Goodbye to summer! I hope yours was enjoyable and relaxing.
Here in Florida, we’re hoping that the heat will lift soon. The kids are headed back to their classes and with the new school year comes the inevitable increase in colds and flu. Lots of excited little human beings in an enclosed space together, laughing, touching and generally sharing their bacteria with anyone in coughing or sneezing range.
How can we parents help to support our children’s immune systems and overall health while minimizing the chances of bringing home the newest variety of bacteria or virus?
Although these simple habits can be taken for granted as obvious, verbal suggestions and leading by example seem to make all the difference. We all remind each other to:
- Wash hands after using the bathroom.
- Sneeze or cough into our inner elbow, rather than into our hands
- Try not to put fingers into noses or mouths – generally avoid touching the face
- Avoid the drinking fountain at school – bring bottled water if possible – there are some great eco friendly options available
And my favorite – it’s never too soon to teach our children about the dangers of sugar, and that sugar actually increases their chances of getting sick by feeding bad bacteria that make for unhappy sneezes and coughs. So minimizing sugar, both at school and at home, is one of the healthiest things we can all do together.
Which brings me to something I’d really like to say. Over the last decade, I’ve watched our awareness slowly shift from simply treating symptoms of disease to the sound concept that maintaining our natural health is the most intelligent choice we can make – on a daily basis. Sadly, American marketing techniques are often ahead of our best intentions.
Natural health isn’t always “natural” or “healthy”. We can be tricked by products that might contain a few positive nutrients lost in other ingredients that are downright unhealthy, like sugars. Gummy vitamins are the perfect example.
Sure, our kids love them because they taste like candy. Guess what – they ARE candy! And candy isn’t the way to maintain health – period.
Moms and Dads, please read the labels on those supposed healthy vitamins. If you go to your local health food store and ask, they will show you products that are sweetened with stevia or erythritol or other healthy sweeteners. Spend wisely and really preserve your children’s wellness.
Two other valuable tips:
- After breakfast, be sure to give your children a quality multi-vitamin that contains extra vitamin D and,
- Before bed, give your kids a probiotic. Their immune systems will love you for it!
Misery and suffering can be optional. Let’s all maintain our health together.
I love grilled food. I prep it in the kitchen and hand it over to my husband Stan. He then dons his alter-ego of Fabulous Grill Master! Hopefully you have someone in your house who undergoes the same transformation. I have only to wait patiently for a marvelous meal to appear after that.
My single assistant tells me that no husband is required. She assumes the same Grill Master alter-ego herself. Grilling just seems to mean “fun” for everyone!
Two appealing aspects of kebob (also known as kebab) recipes – they’re extremely easy to prepare and most are naturally high in protein while relatively low in carbs. If there’s a place for virtually risk-free experimentation, it seems to be with kebobs. Your wild idea will most likely turn out to be a big hit!
In this particular creation, beyond the base of chicken or shrimp, one mango is shared between 8 servings, giving us the heavenly taste of that summer fruit with very little sugar per person. The avocado provides tasty and healthy really “good” fat.
I hope you like them as much as we do.
1 ¼ lb of chicken tenders, cut into chunks or large shrimp, peeled
1 mango, peeled and cubed – approx. 1 inch diameter
2 small avocados cubed into approx. ¾ inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Juice of ½ orange
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove grated
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
Alternate threading either chicken or shrimp with mango, avocado and tomatoes onto 8 skewers. Whisk together orange juice, oil, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Brush some of the liquid mixture on the completed skewers and set aside in the frig for a quick marinate. 15 minutes will do just fine.
Preheat your grill to medium-high and grease the grate. You’ll want to grill your kebobs until your chicken or shrimp are done through. Turn your skewers and baste with more of your liquid mixture at around 3 minutes. It will probably take 6 minutes or so to fully cook your chicken or shrimp, but keep a watchful eye on them in case they’re ready earlier.
Serve your kebobs garnished with basil.
Kebobs and a side salad based in bitter greens like I suggested last week in this refreshing recipe are a great pair. Makes 8 kebobs and one happy group of people!
Is it summer enough for you yet? Here in Florida it’s either hot, or raining, or hot and humid from the recent rain. In the spirit of cooling off, I’m offering a recipe treat this week.
I seem to crave light foods almost exclusively – and easy prep is a must. So salads and more salads are appealing. Adding in bitter greens makes this combination especially valuable as a gentle cleanse for your liver.
And although watermelon is not a low sugar food, how can you go an entire summer without a little taste of the fruit that seems to represent summer itself?
It’s also a great season to find beautifully colored tomatoes that can really dress up this delicious mixture. Artistic vision meets simple nutritious delight!
Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Yummy Roasted Nuts
1 cup mixture of walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkins seeds
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or coconut vinegar
1 garlic clove – pressed or minced
1 tsp raw honey
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of cubed watermelon
3 tomatoes, colors optional, cut in wedges
3 cups arugula
Place nuts on a roasting pan in the oven or toaster oven on ‘broil’ or ‘toast’ – just until you hear the pumpkin seeds pop – usually a little over 5 minutes, depending on your oven. Set them aside to cool.
For dressing, combine oil, basil, vinegar, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Place watermelon, tomatoes, arugula and dressing in a medium-sized bowl and toss together.
Garnish with roasted nuts.
Serves 2 to 3.
07/30/15 1 Comment | Posted by Brenda Watson in Adults, Cancer, Chronic Disease, Dietary Fiber, Digestive Health, Enzymes, Immune System, Omega-3 & Fish Oil, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Ulcerative Colitis
I’m writing to you today as I fly home from Baltimore. My assistant, Dr. Jemma Sinclaire and I traveled there to officially begin a clinical trial that has been in the works for a couple of years now. I hope you enjoy the story of how this project came to be.
Years ago I met Dr. Amando Sardi. He’s an extraordinary gastroenterologist and oncological surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Sardi and his team have perfected a surgical technique that has saved countless lives. When cancer is found in the gastrointestinal tract, many times a part of the intestine needs to be removed, along with other organs, like the gall bladder, spleen, and/or parts of the liver or stomach that may also be cancerous. Removal of parts of the intestine is called “bowel resection”.
Historically, after a surgery of this type, a person would then have to undergo whole body chemotherapy, a difficult and extremely taxing process to endure. It was not uncommon for the cancer to be technically gone, however the patient may have passed away from complications of the treatment.
Dr. Sardi’s unique treatment “perfuses the peritoneum” with chemotherapy. That means that after he removes the obvious cancerous growths and parts of the intestines that are involved, he fills the intestinal cavity with the cancer killing drug instead of allowing it to travel the entire body. In this way, the medicine is focused in the exact area where any remaining cancer cells may be, sparing the rest of the body from the debilitating side effects of chemo.
The total procedure is called Cytoreductive Surgery with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) and Dr. Sardi has an amazing survival rate when he performs this protocol. However, after the initial healing phase, the quality of life the patients experience is often “in the toilet”. Sadly, chronic diarrhea is often unrelenting.
The term “Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)” is used to describe those symptoms that may arise after bowel resection, diarrhea being one of the most persistent.
Initially, after a dramatic procedure of this type, there is a period of time during which a person’s body is stabilizing and adjusting, attempting to compensate for functional loss. It constantly amazes me how the human body is able to recover from that level of trauma.
Then the next phase of healing begins. Dr. Sardi’s vision, to be explored during the clinical trial, is to introduce appropriate nutritional support, through diet and supplementation along with targeted medication that will help a person to experience the highest quality of life possible. Surviving cancer surgery is one thing. Living life after cancer with a compromised intestinal tract is quite another.
This clinical trial was birthed in a conversation Dr. Sardi and I had about what might be possible for these people who had already endured so very much.
Through the Renew HOPE Foundation, Dr. Leonard Smith, Jemma and I along with Dr. Sardi’s team have designed a one-year research project that includes 10 patients who are all at least 2 years post surgery. Their cancer markers are within normal ranges. They are grateful to be alive.
We are teaching them about the HOPE Formula (High fiber, Omega-3s, Probiotics and digestive Enzymes) which I believe are the foundation of digestive health – for everyone.
Additionally we’re using aspects of the Skinny Gut Diet and are helping these people to rebalance the bacteria in their remaining bowel. It always comes back to supporting the good bacteria when you’re goal is improving digestive wellness and supporting the immune system.
I hope that soon we will be able to relate to you that the quality of life these people experience will be much improved.
I felt truly honored to meet with our first 5 patients along with Dr. Sardi and his excellent team, and I look forward to our next year together. I promise to keep you updated.
06/18/15 0 Comments | Posted by Brenda Watson in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Cats, Dementia, Depression, Dogs - Pets, Environmental Toxins, Fermentation, Heart Disease, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Longevity, Obesity, Parkinson's, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Weight Loss
Many of you who know me or have followed me for years know I’ve dedicated a great deal of my life to sharing knowledge on natural health options that you may not have known about. Things like digestive health, cardiovascular care, toxicity, weight loss and more. Well I’m at it again!
I am currently working on a new television series called Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson.
What is Natural Health Breakthroughs?
This new series is designed to bring you the latest and most innovative health care options.
Health options that you can benefit from such as Stem Cell Therapy, Integrative Cardiovascular Therapy, Fecal Transplant, and the latest Genetic Testing. I also cover topics such as Food Sensitivities, Brain Health, Gut Health, Effects of Environmental and Chemical Toxicity, even Natural Health for your pets.
These things are not secret, but they are not widely known either. And what’s not being shared are the amazing success stories all around us – people like you and me doing things far better than relying on drugs or having unnecessary procedures.
This information is something everyone should have, but I need your help to make that happen.
So far I have been able to fund and produce five episodes. These five episodes are complete and ready to go and include: Integrative Cardiovascular Care; Better Health For Your Brain; How Fermented Foods Could Change Your Life; The Gut Microbiome and How It’s Changing Health Care; Toxicity and It’s Detrimental Effects on Generations to Come.
Now I need your help to finish the next five episodes.
The next five episodes are slated to include: Stem Cell research and therapies and how to get them; how genetic testing could change your health care; food sensitivities and why they may be your hidden issue; latest research on obesity and surprising factors in your weight gain; natural health options for your pet and much more.
Now, here’s the thing! In order for any television station to air this series they need at least 10 episodes. With your help we can finish the next 5 and be able to bring this information to you and your family.
I can’t imagine the information I already have in the 5 episodes so far just sitting there not able to be viewed by the thousands of people it can help. That thought just makes my stomach turn!
In order to make the right decision about your health you have to have the information. It is a choice after all. And that’s exactly what I am trying to do – give you choices for your health.
To find out more about my new show and how you can help please visit my page on the website Indiegogo: http://igg.me/at/BrendaWatson
Here comes the summer, and with it, the opportunity to sweat! Of course, when you’re in your business clothes, you may not perceive that as a positive. Maybe if you remember that sweating is one of the most important ways that your body eliminates toxins, it will lessen your dismay at possible perspiration stains on your blouse.
I’ve been writing a lot lately about loving your liver, and suggesting that from time to time you make an effort to cleanse. So I decided to share one of my favorite blended detox drinks here today – one that includes ingredients that will help promote optimal liver function.
2 ribs of celery
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1/3 lemon or lime
1 small beet
1 whole Granny Smith apple
A handful of spinach
And/or dandelion greens and/or arugula – these liver supportive greens tend to be more bitter, so add them depending on your “bitter tolerance”
Handful of ice cubes, if desired
Place ingredients in Ninja or Vitamix and blend until smooth.
You might even consider adding some flax, chia or soluble acacia fiber to your drink that will increase your fiber intake. During a liver detox as bile flow is stimulated from the liver to the gallbladder to the gut, it’s helpful to provide extra fiber to absorb those released toxins, preventing them from being reabsorbed back to the liver.
Make loving your liver a habit. Believe me, it’s one that will pay off in the long run.
06/5/15 0 Comments | Posted by Brenda Watson in Adults, Cleansing & Detox, Diet, Digestive Health, Inflammation, Liver, Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - NAFLD, Obesity, Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet
If you happened to catch my newsletter this week, you’ll know that my mind has been on your liver (and mine).
In the grand scheme of health, your liver is one of your very dearest and most important friends, one to maintain an excellent relationship with – every bit as important as your Mom or Dad, spouse/partner or children.
Calling the liver a workhorse is putting it very mildly. In our toxic world, a properly functioning liver may be where the line is drawn between life and death – and it’s certainly critical for a vibrant quality of daily living. In my newsletter I shared with you how it functions and the many implications of dysfunction.
I thought it might be fun to offer you a favorite delicious and easy “liver support” recipe, and then describe for you what it is about the liver reinforcing ingredients that make them super heroes of good health.
Since my eating plan, Skinny Gut Diet, is an 85% plant based program, I’m always looking for yummy salad dressings to dress up the essential and foundational veggies. Here’s a favorite of mine.
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- juice + zest of 2 lemons
- ¼ avocado
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
- a little less than a teaspoon of ground pepper (added by me)
- 1 Tbsp. raw local honey — (I personally like some stevia or erythritol here)
- pinch of Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
Blend all ingredients in a blender. Add more avocado if you desire a thicker consistency.
And now to describe those ingredient super heroes:
Olive oil – cold-pressed oils (flax and hemp too) support the liver by providing a lipid (good fat) base that sucks up harmful toxins during digestion.
Lemon – contains high amounts of vitamin C, which aids your body into converting toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. By the way, drinking freshly squeezed lemon in the morning helps stimulate your liver.
Avocado – helps your body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
Garlic – activates liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains high amounts of allicin and selenium that aid in liver cleansing.
Turmeric, as mentioned in the name of the dressing, is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory nutrient. It’s actually the liver’s favorite spice and boosts liver detox by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens. In order for turmeric to be absorbed into your circulation, it’s helpful to eat it along with pepper in a roughly 8 to 1 ratio.
And of course, pour your liver-loving dressing over your favorite salad, making sure to include leafy greens like arugula, dandelion or spinach. These greens help increase the production and flow of bile, which removes waste from the organs and blood and assists the liver in detoxification.
I think it’s interesting to see specific functions of liver supportive foods. More options are listed here. Come to think of it, the list looks a lot like the shopping guide from Skinny Gut Diet! Come join us in our Facebook Group, and let’s support our livers together.
To Your Health~
Fermented foods are on my mind today. Yes, I’m glad to see that there’s an article about their health attributes written about them nearly every day. In contrast, it’s interesting to me how often I’m asked if my recent eating plan, Skinny Gut Diet, can “work” if a person doesn’t like fermented foods. Someone just the other day posed that in our Facebook support group.
When I created Skinny Gut Diet – even though the word “diet” is in the title, I envisioned this program much more as an eating plan – for life. And the reason fermented foods were included was their incredible health benefits.
Having been such a strong advocate of probiotics for so long, I’ve been fermenting in many different ways for decades. So my answer to the question was – if you are only interested in “losing” weight – eliminating processed carbs, increasing good fats, regular protein intake, essentially following the 3 rules of Skinny Gut Diet, will certainly direct you to reach your goal. By the way, Rule #2 is “eat living foods daily”. “Living foods” includes both non-starchy vegetables as well as fermented offerings, so you can understand how weight loss might result, even sans fermented goodies.
What’s important to understand in the bigger picture of creating a life of vibrant health is – omitting fermented products will negate an easy and affordable way to balance your gut with good probiotics. Those helpful microbes support stronger immunity and detox capabilities for your body.
In my newsletter recently I wrote about my granddaughters, and how varied their palate is due to the fact that they had only been offered healthy foods to eat since birth. Fermented foods like sauerkraut were among their choices, and they now love them.
It’s clearly a matter of “palate conditioning”. And if you don’t enjoy fermented foods, listen up – it’s not just about pickles and sauerkraut at all!
I know – it’s the sour taste you just don’t like. Well there are recipes that include some sweet aspects that persist even through the fermentation process. My friend Donna Schwenk offers this one – Cultured Broccoli Salad in a Jar. The grapes retain much of their sweetness, probably because the outer skins are left intact. Really yummy.
And I look at it this way. If the requirement for a sweeter taste is what’s blocking you from fermented foods, and you’re eating sweet stuff anyway in other foods, then when you prepare your fermented foods, add in a bit of sweetener. Isn’t it better to eat something sweet that contains wonderful probiotics too, than just something sweet made with other forms of carbs?
Another friend of mine has a recipe for Pickled (fermented) Beets that she makes. Everyone loves it! One day I asked her for the recipe and was somewhat dismayed to learn that she adds in a bit of sugar AFTER the fermentation process. No wonder it was so delicious. Although personally I didn’t eat the beets again quite as voraciously, it occurs to me that for those of you who have that sour aversion, this could be an option. You just need to calculate approximately that added sugar when you’re noting it in your daily food journal.
And don’t forget the option of kefir! Did you know that milk kefir contains 35-50 different strains of bacteria? Now that’s diversity.
Kefir can be added to everything from coleslaw to pudding. Here’s a great recipe we include in Skinny Gut Diet for kefir ice cream! Imagine that favorite treat – guilt-free! And remember to substitute zero-calorie sweeteners like erythritol or stevia for at least 2/3 of the regular sweetener suggested in other dessert recipes. This will lower your sugar count considerably.
Also consider kombucha. It’s now available even in grocery store chains. Kombucha offers you the gut balancing good yeast called S. boulardii. Often store-bought kombucha can be a bit too sweet, so limit this, or dilute it a bit. Your label is your guide, so be sure to check it out.
If you’re not a kitchen type, no worries. I simply can’t believe that you won’t find a recipe you will learn to love right here. The great news about fermenting is that the bacteria do the work for you. Yours is a simple assembly job. Couple that with a dash of willingness to experiment – for the good of your own gut – and I’ll bet you’ll be eating fermented foods in no time. Palate diversity is a very good thing.
Sometimes it seems like everything that I love to eat, and even the foods that I’ve learned to love to eat, are found have something ‘wrong’ with them. Do you know the feeling?
My entire career has been built on my respect for research and its value, however every so often when I read articles that are based on research studies, it takes me back to that old adage – a little knowledge/information can be a dangerous thing. It can be that studies examine very small populations, and then provide statements, that when taken out of context, may be misleading.
It’s frustrating when I read an article that shares information about some of the most wonderful foods on the planet – cruciferous vegetables – and then the message associates them primarily with the rather negative term “goitrogens”. It’s difficult enough to get people to eat veggies to begin with in this country. That’s a sad fact unto itself. Just let someone who already is struggling with greens on their plate read an article about possible issues with “goitrogenic foods” – all bets are off. No more veggies for those people! Boy are they relieved! And that’s a really sad thing.
This blog is specifically written for you if you’re learning to love broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach and other foods considered goitrogenic (bet you didn’t realize strawberries and peaches are in that family too!). This is also for the very well-intentioned nutritionally oriented person out there that is overwhelmed by so much information about what is “good” to eat. It certainly can be very confusing!
So let’s take a closer look. The definition of “goitrogen” is technically – any substance that could potentially lead to a goiter – and not always foods, by the way. A goiter is that swollen area of the neck that happens when the thyroid gland is enlarged. In many cases it appears when a person is severely iodine deficient, a condition that is actually rare these days due to accessible thyroid testing. The goitrogenic foods are called that because it’s possible for them to inhibit the body’s iodine metabolism under certain circumstances. Actually, more accurately, some of the enzymatic nutrients they contain, once converted in the body, could have an effect on iodine uptake.
Hypothyroidism is a common issue today, and here’s the confusing part. One cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. So in these cases, it would be logical to limit your intake of anything that might decrease your ability to absorb iodine, at least until you have your iodine/thyroid situation understood and under control. However, the impact that cruciferous veggies might have on your iodine is extremely minimal when you eat them in moderation (the key word!).
And hypothyroidism can commonly be the result of an autoimmune response against the thyroid like Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. In those cases, iodine deficiency isn’t even your issue. Healing your immune system will be your action plan and there are other factors to consider as well. If you suspect a thyroid issue, please consult an integrative practitioner for a well-rounded program.
If you don’t have an iodine deficiency or if you’re managing your diagnosis of hypothyroidism well, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne who wrote the book “The Paleo Approach” feels that the research doesn’t justify avoiding these vitality packed foods. Keep in mind that steaming your cruciferous veggies reduces the enzymes responsible for the goitrogenic effect by two thirds. And you might consider increasing your intake of iodine rich foods like seaweed to help balance your system.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, well-respected vegan, author and medical doctor, states that “it would be almost impossible to consume enough cruciferous to harm the thyroid”. He goes on to say that “a person would have to consume an insane amount of cruciferous to have a negative effect on thyroid function”. We’re back to that very appropriate word – for almost any situation – MODERATION.
Recognizing the nutrients available in our foods and balancing our intake goes a long way toward eliminating the “bad food” vs. “good food” concept when it comes to Mother Nature’s offerings. Instead we can strive to support our bodies by providing whole food nutrients in the best, most delicious, and beautiful combinations. Cruciferous (goitrogenic) veggies have been found to deliver substantial anti-cancerous properties, along with numerous other beneficial nutrients. Not the least of them is fiber, which is so essential in my favorite function – digestion!
There’s an old term that fits perfectly in this situation. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
It comes back to listening to our own bodies, and focusing not so much on what there is to fear, but instead on how we can create health and vitality, one mouthful at a time.