All posts tagged 'igestive health'

3 Tips to Thrive this Holiday

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The kids are back in school and settled into a routine. Everything seems to be moving along smoothly and then BOO! ... Halloween happens and we’re in full holiday mode. In what seems like a split second, you’re planning, shopping and cooking. And by the time the parties roll around, you’re exhausted. How can you make it through the emotional roller coaster of the holiday season, avoid emotional eating and eat healthfully throughout? Try using these using these three simple steps to not only survive the holiday season, but to thrive!

1. Stay in the Moment

Yes, you could choose to go through the holidays focusing on feeling guilty for not remembering to buy your co-worker a gift, being sleep deprived because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to get everything done before your vacation, stressing because the holiday cards haven’t arrived . . . and so on and so on. But you could also choose to get through the holidays mindfully. Making the choice to celebrate the company you keep, being positively in the moment and giving attention to your holiday traditions. This will keep you from feeling stressed, overwhelmed and reaching for the soothing arms of that hot cocoa with a big pile of whipped cream.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Keep a warm mug of tea on hand at all times. It will serve many purposes. The heat and smell will soothe and relax you and your feelings, it will hydrate you, and it will serve as a reminder to keep your wellness on the forefront of your mind.

2. Stay in Control

Use the three D’s when feel out of control or are worried about emotionally eating. The first D is for delay. Slow yourself down. Don’t head straight for the food. Start with a glass of water, tea or seltzer and make a conscious decision to slow your intake. Nobody is going to rip your plate out from under you and the appetizer tray will still be there in 15 minutes. So ... slow down. The second D is for distract. You should be catching up with friends and family. That’s what the holiday season is really about. Distract yourself from emotional eating by talking to the people you care about or lending a hand to the host. The final D is for disarm. Don’t keep unwanted food in the house or place unwanted foods as far away from yourself as humanly possible. And, when at parties, don’t hover over the buffet table. These simple steps will help you stay in control.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Going to a potluck holiday dinner? Take control and bring healthy dish you can eat so you’re not stuck with only greasy vegetable-less eats in case that’s the only foods offered. Before you head out to the office party, eat a satisfying and healthy dinner so you don’t wind up making puff pastries your meal.

3. Socialize at Parties
Focus on the fact that you’re at a party. With PEOPLE who you (hopefully!) enjoy being around. It’s not all about the food. Concentrate on talking to and reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers. When you make an effort to socialize, you’ll not only enjoy the night a lot more, but you’ll also be too preoccupied to think about that pecan pie every 2.2 seconds.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Be wary of “food pushers”. These are those people who refuse to take “no” for an answer when offering unhealthy treats. My advice? Keep saying no, as many times as you have to. And don’t feel bad! Or, why not say “You know, you should have another bite of this fruit cake. I know how much you love it and it’s the holidays, so you deserve to splurge!”

Use these three simple tips, add a little moderation and a whole lot of love and you’ll get through the holiday season feeling better than when you started!

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

Tune Up Your Second Brain

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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/

Is a Paleo Diet Right for Your Dog?

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As pet parents ourselves, all of us here at Life’s Abundance know just how overwhelming it can be to choose the right food for your dog. There is so much conflicting information out there: you have to be grain free! Your canine needs to eat like a wolf! You should be putting antioxidants on everything! Home made food is better than commercial! How do you possibly make sense of all the conflicting information from so many different sources?

One of my goals when formulating a new food is to keep up with the most current thinking in nutrition while making sure our foods live up to the highest standards possible. Two of the most popular buzzwords right now are “paleo” and “limited ingredient.” But what do these mean? Are paleo or limited ingredient diets what your companion animal really needs?

Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Paleo diets have been all the rage in human nutrition for the past few years. While there isn’t any one strict definition, the general idea is that if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you (or in this case, your dog). In its most basic sense, the paleo diet avoids all processed foods such as cereals, pastas, and added sugars. The paleo diet also frowns on grains, keeping carbohydrate sources limited to those occurring naturally in vegetables and fruits.

Despite the fact there is no one true ‘paleo’ definition, we can certainly look at the overall concept and see something to like. A paleo diet is nutrient-dense, with every ingredient chosen for a purpose. The carbohydrates chosen are those that cause less peaks and valleys in blood glucose and energy levels throughout the course of the day. Given its reliance on unprocessed ingredients, a paleo food is going to avoid things like fillers and artificial colorings and flavorings. One of the major drawbacks to a classic paleo diet is the fact that it does not allow the use of legumes such as peas or lentils, which are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

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Limited ingredient diets came about due to a wave of pet parents being concerned their dogs had food allergies. The number of dogs who actually have food allergies is not as large as the number of dogs who have food allergy symptoms (there are complex reasons for this, which perhaps I’ll cover in a future post). Regardless, the idea for limited ingredient diets is to limit intake to novel proteins (meaning an unusual source that a pet has not eaten before), and novel carbohydrates, the diet is less likely to trigger a dog’s food allergy symptoms. This is how we ended up with diets like kangaroo and oats, or duck and peas. The most common food allergens in dogs are beef, chicken, lamb, wheat, corn, and egg. This correlates to the most commonly used ingredients in pet foods, which makes sense.

If your canine has a true food allergy, he or she is probably going to need to undergo an elimination trial and all sorts of testing to see what is going on, and then move onto a special diet for the rest of his or her life. But if he or she has some minor symptoms of food intolerance or if you are just trying to avoid the major allergens in dog foods, it can be cost prohibitive to put your pet on a novel protein diet; many are prescription-only or are not meant for all life stages. Some diets are based on hydrolyzed soy, which is as appetizing to dogs as it sounds! It just doesn’t make sense to seek out one of these diets if you don’t have to due to medical necessity.

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For many pet parents, their dog may not have food allergies but they still want to avoid the common triggers by feeding high quality, novel proteins that taste delicious and support optimal health. And it’s with these needs in mind that we developed the newest addition to the Life’s Abundance family of foods: our Pork and Venison Grain Free Recipe Dog Food.

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This formulation holds to the paleo ideas of being grain-free. The carbohydrate sources are peas and lentils, which are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The protein sources are pork and venison, which are very rich, nutrient-dense protein sources that taste amazing. Canned foods are great for triggering the appetite because they have more potent smell. Trust me, we’ve all taken a whiff of the new formula and agree … the aroma is pretty yummy! Best of all, it’s formulated to be appropriate for all life stages, from weaning puppies to geriatric seniors, even if they’re missing some teeth.

We are so proud of this new formula and we can’t wait for you all to try it. As soon as you do, post a comment here and let us know what you think. We hope your dogs love it as much as ours do!

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals! And, happy feeding!

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

Whey Overrated

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Whey is a very popular ingredient in protein powders, especially in bodybuilding formulas. But is this commonly used ingredient all that it’s cracked up to be? In this post, we’ll look at the conventional wisdom and why whey might not be the best option for health-conscious consumers.

Let’s Talk Protein

It’s hard to understate the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of nourishing proteins. Your body needs quality protein to function properly, to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones and other key bodily chemicals. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of bones, cartilage, muscles, hair and blood. So, there’s no controversy here … protein does a body good!

What Makes Whey Popular?

In the last decade or so, the media began educating consumers about the importance of getting an adequate amount of protein in their diet on a daily basis. That created a demand for a convenient and inexpensive source of protein. That’s when whey protein powders started on their journey to popularity.

Whey-t a Minute!

Unfortunately, whey protein has significant shortcomings, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. First, it’s derived from cow’s milk. Specifically, it is the liquid left over once milk has been curdled and strained. Moreover, it’s a by-product of the cheese-making process. It’s precisely due to its dairy origins that many people experience digestive issues consuming whey, such as bloating, gas, cramps, fatigue and/or loose stools. Formulators in-the-know attribute these reactions to whey’s lactose content, and many adults have some degree of lactose sensitivity.

Plant Power

Here’s our take. Animal-derived proteins are good, but they also may carry the dubious additions of saturated fat, cholesterol, added hormones and antibiotics. However, you can source excellent protein directly from plants without any of those nutritional drawbacks! For example, pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids and therefore is considered an excellent source of protein. Since it contains no dairy or soy, it’s regarded as a “clean source” of protein with zero gluten content. Hooray for plant power!

So, if you’re up for supplementing your diet with a protein powder, but you’re not interested in dealing with the possible digestive distress commonly associated with whey, try a plant protein powder instead!