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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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Getting the Poop Scoop on Autism

Filed in Autism, C. difficile, Children, fecal transplant, General, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/25/2017


Autism Hope

A report in Science Daily entitled “Autism symptoms improve after fecal transplant, small study finds” caught my eye immediately.

You see, in one of the episodes of my recent PBS special, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson, I interviewed a woman who had undergone fecal transplant with great success. She had been extremely ill with recurrent C. difficile bacterial infections when this innovative treatment was suggested. She felt she regained her life through this process. Now I see it’s being used to help young people with autism!

For those of you unaware of this procedure, fecal transplantation is done by processing donor feces and screening it for disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Then the “healthy” microbes are inserted into the participant’s digestive tract to rebalance the gut, known as the microbiome.

The boys and girls diagnosed with autism, ages 7 to 16, initially were administered a two week course of antibiotics to essentially wipe out existing bacteria, with hopes to start with a “clean slate”. Then doctors then gave the participants a high-dose fecal transplant of healthy donors’ bacteria and viruses in liquid form. Over the 7-8 weeks that followed the youngsters drank smoothies blended with a lower dose powder.

Although it was a small study (18 children), the results appeared to be extremely positive. Diarrhea and stomach pains decreased markedly – up to 82%, and parents also reported that behavioral autism symptoms significantly changed for the better. The study followed the participants for 8 weeks after the implantation, and positive results appeared to continue.

Researchers were also able to use laboratory testing to compare the autistic children’s bacterial diversity with their healthy peers following treatment. The participants’ bacterial diversity had improved to the point that the test results were indistinguishable from healthy children. This is such an important finding since previous research has shown that children with autism typically have less diversity of bacteria in their guts, and are also missing some important bacteria that are regarded as markers of a healthy microbiome, as I discussed in this blog.

The relationship between mental health and gut microbes has been researched often as well. So it seems logical that attempts to restore balance to the autistic child’s gut, as so many parents have worked to do over the years with great results through diet and probiotics, would and does result in better health.

It’s exciting to see that research may offer a more direct tool in the future with the potential to improve so many lives. As larger studies are done, it is hoped that researchers will uncover the precise bacteria and viruses that impact very specific diseases. What an interesting future we have to look forward to!

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!

High Blood Pressure – in Kids?

Filed in Adults, Children, Chronic Disease, Diet, High blood pressure, Obesity, Teens, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/07/2016


Blood Pressure and the Heart - brendawatson.com

Recently I’ve been noticing different articles that focus our attention on childhood ailments that previously were only adult conditions. One article I read was citing that high blood pressure in children is on the rise. What?

High blood pressure in adults is recognized as the silent killer since many times there are no obvious symptoms. I have blogged many times on this subject, and ways to recognize and control it. I have even shared a study where probiotics reduced high blood pressure in people who supplemented regularly over 8 weeks.

In adults it’s estimated that one out of three people has hypertension but only about half of them have the situation under control. The pre-hypertension group of adults is also one out of three.

It’s tough to realize that today I’m talking about a study conducted with middle school and high school athletes. Twenty percent were found to be overweight and 24 percent were considered obese, with 15 percent actually diagnosed with high blood pressure – and these are teenagers. Too much sugar, whether from sodas, candy, bread or cakes, fast foods, poor fats, huge amounts of salt. Worse yet, I often meet kids who literally have an aversion to vegetables.

And here we are right back to dietary choices at the crux of this situation. On one hand this is fantastic news since theoretically diet can be controlled much more easily than say, genetics.

However in my recent fascinating interview with Kenneth Fine, M.D., brilliant researcher, gastroenterologist and founder of EnteroLabs.com and the non-profit Intestinal Health Institute, something that really rang true to me was said. And I quote “Change strikes fear in every human being, but dietary change strikes terror!”

You’re probably laughing at this point, but this is why these chronic health issues exist at all – for both teens AND adults! Sometimes it seems the most difficult thing in the world to do is to change your eating habits! This is the point where education and parent-child-community interaction becomes so critical.

Since this condition is widely overlooked in children for a number of reasons expressed in the article, I’m pleading with you as parents to insist that your child’s blood pressure is monitored regularly and here’s why.

Apparently a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy can develop in just a few years in young people with hypertension. That’s where the heart’s main pumping chamber enlarges. The good news is if the blood pressure irregularity is noticed and brought under control, the heart can heal completely. Unrecognized, the condition will progress and can eventually lead to heart failure.

I wanted to share a resource I found recently – Teachabletaste.com. This website was created by Mott’s Applesauce, and many of the recipes are easy, delicious and even align with many of the Skinny Gut Diet principles. Enrolling your kids in creating healthful meals will have long-range effects as they grow through their teens and beyond.

Self Serving Donations by Coke and Pepsi

Filed in Adults, Children, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, Sugar, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/26/2016


Boy drinking Coke and Pepsi - brendawatson.com

Today I am unhappy to reveal dismaying behaviors of two specific corporations – Coke and Pepsi. This particular study reported by the New York Times examines data from 2009 – 2015 – very recent events.

Just last month I blogged on a study that revealed the dark manipulation of information that had occurred by the sugar industry back in the 1960’s. These deeds played a significant part in shaping the low fat/high carb food trends that in the end resulted in our current health epidemic of diabetes and heart disease.

This new study, published earlier this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, takes a comprehensive look at donations made to health organizations by beverage giants, Pepsi and Coke. At the very same time these corporations were spending millions of dollars lobbying against public health measures designed to tax sodas or educate about the associated dangers of sodas and obesity. Goodness gracious! What’s wrong with this picture?

In a nutshell – the goal of the Coke and Pepsi donations seems to be to distract public health groups from focusing on sugar related reforms. The following organizations are cited in the study as having received large contributions from Coke and/or Pepsi, and in many cases have subsequently “lost interest in” soda reform or tax initiatives, or oddly chose to take no position:

  • Save the Children – $5 million from Pepsi and seeking more from Coke
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – $525,000 from Coke in 2012 and $350,000 in 2013
  • N.A.A.C.P. – $1 million between 2010 & 2015 from Coke
  • Hispanic Federation – $600,000 between 2012 & 2015 from Coke
  • American Diabetes Foundation – $140,000 from Coke between 2012 & 2014
  • American Heart Association – $400,00 from Coke between 2010 & 2015

A tremendous amount of money has been spent in lobbying against soda reforms. In 2009 alone, a federal soda tax was proposed to curb obesity and help fund healthcare reform. Coke, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association together spent $38 million lobbying against the measure. That proposal didn’t have a snowballs chance… Additional millions have been spent in vigorous lobbying since then.

These are a just a few of the discoveries made by the study’s authors, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University school of public health and Daniel Aaron, a student at Boston University’s medical school.

In a quote by Aaron, the study’s co-author “We wanted to look a what these companies (Coke and Pepsi) really stand for, and it looks like they are not helping public health at all – in fact they’re opposing it almost across the board, which called these sponsorships into question.” Sadly it appears that positions of “health groups” can be, and too often are, swayed by funding.

This report clearly shows that Coke and Pepsi spend a lot of money to look good, with thinly veiled ulterior motives. I doubt you’re tremendously surprised at this information. And I’m sure you’ll agree that knowledge is power. In truth, we all vote with the dollars we spend. Perhaps this information regarding how these companies conduct their business will impact the choices you make at the cash register.

Type 1 Diabetes On The Rise

Filed in Antibiotics, Autoimmune Disease, Children, Gluten Sensitivity, Immune System, Teens, Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/02/2016


Type 1 Diabetes - brendawatson.com

Parents, please listen up! I have some important research to share with you right now! It has to do with the possibility of preventing the development of type 1 diabetes in your children!

When I read the results of this recent study in Science Daily, my heart fell. In a nutshell, it informs us that repeated antibiotic exposure greatly increases the risk for type 1 diabetes.

My own nephew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at around 13 years old, along with severe gluten sensitivity. Just last week my dear friend’s daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. I can tell you that both of these young people had round after round of antibiotics as children.

The article states that the average American child currently receives 10 courses of antibiotics by age 10. Of course, when given, the doctors are very convincing and assert that the antibiotics are very necessary. That’s why it’s so important that you, the parents, are well-informed.

Type 1 diabetes is no fun, period. It used to be called juvenile diabetes and was quite rare. However as children’s exposure to antibiotics has increased in recent years, the diversity and density of good gut bacteria, responsible for strong immunity, has dramatically shifted. Along with that shift in the gut environment, the occurrence of auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes has more than doubled.

Our immune systems are designed to protect us from harm. In the case of a person with an auto-immune disease, their immune system mistakenly attacks their healthy tissues or organs. With type 1 diabetes, the misguided immune system destroys the islet cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced. Islet cells don’t grow back. Insulin is essential to control blood sugar levels. Without insulin, excess sugar builds up and will ultimately damage nerves and blood vessels. The unfortunate person with this condition will need to be closely monitored and remain on medication daily for the rest of their life. As I said, no fun.

The summary of the clinical trial I mentioned above, which was conducted by well-known researcher Dr. Martin Blaser at NYU Langone Medical Center, reads “In doses equivalent to those used regularly in human children, antibiotics changed the mix of gut microbes in young mice to dramatically increase their risk for type 1 diabetes.” I find that to be a very frightening statement.

Jessica Dunne, director of Discovery Research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, puts it this way. “This is the first study of its kind suggesting that antibiotic use can alter the microbiota and have lasting effects on immunological and metabolic development, resulting in autoimmunity.”

So I say to you, please, please consider all other options before allowing antibiotics to be administered to your beloved young son or daughter (or yourself!). During cold and flu season, antibiotics are often prescribed for common respiratory issues. In the case of a viral infection, antibiotics are absolutely ineffective as I shared in this recent blog. Here’s a short list of natural products known for their anti-viral and in most cases, also antibacterial properties. These can be found in your local health food store and may be wise to keep on hand:

  • Monolaurin
  • Biocidin
  • Colostrum
  • Bee propolis
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Oregano oil

It’s always a good idea to consult a trusted health practitioner to determine which might be the best fit for you and your family.

I’ve blogged often about antibiotics and their consequences. It’s a crusade I will not surrender, as I know that through education and awareness, all of our immune systems – both of our children and ourselves – have the best chance for a healthy tomorrow!

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?

Bacteria or Virus? Express Yourself!

Filed in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Children, Cold and Flu, Common Cold, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Respiratory issues | Posted by Brenda Watson on 03/11/2016


As this year’s flu and cold season wanes down a bit, I found it heartening to read that science is focusing on a way to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections to help limit over-prescribing of antibiotics. Over the last decades doctors have been far too willing to offer a sad and miserable patient antibiotics, resulting in killing off many of the body’s good bacteria and creating serious bacterial imbalance in their gut!

Antibiotic overuse has also created a global issue termed “antibiotic resistance” where the bad bugs appear to get stronger the more often they are exposed to antibiotics. Research shows these “superbugs” become invulnerable to our current antibiotics creating the potential for more virulent diseases – and that’s another story.

This article from the Wall Street Journal states that nearly 75% of acute respiratory illnesses are viral in nature – and there’s currently no prescribed treatment for a viral infection. Dr Ganiats, a family physician and professor at the University of Miami states “Its often hard to get a person who doesn’t need an antibiotic to accept that.” He believes testing that differentiates bacteria from virus would be very helpful.

The Duke University research is doing just that. It’s designing a blood test to determine whether a respiratory infection is viral or bacterial in nature. At this point, it’s only a research tool, and has an 8-10 hour turn-around time. The hope is to develop a 1-hour blood test that could be used in the doctor’s office. However that test is still 2-3 years away from arriving on the market.

The research focuses on how our body’s genes respond differently to bacteria or viruses. This response called gene expression will turn genes on or off depending on the type of infection present. The study follows how the genes express in the absence of infection as well. Testing genes is believed to offer more dependable results than other types of tests currently available.

In a study using a cohort of 273 that was published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine, this test was found to be 87% accurate. It was able to differentiate whether the patient had a viral or bacterial infection, or actually was ill due to something other than an infection.

Interesting point to note, sinus issues very commonly indicate an underlying yeast/Candida infection.

Honestly, at the first onset of respiratory symptoms, I would be inclined to max out on probiotics, Vitamin C, along with immune stimulating herbs and ride it out as long as possible and appropriate.

And I realize not everyone has the health convictions I do. No matter what direction your personal choice for healing may lead you, it’s always helpful to understand the underlying issues so we can address them effectively. I’m looking forward to more of this type of testing to be available for all of us.

Please do me a favor – think twice, maybe three times before you decide on an antibiotic. Your gut and also the rest of the world will appreciate your consideration.

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.

 

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!

If Not Milk, Maybe Kefir?

Filed in Adults, Children, Digestive Health, General, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 10/16/2015


You may have seen my newsletter this week where I discuss the low-fat misinformation that set so many of us on the SAD way of eating! (Standard American Diet). Contrary to the assertions of the Dietary Guidelines created in the 80’s, current research points out that full fat dairy can for many people actually be a very healthful food.

Yet for some, milk may cause allergic reactions due to the lactose (milk sugar) it contains. That group of people may have found in the past that they can tolerate dairy products when they take specific enzymes called lactase.

Another, even better way to reduce the lactose in dairy is to ferment milk, which then produces kefir. Through this process, most of the milk sugars are reduced making the milk more digestible (for everyone) and also giving kefir it’s somewhat sour taste.

The best news is that kefir can provide you an inexpensive and easy way to dramatically increase your daily dose of probiotics – those good bacteria we all know and love!

Do you like yogurt? If so, you’ll most likely enjoy kefir. I’ve been talking about the probiotic benefits of some types of yogurt for many years now. Where yogurt provides only a few different types (strains) of good bacteria, kefir has been found to offer between 30 and 50 different ones! The more strains the better it seems, whether we’re looking at estrogen balance, as protection against childhood allergies, or even regarding weight loss.

Making kefir actually predates refrigeration as a way to preserve milk longer. We now realize all the great probiotic benefits we gain from the process – benefits like healthy bowel movements, a strong immune system and more restful sleep, just to name a few.

You can find kefir at your local grocery or health food store in the refrigerated section next to milk. Be sure and choose the unsweetened variety. The process is so easy though, I would recommend making your own. Donna Schwenk, author of Cultured Food for Life, offers great how-to instructions on making kefir and other fermented goodies.

I know you’ll love the many wonderful ways to use this healthy food. I add kefir to my smoothie, I use it as a topping for berries, often as an ingredient in salad dressing, and it makes a wonderful probiotic coleslaw too!

This season invite some fermented foods into your life. You might begin with guilt-free dairy by choosing full fat organic milk (or even goat’s milk) and culture some kefir. It’s always a great day to support the good bacteria in your gut!