TAG | Probiotics
Research is near and dear to my heart. Both when I design supplement formulations as well as when I educate through books and talks, I pride myself on making sure that the information I share is as grounded in scientific study as it can be.
I was delighted to read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Carrying the Torch for Basic Research” that quotes Elizabeth Blackburn, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009 and president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The post shared that Dr. Blackburn is helping to identify which research questions are on the horizon for scientific review.
In my mind, what she’s doing is in the “most critical decisions for the future” category. Many years ago, medical research was done to learn how the world and our bodies functioned, and researchers looked for any way to improve wellbeing. Funding was scarce, and research was expensive. Colleges would receive endowments from philanthropic individuals and organizations. Competition for the money was fierce. Seeming failures, which always precede success, were expensive and depressing.
Then came the era of the pharmaceutical companies. Research monies began to flow. Although on the surface, clinical studies were funded to learn about healing one condition or another, far too soon the financial endowments became directed toward very specific outcomes, engineered to develop yet one more drug that could produce a financial fortune, and perhaps a modicum of relief to a percentage of patients. Rarely were future health repercussions considered seriously.
In the natural products industry, it’s been much more difficult to find research dollars. We have always been interested in looking at the core biological processes that become imbalanced, creating a condition of un-wellness. We are then committed to identifying natural ways to redirect those systems toward health.
Here’s the bummer. There is no money to be made from researching natural ginger, or maybe milk thistle or licorice. Not unless the substance is molecularly changed in some way so a patent can be given to a company for a “new” product. Those slight changes offer yet more foreign substances to our bodies – yet another unique “can of worms”!
Yet modern medicine demands that we in the supplement industry offer proof of the efficacy of our offerings. They are smacking their lips to get their hands on every natural substance to find a way to make it “better”. Fortunately, the National Institutes of Science have funded the Human Microbiome Project and we are now understanding so much more about those amazing probiotics that live within. Additionally, the positive effects of omega-3s have proven health benefits that are irrefutable.
Dr. Blackburn thankfully states “If you want to make a big impact, you have to go all the way through to understanding disease processes, though the impulse is to treat.” She continues to offer an example of looking at a form of diabetes to observe how the immune cells interact with the body in that condition. Her focus throughout the article seemed to be immune system directed, which I believe is where the answers are nestled. And that brings us, as always, back to the gut.
I look forward to Dr. Blackburn’s new projects highlighting neuroscience, genomics, and immunity. Her questions are process oriented, not focused on creating a new drug. This may not be the answer to our country’s twisted medical research, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
It’s heartening to know that such a brilliant thinker like Dr. Blackburn is at the prow of at least one major research facility.
For the time being let’s all continue to enjoy natural, unprocessed foods along with supportive natural supplements like probiotics and omegas. Let’s exercise our bodies with movements that bring us joy along with good circulation. We can live our research, exhibiting the health benefits that humans have enjoyed throughout the ages and around the world – and we’ll enjoy watching the clinical studies catch up with what we already know!
Reducing your risk of heart disease may have just become a bit more fun. A new study done by researchers from China explores the actual mechanism of how a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Resveratrol, found in peanuts, grapes, red wine and some berries has been touted as a health promoting substance, which supports cardiovascular health and infers anti-atherosclerotic benefits. However understanding exactly how that takes place has been murky and debated.
This study has uncovered evidence that the protective effect of resveratrol actually closely involves the gut microbiome – the extensive community of microbes that inhabit the digestive system of each of us.
Specifically, it seems resveratrol is able to inhibit gut bacteria from creating a compound called TMA. TMA is required to produce TMAO – an inflammatory compound well known to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. The concept is that the less TMA produced = less atherosclerosis in your blood vessels = better cardiovascular health!
In my book Skinny Gut Diet we actually conducted our own small research project on gut bacteria right here in sunny Florida. We observed that when people in our group increased their ratio of Bacteroidetes (we called these the “Be Skinny” bacteria) to Firmicutes (our nickname was “Fat” bacteria) by shifting their eating habits and using digestive supplementation, weight reduction was the happy result. We used comparative Comprehensive Stool Analysis testing to measure the shifting bacterial ratios over time.
In the recent study I mentioned above, the principal investigator Dr. Man-tian Mi said, and I quote “we found that resveratrol can remodel the gut microbiota including increasing the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratios, significantly inhibiting the growth of Prevotella, and increasing the abundance of Bacterioides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia in mice.”
Stay with me here, please. Essentially Dr. Mi is telling us that resveratrol helps to rebalance the ‘good guy-to-bad guy ratio’ of different bacterial species in the gut. The Chinese study was focused on the ratio of different species of bacteria as they related to cardiovascular disease specifically.
In Skinny Gut Diet, we were looking more at bacterial ratios and their impact on obesity and weight loss. Certainly obesity and heart disease sadly go hand in hand. Any food or substance that will lessen obesity is sure to improve cardiovascular health. Bottom line – substances like resveratrol, healthful diet and probiotics that positively impact your microbiome have the greatest potential to protect your health.
I never tire of reading innovative studies from around the world that deepen my understanding of how those helpful probiotics we have in our bellies function. From China to Florida, our research agrees. Heal your gut, heal your body – and in this case, your heart.
04/1/16 0 Comments | Posted by Brenda Watson in Adults, Diabetes, Diet, Digestive Health, Fermentation, Human Microbiome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Obesity, Probiotics & Gut Flora, The Skinny Gut Diet
Over the last decade, a tremendous amount of research has been directed toward examining the family of bacteria and microbes we host in our digestive system known as the microbiome. From the multi-pronged Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health to the American Gut Project, the largest crowd sourced citizen science projects to date, valuable information is being gathered daily. You can even join the American Gut Project and learn what’s in your own gut.
Recently I came across an article in Science Daily discussing how our farming practices over the last 50 years have impacted our microbiome.
The prevalent research shows that the more diverse the bacteria in your gut are, the healthier you tend to be. And the more different types of plants you eat, the higher your gut microbiome diversity, also known as microbiotic richness. We’re right back to “eat your vegetables!” aren’t we? Grandma knew what she was talking about!
Sadly, our farming practices have been working against our microbiome by decreasing the numbers of crops that are regularly produced. And then many of us simply buy for our families what is in the grocery store that looks the nicest up front. We may buy the same vegetables year after year, believing we’re eating very well.
Today I’d ask you to consider the fact that many of our chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease are directly associated with reduced microbiotic richness and therefore lack of diversity in the foods we choose to eat.
Believe me, I understand how it is. In our fast paced world we tend to grab our food as we go, and often find ourselves set in habitual patterns. We also may be following a particular dietary regimen and attempt to remain within strict guidelines. The good news is most dietary programs enthusiastically encourage eating as many veggies as you choose!
It does takes a plan and a bit of preparation time to gather good foods together in our crazy world. And it’s so worth it in the end. When you care for your microbiome, you’re supporting the very core of your health and happiness.
So today I’d like to encourage you to take a quick review of your vegetable eating habits. Think of something you haven’t eaten in a while like maybe parsley? Arugula? Red cabbage? Watercress? Sprouts? Edible flowers? Check out your local farmer’s market or maybe an oriental market for new ideas.
In Skinny Gut Diet I suggest having at least one fermented food daily. Fermented veggies of all types are extremely delicious, simple to make and come jam-packed with their own communities of gut-loving probiotics. Doesn’t get any better than that! A win for both your microbiome and your palate. Experiment!
What’s the most unusual veggie you’ve eaten lately? I’d like to hear from you!
If you’ve been feeling emotionally taxed (pun intended – yes, this is the season) and/or mentally foggy, I have a suggestion for you. Increase your intake of fermented foods containing those good bacteria, probiotics.
Recently I interviewed Dr. Emeran Mayer for my upcoming television special, Natural Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson. Dr. Mayer is professor of medicine at UCLA, a specialist in gastroenterology and is the director of the UCLA Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress. He has written several books that explore the brain-gut connection and in fact has a new book coming out in July that combines cutting-edge neuroscience with the latest discoveries on the human microbiome.
I wanted to share the results of a study that Dr. Mayer and his team conducted with 36 healthy women that may take the edge off your day. He divided the women into 3 groups that committed to drinking a specific beverage twice a day for four weeks. One group drank milk fermented with probiotics, the second drank milk without probiotics, and the third drank a non-milk product.
The women agreed to undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging of their brains before and after the four-week period. The test results of the group drinking the fermented milk positively affected the activity of brain regions that control the central processing of emotion, sensation and even task completion, compared to the other two groups. That’s certainly a direct gut-brain connection. And a calming and productive one at that!
Eating fermented foods on a daily basis is a core concept in the Skinny Gut Diet. Fermentation educator Donna Schwenk joined us during the filming of that public television special, and shared many simple recipes. Milk can easily be fermented to create kefir, a food that naturally offers a rich diversity of probiotic species. Kefir can be enjoyed as a beverage, or included as an ingredient of a wide array of other delicious treats, from ice cream to salad dressing to smoothies.
Fermented vegetables are my personal favorite. Although cabbage is certainly a versatile crowd favorite, I really enjoy culturing different veggies like asparagus, broccoli and carrots. Through the ages, fermenting has been used around the globe to extend the life of foods, and without direct awareness at the time, people’s lives were improved too. There are even some great tools that make fermenting easier than you can imagine, and great fun too!
Although some people in our germ-phobic society may be worried about the safety of fermenting, when we ferment produce whether we use salt or a starter culture, the probiotic lactobacilli predominate, crowding out potential bad guys in the process. It’s interesting to note that improperly washed raw veggies out of our gardens or from the store can actually contain harmful microbes and can potentially create more issues than their fermented counterparts.
Adding more probiotics in any form into your daily routine is a sure winner – for a healthier gut and a sharper brain!
03/11/16 0 Comments | Posted by Brenda Watson in Adults, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotics, Children, Cold and Flu, Common Cold, Digestive Health, Human Microbiome, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Respiratory issues
As this year’s flu and cold season wanes down a bit, I found it heartening to read that science is focusing on a way to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections to help limit over-prescribing of antibiotics. Over the last decades doctors have been far too willing to offer a sad and miserable patient antibiotics, resulting in killing off many of the body’s good bacteria and creating serious bacterial imbalance in their gut!
Antibiotic overuse has also created a global issue termed “antibiotic resistance” where the bad bugs appear to get stronger the more often they are exposed to antibiotics. Research shows these “superbugs” become invulnerable to our current antibiotics creating the potential for more virulent diseases – and that’s another story.
This article from the Wall Street Journal states that nearly 75% of acute respiratory illnesses are viral in nature – and there’s currently no prescribed treatment for a viral infection. Dr Ganiats, a family physician and professor at the University of Miami states “Its often hard to get a person who doesn’t need an antibiotic to accept that.” He believes testing that differentiates bacteria from virus would be very helpful.
The Duke University research is doing just that. It’s designing a blood test to determine whether a respiratory infection is viral or bacterial in nature. At this point, it’s only a research tool, and has an 8-10 hour turn-around time. The hope is to develop a 1-hour blood test that could be used in the doctor’s office. However that test is still 2-3 years away from arriving on the market.
The research focuses on how our body’s genes respond differently to bacteria or viruses. This response called gene expression will turn genes on or off depending on the type of infection present. The study follows how the genes express in the absence of infection as well. Testing genes is believed to offer more dependable results than other types of tests currently available.
In a study using a cohort of 273 that was published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine, this test was found to be 87% accurate. It was able to differentiate whether the patient had a viral or bacterial infection, or actually was ill due to something other than an infection.
Interesting point to note, sinus issues very commonly indicate an underlying yeast/Candida infection.
Honestly, at the first onset of respiratory symptoms, I would be inclined to max out on probiotics, Vitamin C, along with immune stimulating herbs and ride it out as long as possible and appropriate.
And I realize not everyone has the health convictions I do. No matter what direction your personal choice for healing may lead you, it’s always helpful to understand the underlying issues so we can address them effectively. I’m looking forward to more of this type of testing to be available for all of us.
Please do me a favor – think twice, maybe three times before you decide on an antibiotic. Your gut and also the rest of the world will appreciate your consideration.
Valentine’s Day this Sunday evokes a lot of expectations, and in most cases the desired outcome is happiness. However, happiness is really an inside job, as the Dalai Lama XIV expresses so well “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Did you know that research shows that about half your happiness is the result of a genetic set point? How do I know that? Because I spent years in therapy trying to figure out why I was not happy. As I dug into my past I realized that when I was in my mother’s womb she was in grief from the loss of her son (my brother). Sometimes there are very real reasons for your unhappiness that you really have had no control over.
But don’t despair! It’s also been found if your focus becomes happiness, you can attain your goal, no matter. It seems around 40% of ‘daily happy’ is the result of positive day-to-day behaviors and activities. So I thought it might be a perfect time to share some quick tips on “getting happy”.
One of the most powerful tools I can suggest is “choose to be happy!” Right now, simply declare “I’m going to be happy today!” When thoughts cross your mind that don’t support that declaration say to those thoughts “I’m not interested in you! Today I’m happy!” It may take a lot of repetition initially, less as time goes on, and the reward is well worth it.
Many times we think we’re earning happiness as we wait for a big event (like Valentine’s Day) or we finally get ‘THE job’, or we get to go skiing. However, that’s really only a tiny piece of the happiness available to us, and if we depend on those types of events to be happy, let-down is inevitable and intense. My second tip is to practice gratitude – for everything, even little things – on a daily basis. Often at the end of the day I’ll make a list of at least 10 things I’m grateful for that day. It’s not a bad idea to begin your day the same way.
In my experience, with regard to mood, there is no substitute for a healthy eating plan. In Skinny Gut Diet we have 3 simple rules. We could have named them “Rules for Happiness” – 1) Eat more good fats, like olive oil and avocado; 2) Eat living foods every day – greens and fermented goodies; 3) Eat protein at every meal and snack to reduce carb cravings. As these suggestions become your habits, you’ll notice how happy you feel as your blood sugar balances and inflammation decreases in your body.
I’ve always found movement to be essential to uplift my spirits. There’s simply nothing like the feel-good brain chemicals that are released whenever we decide to move our bodies and get the blood really flowing. I’m not talking marathons here – walking, biking, even housework (with the music on perhaps) can offer both brain and body wellness. And if you can find a spot in nature for your exercise, better still.
And here’s a short list of supplements that research has shown to boost mood and health – vitamin D, selenium, B vitamins, omega-3 oils, St. John’s Wort, SAMe, and my personal favorite, probiotics. I’m so grateful these natural substances are being applauded for their mood sustaining benefits.
Of course, happiness is a personal affair. Please be in touch and let me know what brings you happiness. And please enjoy Sunday, in your own unique Valentine way.
Last Monday it was reported by NPR that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) will soon be publishing yet one more reason to leave those PPIs alone! Protect your kidneys! You can now add kidneys to previous evidence of increased risk of bone fracture, infections and possibly even cardiac issues. This is another warning to all of you who regularly choose Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid to quiet your heartburn, indigestion or GERD.
I have been blogging on the potential issues associated with regularly blocking the normal production of stomach acid for many years. These serious medications, not viewed as potentially dangerous by the medical community until recently, have caused unbelievable heartache and misery for countless Americans. I’ve seen and heard about the damage they produce firsthand as I’ve spoken on digestive health and have been privileged to personally meet with so many of you over the years.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been thought to be so safe that they are now available over the counter. The only difference between a person’s prescription PPI and the ones at the drugstore is the dosage. So we can do math, can’t we? More heartburn? Just take more Nexium, omeprazole, or similar. NO!
Don’t get me wrong. These drugs can be life saving – short term. That’s the key – short term. While a person is healing from an ulcer or surgery it can be absolutely essential to decrease the amount of acid that’s created in the stomach so the tissues can heal properly. After the healing is complete, those drugs need to go – fast!
Even after a short period of time it can be challenging to wean off PPIs. The longer you depend on them, the harder it becomes. We think of addictions and what comes to mind is pain pills or heroin. Sadly, proton pump inhibitors are every bit as physically addicting, just in a different way.
Morgan Grams, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health led the research resulting in the upcoming JAMA Internal Medicine article. The study focused on evaluating the potential for PPIs to increase the chances you’ll develop chronic kidney disease. While the report wasn’t conclusive in itself, the findings were disturbing enough to cause Grams to warn all of us to only use these drugs when they are absolutely necessary.
Here’s the core issue. If you experience heartburn or indigestion of any type, there’s a reason. Your body is trying to tell you that something needs to be changed. Often it’s your diet (sorry, but that’s the truth). Actually, dietary shift can make a huge positive impact on digestive issues over 80% of the time.
It also might be that it’s time to purchase some digestive enzymes. As we age, our enzyme and acid production decreases so we can use a little help in that regard.
Commonly, after years of unhealthy eating habits, our internal bacterial balance is way out of wack. Probiotics can be your lifesaver in this case.
I implore you – before you start popping PPIs to quell that burning feeling, get a tiny bit creative. Try other digestive aids. Even bust way out of your box and consider a different eating plan! It’s not fun to suffer. I know that. However ignoring the real issue that is screaming for your attention by covering up the symptom will come back to bite you – possibly in your kidneys.
I wish only good digestion for you always!
So now the decadent celebrations are behind us and it’s time to recommit to our healthy selves. However, there may be some leftovers in the frig, and also those delicious gifts you may have received may still be close by! If the gifts were well-sealed, re-gifting may be an option. Donation is a good idea too. Okay, I’m smiling.
I was devilishly curious, and decided to search “Favorite New Year’s Foods” on the internet. Whew! I felt bloated just reading the ideas! Between the Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Peanut Butter Parfait (peanut butter, banana and bacon with waffle cookies – aptly labeled ‘Year-End Splurge’) not to mention the various New Year’s liquid libations – all I can say is WOW!
If your holiday season included any of these type of foods or drink, your digestion and overall health may be on a downslide about now. Not only that, but with so many people out and around, you’re more likely to be exposed to winter-time bugs that could land you on the couch with a cold or the flu. And it may have been, and might continue to be, difficult to pull off eight hours of sleep each night. After all, it’s time to get back to “real” life. The holidays many times take a toll, even as we love them so much.
I’d like to suggest some crucial supplements to light up your health in 2016. If you’re not already including these in your daily routine, visit your local health food or vitamin store to get the following today. Your body will thank you.
Let’s start by giving your digestive system some help breaking down those higher quality foods I’m sure you’ll be choosing now. Even good foods need the help of enzymes to release and absorb the nutrients within! Why end up with a stomachache when you can plan ahead by taking digestive enzymes with every meal and snack? Look for an enzyme formula that has: Protease for protein digestion, Lipase for fat digestion and Amylase for carbohydrate digestion. Take with or immediately after your meals to help you digest better during your days ahead.
Up to 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut. That one fact still fascinates me to this day—and I’ve been saying it for years! The 100 trillion bacteria in your digestive system play a vital role on your immune health. Eating a diet high in starchy carbohydrates and sugar—the epitome of what might have been your holiday fare—throws off the balance of bacteria in your gut. Taking a high-potency multistrain probiotic every day will help to keep your gut in balance and your immune system in check.
If you tend toward constipation, especially when your diet is less than stellar, arm yourself with an effective constipation formula. Look for a product that contains magnesium hydroxide, which acts as a stool softener that will gently, yet effectively, help to improve your bowel movements. If you are not experiencing at least one healthy bowel movement per day (and by healthy I mean well-formed and at least one and a half feet long), then you need to do something about it. A good constipation formula without harsh stimulant herbs is your best bet to get your digestion moving regularly in the first place.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, your body and mind could be suffering. Adequate sleep is essential for you to perform at your best and make those new year’s resolutions your reality. If you can’t seem to settle in without tossing and turning each night, a sleep formula may help you. Look for a formula that contains L-theanine, 5-HTP, and melatonin, three ingredients that will help you rest easy as you make ready for this New Year.
I wish you good health and happiness as we say “Hello” and “Welcome” to 2016 together!
Dogs are a huge part of my life. My husband Stan and I share our home with three King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and they are a source of constant joy, giggles, and craziness. Their sweet spirits actually inspired our new company, Vital Planet Pets.
At Vital Planet we offer the highest quality dog supplements that can be found anywhere. From exemplary probiotic formulas to condition specific nutritional/herbal/energetic formulations, our products are life changing and effective for our canine friends.
We even have a great cat probiotic! Cats don’t despair, we’re coming out with a full line for you in 2016.
Which leads me to this week’s blog topic. I have a great present for dog lovers out there! I hope you enjoy reading this article that I found in the Wall Street Journal as much as I did entitled “Why Dogs Are Some Scientists’ New Best Friends”.
Dogs actually develop a lot of the same diseases that we humans do, making them valuable subjects for research.
Hold on now, don’t freak – we’re not talking lab rat experiments here. No scalpels or cages! What’s so cool about this research is it’s being conducted using saliva samples for DNA testing and behavioral observation.
The University of Massachusettes Medical School is launching a study of canine genetics, behavior and personality. Interestingly named Darwin’s Dogs, the team is attempting to answer important questions about human conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. Somehow I wouldn’t have imagined that. Seems Dobermans are known for “canine compulsive disorder” that’s similar to OCD in humans!
When we at Vital Planet talk to people about the value of ongoing maintenance of the health of their dogs rather than waiting for nasty disease to show up, I always remind them that dogs are essentially like us. They have the same endocrine system, the same organs, a skeletal system, a nervous system. One major difference is that they have a shorter digestive tract and longer teeth, which impacts their food requirements of course. However, the similarities far outweigh the differences.
In this article I enjoyed learning that a dog’s DNA is so close to ours that they can be our best friends in even more ways than ever. For example, recent research on osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children and frequently found in dogs showed that the composition of the tumors in children compared to those in dogs was virtually indistinguishable. Collecting more specimens from dogs could result in positive progress in understanding the etiology of this heartbreaking disease process.
One of our Vital Planet products, Daily Detox, is designed to support healthy functioning of a dog’s liver. Along with probiotics, the liver is our front line defense against our poisonous environment. If you think about it, dogs are even more toxic than we are. They’re smaller and closer to the ground. They are exposed to the same pollutants in their environments as we are, at closer range in some cases. Studies have been done clearly showing their increased toxic levels. This comparison information can allow us to better understand the impact that these toxins are having on humans on a day-to-day basis.
There’s actually a company called Dognition that enrolls dog owners as “citizen scientists”. The humans are asked to have their dogs complete different games or specific tasks. Then the collected data is submitted.
I must say, I was wondering how reliable that data might be. Apparently studies have also been conducted comparing data validity between lab and this type of at-home collection. The citizen-scientist data was found “useful and reliable”. I love this!
Dr. Hare from Dognition is looking at the environmental or behavioral factors that affect both the human and their dog. He calls this concept “one health” and defines that as ‘how animal research can help human health, and vice versa’.
For far too long an animal’s position in research has been a frightful one-way street. It delights me to imagine that our awareness is expanding in these avenues to recognize our dogs much more as beings deserving of respect and appreciation – for their salivary DNA and even their behaviors!
Thanksgiving just isn’t complete at many of our tables without Pumpkin Pie. Would you agree?
That pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon scent of a baking pie, be it Grandmother’s recipe or Libby’s suggestions off the side of the pumpkin can, is standard beloved aromatherapy of the season, so it’s with a smile and a wink that I post this recipe for you today. If not for the Turkey Day table, it might be a great additional to next Sunday’s dinner!
My friend Donna Schwenk has recently launched her new book called Cultured Food for Health. On page 154 of this wonderful book she offers a “Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie”.
Okay, so ‘raw’ kind of defeats the aromatic aspect of the traditional celebration, but I’m hoping the greater value of this recipe may pique your interest, since it will provide so very many helpful probiotics for your family’s digestive tracts. I’m sitting here laughing at the image of a pie filled with multitudes of good bacteria. And it’s really the truth.
Kefir packs between 30 and 56 different types of bacteria, and research on the health of the gut shows over and over that diversity is the key – the more different types of good guys, the stronger your immune system seems to be. Let me know if you try this, and how you like it!
Donna’s Raw Kefir Pumpkin Pie
Makes 8 servings
For the Probiotic-Packed filling
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 to 4 hours in water and then drained
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup Kefir Cheese
½ cup maple syrup (or a zero calorie sweetener like erythritol/lohan)
½ cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For a raw crust (or of course, you can make your own recipe or pick up a frozen gluten free one!)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins
Pinch Celtic Sea Salt
To make the probiotic filling, combine the cashews, pumpkin, kefir cheese, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a blender or food processor on high speed. Pulse until completely smooth. This can take a few minutes.
To assemble the crust, pulse the walnuts and pecans in a food processor until they’re crumbs, then add the raisins and salt and pulse until the moisture begins to stick together.
Pour the filling into the crust, then cover it with plastic wrap.
Place the pie in the freezer until solid, about 5 hours. Before slicing and serving, let the pie sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften a little.
Donna offers a wonderful recipe in her book to make Coconut Whipped Cream to top this fabulous pie! You’ll find it on page 179 of the book when you bring one home for your very own.
As an alternative, I like to whip up some organic heavy cream and add a bit of stevia or zero calorie sweetener to taste. And let’s not forget the eternal crowd pleaser – delicious ice cream as a pie topping.
Whatever your combination, I wish you a Happy Healthy Joyful Thanksgiving filled with lots of great food and love all around! Don’t forget those probiotics! They love you too!