All posts tagged 'Life's Abundance'

Funding Awarded to German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue

foster-friend

It’s time once again for an update from our non-profit charity, The Dr. Jane Foundation. This month, we’re excited to share news of a financial award to an intrepid group of rescuers based in Denver. A breed-specific rescue group, this organization places homeless German Shorthaired Pointers (GSP's) and Pointer mixes with foster homes until they're matched with their ideal adoptive families.

All Points West German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue is a relatively new not-for-profit association, having just celebrated their 1st anniversary this year! In the short time they've been rescuing, All Points West has helped to rescue, rehabilitate and find forever homes for dozens of dogs, not just in Colorado but also in neighboring states and the Pacific Northwest.

This excellent group of experienced, dedicated rescuers has 20 years of combined rescue and foster experience. Their passion for Pointers can hardly be understated! In just a year of operations, they've already rescued 49 dogs; and of those, 41 have been successfully adopted! They graciously attribute their amazing rescue rate to their volunteers and to the groups and individuals whose contributions fund their work.

All Points West's mission supports the long-term goal of lowering euthanasia rates in the region through adoption programs. With each additional rescue, they're working for a future in which all rescued GSP’s find responsible, loving homes where they can live free from abuse, hunger, fear, loneliness and receive the care and respect they deserve. Not only do they celebrate and honor this noble, adventurous and loving breed, they regularly sing the praises of every pet parent who chooses to adopt rather than purchase a new dog.

foster-cuddle

At any given time, this group provides essential daily care for dozens of GSP's and Pointer mixes, covering the costs of all veterinary expenses. Given the state of some of their rescued pups, this is no small feat. Because they have been able to achieve so much in so little time, the decision by our non-profit to fund their grant application was an easy one. Thanks to a top-notch foster program and superb veterinary care, our Board of Directors feels confident that All Points West’s vigilant and dedicated team will save countless GSP's.

Their Pointers come from a variety of heartbreaking backgrounds. Some are relinquished to shelters, others are abandoned in the wild. For the dogs who are fortunate enough to be accepted into a shelter, many will wait a very long time before anyone pays them interest. The sad fact is, there is a common misperception that these creatures are “good for hunting but not as pets”. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Pointers are known to be adoring, affectionate and great family dogs. Even as they work to rescue as many dogs as possible, All Points West has also made strides in changing the prevailing narrative concerning this loving breed.

All Points West has used our financial award to help defray the costs of medical care. Founding Board Member Gail Wise had this to say about our grant: "We appreciate the Dr. Jane Foundation’s belief in our work and support for that work. Without financial underwriting like that of the Dr. Jane Foundation, we couldn’t save these dogs and offer health, comfort, and in many cases, a first-time loving home to them. Our excitement over the possibilities for life saving medical care that this level of support provides for our rescued dogs will truly be one of the highlights of 2017 for us. It allows us to keep saving more dogs and helping them to live happy and healthy lives with their forever families."

Here are just a few of the sweet, lovable Pointers who have benefitted from All Points West's lifesaving assistance …

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Foster

This past summer, APW rescued Foster, a GSP found wandering country roads completely emaciated and severely dehydrated. All of his teeth were broken or missing. Had he not been found, he surely would've perished. He has some complex and serious health issues, but with our financial support, Foster has regained some of his health with the help of specialists and holistic veterinarians. An All Points West representative said that receiving our award was "a wonderful coincidence" that "the generosity of a company that believes in holistic animal care is helping to provide exactly that for sweet Foster!" They added that without our "critical financial support he would have died alone or had to immediately be euthanized and not have had the chance to be loved, to play and cuddle, to go camping and hiking with his new family." As you can tell from the previous photos above, Foster really enjoys snuggling with his new siblings.

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Yankee

This sweet, goofy adult male was discovered deep in the New Mexico desert, after fending off both feral dogs and coyotes. Based upon his discomfort with other dogs and his physical symptoms, his rescuers believe he was held in a small enclosure before being abandoned in a remote desert canyon. All of his joints were extremely red and swollen. After a full medical work-up and x-rays, vets determined he had chewed his joints repetitively, perhaps out of fear or anxiety. But, thanks to the incredible care they provided, All Points West was able to locate a loving home. His new pet parents are helping Yankee to learn how to feel secure as a beloved family member.

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Brexie

An orthopedic special-needs girl, Brexie was born with a malformed lower spine. Incredibly, she was adopted by a chiropractor, which turned out to be a perfect match! Thanks to a significant investment in medical care and physical therapy, she now lives pain-free, is able to remain continent in the house and has developed additional musculature in her hindquarters. In fact, she's able to run and play with her foster pack on miles-long, off-leash hiking adventures every afternoon! Her new family totally dotes on her, and her specially trained dad who works with her every day to help her further overcome her spinal issues. It's an amazing sight to see her living her best life, especially considering that she was facing euthanasia prior to her rescue by All Points West.

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Jake

After being rescued, Jake's foster care parents sussed out that Jake was having trouble with separation anxiety. Otherwise, he was perfectly healthy. The adoption coordinator thought that given his anxiety issues, having a job might be beneficial. As a result, Jake discovered his true calling ... being a therapy dog. He was adopted by a loving couple whose young son was suffering from a severe, debilitating case of anxiety. It was so pronounced, he had developed agoraphobia, and experienced extreme fear whenever he left the house. Fortunately for both, the pairing proved unbelievably successful. Jake and the boy have formed an inseparable bond, and now they do everything together, including outdoor chores, biking and running, even playing outside with other friends. Way to go, Jake!

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Jasper

This handsome doggo is one of four seniors All Points West has placed thus far. Unlike many of their rescues, this 10-year-old only needed an initial intake exam. Jasper is a real cuddle bug, loves to swim and is widely regarded as "just about the nicest dog you could meet." As with the other three seniors, Jasper has found an adoring home that provides love, snuggles and a comfy place to lay his head.

Anyone looking for more information about this amazing rescue can visit their site at www.allpointswestgsp.org or email them directly at AllPointsWestGSP@gmail.com. For any Colorado residents, this rescue encourages interested adopters to contact them immediately, as well as anyone interested in becoming a foster parent.

From all of us here at Life’s Abundance headquarters, we thank this committed network of lifesavers for their incredible work. And we thank all readers and customers … through your personal donations and continued patronage, you’ve helped make all of our grants possible. Your generosity and loyalty have helped to make the world a better place for abandoned, abused and neglected animals across America.

And there’s more good news … The Dr. Jane Foundation is now accepting applications for funding in 2018. If you know of an animal rescue organization that deserves special recognition and financial support, please encourage them to submit an application today.

Check back soon for more good news from The Dr. Jane Foundation. Together, we’re making a difference!

Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies

Cookie-Bowl

Fall is upon us. And what better way to celebrate the changing season than with the rich, creamy, nourishing delight of healthy cookies straight from the oven! 

We made this recipe here at our home office and it was a huge hit. They're buttery, nutty and oh-so-scrumptious! We used almond flour, but encourage you gourmands to try variations.

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

This recipe yields approximately 12-15 cookies, so think about doubling ingredients for a bigger batch of home-cooked goodness!

INGREDIENTS:

3 scoops Life’s Abundance Plant Protein
1 c almond flour, quinoa flour or flour of choice
1/3 c chopped pecans
1/4 c honey
1-1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup milk

Cookie-Sheet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until a cookie-dough-like consistency forms. Add more milk by the tablespoon if needed.

  3. Roll dough into small balls, place on prepared baking sheet and flatten into cookies.

  4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden.

Alzheimer's Awareness & Brain Health Diets

healthy-table

Of course, we all want to maintain our best brain health throughout our lives. As we age, the more likely we are to suffer from dementia, memory loss, and more specifically, Alzheimer’s disease. With this month being World Alzheimer’s Month, we’re taking a closer look at how you can live your most nutritious life, which may help prevent this disease later on.

No cure for this disease currently exists, but medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms. Evidence shows that strategies of a healthier lifestyle such as including exercise in your normal routine, eating a Mediterranean diet, or getting enough sleep might help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia.1 The best way to be proactive about Alzheimer's is to promote brain health throughout your life.

One way of doing this is to make sure we are eating for brain health. Eating a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help to maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes. Also important are antioxidants which may help to reduce inflammation, vitamin K which may help to reduce risk of blood clots, and choline to help maintain brain health.

While they don’t have the sexiest scientific name, the fatty acids are often referred to as “good fats” or “healthy fats,” and they should be because of how vital they are for maintaining good health.2

In the body, omega-3’s are involved in the formation of cell membranes, the production of important hormones, and regulating genetic function.3 Because of these many roles, they’ve been linked to reducing inflammation, boosting heart health, and numerous brain benefits like decreased risk of depression and sharper cognition and memory.4,5,6

We can’t make these fats in our body so we must get them from food or supplements. DHA and EPA have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes, and helps prevent collagen breakdown. In other words, they help to slow the damage and breakdown of our cells.

Salmon in particular is a well known option for maintaining great brain health (and glowing skin!) due to it’s being high in omega-3’s. Grill a salmon filet with rosemary and lemon for the simplest way to implement brain health into your dinner tonight.

For vegetarians or vegans, chia seeds are a perfect option for getting a healthy helping of omega-3’s. Sprinkle them on oatmeal or yogurt in the morning, add them to a dessert like Dark Chocolate Superfood Bark, or bake them into healthy Morning Glory Muffins.7,8

Avocado is another perfectly versatile food that will provide you with omega-3’s. Throw it in a post-workout smoothie, turn it into a dip for snacking, or eat it over fish for an omega double-hitter.9,10,11

Seafood not your thing? An omega-3 supplement could be just what you need to ensure you’re getting sufficient fat in your diet. A great option is the ultra-pure, ultra-concentrated Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement offered by Life’s Abundance.

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

References:

  1. health.harvard.edu/alzheimers-and-dementia/what-can-you-do-to-avoid-alzheimers-disease
  2. nutritiouslife.com/love-fat/
  3. hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  4. nutritiouslife.com/inflammation-definition-health-impact/
  5. heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.WMrqEI61uHo
  6. umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
  7. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/dark-chocolate-superfood-bark/
  8. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/healthiest-grain-free-morning-glory-muffins/
  9. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/avocado-banana-smoothie/
  10. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/mango-avocado-salsa/
  11. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/chili-lime-tilapia-with-mango-avocado-salsa/

 

Verdant Cranberry Orange Muffins

Muffins

We challenge you ... what's better than a warm, scrumptious berry muffin fresh from the oven? That's right, nothing!

Judging by the reaction this recipe got here at our home office, you might want to whip up a double batch of this delectable delight.

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

This recipe yields approximately one dozen muffins.

INGREDIENTS:

½ c dried cranberries
1/3 c hot water
2 c all purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free baking flour
2 scoops Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp orange zest (about 1 large orange)
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sugar, agave or liquid sweetener of choice
½ c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 c freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
¼ c non-fat milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly grease 12 standard-sized muffin cups.
  2. Re-hydrate the dried cranberries by combining with hot water into to a heat-safe bowl or mug. Let the bowl sit while preparing the muffin batter.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Greens Blend and zest in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the sugar or other sweetener. Add the yogurt and mix until no large lumps remain. Stir in the orange juice. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Drain the cranberries, and gently fold into the batter.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 17-20 minutes, or until barely golden brown and the centers feel fairly firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack.

Note: Fresh chopped cranberries may be substituted in place of the dried cranberries and water. 

The Surprising Benefits of Plant Proteins

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It's not an exaggeration to say that more people are worrying about their health (especially, their healthcare) than ever before. Some could argue that all of this increased worry is actually having a negative impact on the health of Americans! While the latest effort by Congress to change our nation's healthcare system appears to have stalled, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking active measures to protect our own health. So, let's try to put aside the worry - and the politics - and focus on some really exciting science!

Thanks to a long-term study supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes for Health, we could all start doing something today that could have a real, measurable impact on our long-term health. Is it a miracle drug? No! Is it the latest fitness gadget or exercise program? No! In fact, it's simply a minor change in what we eat. That’s it! To understand why the medical profession is abuzz with the radical implications of the latest news, we need to come to terms with one simple, undeniable fact. As Americans, we're eating way too much meat. So much, in fact, that it's making us sick.

Researchers at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital recently announced findings of a groundbreaking study, one of the largest of its kind. Nutritional scientists examined the effects of regular consumption of high levels of protein from animal sources compared to vegetarian sources. Much of the animal protein came from processed red meats. And the results were nothing short of astonishing! They indicated that heavy meat eaters had a higher mortality rate. Participants in the study whose diets had a higher percentage of plant-sourced proteins experienced a lower risk of death.

skillet-veggies

The researchers analyzed two massive sets of data, one encompassing more than 30 years worth of information from NHS participants, and another that captured 26 years worth for HPFS participants. The combined total amount of reviewed data was a whopping 3.5 million person-years. Over the course of the data collection, more than 36,000 participant deaths were recorded. Those who perished fell into three major groups: 9,000 from cardiovascular disease, 13,000 from cancer and about 14,000 from other causes. When adjustments were made for competing risk factors, researchers found that eating protein primarily from animal sources (meat, eggs or dairy) was associated with an increased rate of death. The same adjustments were made for those whose consumption of protein came primarily from plant sources (breads, cereals, beans, legumes, etc.), and the results were highly significant … they uniformly had a lower mortality rate!

The data was unambiguous and clearly supports what vegetarians have been talking about for decades. The full report will appear in the August 1st edition of the Journal of American Medical Association – Internal Medicine (citation provided below).

happy-couple

Fortunately for Life’s Abundance customers, we offer the perfect solution to this widespread dietary problem. It’s never been easier, more convenient or more delicious to boost your plant protein content thanks to our innovative supplement powders, now available in both Chocolate and Vanilla!

References:

Edward Giovannucci et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182

sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801113654.htm

msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/50-easy-habits-that-help-you-live-longer-according-to-science/ss-BBByzg6?li=BBnb7Kz

civileats.com/2017/06/29/eating-less-meat-is-a-prescription-for-better-health

Summer Harvest Citrus Bites

harvest-bites-01

Across the country, spiking heat indexes have everyone looking for ways to cool down. What better way to chill than with the robust nutrition of our latest premiere recipe!

Made with our signature Greens Blend, these bite-sized treats are sure to satisfy. Thanks to its delicious, yet subtle, berry flavor and silky smooth texture, our non-GMO blend of raw, certified-organic grasses and mushrooms delivers a robust burst of nutrients to these fun, summery delights.

This quick-and-easy recipe yields 24 scrumptious servings, so it’s ideal for impromptu social gatherings.

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1 scoop Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
Zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange (approx 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional alternate topping)

Instructions

Place the almonds and cashews into a blender or food processor and pulse to finely chop. Add the Greens Blend and pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add the dates, orange zest and juice, and blend until the mixture starts to clump together.

Transfer the dough to a bowl. Form small round balls by rolling the dough in your palms. If opting for a chocolaty topping, melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or microwave on low power. One by one, roll the balls in coconut flakes to coat or drizzle melted chocolate over top.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for a month.

Womansplaining Men’s Health

being-together

File this post under ‘Tough Love’. Even though it’s technically addressed to women, it really is about helping men to improve their health. If you’re a guy reading this and you really do some soul-searching, you may end up not only being healthier in the long-term, but also impressing the women in your life for being totally on the ball.

Ask any woman, men are quick to offer to fix things. Guys uniformly seem willing to tackle just about any sort of problem, whether it’s plumbing, electrical or automotive. Unfortunately, this can-do spirit doesn’t always extend to emotional or health-related concerns. Because healthcare often has an emotional aspect to it, it presents a double-whammy for guys who’d prefer to ignore both. And that ends up being a big problem for men.

The problem isn't restricted to certain kinds of health issues. It’s common in the event of preventable sickness and even risk-related diseases. From incidences of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, men have significantly higher mortality rates. In terms of life expectancy, men also get the short end of the stick, with women living on average several years longer.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s a lesson some men still have yet to take to heart. So, ladies, we’re depending on you to give some urgency to what turns out to be a global problem. But don’t worry, we’re here to help talk to that important guy in your life. So put on your flak jackets, because it’s time to drop some truth bombs.

together

What’s the number one reason why people don’t like going to the doctor? Getting bad news. Here’s the shocker … when your doctor tells you that there’s a problem, it doesn’t begin in that moment. You had that problem already! 

Is your significant other afraid of or angry at the scale because it revealed a specific number? Stepping on the scale does not cause weight gain! Powering through a bag of candy or a six-pack every few days is a much more likely culprit. Similarly, postponing a medical checkup to avoid getting bad news just doesn't make sense.

And yet, this widespread belief ends up creating the very problem people are trying to avoid! In that respect, it reinforces unhealthy behavior. "No bad news" does not translate as "I get to keep doing exactly what I'm doing." This unspoken notice can lead to other negative beliefs.

In hopes that we can change some of these unhelpful perspectives, we're offering up some simple strategies to help that special guy in your life, even if he’s incredibly resistant to change. We’ve tried to frame these positions in ways to minimize anxiety and keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

conversation

1. HAVE “THE TALK”. It starts with a simple and direct question. “Do you want to be around for your child’s high school graduation or for your grandchild’s college graduation?” If the fellow in question doesn’t have kids, then put it in terms he’ll understand. For the most part, everyone wants to live a long life, and even those who don’t think about it expect most of their future years will be healthy ones. 

2. THE ATTITUDE. According to a comprehensive, global study by the World Health Organization, masculinity stereotypes play a critical role in the disparities of wellness between genders. Too often, men behave like their favorite fictional character, emulating risky behaviors that are perpetuated in film and television. As much as it might be enjoyable to watch heroic antics where nothing can stop the good guy from his noble task, the truth is that this ‘walk it off’ mentality is having a horribly negative effect on actual good guys.

cradling-child

3. THE HOMEWORK. In order to take preventative measures, you have to first know what might be wrong! Given the incredible advances in genetics and medicine over the last 50 years, it’s easy to make the case that by knowing something about your genetic background will go a long way to understanding yourself. Ask him to compile a comprehensive family medical history that includes parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents. This is something doctors routinely ask for and most people provide a halfhearted summary. Some even just leave that section blank!

Such a review will prove immensely helpful for doctors. And doesn't your fellow deserve the best possible healthcare? And remember to preserve this homework, because someday it could play a vital role in the healthcare of future generations.

long-life

4. BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. The bottom line is this … a huge amount of suffering can be prevented, alleviated or cured by doing things we all know we should be doing. Here are four simple steps to help jumpstart healthier living for men.

Regular Check-Ups

Commitment to annual wellness exams is a great way to establish a baseline and troubleshoot any developing problems. But to get the most out of these visits, he'll need to be forthright with his doctor. We say that because men are actually less likely to be honest with their physicians regarding the extent and severity of symptoms than women!

Eat Right

If he always says “no way, Jose” to fresh fruits and vegetables but “yeppers” to beef, butter, beer and Ben & Jerry’s, then he's asking for trouble. So much has been written on the topic, there’s hardly a reason to cover good dietary choices here other than to say, eat more fruits and veggies, and avoid fatty and processed foods.

Take a Pill, Dude

The issue for men here seems to hearken back to the ‘walk it off’ philosophy. If it hurts badly or just feels wrong, see a doctor and follow directions. And, yes, that means being open to prescriptions. But it’s not enough to obtain a prescription if it’s medically necessary … it needs to be taken following the directions. Men are much more likely to deviate from prescribed dosages of medication, whether it’s skipping a dose or doubling up. Both can be much more problematic than people generally think, and can result in severe consequences.

Move More

If it’s been years since he's gone for a run or rode a bike, stamina should gradually be built up. As we age, exercise has more and better benefits when it’s done carefully and appropriately to actual ability (not based on "what I used to do"). Bottom line, don’t go overboard! Walk if you don’t have too far to go. Or, if it’s too far to walk, ride a bike instead of driving. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise daily can make a tremendous difference not only in his health, but also in how good he feels!

embrace

If at any point the conversation starts veering off-topic, be patient but firm. If you get an outsized negative reaction as a result of sharing these strategies, try and steer the conversation away from feelings and back to fact. Finally, if they’re just too overwhelmed by the topic at-hand, leave them a copy of this post to read and reflect on.

If you’re having trouble getting through, use an analogy. For instance, remind them that just like cars and trucks require routine maintenance to perform at peak efficiency, so too does the human body. Whatever tack you choose to try and reach him, come back to the same point as many times as you need, until you get the sense that they’re on the same page about why this conversation is necessary … because they’re loved. And that you would like to have them around for a long time!

This is a problem that affects men of all ages, races, demographics, financial standings, etc. It’s not your guy in particular, and it’s not all guys, but it’s so widespread that the benefits of cultivating a proactive mindset will be better for everyone ... each individual, each family, each community, and maybe even for the world as a whole.

“The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda.” Peter Baker, Shari L Dworkin, Sengfah Tong, Ian Banks, Tim Shand & Gavin Yamey. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2014;92:618-620. www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/8/13-132795/en/

Why Do I Need a Probiotic Supplement?

thinking-and-eating

Have you ever really thought about what it means to eat? For instance, when you ingest something, is it truly in your body? After all, the entire digestive system is essentially a long hollow tube. True, this highly complex tube is undeniably part of the body. Yet despite some of its varied functions, it’s primarily a series of sorting compartments. Moving through the digestive tract, the body determines that some substances are ‘useable’ and absorbs them, while others are lumped into the ‘non-useable’ category and are passed as waste. So, that brings us right back to asking, is something in your body simply by virtue of having been ingested?

From the perspective of your gut’s microbiome, the answer is unequivocally “no”. Indeed, one very important job of these beneficial watchmen is to keep pathogens out of your body while allowing nutrients to enter. And they do a brilliant job of it. However, these colonies can succumb to negative pressures, such as a course of antibiotics, increased stress levels or a regrettable all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. When this happens opportunistic pathogens can slip by or even overwhelm and bypass our tiny friendly helpers, entering body tissues and causing havoc.

To avoid such scenarios, you should support a happy and effective microbiome, which may be easier than you think! Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be obtained either by eating fermented foods or by taking a high quality probiotic supplement. When these little gems are ingested and make their way to the intestines, they form a protective barrier, blocking your microbiota from onslaught and freeing it to do its important work of providing defense, fostering nutrient synthesis and absorption, and of course, reproducing.

So, when you’re hunting for the perfect probiotic supplement, consumers should look for these product attributes …

  • A colony forming unit (CFU) count guaranteed through the expiration date of the product. Some probiotics are only guaranteed ‘at time of manufacture’ and may be worthless by the time of purchase.
  • The ability to survive hazardous digestive acids is critical to the probiotic’s effectiveness. Make sure the manufacturer’s website includes information about the product’s viability.
  • Multiple strains that perform different functions and work synergistically tend to be more effective than single-strain varieties.
  • A product that is shelf stable at room temperature is not only a convenience, but may indicate higher potency. This is because there is vulnerability in relying on an unbroken chain of refrigeration from manufacture, through transit, to retail and finally to the consumer.

Even though most of us never really think about what happens to food after we eat, there’s no denying the importance of maintaining a happy GI system. If you’re looking for a supplement that hits all of the quality categories mentioned above, we urge you to consider supplementing your diet with Life’s Abundance Probiotic, a 25 Million CFU, proprietary 5-strain blend. Let’s keep your microbiome operating as nature intended!

Tune Up Your Second Brain

gut-second-brain

Gut health has been building steam as a trending health topic as more and more research points to the importance of the microbiome. Micro - what? Microbiome is a fancy word for the trillions (yes, trillions!) of microbes that live in your gut, on your skin and elsewhere.

Your gut health affects everything from your immune system, to your weight, to your brain function, so it’s really important to focus on what’s going on in your belly. Or shall I say what’s going INTO your belly.

It may sound crazy to think that your digestion controls all of the above mentioned, but actually, scientists have discovered that the microbes in your gut are engaged in a constant conversation with your mind. And that chatter could be affecting your emotions, moods and behavior in major ways.

It turns out that your gut’s got its very own nervous system, called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). It’s so influential on your body that it’s often referred to as “the second brain.” The main job of the ENS is to regulate digestion, but it also sends up regular signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.

Think of the vagus nerve as a busy two-lane highway. Traffic is moving in both directions, but it’s much heavier headed north, to the brain. Who’s directing that flow of traffic? Your microbes, of course.

Studies have shown that changing the makeup of gut microbiota actually changed how mice behaved, affecting anxiety and cognition, for instance*. Mice raised without beneficial microbes also have been shown to be less capable of managing stress**.

Another example: 90% of the mood-balancing neurotransmitter serotonin is made in the gut, and research has shown that microbes play a critical role in its production***. So, if yours are not doing their job well, your body could end up with inadequate serotonin. That’s a problem since serotonin regulates sleep, appetite, mood, and more.

Here are four ways to take steps in the right direction towards regulating a healthy microbiome.

1. Add fermented foods to your diet. These are foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods begin with a live active culture and are fermented, giving them the benefit of probiotics.

2. Eat fiber. Many fibers are considered to be prebiotics. This means that they feed the good bacteria already present in your gut. But different fibers feed different bacterium, so it’s important to get these prebiotics from multiple sources and from a variety of foods.

3. Drink lots of fluids. Our bodies need water for skin health, immunity and energy, but also to push things along through digestion. So while we need the bacteria for gut health, we also need the fluids to keep everything moving as it should.

4. Take a probiotic daily. You can think of adding this supplement as a bit of an ‘insurance policy’ to make sure that you’re balancing the bacteria in your gut every day, no matter what. I wholeheartedly recommend Probiotic Supplement, which has a proprietary 5-strain blend with 25 billion CFUs guaranteed. Plus, it's made in the USA!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN


Resources used for this article:

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866195

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674977/

*** http://www.caltech.edu/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495

http://nutritiouslife.com/3-things-didnt-know-microbiome/

http://gut.bmj.com/content/47/suppl_4/iv15.full

http://nutritiouslife.com/stress-fighting-foods/

Effects of Aging on Canine Cognition

close-up-dogs-eyes

In observation of National Pet Month, Dr. Jessica Vogelsang takes an in-depth look at how canine cognition changes as dogs age, and provides tips to help keep them healthy for many future National Pet Month celebrations!

I can’t tell you how often I ask pet parents about their senior dog and the response is “okay, but … I guess he’s just getting old.” I love this conversation opener, because it tells me two things. One, the pet parent is paying enough attention to know something has changed, even if they don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. Two, there’s probably something I can do to help!

All living things grow old. The aging process is complicated and messy, encompassing a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some we can control, others we can slow down, and the remainder we just manage the best we can. The good news is, there’s almost always something we can do to make a companion animal feel better.

When we think about what it means to be old, most of us jump to the most obvious complaint of age … aches and pains. The body stiffens, the joints dry out, the discs in our spines shrivel up, and we end up shuffling around like Carl from the movie Up. Almost all senior dogs develop symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is one of the reasons I recommend joint supplements for seniors. If a pet parent says, “He won’t climb the stairs anymore,” or, “He doesn’t want to go for long walks,” then I know we’re likely dealing with pain.

But what about cognitive dysfunction, the age-related decline in neurologic function? Referred to as “canine cognitive dysfunction” in veterinary medicine, some laypeople call it “doggie Alzheimer’s”. While the symptoms can be similar to what humans experience, it’s not exactly the same thing.

wolfhound-close-up

Unfortunately, cognitive decline is quite common in senior dogs. More than half of all dogs over the age of 11 show at least one clinical sign. Since we don’t know for certain all the biological changes that occur in an aging brain, we describe canine cognitive dysfunction as a collection of symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Changes in activity level
  • Changes in sleep/wake cycle (e.g., wandering around in the middle of the night)
  • House-soiling
  • Anxiety
  • No longer adhering to an established routine

For many years, we simply accepted this condition as a price for living a long life. However, we’re learning that there are ways we can actually decelerate cognitive decline in dogs.

One way veterinarians manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs is through medications. Certain drugs that increase the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine may improve brain function. In fact, the same drug used by dogs can also be used to treat Parkinson’s!

curious-dog

The other way we manage cognitive decline is through the nutrition and personal attention we provide our dogs. New and exciting research is showing that certain types of antioxidants and dietary ingredients can positively impact the brain function of senior pets! I love this because these are safe, easy changes we can use to improve the aging process for all our senior friends:

1. Feed a diet rich in antioxidants. Free radicals in the body accelerate the aging process. Antioxidants, such as those found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, can be added to a dog’s diet to limit the free-radical damage. Several studies have shown that seniors who eat a diet rich in antioxidants exhibit clinical improvement in cognitive function within just a few weeks.

2. Exercise the brain. Keep your pet’s neurons working through lots of daily playtime, walks, and puzzles. We joke that the brain is a muscle; it’s not, of course, but like a muscle it does benefit from regular workouts!

3. Fatty acids. We all know essential fatty acids are good for the skin and coat, but there’s also increasing evidence that a subset of fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) serve as a preferred energy source for the brain and can actually improve mental sharpness.

If your dog is getting a little grey around the muzzle, don’t accept “he’s just getting old” as a fact of life. Yes, we all age, but we can do it better by taking steps to preserve health and quality of life.

All my best to you and your lovable, aging dogs!

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang