Digestive Care Expert Brenda Watson

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the connection between weight loss and gut bacterial balance with Dr. Oz for an upcoming segment that will air on his show on October 23.

Inside your digestive tract live 100 trillion bacteria that play a vital role in maintaining your digestive and overall health. As it turns out, the balance of these bacteria determines whether or not you will gain weight. You see, bacteria in your gut may be the cause of your food cravings.

There are two main groups of bacteria in your gut—what I call the “Fat bacteria” and the “Be Skinny bacteria.” When your level of “Fat bacteria” increase and your “Be Skinny bacteria” go down, you are more likely to gain weight. Even if you ate the same food as your best friend, if she had more “Be Skinny bacteria” and less “Fat bacteria” than you, guess who would pack on the pounds? You!

Fortunately, you have the power to bring your gut bacteria back into balance. In my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet, I give you four simple rules that will help you balance your gut for permanent weight loss. With a 14-day start-up food guide, 75+ recipes, and plenty of tips and tools to keep you on track, The Skinny Gut Diet will help you get to the root of your inability to lose weight, and help you shed those pounds for good.

My Skinny Gut Diet will help you get a daily fiber flush that feeds the good “Be Skinny bacteria” in your gut while starving the bad “Fat bacteria.” But that’s not all—by eating at least 35 gram so fiber each day, you will eliminate 245 calories from your diet on a daily basis.

You will also learn how to eat what I call living foods—those foods that contain good bacteria (like fermented foods) and those foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut (prebiotic fibers that are found in foods like onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, and in soluble fiber supplements like acacia fiber). Living foods will help replenish your good bacteria.

If you are tired of restricting calories and following diets that leave you hungry and craving sweets and snacks, look no further. A daily fiber flush with The Skinny Gut Diet will help you address your true cause of weight loss and get you off the dieting roller coaster—for good.

Tune in to The Dr. Oz Show on Thursday to learn more about how you can balance your gut for permanent weight loss.

bacteria, Be Skinny bacteria, calories, craving, daily fiber flush, Dr. Oz, Fat bacteria, living foods, prebiotic, The Dr. Oz Show, The Skinny Gut Diet, Weight Loss

Every Friday for six weeks I am sharing with you a recipe from my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet. If you have tried it all, but you still can’t lose weight, then this book is for you. You are not entirely to blame for your extra pounds. As it turns out, the bacteria in your gut play a major role in whether or not you will lose weight—and keep it off—for good.


Lunch is an important meal that can sometimes get minimized when we are too busy to eat a good meal. Whether your tendency is to stop by the drive-thru or just get by on snacks while you’re working, please realize that you are doing a disservice to your digestion (not to mention, your appetite later!). This Chicken Lime Cobb is a hearty and tasty way to make sure you are eating enough veggies while also getting a protein boost to keep you going strong through the afternoon. This salad has only 2 teaspoons of sugar (that includes sugar that breaks down from starchy carbohydrates), as calculated using my sugar tracker calculation:

teaspoon tracker2 teaspoons of sugar
15 minutes to prepare and cook
Serves 2

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons minced jarred pickled jalapeño pepper
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

8 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
¼ red onion, chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
½ avocado, scooped out and chopped
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced in quarters
2 cups mixed salad green

  1. For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.
  2. For the salad: In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Drizzle on the dressing and serve. Garnish with egg slices.

chicken lime cobb, digestion, lunch, protein, starchy carbohydrates, sugar, veggies


Probiotics for Fatty Liver Disease

The liver is the body’s powerhouse of detoxification. The main function of the liver is to filter blood that comes directly from the intestines to the liver via the portal vein. The health of the liver, therefore, is very much dependent on the health of the gut. The intestinal lining is the main interface between the immune system and the external environment, and the health of the intestinal lining is determined by its balance of bacteria. When gut bacteria are out of balance, the intestinal lining can become damaged. As a result, a higher amount of toxins are able to pass through the lining and into the bloodstream, accessing the immune system as they travel directly to the liver for processing.

Because of the close proximity and intimate relationship between the gut and the liver, conditions that affect the liver are being increasingly linked to gut bacterial disturbances. There are two main ways in which researchers believe that gut bacteria contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as discussed in a recent review paper published in the Journal of Functional Foods:

  1. Increased production of ethanol (alcohol) by gut bacteria2
  2. Increased absorption of bacterial toxins (such as lipopolysaccharide, or LPS)3

These toxins trigger inflammation in the liver via upregulation (increase) of immune function, which initiates the development of NAFLD. These toxins more readily flow to the liver under three main conditions, all known to be contributing risk factors of NAFLD:

  1. Leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability)
  2. Small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a form of dysbiosis in which bacteria from the colon back up into the small intestine and overgrow.
  3. Bacterial translocation, or the migration of bacteria from the gut through the intestinal lining and into the mesenteric lymph nodes, where they trigger inflammation that reaches the liver.

To reverse or prevent the harmful effects of gut bacterial disturbances on the liver, probiotic administration has been suggested. The researchers note the following possible mechanisms by which probiotics can improve NAFLD:

  1. Decreased inflammation
  2. Decreased SIBO
  3. Immune system regulation
  4. Decreased LPS production
  5. Decreased bacterial translocation

An important function of probiotics is the protection of the intestinal lining. This function explains the protective functions of these beneficial bacteria. In a human clinical trial, patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)—a condition that often follows NAFLD—received a multi-strain, high-dose probiotic and were found to have significant decreases in inflammation and improvements in levels of the liver enzyme aminotransferase.4 In another uncontrolled trial on the same probiotic formula, NAFLD and alcoholic cirrhosis patients experienced decreased inflammation and lipid peroxidation.5 In another clinical trial, the probiotics Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus supplementation resulted in improved liver aminotransferase levels in people with NAFLD.6

“Probiotics, as safe and effective compounds, have the potential to influence gut barrier functions and immune cell regulations resulting in liver health improvements,” noted the researchers.

Due to the scarcity of treatments available for NAFLD, probiotics are a promising option. More studies are needed to further pinpoint just how the probiotics exert their benefits in people with fatty liver disease.


  1. Mohammedmoradi S, Javidan A, and Kordi J, “Boom of probiotics: This time non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—A mini review.” J Functional Foods. 2014 Nov;11:30–35.
  2. Compare D, Coccoli P, Rocco A, et al., “Gut—liver axis: the impact of gut microbiota on non alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Jun;22(6):471–6.
  3. Vanni E and Bugianesi E, “The gut-liver axis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Another pathway to insulin resistance?” Hepatology. 2009 Jun;49(6):1790–2.
  4. Loquicercio C, De Simone T, Fe3derico A, et al., “Gut-liver axis: a new point of attack to treat chronic liver damage?” Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Aug;97(8):2144–6.
  5. Loquicercio C, Federico A, Tuccillo C, et al., “Beneficial effects of a probiotic VSL#3 on parameters of liver dysfunction in chronic liver diseases.” J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 Jul;39(6):540–3.
  6. Aller R, DeLuis DA, Izaola O, et al., “Effect of a probiotic on liver aminotransferases in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients: a double blind randomized clinical trial.” Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2011 Sep;15(9):1090–5.

bacterial toxins, beneficial bacteria, Fatty Liver Disease, gut, gut bacteria, immune system, inflammation, intestines, leaky gut, lipopolysaccharide, liver, NAFLD, non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Probiotics, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Since I announced the launch of my new book The Skinny Gut Diet last week, many of you have already told me you are living a Skinny Gut lifestyle and loving it. Exciting news! By eating the right foods for a balanced gut, you are one step closer to losing weight and keeping it off for good.

Since the book was released one of the questions I have been asked most often is “Why did you write The Skinny Gut Diet?” and of course I love sharing the answer. In fact, I made a video about the journey from inspiration to print.

Click on the image below to watch my video:

Why Did You Write the Skinny Gut Diet?

I have always been passionate about digestive care, and to me this book symbolizes the next step in a lifelong journey to help millions of people live healthier every day. Thank you for sharing that journey with me—and be sure to join the Skinny Gut Diet online community to interact with other Skinny Gut dieters and hear their stories.

digestive care, lifestyle, losing weight, Skinny Gut Diet

At one point or another—or, more likely, for as long as you can remember—you have avoided foods high in fats because you are heeding the advice of most dieticians and nutritionists, and the medical community at large. But you might be surprised to learn that fat is actually good for you, and the low-fat diet craze is based on faulty science.

The low-fat diet quickly became a high-carbohydrate diet as processed food manufacturers scrambled to replace fat with palatable substitutes. Sugar and starches substituted fats, and suddenly everyone was eating what they thought was a low-fat diet but was really a high-carbohydrate diet in disguise. Along with these changes in diet came unprecedented increases in heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, all conditions worsened by a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared the effects of a low-carbohydrate versus a low-fat diet on weight and cardiovascular risk factors in 148 men and women without heart disease or diabetes.

Participants lost more weight and fat mass on the low-carbohydrate diet as well as experienced a decrease in triglycerides and an increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) than those on the low-fat diet.The researchers concluded, “The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.” This is not the first study to find such an effect, but it adds to the evidence stacking up against a low-fat diet.

Participants lost more weight and fat mass on the low-carbohydrate diet as well as experienced a decrease in triglycerides and an increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) than those on the low-fat diet. This is not the first study to find such an effect, but it adds to the evidence stacking up against a low-fat diet.

Harvard scientists write about the low-fat diet as studied in the Women’s Health Initiative trials, “A growing body of evidence has been pointing to its inadequacy for weight loss of prevention of heart disease and several cancers. The final nail in the coffin comes from an eight-year trial that included almost 49,000 women.”

Interestingly, another study published around the same time analyzed 50 trials comparing low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets on weight loss and concluded that the weight loss was similar for both diets. This analysis did not examine cardiovascular risk factors, however, which tell a more accurate story about what a diet high in carbohydrates—that is, sugars and starchy foods—does to cardiovascular health.

My Skinny Gut Diet is a relatively low-carbohydrate diet, but I do emphasize one difference—it is a high-fiber diet! It includes plenty of nonstarchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits. You see, although fiber is a carbohydrate (did you realize that?), it is not absorbed by the body. Instead, it passes through the digestive tract, promoting digestive health and helping to feed the trillions of good bacteria that live in the gut. So any carbohydrate grams that are fiber are not counted when you’re on the Skinny Gut Diet. But don’t worry, my simple Teaspoon Tracker calculation makes it a cinch to figure out.

cholesterol, diabetes, fats, good bacteria, gut, heart disease, low-carbohydrate diet, low-fat diet, obesity, triglycerides

Over the next six weeks, every Friday I will share with you a recipe from my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet. If you have tried it all, but you still can’t lose weight, then this book is for you. You are not entirely to blame for your extra pounds. As it turns out, the bacteria in your gut play a major role in whether or not you will lose weight—and keep it off—for good.

Breakfast can be one of the most difficult meals for avoiding sugar and starchy carbs while also eating plenty of protein and fiber. Fortunately, eggs are a great option. (And forget the idea that eggs are bad for you—it’s a myth!) This salmon frittata has only 2 teaspoons of sugar (that includes sugar that breaks down from starchy carbohydrates), as calculated using my sugar tracker calculation:

teaspoon tracker

2 teaspoons of sugar
30 minutes to prepare and cook
Serves 2

1 tsp extra coconut oil
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
¼ cup frozen or fresh steamed corn kernels
One 4-ounce can salmon, drained
1 ripe tomato, diced
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups fresh spinach (raw)
¼ cup avocado, sliced
¼ cup of your favorite salsa
1 tablespoon fresh mint or basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. Preheat the broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the corn, salmon, tomato, and bell pepper. Gently stir to combine, and continue to cook for about 4 minutes more.
  2. Pour the eggs over the mixture. Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes more.
  3. Place the skillet in the broiler and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until the eggs are light golden brown on top. Watch carefully.
  4. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve on a bed of spinach topped with fanned avocado slices and salsa. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Top with cheese, if desired.

breakfast, carbs, eggs, salmon frittata recipe, sugar


Another Obesity Drug—Just What We Need

As if we could solve the obesity epidemic with a pill.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a prescription drug for obesity, called Contrave, made up of two drugs already on the market. The first drug, bupropion (marketed as Wellbutrin), is an antidepressant that is also used to help people quit smoking, and the second drug, naltrexone, is used to help people with alcohol and opioid drug dependence.

Contrave is for people who are obese or who are overweight and have other related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes. While the medication has been found to help obese people, as well as people with type 2 diabetes, lose weight, I wonder about the side effects of such medications. Indeed, a boxed warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts will appear on the label, as it is a warning that comes with bupropion.

Other obesity drugs exist, but they have not gained popularity, in part because they are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Experts say that another reason the drugs have not been popular is because many people do not think of obesity as a disease to be treated by medication. I have to say that I agree.

I know that weight loss is no easy feat, but I also know that relying on a pill to make it go away will work about as good as many medications do. This is only a band-aid treatment for a deeper wound. Getting to the root cause of obesity is where the real solution is. That’s why I wrote my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet.

bupropion, lose weight, naltrexone, obesity drug, overweight, The Skinny Gut Diet, type 2 diabetes, Weight Loss

I’m excited to announce that my new book The Skinny Gut Diet is now available for purchase. Are you ready to discover the secret to losing weight and keeping it off for good?


Like many people, I battled weight gain and chronic health problems for years until one day I decided enough was enough. That’s when I discovered that the solution to weight loss and vibrant health was inside me all along. I call it the gut factor, and it has to do with the trillions of bacteria in your digestive tract. You may not realize it, but when those bacteria are out of balance your whole body is affected—including your waistline.

The Skinny Gut Diet explores the little-known link between a healthy gut and permanent weight loss. It will show you how eating the right foods for a balanced gut will help you absorb fewer calories, curb cravings and store less fat—plus enjoy the side benefits of better digestion, a stronger immune system, and even a better mood!

And to make it as simple as possible, the book introduces you to an easy-to-follow eating plan designed to help you reach your goal and live the life you want in the body you want. It even includes more than 75 delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

Visit my Scribd page to read an excerpt from The Skinny Gut Diet online, or order your copy online today.

bacteria, curb cravings, gut factor, lose weight, Skinny Gut Diet, store less fat, Weight Loss

Do you sit for long periods of time throughout the day? Even if you don’t have a desk job, it’s likely that you sit at some point for at least an hour, which is enough to do damage to your arteries, according to researchers of a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“We have shown that prolonged sitting impairs endothelial function, which is an early marker of cardiovascular disease, and that breaking sitting time prevents the decline in that function,” noted Saurabh Thosar, PhD, lead author of the study.

After one hour of sitting, the researchers found that endothelial function, or the expansion of the arteries as a result of increased blood flow, was impaired by as much as 50 percent. In those participants who walked for five minutes each hour, however, artery function remained healthy, most likely due to the increased muscle activity and blood flow, says Thosar.

“Americans adults sit for approximately eight hours a day,” he said. “The impairment in endothelial function is significant after just one hour of sitting. It is interesting to see that light physical activity can help in preventing this impairment.”

Endothelial dysfunction is one of the earliest signs of heart disease. It’s the process that initiates the disease. If you sit for more than one hour each day, be sure to get up and stake a short stroll as often as you can to help mitigate the harmful effects of being sedentary. Your heart will thank you.

cardiovascular disease, endothelial function, heart, heart disease, one hour of sitting, physical activity, sitting, walk

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that involves an immune system attack of the protective sheath (myelin sheath) that covers nerves. This destruction has a damaging effect on the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The disease process varies widely per person, ranging from symptoms of weakness, tingling, numbness, blurred vision, muscle stiffness, and difficult thinking to, in some cases, loss of the ability to walk.

Scientists are not entirely sure how MS develops, but a recent study may help explain the early disease process. Published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal, researchers from Lund University in Sweden discovered that inflammation and changes in intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut syndrome) occur early in the disease.

“Our studies indicate a leaky gut and increased inflammation in the intestinal mucous membrane and related lymphoid tissue before clinical symptoms of MS are discernible,” noted Shahram Lavasani, PhD, one of the researchers. “It also appears that inflammation increases as the disease develops.”

Previously Dr. Lavasani’s team showed that probiotic bacteria were protective against MS, which is what prompted them to take a closer look at the function of the intestinal lining. They found increases in inflammatory immune cells common in people with inflammatory bowel disease, another autoimmune condition.

“In most cases, we don’t know what triggers autoimmune diseases, but we know that pathogenic cells frequent and disrupt the intestines,” stated Lavasani. “A leaky gut enables harmful bacteria and toxic substances in the body to enter the intestine, which creases even more inflammation. Our findings provide support for the idea that a damaged intestinal barrier can prevent the body ending an autoimmune reaction in the normal manner, leading to a chronic disease such as MS.”

Exactly! This process, which begins with gut bacteria imbalance that triggers inflammation and leads to leaky gut, opening the doorway for inflammation to enter systemic circulation and reach any area of the body, is a central theme of the gut connection, a topic that I have been educating about for years. It’s why I strongly stress the importance of beginning any health journey by optimizing digestive health. It all begins with gut balance and healing the intestinal lining. This study is a great example of a process that occurs in countless chronic diseases.

As I always say, balance your gut, heal your body.

autoimmune, Digestive Health, immune system, inflammation, intestinal lining, intestinal permeability, leaky gut, multiple sclerosis

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