mark, we too hope to make people smile as they pass by. Gentle, graceful civic activism. Naked or clothed, lets garden together!