go ahead. . . sow your wild oats!

Posted on: June 23rd 2017

I recently had the great opportunity to speak to a group of doctors about the relationship between food and physiology—between each meal and the now-notable role of the microbiota.

I’m guessing they thought they were showing up for a discussion about things such as pathogens, anaerobes and strain-specificity.

Whether those terms mean anything to you or not, read on! There’s good news for you that leaves those conversations in the microbial dust.

My intent in that conversation was to bring it all home—home to the gut and home to the diet.

Out of theory and into practice.

We often forget or dismiss the true power of food!

We (as practitioners and enlightened patients alike), can get so caught up in the theoretical, the biochemical, the fascinating new discoveries in science, that we forget some of the fixes in our fridge and cure-alls in our cupboards.

There are ingredients we can include in our daily menus that have impact.

And this summer I’m on a mission to talk food as medicine…

Not in the general sense, but in the very specific (right down to single ingredient) and very targeted (hello gut therapy) sense.

As you may know, a few weeks ago I introduced the summer gut lovin’ challenge.

It’s an easy challenge. It basically involves trying (or re-trying) some surprising culinary ingredients that help your gut do it’s job a bit better.

How’s it going for you?

Today’s summer lovin’ ingredient is a new twist on an old favorite:

it may surprise you coming from a mostly grain-free girl like me

it’s oat bran!


Are you ready to sow your wild oats?

This may take a bit of convincing, but let me shed some light on kicking up your heals a bit this summer and inviting a bit of dietary frivolity.

Oat bran is a digestive darling in some of the same ways as the ingredients I’ve introduced you to in the past few weeks (carob, psyllium husk and tigernuts).

Hint: Think soluble fiber and good food for your good bugs!

Yet oat bran has at least one more trick up its sleeve with a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan (more on that later!).

Like psyllium husk, oat bran absorbs water and swells in the digestive tract, giving you a sense of fullness and satiety. It forms a gel that slows gastric emptying which stabilizes your blood sugar, helping you steer clear of the blood sugar roller coaster ride that other breakfast choices often induce.

Oat bran increases the production of mucous in the small intestine which gives digestive enzymes and bile acids a better chance to break down your foods. It also delays the movement of the food through your system, giving your body more time to absorb their nutrients.

I always like to say: you’re not what you eat, but what your body can absorb.

And oat bran helps you absorb more!

Like tigernuts, oat bran is a prebiotic, or food for your good gut bacteria.

Those well-fed good guys in your gut in turn produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which help inhibit the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria and yeasts.

There’s one more “super word” I want to attribute to this gut loving superfood. And this brings us back to those beta-glucans.

Don’t run away. This is a curious place where digestion and immunity intersect. (Did you know that more than 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? It’s true! That’s another reason it deserves your love and affection.)

Beta-glucans are considered to be biological defense modifiers, meaning they have the ability to activate and modulate your immune system.

The immune-enhancing properties of beta-glucans are due to their ability to activate immune cells (particularly the macrophages and natural killer cells) which leads to activation of T-cells, and B-cells, including select cytokines and complement proteins that you may have heard about in some of your scientific citings.

I promise there’s no quiz on this. Just know that when you’re eating your morning oat bran, you’re giving both your gut and your immune system the support they need.

And speaking of your morning meal, go ahead and give this cinnamon swirl oat bran a whirl for breakfast this weekend and let me know what you think!

Cinnamon Swirl Oat BranCinnamon Swirl Oatbran

Making gluten-free oat bran for breakfast is about as simple and quick as it gets. Consider it a blank canvas that you can decorate to your taste buds delight. This recipe comes from Jen Baum, one of our lead nutritionists in Counseling Services.

If you’ve got five minutes, you’ve got time to whip up this fat/fiber/protein packed breakfast that will keep you going strong all morning. No more skipping breakfast and forget those instant oats, say hello to your new favorite breakfast bowl.


  • 2/3 cup gluten-free oat bran (Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (Native Forest, Arroy-D or Natural Value brands)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 Tbspn grass-fed ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 Tbspn collagen, optional but adds protein
  • 2 tspn freshly ground flax
  • 1/2 tspn cinnamon
  • 5-10 drops of liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • optional toppings: fresh berries or choice, nuts, seeds, or shredded coconut


Heat oat bran, coconut milk, water and salt on the stove top and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes and then stir in the ghee, collagen, flax and cinnamon. Add stevia to taste. Top with fresh fruit or nuts of choice and enjoy! (Serves 1 large portion or 2 small portions).

When buying oat bran, be sure to get certified gluten-free oat bran. Although oats are inherently gluten-free, they often get cross contaminated in the field or processing plant. Be on the safe side and get gluten-free oat bran from Bob’s Red Mill or a similar brand.

Here’s to sowing your wild oats, and a bre Join me and this community of hundreds of practitioners changing the way we do healthcare and harnessing the real meaning of food as medicine! akfast that keeps you going strong during these long summer days.

Your gut lovin’ homework? Pick up some gluten-free oat bran and get your breakfast groove on.

Andrea Nakayama, FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC, Founder of Replenish PDX and Holistic Nutrition Lab



Speaking of the gut… are you a nutrition practitioner ready to bring gut healing forward to your community?

Registration for the Digestive Intensive Jumpstart is open now!

Summer school is in session next week (class starts on June 28th) and there’s still time for you to secure your seat.