• 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 .

  • Diet & Health
    • Diet & Health

      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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Is Your Body in Need of Spring Cleaning?

Filed in Cleansing, Cleansing & Detox, Colon, Constipation, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Environmental Toxins, The Detox Strategy, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/21/2017


There are few rites of Spring more satisfying than the annual spring clean. For most people, spring cleaning means putting away coats and warm clothes, raking the yard and dusting the house. But spring is also the perfect time for body cleansing and renewal.

Perhaps you have been dealing with chronic illness, low energy, or have noticed accelerated aging. Maybe you have been having trouble shedding unwanted pounds or you’ve experienced “brain fog”. Listen up here – it just may be the perfect time to choose a complete body detoxification program!

When you look around at the comforts of your life chances are you don’t easily recognize many of the things in your environment that harbor silent killers. Common household goods, countertops, furniture, clothing, garden hoses, bottled water – all contain hidden toxins. Even your favorite foods, ones you think are nourishing you, may in reality be poisoning you.

The good news! You can do something about it right now with help of my proven and effective body detox program. Let’s do some spring cleaning together!

When I began cleansing for my own health in the late 80’s, it was a labor intensive, time consuming, sometime unpleasant process of fasting and juicing that involved a lot of complexity. Not fun. Not easy.

My health had declined to the point where I was ready to do anything to get better (do you know the feeling?). So ultimately I buckled down and committed to those difficult programs, grasping at the hope of rediscovering health. This was after years of seeking the help of traditional medical doctors and finding no relief. I had suffered with chronic constipation, migraines and chronic fatigue, just to name a few miserable issues. Finally I began to get better and better through the studies I did and efforts I made to detoxify and cleanse my own body.

In the process, I realized that I was not the only person suffering and in need of detoxing. Over the my career I have been passionate about developing workable programs that can fit anyone’s lifestyle. Happily, today through my own experience and work with myriad clients, I have designed programs and products that are simple, easy and much more suited to the busy lifestyles we currently have.

Yes, it is true toxins do exist – and so do ways to combat them that are practical, clear and economical. I’m proud to offer you the RENEW program – a simple, easy-to-follow five week spring cleaning program that will rid toxins from your life.

RENEW. RENEW stands for:

Step 1 “R” stands for Reduce your exposure to toxins in your environment. I will be teaching you about your body’s natural detoxification processes. This will help you truly understand the ways in which you can support your body’s function.  Through 3 sequential actions,  you will see how reducing the the toxic load in your environment can be accomplished very easily.

Step 2 “E” stands for Eliminate toxins in your body that have been stored in your organs and fat deposits. This fact alone could be causing you weight gain and also many other chronic health problems. We will accomplish this process through a very specific herbal cleansing regimen that is effective, economical and easy to follow.

Step 3 “N” stands for Nourish your body with the proper nutrients. Together we can support your body in it’s continued efforts toward optimal self detoxification. As your organs function more efficiently, you will continue to replenish your cells long after you have finished the initial 5 weeks of detox. If you are having weight issues or experiencing inflammation in your body, we will help you create your own maintenance insurance plan.

Step 4 “E” stands for Energize through exercise and relaxation. These techniques are designed to further your body’s health maintenance. By strengthening the critical mind-body connection, you will be better equipped to manage the stresses in your life that may have contributed to your less-than-optimal health.

Step 5 “W” stands for Wellness is the ultimate achievement in the RENEW program. When I ask people what they would like to have in their life the number 1 answer is “I want to feel Wellness – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!”

I invite you to join me in the RENEW Spring Body Detox program. Follow me over the next five weeks as I post new articles every Sunday morning along with helpful detox tips that will make this a simple and effective program for you. You and your body will be glad you did!

See you next Sunday.

Healthy Colon Action Steps for a Happy Life!

Filed in Adults, Cancer, Colon, Diet, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Exercise, Fermentation, Heart of Perfect Health, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sleep, Stress, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/06/2017


Healthy Colon Awareness Ribbon - brendawatson.com

There are many ways to look directly at the gut connection to cancer. I believe the most important information you can receive is how to support and maintain a healthy colon.

I realize now that in these four posts honoring Colon Cancer Awareness Month I have only scratched the surface of the information I would love to share with you. Over the years, I have learned so very much interacting closely with so many people. In the 1990’s, I also practiced colon hydrotherapy in a holistic cancer clinic in conjunction with a medical doctor who cared primarily for cancer patients. It was an honor to witness the amazing health changes that occurred for people who used natural methods of healing. I was also regularly humbled by the devastating effects that chronic disease and cancer can have on the body.

Today I’m offering you tests and natural solutions that I hope will be informative and helpful to you. Whether you are personally touched by cancer or simply looking to maintain vibrant health (and that most important healthy colon), there are valuable tips for you here.

To begin, I previously mentioned that colon cancer can, in some cases, manifest silently. What I mean is that the patient reports having no symptoms. For this very important reason, please be sure to schedule a colonoscopy screening when your doctor advises.

Do you have a healthy colon? Find out about cancer screening now

Over the years I’ve seen colon hydrotherapy be a profound therapy for people. I never thought I would see the day when traditional gastroenterologists would embrace colon hydrotherapy. But the time has finally come. One of the first digestive care clinics that I founded began receiving patients from a local GI doctor for pre-colonoscopy treatment. He reported positive feedback from his patients. He also noticed beneficial results in their digestive tracts. I’m so happy that acceptance of colonoscopy by mainstream GI doctors is increasing. Today, you may find it acknowledged as an alternative to the toxic and uncomfortable pre-colonoscopy treatment. Additionally, many alternative cancer doctors are embracing colon hydrotherapy in the design of their total programs. This therapy fits perfectly with other integrative therapies that seek to restore total health to cancer patients.

Learn more about colon hydrotherapy here

There are a number of functional tests that I believe provide extremely important baseline health information. They are useful for both understanding your colon and maintaining your overall well being. I explained and listed them in detail in my recent book, Heart of Perfect Health.

In my mind, no discussion of cancer is complete without addressing nutritional choices. Revising a person’s diet and providing supportive natural supplementation in the face of a cancer diagnosis is now widely embraced. Thank goodness! So lets talk specifically about what I believe to be the basic, essential nutritional support for both maintenance and healing.

It’s important to realize that a chronic microbial imbalance or overgrowth (dysbiosis ) anywhere in the digestive tract can trigger immune imbalance. From mouth to anal canal, this imbalance can negatively impact your body’s immune system. In a healthy, balanced system, the thousands of genetically damaged cells, which can become cancer, are easily destroyed and recycled by your natural defenses. There is evidence to suggest we all have abnormal cells most of the time. It’s how your body’s immune system handles these cells that will determine if and when you develop cancer. In addition, with aging there is often a depletion of beneficial bacteria (especially bifidobacteria) with an associated decrease in natural killer cells (protector cells). This may partly explain the increased incidence of most cancers with aging.

The HOPE program (High fiber – balanced soluble/insoluble, balance of Omega-3 and 6 essential oils, pre & Probiotics, and digestive Enzymes) may do much to help prevent cancer. A supplemental HOPE program would also be wise to follow if you or a loved one are currently dealing with cancer.

The HOPE Program + Skinny Gut Diet eating plan = The Best YOU ever!

High-fiber Prebiotic soluble fibers plus good bacteria (probiotics) create short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Butyrate is the most notable SGFA with regard to colon cancer. Butyrate levels are generally accepted even by traditional medicine as an indicator for colon cancer risk. Butyrate is the fuel for the cells that line the colon. In addition, butyrate triggers the destruction of sick colonic cells (exposed to toxins and harmful microbes).  This happens especially when combined with EPA/DHA omega-3s. Without healthy levels of butyrate, the colon cells may grow uncontrolled, turning into cancerous cells.

Omega oils Both the balance (ratio) and total amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential oils have profound effects on cellular function. This balance of oils can result in either health – or cancer. There is much evidence that too much omega-6, or too high of an omega-6/omega-3 ratio can actually be a factor in promoting cancer. The current ratio in our society is believed to be anywhere from 12/1 to 20/1, but should be about 4 to 6/1! There is much scientific evidence that suggests this very high imbalance, the result of eating too much omega-6 (the oils most used in salad dressings, food additives, and cooking), is responsible for many of our modern illnesses, including cancer.

On the other hand, high normal levels of omega-3s have been shown to prevent and even be helpful in overcoming various cancers. This includes colon cancer. Omega 3s are already recognized as a companion therapy with chemotherapy treatments.

However, we must remember that everything is a question of balance, and that too much omega-3 is not recommended either. There are several labs that can measure both the omega-6, omega-3 ratios and other important fats in red blood cell (RBC) membranes. I think it is important to periodically (2 to 3 times per year) check your levels if using any more than a maintenance dose of fish oil, and especially if using high doses for any serious illness.

Cost effective lab test to measure your Omega 3/6 ratio, and more!

Probiotics Another way to look at the value of probiotics in the prevention of cancer is to look at what happens to the food we eat when it is acted on and transformed by pathogenic bacteria. Normal proteins, fats and carbohydrates in our daily diet can be converted into toxins, known as carcinogens, when acted upon by harmful bacteria as I mentioned in my last post.

The good news is that this toxic build-up can be minimized by regular consumption of prebiotics and probiotics and/or fermented foods along with an 80 to 90 percent plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is supportive of the lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and beneficial E. coli and S. thermophilus strains as well as other probiotics so necessary for a healthy colon. However diet alone may not be enough. I suggest a high potency, multistrain probiotic daily to insure your continued health.

Enzymes We discussed how enzymes maintain good health in our last post. Well, the lack of different enzymes has been strongly implicated in prevalence of various cancers. In some cases this seems to be related to a chronic shortage of pancreatic enzymes specifically. There is evidence to support that proteolytic enzymes, either from the pancreas or taken orally, are absorbed systemically. These enzymes have been found to decrease tumor production and growth through many mechanisms.

In summary, a predominantly plant-based diet plus the HOPE program, coupled with appropriate detoxification programs, good bowel elimination with colon hydrotherapy, high-quality sleep, moderate exercise and stress reduction with meditation, including psycho-emotional-spiritual reconnection, will all be helpful in both prevention and as alternative therapies for cancer recovery – and will support and maintain your healthy colon for life!

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!

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!

Yummy Chocolate Holiday Splurge!

Filed in Allergies, Gluten, Gluten Sensitivity, Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/08/2016


Chocolate Black Bean Brownies - brendawatson.com

Every year the month of December stimulates my “splurge” button – regarding different foods that is. I know I’m not alone. So I’d really like to share with you a chocolate treat I found that manages to be vegan, gluten-free and grain free. It’s even reasonable with regards to sugar content, especially depending on your ingredient choices. I’m going to provide all sorts of substitutions to get your creative juices flowing!

Let’s make some “Flourless Sea Salt Chocolate Squares”. I noticed this easy and interesting recipe first in the December issue of Canada’s Alive magazine, and decided to have some fun with it.

Ingredients

1 – 14 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 – cup coconut oil, melted (better than butter for maintaining your figure)
1 – tsp vanilla extract
2/3 – cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for garnish
1/2 – cup almond meal
1/4 – cup coconut sugar or evaporated cane sugar or a zero-calorie sweetener like Lakanto
1 – Tbsp ground chia seed
1/8 – tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/4 – cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips
1/4 – tsp flaky sea salt or larger granule sea salt, with a bit extra for garnish if desired

Added fun and color on top – candy canes – crushed. Look for canes at your local health food store made with natural cane sugar and vegetable dye. Any extra candy canes can certainly brighten your tree!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8” x 8” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal.

Pull out your food processor and puree the pinto beans until smooth. Add coconut oil and vanilla. Blend until smooth, and scrape down the sides. Add cocoa powder, almond meal, sweetener of choice, chia seed powder, and fine grain sea salt. Pulse in chocolate chips carefully. Use a thin spatula to smooth the mixture into the pan. An offset spatula may be easiest if you have one in your kitchen. If you’re adding candy canes, now’s the time to crush them and sprinkle them on top before baking.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until edges appear dry. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt while still warm if desired. Cool completely in pan, cover and chill in refrigerator until cold. Remove from the baking pan using the parchment overhang. Slice into 16 squares and garnish with a dusting of additional cocoa powder and flaky sea salt if desired. (I like to make my servings on the small side which discourages overindulgence!)

These may be stored up to a week in an airtight container.
Of course, minimizing the chocolate chips will lower the sugar content, however even preparing the recipe as it is offered, each serving contains right around 2 teaspoons of sugar. While that’s not something that we on Skinny Gut Diet want to consume daily, it’s certainly a reasonable holiday splurge!

Enjoy and happy holiday~

Hygge this Thanksgiving with Friends and Family

Filed in Adults, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/23/2016


Hygge and Relax by the Fire - brendawatson.com

This year has flown by – and shortly we will be celebrating my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving! I attempt to celebrate every opportunity for simple gratitude, and how lovely to have an entire holiday focused in that way. With great appreciation in mind, I’d like to share with you a lovely Danish word that fits in perfectly with the essence of the season – hygge. Pronounced “hoo-gah”, it can roughly be translated as “coziness”, although that one word falls very short of the happiness it embodies in the Danish culture.

A lovely book was written by Londoner Helen Russell called The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. She shares her best explanation of hygge as “a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.”

Interestingly, the origin of the word hygge is from the Norwegian word for wellness. The word is transformed from noun to verb to adjective as often as possible in Danish dialogue, reminding each other (and now us) how often pausing to enjoy and be grateful can help us to maintain health and happiness.

Beautiful examples of ways to enjoy hygge might be savoring a warm cup of soup, snuggling up by a fire, or enjoying an intimate night with friends or family.

As winter approaches across our country, many people will find themselves feeling trapped inside by inclement weather. Rather than seeing this time as an inconvenience, perhaps you’ll remember to hygge and view your time inside as an opportunity for coziness and choosing enjoyable moments.

I offer you a few examples of hygge that may thaw those potential winter blues.

Take time to make a special comfortable space inside your home where you can feel warm and cozy, perchance read a book, maybe cuddle under a favorite comforter, while you may enjoy your four-legged companion snuggled there too.

Lighting a candle can create an ambiance in a room like nothing else. In fact, the Danish are never without candles in their homes. One note – try to avoid candles made with paraffin which contain toxic chemicals. 100% vegetable based or beeswax candles with cotton wicks are easily available these days and will insure a healthful environment.

Using essential oils in a diffuser is certain to lighten your mood. Katherine Thomas, a Canadian aromatherapist and perfumer, offers this simple blend for well-being:
• 3 drops sweet orange
• 3 drops cedarwood
• 1 drop vetiver
• 1 drop ginger

I’ve been told that Danish people don’t struggle with yo-yo dieting. It’s all about their lifestyle. There is no doubt that foods create stress within our bodies that have as serious effects as the stress we encounter from intense situations in our lives. Making intelligent food choices on a daily basis is the key. I believe that as you embrace the concepts in Skinny Gut Diet, internal hygge will be yours.

A behavior I struggle with daily is my tendency to rush around. Hygge is all about lingering. I love that word – lingering. The very thought conjures up feelings of ease and luxurious relaxation. Join me this season in remembering to linger – over a mug of tea, cup of soup, even a glass of water. Perhaps linger in a garden, taking a moment to smell a flower. Hygge is most wonderfully experienced in nature.

And of course, central to Thanksgiving and hygge is gratitude. I know you’ve heard this before, and it bears repeating. Choose to wake up and think of 3 things you’re grateful for and then at night, as you lay your head on your pillow, take a moment to do the same. This simple practice will go a long way towards creating your happiest life. We can practice hygge right here, right now. I wish you endless blessings at this beautiful season.

Fall for Ugly Veggies!

Filed in Gardening, General, The Skinny Gut Diet, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/15/2016


Ugly Veggies - brendawatson.com

I’d like to think that farmers are smiling across America (and hopefully receiving a bit more profit from their labor intensive work!) A new craze I read about in the Wall Street Journal takes a second and third look at previously discarded ugly veggies!

As you walk down the produce aisle of your favorite grocer, have you ever wondered what happens to all the fruits and vegetables that are misshapen, had a blemish, or were otherwise not picture perfect? If you’ve ever had even a small garden you must realize that not all of the offerings look as though they are “ready for their close-ups”! True life just doesn’t look perfect, although produce in most grocery aisles might lead you to believe otherwise.

Steve Lutz from CMI Orchards in Washington was thrilled to get a call from Walmart! They were piloting an “ugly-apple” project and wondered if he had any contenders. His unattractive apples, blemished by hail, might previously have been sold for a loss on the juice market. Although he’ll not receive top dollar for his misfits, the produce would be purchased at a reasonable price. I’d say that call was a blessing!

I didn’t realize that farmers in Minnesota report that roughly 20% of their produce is deemed cosmetically imperfect by industry standards! That’s a huge amount of waste and loss.

Good news for the consumer – the “homely” crops will generally cost us less. And even better news is that their taste will be as good, sometimes even an improvement over their gorgeous counterparts. Once truly ripe, we’ve all experienced that although seemingly “ugly veggies” may be less visually appealing, their flavors can often be rich and wonderful.

Meet “spuglies” which are potatoes considered too big, too small or blemished, a mangled heirloom tomato with the tagline “a scarred heart can still be a beautiful one”, or perhaps a three legged carrot or plums with proboscises. Grocers are getting creative with names, hoping that the “Hip-Hip Carrot” that has extra arms wrapped around its trunk might inspire customers to give an ugly vegetable a try. You may be seeing relatives of these and other offerings at a Walmart or Whole Foods near you~

It was reported in an August Nielsen/Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults that most customers still aren’t particularly excited about buying ugly produce, even thought they said the produce “looked cool”. Eight percent said they might buy a twisted cucumber out of pity.

Pity! Some of the most delicious cucumbers I’ve ever eaten were twisted like they had macaroni in their genes. I guess I’m just blessed to have experienced gardens where I’ve learned to love the myriad differences that Nature provides.

I’m with Kathy Means of the Produce Marketing Association when she says “We don’t care if it’s a mutt or a purebred or small. It can be ugly or conventional or whole. We just need people to eat more produce.” I’m sure she’s speaking from a financial perspective, however I’m thinking of the health of Americans! Rule #2 from Skinny Gut Diet – “Eat living foods every day to balance your gut!”

I can see it now. Someone is going to come up with “Fermented Uglies” and make a fortune!

Chris Tantau, a California peach grower, says it best – “All my children are beautiful”. I couldn’t agree more~

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.