Woman's hands using laptop

Recent Studies and Links

As a Functional Gut Health and Hormone Specialist, I'm always learning. There are new studies being released almost daily, and what we know is constantly changing. So a huge part of my job is keeping abreast of the latest developments in functional medicine.

I decided to put together this blog post with some of the most interesting research available to us. "The more you know", and all that!

 

July 2022

Interesting new data on generational trauma  → Adverse experiences can change future generations through epigenetic pathways.

May 2022

Is Bone Health at Risk for Adolescents on Birth Control? A new review suggests that benefits continue to outweigh risks when it comes to preventing teen pregnancies

Hormonal Contraception and Bone Health in Adolescents

March 2022:

30 Years of Research Shows Sauna Bathing is Game-Changer for Longevity and Heart Disease. I recommend HigherDose Sauna to supercharge your self-care and boost holistic recovery.

February 2022:

Evidence suggests that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are hyper-responsive to environmental, physical and visceral stimuli. IBS patients also frequently report poor sleep quality.

66.7% of long haulers tested positive for reactivated EBV, as compared with 10% of controls. The study suggests that symptoms may be related to this reactivation, more so than the initial virus.

January 2022:

A new study published in Science Advances suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis and hemp plant, significantly reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Many women have suspected it but finally there's confirmation that Covid-19 vaccines may cause some small changes to the length of their menstrual cycles. A study funded by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) found the length of a woman's cycle was impacted by nearly one day on average after each dose of a vaccine, but it did not seem to impact the number of days of bleeding.

 

December 2021:

According to new research, hormonal IUDs do not have a purely local effect on the uterus – but, instead, affect the entire body. In other words, the contraceptive drug released by the IUD (levonorgestrel) travels to the breasts, brain, and other tissues. And importantly, levonorgestrel is NOT progesterone so acts differently in those tissues compared to progesterone. At the same time, hormonal IUDs can dramatically lighten flow and are arguably the gentlest type of hormonal birth control.

 

September 2021:

Breastfeeding and COVID-19: From Nutrition to Immunity: The accumulated body of knowledge regarding the role of breast milk in the development of the neonatal immune system and protection against infection by other respiratory viruses is discussed, with a focus on the anti-inflammatory role of the antibodies, microbes, and viruses provided to the infant in breast milk and its relevance to the case of SARS-CoV-2.

Groundbreaking FDA-Approved Study: Mushrooms and Chinese Herbs for COVID-19 - Pacific College: Top researchers at the University of California have launched a groundbreaking FDA-approved clinical trial to study natural medicine to fight COVID-19.

 

August 2021:

The Chinese herbal formula Huoxiang Zhengqi for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (CHAIRS): a study protocol for a double-blinded randomized controlled trial: This study is on a common Chinese herbal formula that has been used for hundreds of years, for nausea, symptoms of food poisoning/travelers diarrhea, and for IBS-D. This trial aims to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of HXZQ for IBS-D, which is expected to be an effective IBS-D treatment.

July 2021:

Black Seed and DHT: Animal studies show that Black Seed might have the potential to block DHT

Reishi Mushroom and Testosterone: Study found that reishi mushrooms reduced 5-alpha reductase levels, thus preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT

 

June 2021:

BPA and Crohn's Disease: Evaluating the relationship between endocrine disruptors and Crohn's Disease

 

Additional Reading:

Check out my Instagram for tips, tricks, and information about gut and hormone health.


Woman outside at sunset thinking about estrogen dominance

What Is Estrogen Dominance and Why Should a Woman Care?

Is Your Birth Control Method Making You Estrogen Dominant?

Irritable? No Sex Drive? Sugar Cravings Driving You Crazy? Birth Control Side Effects May Be to Blame

You’re cranky and feel like snapping at everyone around you. 

You’re bloated but can’t stop thinking about that slice of pie or cake you saw at the bakery. It’s screaming for your attention!

Every month, before your period your head feels like someone is pounding it with a hammer. When that time of the month rolls around, you’ve got menstrual cramps like you wouldn’t believe. 

Your libido has ghosted you. Sleep sounds more enticing than sex.

These are just some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance. That’s when your estrogen levels are high in comparison to progesterone. 

Getting rid of estrogen dominance can work wonders on your mental and physical health. Yet, treating estrogen dominance symptoms never works. You’ve got to dig down to the root cause. I’ve had a lot of success with this approach in many patients. 

In a little while I’ll share with you the story of one patient I’ll call Jennifer. By getting at the root cause of estrogen dominance, Jennifer was able to kick estrogen dominance to the curb. The result? Jennifer’s symptoms disappeared. She was happier and more relaxed, lost weight, and her libido was back in action. 

I’ll tell you Jennifer’s story in a little while. But first, let’s talk about what is estrogen dominance. That way you’ll know why Jennifer’s treatment worked so well. And why you might have the same stellar results.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Estrogen isn’t always the villain. In fact, women need estrogen for many different areas of health including happy moods, heart health, and fertility. 

It’s only when estrogen levels become too high in relation to progesterone that hormonal balance gets thrown off. This is what’s known as estrogen dominance.

Estrogen dominance symptoms include:

  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness or lumps (aka fibrocystic breasts)
  • Breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancer
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Endometriosis
  • Fatigue 
  • Fibroids
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Holding on to body fat, especially in hips, thighs, belly, and butt. 
  • Infertility or subfertility
  • Intense sugar cravings
  • Low libido
  • Mood changes: intense irritability, anxiety, devastating depression
  • Stress
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain

Estrogen dominance can be especially nasty if you’re in perimenopause, the time before entering full menopause. If you’re one of the unlucky ones to be going through both at the same time you might have bad mood swings, horrible PMS, weight gain, and depression. And your libido tanks. Not fun!

What Causes Estrogen To Get Out of Whack?

Remember, our number one goal is to reach a healthy balance of both estrogen and progesterone. In a healthy woman, estrogen and progesterone are balanced and work together in harmony. Progesterone is critical because it counteracts the bad effects of too much estrogen. 

There are a number of reasons for too much estrogen or too little progesterone. But hormonal birth control is a very common culprit that most women have never heard about it. A woman might be taking the mini pill or have a hormonal IUD (aka Mirena) and she has no idea it could make her symptoms worse. 

Don’t get me wrong. Hormonal birth control has its time and place, but if you’re going to use it you should know about the risks and limitations. You should especially know it won’t fix a hormone imbalance. The problem will still be there after you start taking the pill.

Ironically, birth control is often used to treat symptoms of estrogen dominance like heavy bleeding and painful periods. However, hormonal birth control only makes the estrogen dominance worse.

How does this happen? Hormonal IUDs block ovulation. Without ovulation, you don’t get a healthy rise in progesterone each month. That’s not good. But it gets worse. Just because ovulation stops, doesn’t mean estrogen production stops. You’re still making estrogens- and you’re getting less and less progesterone.  

How does your hormonal IUD or mini-pill block ovulation, send progesterone into a nosedive, and allow estrogen to rage out of control? It’s all thanks to progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone. 

Doesn’t synthetic progestin work just like natural progesterone? Not at all. In a nutshell, progestin is kind of like progesterone’s evil twin. Progestin doesn’t act like progesterone in the body - it acts more like testosterone, and with none of the benefits of natural progesterone! That’s why it doesn’t improve your PMS, mood, or sleep symptoms. 

Progestin-based birth control spells trouble for your body’s hormonal balance. And it throws your progesterone and estrogen levels out of whack. 

In fact, the whole reason you might have had heavy periods in the first place is because you suffer from progesterone deficiency! 

A Double Whammy

What’s worse, perimenopausal women are often using hormonal IUDs. That’s because several birth control pills’ side effects including risk of stroke, heart attacks, and blood clots, go up after you turn 35. At that time, your doctor may recommend a hormonal IUD. And many women keep using this form of birth control right through the perimenopause period. 

Not only are you in perimenopause, which already makes estrogen dominance worse—but you’re also using a birth control device that can cause progesterone levels to plummet. This causes you to go deeper into estrogen dominance. And your symptoms continue to get worse. How crazy is that?

Other Causes of Too Much Estrogen

It’s bad enough that hormonal birth control like IUDs cause estrogen dominance. But if you’ve got one or more other problems going on, everything just gets worse. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill getting bigger and bigger. 

Things that worsen estrogen dominance include:

  • An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut (aka dysbiosis). Bad gut bacteria put estrogen back into circulation where it doesn’t belong. 
  • Constipation.
  • Sluggish liver detoxification, which slows the clearance of hormones from your body.  
  • Stress, which hampers your ability to make healthy progesterone levels.
  • Too much body fat.
  • Xenoestrogens accumulate in our bodies and act like estrogens. These chemicals come from plastics, fragrances, pesticides, and processed soy products, to name a few. 

Many doctors go after the symptoms of estrogen dominance rather than tackle the root cause. But symptom relief isn’t the same as hormone balance. In fact, trying to relieve symptoms by inserting a hormonal IUD only leads to more hormonal imbalance. 

Instead, I go after the underlying hormonal imbalance issues such as healing the gut, balancing hormones, relieving stress, detoxification, and nutrient deficiencies. If these aren’t addressed, your whole health will suffer. 

You remember I mentioned my patient Jennifer? Now we’ll get down to the nitty gritty on how I helped her get rid of the root cause of her estrogen dominance. At the same time we switched her over to one of the safest and best birth control methods. 

Jennifer’s Path to Hormone Balance and Better Health

Jennifer was a 34-year-old patient of mine frustrated she couldn’t lose weight. She also had digestive problems. She was constipated and only had a bowel movement every third day. She felt bloated, although this symptom improved after she stopped eating gluten, grains, and dairy. Eating too much fat at one time caused her GI symptoms to act up. 

To make matters worse, Jennifer struggled with severe anxiety, carb cravings, and low libido. 

Sound familiar?

A few years ago, her doctor installed a hormonal IUD. Her periods became light and only lasted three days. This is a common side effect of these devices. In fact, it’s the main reason doctors recommend an IUD, to lighten heavy periods. This is because the progestin in the IUD reduces the thickness of the uterine lining, which in turn leads to lighter bleeding or makes periods go away completely. 

Testing revealed Jennifer was estrogen dominant. No surprise there! Her estrogen levels were actually ideal but her progesterone levels had nearly hit rock bottom. 

She also had low bile flow. Bile is needed to lose weight and detoxify the body. Bile deficiency happens a lot in women with estrogen dominance.

In addition, lab results showed she had a parasite and the harmful bacteria in her gut were growing out of control. 

I felt bad this lovely woman was suffering. I knew we could turn things around for her.

Address Estrogen Dominance and Gut Health to Feel Happier, Sexier, and Lose Extra Pounds 

We started working on the root causes of Jennifer’s problems. First, upon my recommendation, she had the hormonal IUD removed and replaced it with a copper IUD. These aren’t as hard on hormonal health. However, the copper IUD can promote heavier periods and increased cramping, especially in the first several months for certain women. In women like Jennifer, I address heavy menstrual bleeding by using Slow Flow and Chinese herbal formulas for one to three months. I supported Jennifer’s natural ability to make progesterone using vitamin C and Vitex. 

To her surprise, she lost eight pounds! And she did it without doing anything other than just getting the hormonal IUD removed and taking those few supplements. 

At that point I started working on her imbalanced gut bacteria and her sluggish liver, the cause of her low bile flow. The low bile was also the culprit behind her inability to digest fat, which in turn led to bloating and gas, sluggish bowel movements, and low levels of essential fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K. 

We addressed the gut dysbiosis and the sluggish liver and—Viola!—her constipation and GI symptoms went away. 

Throughout the course of treatment, she also said sayonara to her anxiety, carb cravings, and low libido.

Find Serenity, Boost Your Libido, Cure Carb Cravings, and More

I know how frustrating estrogen dominance symptoms can be. My heart goes out to all women suffering from this condition. I can work with you to pinpoint what’s holding you back from optimum health and turn it around, just like I did with Jennifer. 

Your path to peace, sanity, and your best life ever begins with a free 15-minute troubleshooting call. During this chat, I’ll get to know more about what troubles you. If after the call you come on board as a patient, I’ll work with you on estrogen dominance treatments and run the right tests that can put you on the path to vibrant good health. Book your call today and you can feel younger, happier, and more energetic tomorrow. 


where's my period

Dude, Where’s My Period?

Where's my period? To some women, it sounds like a dream…

And when it happens to you, at first you might think… “Hey, that's really not so bad.”

But as a functional medicine practitioner, I can assure you:

Your period going missing IS a problem.

(Or rather, it indicates a problem!)

Today, let’s dig into why your period is so important, and why it might have gone missing (AKA amenorrhea). Plus, how worried should you really be?

 

Why Your Period Is Really, Really Important

For women of reproductive age, there’s really no other health marker as important as your menstrual cycle. 

A normal menstrual cycle is anywhere from 24-35 days long and includes 4 parts:

  1. Menstrual Phase - this is what we think of as your period, the part of your cycle when you bleed. Hormones are lower at this point. 
  2. The Follicular Phase - this occurs after your period, and is really the start of a new cycle, when the body prepares for potential pregnancy. Hormone levels rise during this part of the cycle as the body prepares an egg to be released during ovulation. 
  3. Ovulation - this is the day somewhere in the middle of your cycle when your body releases an egg in response to peaking LH (luteinizing hormone) levels. Ovulation causes progesterone levels to rise.
  4. The Luteal Phase - this is the phase after ovulation, when you either get pregnant (which must happen within a few days of ovulation), or don’t. If you don’t get pregnant, you move back to phase 1 and have your period again. 

And while talk of the menstrual cycle is very procreation-focused, your menstrual cycle actually isn’t just about getting pregnant or not.

The hormones that are driven to rise and fall by your menstrual cycle play other important roles in your health - most importantly, progesterone, which keeps bones strong and healthy and lowers the risk of certain cancers. 

Not only that, but your hormones are meant to exist in balance: each hormone is counterbalanced by another, and if you’re not moving through each phase of the cycle, you can become dominant in one hormone - most commonly estrogen, which should be balanced by adequate progesterone. Estrogen dominance can lead to symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, tender/swollen breasts, and loss of libido. 

That’s why moving through each phase of your menstrual cycle is so important, even if you’re not looking to have a baby now (or ever). 

 

If Your Period Is MIA, You Probably Aren’t Ovulating

When you ovulate, an egg is released from the follicle. That follicle becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which tells the body to build up a thick lining in the uterus. 

If you don’t become pregnant, the corpus luteum withers, and the uterine lining is shed as your period. 

What this means is that having a period - where you shed blood - is entirely dependent on ovulating. If you don’t ovulate, there won’t be a follicle to turn into the corpus luteum, so your body won’t be told to build up the uterine lining, and there won’t be anything to shed. 

What I’m getting at is that a missing period tells us you’re not ovulating. And that’s what really matters, because it is ovulation that produces estrogen-balancing, bone-protecting, cancer-risk-reducing progesterone.

Now there are a couple exceptions: some women who ovulate irregularly may have bleeding, even without ovulation. It is more likely that you won’t - but it can happen. 

Secondly, women who are on hormonal contraceptives (the birth control pill), may bleed every month, but are not ovulating (because hormonal contraceptives suppress ovulation). The “period” that you have on a hormonal contraceptive shouldn’t be thought of as a true period. Instead, it is actually a “withdrawal bleed” because the bleeding is triggered by the withdrawal from the artificial hormones during the placebo week of your birth control pill. 

 

Is Your Period Up and Gone, Or Just Flaky?

When I’m working with a patient who has missing periods, here are some of the questions I ask to help point me in the right direction toward the cause, and ultimately, the solution. 

Did you ever have normal cycles? 

If you used to have normal, predictable cycles - and then suddenly they stopped or became unpredictable, that suggests to me something has disrupted your otherwise healthy hormones. If you’ve never had a normal cycle, all’s not lost-  it just points me in a different direction. 

Has your period been gone for months (or years) straight, or is it just unpredictable?

A period that comes and goes can suggest oligoovulation - which means ovulation is unpredictable. Anovulation is the complete absence of ovulation. Again, neither one means all hope is lost: this can just help suggest what might be going on. 

Did you have any major life changes around the time your period disappeared?

This is another important detective question. The menstrual cycle is delicate - and is designed to prevent pregnancy during times of extreme stress or upheaval (since having a baby in a famine or war wasn’t really ideal for our ancestors!). It’s a good idea to try and create a timeline of when your period went missing and what was going on in your life at that time. 

 

Reasons Your Period Could Be Missing

Now that you know why it matters that your period is missing, let’s get into the good stuff: figuring out why your period is gone!

Here is a list of the most common causes of a missing period I see with my patients:

Pregnancy

Ok, this one is pretty obvious: if you’re pregnant, you won't have your period. Luckily, it’s also really easy to rule out: if there’s any chance you could be pregnant, take a pregnancy test and know for sure.

Perimenopause

On the opposite end of the spectrum from pregnancy is the possibility of perimenopause. Perimenopause is the years-long period before the onset of menopause, when your hormone levels start fluctuating and your periods can become suddenly abnormal. In perimenopause, you might have longer cycles (34+days), skip a few cycles, or have lighter or heavier periods. Other perimenopause symptoms include mood changes, hot flashes, and night sweats. Perimenopause begins for most women sometime in their 40s - if you think you’re experiencing perimenopause early,  that is something we can address. Even if you’re the “right age” for perimenopause to have begun, it is a myth that perimenopause has to be a horrible time. There is so much we can to help stabilize hormones and provide symptom relief as your body goes through this big (normal) change.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women (myself included). It is distinguished by elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) and the absence of regular ovulation. (Remember, no ovulation = no period.) PCOS is complex to both diagnose and treat - but it can be done. Click here to read my ultra in-depth blog post on all aspects of PCOS and learn more about treatments. 

It should be noted that PCOS can occur alongside another cause of a missing period, commonly hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA). 

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA)

Hypothalamic amenorrhea (amenorrhea is the technical term for a MIA period) is a hormone imbalance that prevents ovulation caused by 1) over-exercise, 2) stress, 3) undereating, or 4) some combination of all 3. If you used to have normal cycles, and suddenly lost them, HA is one to consider. Your physiology is designed to prevent ovulation (and therefore, reproduction) when stress is high or nutrition levels are low, and HA is a result of this. Some women experience HA even when at a normal weight, or doing an amount of exercise that is deemed normal by society. Developing HA is all about crossing your body’s threshold, and that level is different for all women.

There is no definitive test for HA, and it is usually diagnosed by eliminating other causes of a missing period first. If you have HA, learning to manage stress, eating more, and exercising less can all lead to the restoration of normal cycles, though the process can take time. 

HA can occur alongside PCOS, but doesn’t always. 

Premature Ovarian Failure

This condition occurs when the ovaries stop functioning normally at an early age. This can cause irregular, come-and-go periods, rather than a complete stop.The exact cause of premature ovarian failure is unknown, though its thought genetics and autoimmunity may play a role. Unfortunately, premature ovarian failure usually causes infertility, but treatment with bioidentical hormones can help manage other symptoms. 

High Prolactin

Prolactin is the hormone that causes the breasts to produce milk, and it also suppresses ovulation. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively, high levels of prolactin can keep your period at bay. But if you’re not breastfeeding, high prolactin indicates a serious issue. It can be a result of a tumor on the pituitary gland or thyroid issues. Besides a missing period, tell-tale signs to look for are a milky discharge from the breasts, vaginal dryness, and acne. 

Hormonal Contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives (AKA the birth control pill, patch, ring or hormonal IUD) work by suppressing your body’s natural production of hormones and replacing them with artificial counterparts. Most hormonal contraceptives suppress ovulation, and the only “period” you get is a withdrawal bleed during the placebo week of the pill. Some pills allow you to skip the placebo week - sometimes called continuous pills - and skip the withdrawal bleed altogether. One exception is the hormonal IUD (Mirena), which doesn’t always stop ovulation, but often still causes lighter or absent periods.

So, does this mean hormonal contraceptives are bad? It’s a little more complicated than that. Hormonal contraceptives have a time and place. However, there are other non-hormonal birth control options I prefer - check those out here. And I don’t like seeing hormonal contraceptives used as a “treatment” for hormone issues like PCOS or heavy periods, because all they can do is cover up these issues, not fix the root cause. 

Post-Pill Amenorrhea or Post-Pill PCOS

Recently stopped using hormonal contraceptives? That could be a cause of a missing period. Post-pill amenorrhea is a condition where periods remain absent after going off the pill. When you’re using hormonal contraceptives, your body’s normal hormone production is shut off. When you quit the pill, it can take time for hormone production to normalize, and a missing period can be the result. This should resolve in a couple months - if it takes longer, seek help. With my clients, focusing on diet, lifestyle, and key supplements can help speed up this process.  Post-pill PCOS is similar - when hormones come back online after using the pill, androgens (male hormones) may surge, causing a temporary state of PCOS. Jumping in right away to help normalize hormone levels can help prevent this imbalance from becoming permanent. See this post for more on PCOS.

Stress, Illness, or Travel

One of the simple explanations of a missed cycle? Periods of intense stress - whether psychological or physical, which can result in missing or delayed periods. The “stress hormone” cortisol is to blame. When you experience stress, your body produces more cortisol to help you respond to the stress. However, cortisol also interferes with communication between your brain and ovaries, where hormones are produced, preventing ovulation and therefore, your period. One missed or late cycle after a period of stress is likely NBD - as long as things normalize again quickly. But if you are chronically stressed, there are steps we can take to support your body in managing cortisol to hopefully take the burden off your menstrual cycle. 

Chronic Disease

This is one of the less common reasons I see for missing periods, but it does happen. Again, your body will shut down reproduction first thing if it senses you’re not well enough to successfully reproduce, as a protection mechanism. If you have a chronic disease that is constantly taxing your body, it makes sense that your cycle could be disrupted. Most commonly, I see this with women with undiagnosed or poorly managed Celiac disease, since Celiac prevents proper nutrient absorption and causes chronic inflammation. Treating the chronic condition (and getting it under control) can help restore normal cycles again. 

Thyroid Issues

An overactive or underactive thyroid (Hypo or hyper hypothyroidism) can also be a cause of missing or skipped periods, among other symptoms like feeling hot/cold, weight gain or loss, and hair loss. If you’re missing your period, and don’t know why, a full thyroid panel is a great place to start to rule out the possibility of thyroid issues. 

 

How Do I Know Why MY Period Is Missing?

Now that you know the most common reasons your period could be missing, the next step is to narrow it down to what the issue is for you. 

Some of these potential issues are easy enough to rule out, but for the rest, testing is the next best step. With my own clients who are struggling with amenorrhea, I use a combination of blood, saliva, and urine tests to help narrow down the root cause. (And if you are working with me, I’ll help you figure out which tests you can ask your regular doc to order and bill through insurance, too!)

Once we know the root cause, we can create a customized treatment plan to help restore ovulation and normal, healthy cycles. 

If you’re missing your period and need support finding the root cause and getting it back, book a free 15-minute consult to get started working with me. This no-obligation first call is like a coffee date where we can test the waters and see if working together might be a good fit. 

>>> Book a no-obligation free consultation <<<

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or just worried about what a missing period means for your ehealth, I’d be honored to help get your cycles back on schedule.

Brie

PS - If there's ONE thing you take from this article, let it be this: missing your period is NOT normal, and needs to be addressed! In fact, a missing period is a major red flag that something is not quite right with your health. Don’t ignore it!


Homemade water kefir jello with lemon and lime

Recipe: Nourishing Water Kefir Jello

Want a recipe that’s nourishing for your gut, skin, hair, and nails… but also really delicious and fun to eat?

(I’m talking so delicious and fun… my 2-year old daughter begs for it!)

Let me introduce you to one of my all-time favorite easy and healthy snacks: water kefir jello!

I “invented” this water kefir jello back when my daughter was just getting started eating solids. I wanted to give her something ultra-healthy, packed with nutrients, and low in sugar… but also easy to eat. 

Then I tried it myself… and got hooked!

This water kefir jello is definitely NOT just for kids… and no matter what age you are, you’ll get all the health benefits. 

 

What's In Water Kefir jello?

This recipe has just a few ingredient, but they’re all ultra nutrient-dense:

Water Kefir - This is a naturally probiotic-rich fermented drink that is similar to kombucha. You can get it in health food stores - although more and more traditional grocery stores carry it now, too. The benefits come from the naturally-occurring probiotics, which are great for maintaining a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. 

Not all water kefirs are created equally: look for one that is low in sugar, and doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or colors. My favorite brand is Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink - and for this recipe, I almost always use the Pomegranate flavor! 

Fresh Citrus Juice - Your choice of fresh citrus juice adds bright sweet-tart flavor to this recipe… and provides plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C. I usually use lemon or lime juice, but grapefruit juice is also great in this recipe. 

Monk Fruit Extract - this is a no-calorie, all-natural sweetener made from extracts of monk fruit. It’s rich in antioxidants and my favorite alternative to sugar. A little goes a long way - monk fruit extract is about 200x sweeter than table sugar. My favorite brand is Emerson’s Liquid Monk Fruit.

Grass-Fed Gelatin - Gelatin is packed with collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and is a major component of our hair, skin, nails, and joints. Supplementing with collagen not only helps your hair and nails grow faster, longer, and stronger, but it can also help repair the lining of the gut, an essential step in healing a leaky gut. Even if your gut is healthy now, collagen is one of my top foods for retaining a strong gut lining going forward. 

Some of the many benefits of consuming collagen include:

  • Healing leaky gut
  • Improving joint pain in those who exercise
  • Improving the look of cellulite (In women who are normal weight - usually one of the hardest populations to treat!)
  • Prevent the loss of bone density (Which is a huge issue for women, who deal with osteoporosis far more commonly than men)
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles 

Choosing an organic, grass-fed gelatin is important, because conventional cattle are exposed to high levels of the glyphosate in their lives, since they eat a diet primarily of glyphosate-treated corn and soy. Glyphosate builds up in the collagen-rich tissues of animals… and winds up in high levels in gelatin and collagen powders. 

The WHO has labeled glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” since 2015, and there have been numerous lawsuits attributing glyphosate exposure to the development of cancer. It’s also a known endocrine disruptor, which means it messes with normal hormone levels and function. Not good! To avoid this, choose an organic, grass-fed brand. My favorite is Vital Proteins (Make sure you choose the gelatin in the green tub!). 

 

Gelatin vs. Collagen Peptides: What’s the Difference and Does It Matter?

This recipe calls for gelatin, not collagen peptides. So what’s the difference?

Collagen peptides and gelatin are really similar - they both have basically the same amino acid profile, the same nutrients, and are both naturally flavorless. 

The big difference is that gelatin is a cooked form of collagen, and the cooking process changes the chemical structure a bit, resulting in some different qualities. 

Collagen peptides dissolve instantly in hot or cold liquids. They don’t have any gelling properties: they won’t change the texture of whatever you mix them into. That makes them great for adding to coffee, smoothies, soup, and even yogurt. 

Gelatin, on the other hand, must be dissolved in warm or hot liquids - and once it cools, it creates a thick gel. If you mix gelatin into your morning coffee, and then let it cool… you will have coffee gel! Gelatin can only be used in things that will stay hot, or that you don’t mind gelling - like water kefir jello. 

Both collagen peptides and gelatin have many benefits and uses. I use both  - just not interchangeably. If you want to get the most benefits from collagen, I recommend using a collagen peptides supplement in addition to recipes like this one, which contain gelatin. 

For this recipe, you must use gelatin, not collagen peptides, or your water kefir jello won’t gel!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does! 

 

Nourishing Water Kefir Jello

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes

Cooling Time: 4 hours

 Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups of water kefir 
  • ½ cup lemon or lime juice*
  • 5 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin**
  • Liquid monk fruit extract, to taste

* You can substitute any other citrus juice for lemon or lime. If using a different citrus juice, increase the amount to 1 cup and decrease ½ cup from the amount of water kefir used in Step 1.

** Do not substitute collagen peptides for gelatin. Collagen peptides do not gel when cooled, and therefore can’t form jello! Gelatin must be used for this recipe to gel. 

 Directions:

  1. Combine 2 ½ cups of the water kefir with the citrus juice in a medium bowl
  2. Add monk fruit extract to water kefir and juice mixture to taste (Approx. 2 droppers)
  3. Add remaining cup of kefir water to a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin powder on top.
  4. Heat water kefir and gelatin mixture over very low heat until just slightly warmed and gelatin begins to dissolve. Do not bring to a simmer or boil, as this will kill the probiotics! 
  5. As soon as gelatin begins to dissolve, remove from heat and whisk thoroughly to dissolve all gelatin. 
  6. Add water kefir and gelatin mixture to water kefir and juice and stir to combine. 
  7. Pour the entire mixture into a glass baking dish or mold, such as silicone ice cube molds. 
  8. Cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!