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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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      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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Shed Pounds Slowly? Gut Bugs May Be Missing Link

Filed in Adults, Diet, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/08/2017


Shed Pounds - brendawatson.com

Attempting to shed pounds but feeling a bit discouraged? I read some fascinating research that I hope will motivate you. Please give the healthy choices you’re making a bit more time!

The study itself was published last week in the journal Cell Host & Microbe and was conducted by a team led by Jeffrey Gordon, Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University. I’ve been following Gordon’s lab for some time. In fact, I shared their previous research in my book, Skinny Gut Diet. If you have a copy you know that Gordon suggested that a person’s potential for obesity can partially be predicted. He measures the ratio of Bacteriodetes (I called those the Be Skinny bacteria) to Firmicutes (Fat bacteria) in their gut. Gordon’s initial research was done with mice. We decided to run our own lay research study with our human Skinny Gut group (you can meet them all in the book) and we found Gordon’s observations to hold true. Fascinating.

Understand what microbes are in your gut!

Gordon’s more recent lab results suggest that despite your best efforts, your gut may not be on your side with regards to losing those extra pounds quickly! If you’re hosting an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, your microbiome (the community of microbes in your gut) may actually require extra time to reset back to health if you are making a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD), high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats to more healthy, calorie restricted, plant-based fare.

Initially in the study, fecal samples from humans following the SAD diet were compared to those following a healthy diet. I’ve blogged often on bacterial diversity, and how increased diversity of bacteria in the gut is often an indicator of vibrant health. Once again this has been found to be the case. The people on the SAD diet demonstrated a much less diverse microbiome than those on the healthy diet, suggesting generally that the SAD group would also be more prone to immune issues, digestive issues and silent inflammation.

Read more about bacterial diversity

Next the researchers implanted germ-free mice with the two sets of human donor’s gut microbes. Once implanted, both groups of mice were then fed the same healthy plant based diet.

Listen up here – this is the very interesting part. Although all of the mice responded overall to the diets, the group implanted with the SAD diet microbes responded more slowly than the mice that had only received more healthy microbes. Apparently there seems to be a transitional time needed for the mice with the SAD guts to shed pounds and regain health as efficiently as the more healthy ones.

A fascinating additional quirk in this study was when the SAD mice were placed into the same cages with the healthy mice, their gut health improved more quickly than the SAD mice who were living only with other SAD mice. How wild is that? Communal living anyone?

The practical goal of this research was to gather information that would pinpoint specific bacterial strains. Gordon’s team was seeking microbes that might be used to diversify and balance the gut. Normalized weight and increased health are most certainly the desired outcomes. No doubt, this research will continue well into the future. Hopefully one day research like this will result in a specific probiotic formula designed to combat obesity. But that’s still in the future.

Probiotics help you shed pounds.

So lets get back to you! If you recently switched from a SAD diet to more healthy choices and your weight loss isn’t diminishing as quickly as you might hope – hang in there. Good news – prior research shows clearly that your good microbe populations actually shift quickly. It just may take some time until you notice those changes in your skinny jeans.

Check out 4 excellent things you can do to fuel your weight loss

Shed pounds TODAY!

4 Ways to Fuel Weight Loss

Filed in Adults, Constipation, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Fermentation, Inflammation, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 02/02/2017


Fuel Weight Loss - brendawatson.com

As we say goodbye to the month of January, and begin to notice Valentine’s Day candy donning the grocery store shelves, I hope that your New Year’s resolutions to shift your dietary choices have not waned! No Peeps for you! With that thought in mind, I wanted to share 4 things that will most definitely fuel your weight loss. Let’s say goodbye to that plateau! Don’t give up! Remember, it takes three weeks to establish a new habit and we are barely beyond that in 2017~

It’s time to give yourself a break, especially if you made a dramatic switch from a so-called “Western diet” last month, one that was high in saturated fats and sugars, to a more healthy, calorie restricted, plant based diet. Am I talking to you? There is a good reason that your weight loss may have stalled. It’s all about your microbiome, the microbes in your gut.

You need to know that in many cases it takes time for your good gut bacteria populations to multiply and restore. Increasing your probiotic (good guy) population is at the core of successful and lasting weight loss. Do not despair – there are excellent things you can do help rebalance your gut TODAY, and continue to melt those pounds away!

 

1. Include a daily probiotic supplement.

That choice will directly encourage positive changes in those communities of good bacteria in your gut. When you’re considering a probiotic, look for one that offers at least 10 different types/strains of bacteria and at least 30 billion live cultures to increase your diversity. Make sure the formula includes bifidobacteria, the main bacteria in your colon.

 

2. Add fermented foods to your diet.

Fermented goodies are an excellent way to invite new and different microbes into your life. The process of fermentation provides lactobacillus strains of bacteria – necessary for proper absorption of nutrients along with intestinal repair and decreased inflammation, just to name a few important jobs those good guys do. Fermented veggies are delicious as condiments or even side dishes daily. Kefir provides you with an extensive variety of bacterial strains. Kombucha is rich in both healthy yeasts and bacteria. Let these foods be your friends!

 

3. Increase fiber in your diet.

Soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding those good microbes in your gut. Prebiotic foods like raw dandelion greens, garlic, leaks, jicama, and raw or cooked onions are delicious to include in your daily meals. Acacia fiber is an excellent fiber supplement that is tasteless and simple to add to your foods or smoothies for an extra fiber boost. Insoluble fiber found in vegetables, oats, beans and legumes provides bulk for your stool, which leads to me to #4.

 

4. Avoid constipation!

Many people notice initially when they make a dramatic dietary shift, they begin to experience changes in bowel habits. That makes total sense since the bacteria and other microbes also reorganize with dietary change. During the shift, both weight loss and bowel regularity may slow. Bottom line, constipated people simply don’t lose weight easily. Their bodies are too overwhelmed with toxicity and inflammation.

Should you experience constipation, please make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. All three of my previous suggestions help to normalize your bowel and relieve constipation. However, depending on your circumstance, for a short time it may be wise to consider supplementing with a natural laxative formula. Remember, it’s imperative to avoid constipation, no matter what. Look for natural ingredients in a supplement formulation like magnesium, aloe, rhubarb and triphala.

Many people have great success adding magnesium citrate or other form of magnesium into their daily regimen. Magnesium deficiency is widespread so looking into ways to add magnesium for optimal health is always a great idea for well-being.

Learn more about magnesium here.

AND, hang in there! Be kind to yourself. Please don’t stress about immediate results. We know that stress itself decreases your ability to lose those pounds. Instead focus on your increased energy levels, perhaps a skin condition is resolving or you notice your mood has improved and/or your mind has cleared! It only gets better as your gut balances.

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!

Lutein Ups “Crystalized Intelligence”

Filed in Adults, Brain, Diet, Longevity, Mental Health, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 01/04/2017


Lutein, greens and crucifers - brendawatson.com

The time-honored phrase “eat your greens” has taken on a new twist – with a spotlight on lutein. It has to do with “crystallized intelligence” which is the brain’s ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime. I read about this last week in an article in Science Daily.

A recent study reported in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience focused on lutein, one of several plant pigments that are contained in a living diet. Lutein is found primarily in leafy green vegetables, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and also in egg yolks. Lutein has been found to accumulate in the brain (this is a good thing!) where it seems to protect the neurons.

The areas in the brain where lutein is discovered have been associated in previous research with healthy functioning of the brain as it ages. In particular, this study imaged parts of the temporal cortex through MRI and also collected blood samples to determine lutein levels. High blood lutein levels seemed to parallel the appearance of thicker gray matter in the parahippocampal cortex.

Researchers feel, and I quote “We did find that lutein is linked to crystallized intelligence through the parahippocampal cortex.’ And they go on to say “…our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging”.

As our abilities to identify and scan the brain continue to grow I know that more and more nutrients that we take for granted in healthy diets will be shown to be star players in healthy brain and body aging. Generally, this information probably seems as obvious to you as it does to me, and as we know, the more scientific evidence that is gathered, the more people sit up and pay attention. That will increase our chances for a truly healthy future.

One more little tidbit – in a study done by the University of Warwick it was actually found that eating more fruits and vegetables, up to eight portions per day, can substantially increase people’s happiness levels over time!

So there you have it. Improved cognitive function, more happy! As we love to say in Rule 2 of Skinny Gut Diet – Eat Living Foods Every Day to Balance Your Gut! In addition to balancing your gut, as an extra bonus you will balance your brain and your emotions too.

Social Media for Weight Loss

Filed in Adults, Diet, Fermentation, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Posted by Jemma Sinclaire on 12/27/2016


Social Media Support

By now we’ve traversed the majority of the most sinful food offerings this holiday season, and the residuals may still be with us on our hips. No worries. Let’s simply begin again. It’s time to make a few sincere decisions to enjoy some different foods and behaviors to usher in a healthier new year. Notice I mentioned different foods – not less. I’m not talking about deprivation here. So please let’s consider how using social media may drive success.

Are you thinking – “what?” I know – neither Facebook or Twitter taste delicious. Not a lot of calories are burned as you furiously type. And I still insist that social media can make a great impact on your health – no chewing required.

Would you agree that the trick to creating a positive outcome around any goal you set is accountability? In my experience, goals really do manifest when we write them down and – here’s the most important part – when we tell other people. We recently experienced that first hand with our Skinny Gut Diet group.

So think about it – where better than on Facebook or Twitter to announce your intentions to your friends – all at once? You will undoubtedly get lots of “likes”, a few “loves” and many words of support. These can be motivational nuggets when those treats you’ve gotten used to nibbling on over the holidays seem to be calling your name. We’ve had a Skinny Gut Facebook closed group for some time now. Stop by and check it out. You’ll notice a lot of evidence of tremendous motivation and encouragement there!

You may even find that a few of your friends continue to inquire as to how you’re progressing toward your objectives. Again, support and encouragement are vital to reaching any goal that makes a difference in your life! I think you may find others eager to join in your commitment too! Stating a goal publicly is courageous, and inspiring beyond what you might imagine!

Moving into 2017, I challenge you to get creative and design some new habits around your food choices. Fermenting veggies is totally fun and easy, and you know these efforts will ultimately be a great gift for everyone’s digestion and waistline! Here’s even a probiotic-rich dessert snack, perfect for football season, that provides those good bacteria and is amazingly delicious.

Let’s face it, deprivation rarely results in a real-life eating plan that makes a long term difference. The trick is to find a program that offers simple concepts and basic rules for success. Also recipes that provide a lot of tasty enjoyment and at the same time, contain healthy ingredients. I’m very proud of my book Skinny Gut Diet, as I have seen hundreds of people make real lifestyle changes and enjoy great success with the program.

We are so fortunate these days to have many options and ways to substitute ingredients to surprise our friends and neighbors. My favorites are grain free, gluten free, minimal sugar recipes. Recently I blogged on making brownies with pinto beans and a bit of almond flour. I’d suggest you wait to mention the pinto beans until your friends are chewing up their last bite. They’ll be clamoring for the recipe, no doubt. It’s so much fun to create guilt-free decadent desserts! Post those on social media too to spread the fun around~

Most importantly, don’t by shy – share your triumphant moments! We can all succeed together as your own determination and momentum builds. Happy healthy motivated 2017 to you!

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.

Sickeningly Sweet Sugar Cover-up

Filed in Diabetes, Diet, Digestive Health, Heart Disease, Obesity, Sugar, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 09/23/2016


Hand Refuses Sugar - brendawatson.com

When I hear Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), I think of reports I’ve read on clinical trials, animal studies, and information that impacts disease processes. Last Monday a very different type of study was released, as reported by the The New York Times. This study reveals how the sugar industry paid scientists back in the 1960s to cover up the link between sugar and heart disease while purposefully blaming fat for cardiovascular issues. No kidding!

A large number of documents have been uncovered clearly proving that the Sugar Research Foundation, (today the Sugar Association) generously funded three well-respected Harvard scientists to write a prestigious article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Studies presented by men of this caliber shaped the conversations around nutritional practices at that time, and still do today. The handpicked studies that were included focused on the negative effects of saturated fat on heart health, minimizing any potential sugar issues, simply linking sugar to tooth decay.

Back in the 60’s, scientific discoveries were revered. Food manufacturers completely embraced the idea that fat was literally the cause of cardiovascular disease. As a result they removed the fat in their products. Removing fat left them with a big problem – fat makes food taste delicious! No fat, no flavor.

The sugar manufacturers were prepared. Sugar also stimulates taste buds. The switch was made. Food manufacturers from that point c hose to add sugar rather than fat to flavor their foods. The impact that one decision had on the American public is literally obscene.

Interesting tidbit – Mark Hegsted, one of the paid-off scientists, became the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1977 he helped create the precursor to our governmental dietary guidelines. I’m sure you remember that chart. At the base of that old food pyramid was carb after carb after carb. These days we realize that carbs become sugar in our bodies, with a very similar impact to eating table sugar! Seeds of obesity and diabetes were planted.

Fast forward to 2016. Diabetes and obesity are now in full force. In retrospect we can clearly grasp the sickening of America.

Back in the 60’s, science was revered. And at that time researchers were not required to disclose their funding sources. That transparency wasn’t encouraged as regular practice until the 80’s. Who knows what other scientific research was manipulated by unscrupulous nutritional (or pharmaceutical) factions? Someone does, and they’re not talking, we can be sure.

By the way, all associates in this group, executives as well as scientists, are no longer alive.

As our future unfolds, I would like to believe that our citizens today are more discerning with regard to information that they accept. Even mainstream news regularly offers sound advice to avoid sugars, processed carbs and processed foods of any sort these days. I’m happy to notice that we’ve come a long way!

I wrote Skinny Gut Diet specifically geared to help the busiest person achieve lasting health. This easy eating plan minimizes dietary sugars while maximizing the high quality proteins and fats that diminish aggravating sugar cravings. The great bonus is that these food choices help balance blood sugar and eliminate unwanted pounds too.

I invite you to check out our Skinny Gut principles and do some of research for yourself and your family. After all, those are the results that count the most!

And please, keep in touch with me as you shift your lifestyle and support your health!

Texts – New Teenage Health Food?

Filed in Diet, Fermentation, General, Leaky Gut, Skin, Teens, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 08/19/2016


Texts are like health food for teens - brendawatson.com

Are your kids back to school yet? If not, hang in there, the time is fast approaching! And perhaps this year, you can consider sending healthy texts to make a difference in what your teen chooses to eat! Now that’s a novel idea~

My beloved granddaughter has been staying with me this summer and she’s off to college on Monday. Add to that her birthday was last Wednesday, so to celebrate Stan and I took her on a trip to the Florida Keys. To increase the fun we invited some close friends of ours that have teenage daughters too. It was a non-stop texting and photo shoot (whatever did one do before the selfie?), tons of laughs and of course a food fest!

I had to grin when I checked out the Wall Street Journal and saw this article – “Appeal to Teens Vanity to Get Them to Eat Better”. I just lived and breathed that title!

The study published online in the British Journal of Health Psychology stated that “teenagers are more likely to eat healthier foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, if they are reminded it will improve their emotional well-being, attitude and appearance”.

I’ll bet you’re not surprised that the daily reminders were delivered via text. The abstract of the actual study can be found here. In a nutshell, texting proved to be a helpful tool in stimulating teenagers, ages 14 to 19, to increase their positive nutrient consumption.

While teens who received texts about increased health benefits and decreased cancer risk did consume more fruits and veggies than a control group that didn’t receive texts, the group that showed the most improvement in their eating habits received texts that focused on optimistic attitudes and a more attractive appearance.

That makes perfect sense to me. When I was that age, prevention and disease processes were the furthest things from my mind. After all, when you’re a teenager, it’s very clear you’ll live forever, won’t you? That’s the attitude that makes jumping off bridges and rock climbing just another day in the life! How I looked and how happy I was were of paramount importance!

As I consider these findings, I realize once again that the most important reminders any teenager can receive are those he or she experiences right at home. My granddaughter will come into the kitchen when something different is being prepared, and although her adorable nose may turn up a bit, her curiosity wins out time and again. You see, for years I’ve offered whole food, sometimes unusual substitutes for processed junk food on my table. As a grandmother, my influence goes only so far, but I believe that the seeds of health awareness have been firmly planted.

I find it a bit unsettling that she is recently recognizing more and more food sensitivities. Those allergic reactions point to Leaky Gut Syndrome and damage already done to the intestinal wall. Sadly, gut dysfunctions are happening at earlier ages than ever before, even in those considered “healthy teens”. (Tip for Mom – fortify your teen’s belly with a good probiotic daily!)

My granddaughter’s path is her own, and never before was her independence asserted more than during this vacation. She’s growing up and I look forward to watching her become a fine young woman. She knows I’m always here for her.

I’m thinking perhaps I should consider creating a series of texts that will let her know that live greens and fermented foods will make her skin glow (and that’s the total truth)!

Or maybe I will sneak a copy of Skinny Gut Diet into her suitcase. She just might get bored and read it one day – especially if I tell her she will definitely be even more beautiful if she does!

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!