• 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

Glowing Skin From Your Gut

Filed in Diet, Fermentation, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Skin, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/22/2016


Biking, hiking, picnics, swimming – all these activities can place stress on your skin. While a small amount of sun helps support your vitamin D levels, too much can provide more than just a healthy glow.

While we all have sunscreen and hats, the truth of the matter is that a really healthy skin glow actually comes from inside out.

I thought I would take a few minutes to offer some easy and very effective tips on maintaining that glow we hope will last on our skin for decades.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that – essential for skin health, specifically omega-3s and omega-6s. Your body can’t produce those EFAs, so they need to be included in our daily nutritional choices. Omega-6s are easily obtained from our diets. In fact, there is more concern about too many omega-6s than too few, so lets discuss how to up those critical omega-3 levels.

Did you know that walnuts, flaxseeds, leafy green veggies are high in omega-3s. However, in order for your body to convert these foods to the form that your skin requires it takes energy, enzymes and a properly functioning digestive system. That’s why if you’re serious about making sure your omega-3 levels are up to par, you’ll probably choose high quality fish or omega-3 fish oil supplements.

Increasing antioxidants is a good idea as well, as they are depleted by not only sun exposure, but also by stress and environmental chemicals. Antioxidants block cellular destruction and slow the aging process.

Great news – your diet can easily and deliciously be rich in antioxidants! Goji berries, wild blue berries, cranberries, blackberries and dark chocolate are excellent sources, (keeping in mind your teaspoons of sugar if you’re following the Skinny Gut Diet). I’m happy to tell you that spinach and kale are also rich with antioxidants along with artichokes, cilantro and pecans.

Green tea has long been appreciated for its antioxidant properties as well. And of course, supplements can fill the gap if you’re on the go and don’t feel you’re getting enough dietary support.

Fermented foods and probiotics support digestive balance. Skin health ultimately comes back to the gut. Your skin is a reflection of your digestive system. If your intestinal system is inflamed, your skin, which is your largest organ of elimination, may be the avenue your body uses to deal with those toxins! Fermented foods and probiotics maintain digestive balance while providing additional immune support and myriad other critical functions for vibrant health.

And last but not least (for right now anyway) – your vitamin D levels could surely benefit from some supplementation too. We are almost universally as a nation vitamin D deficient. Make a point to have those levels checked, as vitamin D is critical to skin health and overall well being.

I love the water, I love the Florida sun, and I also really love my skin. I hope these tips will be helpful for you as you enjoy the rest of the summer along with me.

 

Loving Basil!

Filed in Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Diet, Dietary Fiber, High blood pressure, Inflammation, Mental Health, Recipes | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/08/2016


Wonderful Basil - brendawatson.com

One of my favorite summer friends is basil. Not the man, the herb! Between the lovely aroma, the list of health benefits, and the delicious taste addition to so many dishes, this green beauty stands tall as a winner on all fronts.

Fairly heat tolerant, we’re able to grow our own basil plants and harvest at will, even here in very hot Florida! Whether you grow your own or find yours at a local farmer’s market, I’d like to offer an interesting harvesting tip.

At some point I’ll bet you’ve placed your basil into the fridge, and fairly soon you noticed that the leaves turned an unsightly black color. To keep this herb fresh and robust, you can make the most of the its wonderful scent and also create a summer bouquet right on your kitchen counter. Trim the stems as you would roses, place them in cold water away from direct sunlight. Change the water daily and your sprigs will last around 5 days.

Varieties of basil abound! Check these out in addition to the classic Genovese:
• Thai basil has a unique flavor of anise
• Lemon basil – extra special for seafood and salads
• Holy basil – pungent flavor
• Spicy cinnamon basil – yes, delicious on desserts!
• Purple basil – especially rich in anthocyanins – the same type of strong anti-oxidants found in blueberries and red cabbage

Okay, I teased you with a list of health benefits. Here you go, 5 great facts about fabulous basil:
1. Is a great source of vitamin K. There have been studies that suggest increasing your vitamin K intake may help guard against diabetes as well as other chronic issues.
2. Contains potent flavonoid antioxidants, which may wield anti-aging properties and possibly even protect against cancer.
3. Contains oils like eugenol and linalool that have strong antibacterial properties. Keep this in mind when cooking chicken and ground meat, making them safer to enjoy.
4. Offers high levels of carotenoids, which studies have shown may actually improve mood, decreasing anxiety as well as balancing cholesterol in the blood. Wow!
5. Along with other herbs adds wonderful flavor to our foods, minimizing the desire for added salt, and indirectly helping to keep blood pressure in check.

I love this fabulous herb in blended green drinks. In this hot weather, my green drinks are the fuel that keeps me going! Not juices, mind you, blended drinks which leave the fiber in the final product! So I wanted to share one of my favorite concoctions with you right here.

To prepare approximately 2 servings. Place the following ingredients in a Ninja or Vitamix;
• 1 inch water
• 1 medium beet
• 3 or 4 basil tops
• 2 handfuls of spinach
• ½ lemon including peel
• 1 small Granny Smith apple
• Handful of ice cubes

Blend — and get ready to feel just great!

Soul Food

Filed in Diet, Gardening, General, Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 07/01/2016


Here on our farm at Vital Planet black-eyed peas abound – perfect makings for my family soul food recipes! We are grateful that they are a flourishing part of our experimental summer crop.

Hot Florida summers aren’t terribly kind to many of our crops, however. Worms found our delicious cucumbers extremely delicious as well, so we’ve removed their tired limbs to the composter. Too hot and too late in the season had our tomatillos without fruit. Yes, in the composter too.

However our black-eyed peas, some lima beans and bush beans are continuing to produce, along with dandelion, baby lettuces, some parsley and arugula, all grown through hydroponic farming. The okra plants, fancy with their gorgeous flowers, are bursting forth mightily. You can almost stand and watch those babies grow! And we’ve even decided to plant some more mature peppers to see what might materialize.

So I decided that it was time for an ole fashioned Southern soul food treat for us all! I shucked black-eyed peas until I was cross-eyed and decided to make my Mama’s Famous Black-Eyed Peas recipe along with Daddy’s Favorite Cake of Cornbread! There wasn’t an evening in my house growing up where that delicious cake wasn’t on the table – not if Mama wanted Daddy to be happy.

I know that black-eyed peas tend to be a New Year’s treat, but since they’re still in growing season, I just had to share these time-tested, beloved Southern recipes with you right here. Please let me know how you like them and remember, on our Skinny Gut Diet, this is a special treat, not regular fare!

soul food peas

My Mama’s Famous Black-eyed Peas

  • Approximately 1/2 – 3 cups dried or fresh shelled black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 4 strips of crisp bacon – crumbled/ham hock or a piece of salt pork
  • 1 small onion – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Sautee chopped onions and garlic in bacon fat.

Add in peas and enough water to just cover the mixture.

Crumble in bacon (or add ham).

Add pepper.

Bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes.

Turn down to simmer for about 40 minutes or until peas are soft.

Add more water if necessary – makes a great gravy!

My Daddy’s Favorite Cake of Cornbread

  • 2 cups – Self rising cornmeal (gluten free/no flour).
  • Follow directions on bag to make batter.
  • I substitute 2 cups of buttermilk for the egg that’s suggested on the package.
  • Few tablespoons of oil.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put about 1 tablespoon oil in an iron skillet and spread oil around the skillet, including up onto the sides. I used an oil that was a coconut and canola combo.

Pour the batter in the skillet and place on top of stove at low heat. Watch the batter closely!

When bubbles begin to form in the batter, take cornbread cake off stove and put in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Following this process will create cornbread that is crisp on the bottom as well as the top.

Once done, you’ll want to remove the entire cornbread from the skillet to cool. By the way, butter is delicious on top when warm!

soul food cornbread

Now it’s time to enjoy, and enjoy, and enjoy!

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone has a pleasant and relaxing long weekend!