March 2019

Drinking Wine For Your Health

Wine-for-Your-Health

You know how it goes. Your doctor tells you that overall, you’re pretty healthy, but your bad cholesterol is creeping up and your good cholesterol isn’t where it should be. You already live a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising and minimizing stress. What more can you do? If you’re anything like us, you look for answers anywhere you can ...

The Discovery

… like the internet. Wine is good for the heart! It says so right there on Instagram, next to that photo of a smiling, fit, bikini-clad influencer hoisting a glass of pinot noir. She looks healthy AND happy. Clearly this is something you must investigate further.

The Deep Dive

You Google “why is wine good for your heart,” and you are not disappointed in the results. “Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.”

You choose to ignore that last sentence and create a game plan. Better health starts now.

The Field Test

A friend agrees to meet you at a local wine bar. It’s happy hour, and you’ve never been happier to embark on a new wellness regime. Two glasses of cabernet in, you’re feeling awfully good about your commitment to yourself. “Polyphenols are red compound modifiers that that help the wine in your blood vessels,” you offer knowingly between sips. “Reservanoid fights clotting in flamingoes.”

You settle your tab, leave a generous tip and call a cab. You are warm. Content. Your body is thanking you already.

The Letdown

It’s 6 a.m., and you’ve woken up with a splitting headache. Your mouth feels like the sticky side of masking tape. And it dawns on you ... perhaps I've made an unfortunate mistake.

The Lesson

You remember the old advice: “Know your limits.” You acknowledge that perhaps three (okay, four) glasses of red wine falls well outside your limit. After you’ve guzzled two cups of strong coffee and a giant glass of water, you settle back in front of your computer. This time, you actually finish the article you glossed over before and read, “Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease.” Furthermore, they advise, “If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation."

So what does that mean exactly for healthy adults? We're so glad you asked.

  • Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
  • Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.
  • Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.

Fine. FINE. You realize that as fun as a glass of pinot can be, you really might be better off finding a hangover-free source of antioxidants. And maybe on the way home from work, you'll also buy some grapes.

Reference:

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281

A Realistic Proposal to Fight Climate Change

planting-trees-for-the-future

As far as problems go, they don't come much larger than the threats posed by global climate change. And yet, instead of engaging in a meaningful debate about the best solution to the problem, we seem to be stuck in a cycle where many remain resistant to the mere idea of tackling the issues we face. Why is it that? Sociologists have an answer to this conundrum that makes perfect sense. Because the problem is so monumental, and the potential devastation too frightening, it almost seems inevitable, as something impossible to fix. But, what if the solution is much simpler than we're expecting? Not only simple but completely doable? And, icing on the cake, what if the fix was something that pretty much everyone views as positive?

In mid-February, a Swiss researcher named Thomas Crowther presented his research findings at the Science Transcending Boundaries Conference, this year's Annual Meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). Until very recently, the prevailing wisdom was that a widescale adoption of wind turbines and a mass conversion of diets from meat-eating to vegetarian would have the greatest impacts on the planet's environment. But after Dr. Crowther presented the results of his amazing research project, we now know that a worldwide tree-planting "spree" would have the greatest impact on our planet's environment. That's right, simply by increasing the number of trees worldwide from three trillion to four trillion, we could cancel out more than a decade of greenhouse emissions right away! According to Crowther, trees should now be viewed as “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change."

Could restoring the health of our planet be as simple as planting one trillion trees? The longer answer is that a combination of ending destructive farming practices and replenishing our planet's biodiversity through forestation really could be the turning point in our ecological crisis. In a very real sense, planting seedling trees is the first step in a proactive solution to most of our climate problems. On the micro-level, we can help lift people out of poverty, while on the macro-level, we could make great strides towards reversing the proliferation of carbon in the atmosphere.

As part of our Evergreen commitment (Life’s Abundance has been certified as an Evergreen company by the Tugboat Institute), we make decisions based not just on profit, but on long-term sustainability and on being a good steward of the environment. When we launched our line of premium skin-care products, we wanted to do something above and beyond our typical commitment to creating a better world. A reflection of our natural philosophy, we entered into a partnership with Trees for the Future. Every time a customer purchases one of our skin-care products, we make a corresponding commitment to further fund this green initiative by planting a tree.

Trees-for-the-Future

Trees for the Future (TREES) is an international development non-profit that meets a triple bottom line through their tree-planting mission: poverty alleviation, hunger eradication and healing the environment. In addition to planting trees, they train farmers to manage "forest gardens" in order to sustainably feed their families and raise their incomes by as much as four times! And because they utilize sophisticated algorithms and tracking software, our trees are planted are used in areas where they can have the greatest impact. At present, they have trained at-risk peoples in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Since they were founded in 1989, TREES has planted over 150 million trees!

According to John Leary, executive director of TREES, "Our planet loses 50 soccer fields worth of trees every minute, and much of this deforestation is occurring in the developing tropics where hundreds of millions of families depend on trees for their survival. Once the trees are cleared, most subsistence farmers in the developing world use destructive farming techniques – including both slash-and-burn and modern agriculture – that inhibit the growth of anything but one or a few temporary crops." Leary's belief is that restoring agricultural lands with a diverse combination of trees and crops is the answer to a whole host of pressing global problems, including: desertification; diminishing access to potable water; hunger and poverty; forced migrations; and, of course, climate change itself.

As a corporate sponsor, you can visit our very own TREES web page to view our current count of tree seedlings planted to date. So far, we've planted an amazing 46,000 trees! To put our participation in perspective, if every registered business in the US were to plant the same number of trees, the trillion number goal would be met with an extra 288 billion on top of it!

The thing that stands out for most people is the idea of planting trees is appealing. Pretty much everyone who has ever planted a tree thinks of it as a positive experience. Anyone can do it. They improve urban environments. They absorb carbon dioxide and generate oxygen. As far as ecosystems go, planting more trees is always a good thing.

Best of all, it would appear people are enthusiastic about Crowther's bold proposal. The UN has already changed the name of their tree-planting initiative to the Trillion Tree Campaign!

So, if you've ever felt like you can't make a difference, now you know you can! We encourage all our readers to visit trees.org and trilliontreecampaign.org and find out more about these initiatives. And, if you're looking for something a little more local, make planting tree seedlings into a regular fun family outing.


For more on the science and the solution, check out these informative links!

https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2019/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/23744

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/forests-climate-change-co2-greenhouse-gases-trillion-trees-global-warming-a8782071.html

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/ez-pcc021119.php

https://www.wearesalt.org/stopping-the-sixth-extinction-habitat-creation/

https://futurism.com/planting-trillions-trees-cancel-co2-emissions/

http://trees.org/app/uploads/2018/03/One-Shot-Meltwater-Email-PR.pdf

What Pet Parents Need to Know About Vaccines

Loving-couple-and-lab

“Vaccines are good!” “No, they’re bad!” “Do a half dose of the vaccine!” “Titer instead!”

There sure is a lot of noise surrounding vaccines for our pets, isn’t there? I don’t blame you if you think it’s confusing. Heck, I think it’s confusing and I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years. How, when, and what vaccines to use in pets is one of the most common questions I get both in person and online. When it comes to the truth about vaccines, here’s the real life, not-so-neat reality: there is no one size fits all answer. But the more we understand the principles behind the recommendations, the better equipped we are to make good decisions on behalf of our loved ones.

The immune system is complex, as is the science behind how we optimize it using various vaccinations. Here’s the basic information every pet person needs to understand.

How the Body Fights Disease

As we all know, a well-functioning body fights disease using white blood cells. However, not all white blood cells are the same! They come in three general categories:

1. Macrophages: These cells are the first line of defense. They engulf infected and dying cells, and save pieces of it to present to the other immune cells. Think of them as first responders. They save little pieces of the invader, known as antigens, as evidence from the crime scene!
2. B cells: These cells produce antibodies in response to the antigen. An antibody is a substance that helps the body fight disease in a variety of ways. For example, it can neutralize the invader, or act like a homing beacon for other types of cells to identify the invaders quickly. B cells are like Dr. Nefario from "Despicable Me" ... they don’t take part in the fight directly, but they produce all the gadgets that help the good guy win the battle.
3. T cells: These cells directly attack infected cells. They’re trained to identify a specific antigen, so it can react quickly to destroy the invader. T cells are the trained assassins of the body, honed in on their target.

After an infection is overcome, the body retains some T and B cells specific to that antigen, just in case it encounters it again. In order for those B cells and T cells to react quickly, they must have already been exposed to antigens from the infecting agent. That’s where vaccines come in.

How Vaccines Help

Vaccines imitate infection without causing the actual disease. This allows the body the benefit of those B and T cells carrying around a blueprint for how to respond to the disease, without actually having to survive the infection first. Here’s the important thing to note ... not all vaccines work the same way. Here are the most common types of vaccines we use in veterinary medicine:

1. Attenuated vaccines: These are live infective agents that have been weakened or altered in some way so they do not cause the actual disease. Distemper, parvo, and adenovirus-2 are this type.
2. Inactivated vaccines: These are whole bacteria or viruses that have been killed so they cannot replicate. The most common vaccines in this category are rabies, Leptospirosis, Lyme, influzena, FeLV, and injectable Bordetella. Because these organisms are dead, they are often combined with a substance to “draw” the immune system’s attention: like sending a flare into the sky. These substances are called adjuvants. Vaccines in this category are, according to some, the most likely to cause an adverse reaction.
3. Toxoid vaccines: These are a detoxified toxin - these are not actually in response to an infectious agent at all! Rattlesnake vaccine is the most common example.
4. Recombinant vaccines: These vaccines represent a new generation of vaccine technology. They take a piece of DNA or RNA from the infectious agent and insert it into a benign live virus that will not cause infection. Because the organism is live, it triggers a nice strong immune response without the need for adjuvant. If your cat has been vaccinated with adjuvant-free Purevax, then you’re familiar with this type of vaccine.

dog-mom-kissing-shepherd

How often do we need to re-vaccinate?

Well, here’s where it gets tricky. Some vaccines last longer than others because of the nature of the infection itself. Or, the exact same vaccine may last longer in one individual than in another. I have a colleague who needs a rabies vaccine every three years; mine lasted 20! There is no guaranteed answer.

So, what do we do? We make recommendations based on minimizing the number of vaccines while maximizing the level of protection for animals taking into account the wide variability in response. The American Animal Hospital Association assembled a gold star panel of the world experts in immunology who make, in my opinion, the most informed recommendations for dogs. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has done the same for cats. These are guidelines that are tailored to your pet with help from your veterinarian.

When you talk to your vet about what your pet needs, you balance risk versus benefit for the individual. You look at lifestyle, likelihood of exposure to diseases, severity of those diseases, current health, and vaccine history. The two most important factors are risk and health history.

Risk: Not all pets are at equal risk for disease. A pug who lives in a skyscraper in San Francisco is not at the same risk for certain diseases as a hunting dog in Louisiana.

Health History: A healthy one year old who is just finishing up their initial vaccine series has different needs than a sixteen-year-old diabetic who has been vaccinated on time her whole life. A sick pet, one with a history of reactions to vaccines, or one with a history of immune mediated disease will have different recommendations.

The exception is rabies, a disease that kills both pets and people. Most jurisdictions have mandated rabies vaccination guidelines written into law.

Can’t I just titer?

Titers are, for those willing to pay for them, a decent (but not foolproof) way of feeling out a pet’s immune status. Titers check for circulating antibodies to a specific disease. Remember when we were talking about B cells and T cells? Titers only tell you about long term B cell response. A pet with a high antibody titer may still be bottomed out on T cells, and vice versa. It’s only part of the picture. It’s not a guarantee that a pet is protected, but it gives you more information to make an informed decision particularly when it comes to how often to boost vaccines in an adult animal who already has several boosters.

What about half doses for smaller pets?

It’s tempting to think of vaccines the same way that we do drugs, whose efficacy is dependent on the concentration in the blood. Not so with vaccines. Vaccines work more on an all-or-nothing proposition: either they get the body’s attention, or they don’t. The degree of the response is determined by the body’s production of those T and B cells. This is the same as in human medicine: my kiddos get the same volume of flu vaccine as my husband. It’s not worth the risk to gamble with a vaccine not working, with no proven benefit.

It’s challenging to dilute a textbook’s worth of information into a single blog post, but hopefully this gives you a little background for your discussions with your vet. Vaccines, nutrition, weight control, exercise ... lots of moving parts come together to help ensure the best health outcomes for your pets. The best decisions are those you make with your trusted health care providers as a team!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

References:
“Understanding How Vaccines Work” from CDC.gov
AAHA canine vaccination guidelines
AAFP feline vaccination guidelines

Cherry Porter Recipe

Cherry-Porter-Beer-Recipe

March is here and that means millions of us are looking forward to St. Patrick's Day. This year, we've created a simple yet delicious beverage to toast friends and family with when you get your green on. So without any further ado, let us introduce you to our Cherry Porter Recipe!

Perhaps no other beer speaks to Irish tradition more than a deep, rich, frothy porter. And now, you can add a scrumptious, nutritious kick in mere moments. You'll be enjoying the boldness of a stout beer but giving your body the nourishment it truly craves, thanks to our incredibly nourishing Minerals & Antioxidants Mix. Each serving packs 74 plant derived trace minerals, antioxidants from 11 super fruits, over 17,775 ORAC units, all blended to perfection with coconut water & aloe vera.

Be sure to share this inspired recipe with friends and family!

Ingredients

Directions

In a glass or mug, combine Minerals & Antioxidants with water and stir. Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and slowly pour the beer at the midpoint of the glass, tilting toward an upright position as the glass fills. After that, there's nothing left to do but raise a toast to your good health and enjoy the creamy, yummy goodness of our Cherry Porter!

If you think you can improve upon our recipe, or if you've created something special with one of our signature line of nutrition supplements, let us know how you did it in the comments in the section below!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!