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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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      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 .

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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.

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~