Lifes Abundance content relating to 'health monitoring'

5 Considerations When Choosing Supplements

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There are many wonderful ways to give your health a dietary boost these days, but determining which supplements are best for you can be daunting. The choice for the perfect supplements for your needs really depends upon who you are ... your body’s unique requirements and your personal goals.

If we know anything it's that the internet is rife with unsubstantiated claims and, frankly, bunk recommendations for healthy products that don’t come anywhere near to living up to their hype. Before you start buying nutritional supplements, please carefully consider the following five criteria.

1. Medicinal Intake
Consider your current health and any medicines you’re taking because they might leech your body of necessary vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you regularly take an antibiotic, you might need a probiotic supplement to help keep your gut flora healthy. Or if you’re taking hydroxychloroquine for an autoimmune issue, you’ll need to monitor your folic acid intake. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist when prescribed a new medication to see if you need to supplement your diet during the course of treatment. Additionally, you would be wise to ask if the supplements you are already taking might be contraindicated by your medications.

2. Prevention Goals
Some of us might be worried about a specific ailment (such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) and seek a supplement that could possibly aid in prevention. If this is something you’re concerned about, do your research! Learn which supplements contain the nutritional benefits you are seeking and whether or not there’s science to back up any benefit claims. But don’t trust just anyone, make sure your decisions are based on quality information. A good place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or consult your doctor.

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3. Age
As we grow older, our bodies require additional levels of certain nutrients to stay healthy. Older women tend to experience bone loss (which can lead to an increased risk of fractures), so adding extra calcium is usually a good idea. Older men might need extra dietary fiber if Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are sources of worry. If you’re older than 50, ask your doctor or you might want to check out the National Institute on Aging for helpful vitamin and mineral recommendations (they have loads of other great nutritional information as well)!

4. Gender
The fact is, men and women have different dietary needs. Women tend to need more iron and calcium, while men are often deficient in, well, quite frankly, just about everything. So taking your sex into consideration could be more important than you think.

5. Current Diet
This is really the baseline for everything. Maybe you are strictly following a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high fat), or you’re a vegan or you eat whatever you please. No matter what foods you consume, you should keep close track of your diet for a week and then analyze it to identify any nutritional gaps. Common deficits include fiber, vitamins D and E, probiotics and fish oils. For example, one person may eat a lot of fish and white rice, but forget to add fibrous fruits and veggies. Another might regularly eat veggies and fruits, but not enough protein. This is a healthy exercise in that, once you see what you might be lacking, you can make a more targeted effort in your meal planning. Furthermore, now that you recognize your dietary deficits, you'll be much better equipped to determine which quality supplements (such as a multivitaminfish oil caps or plant protein) you need to maintain balanced nutritional intake.

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Once you've had time to run through all of these considerations, you will be so much more confident that your next steps will actually be tailored to your needs. When you're ready to shop for nourishing supplements, we hope you'll keep Life's Abundance in mind to help fulfill your nutritional supplement needs!

The Future of Veterinary Medicine

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Our lives have been immeasurably changed since the dawn of the computer age. It’s hard to overstate the impact of technology on the future of medicine: it’s changed virtually everything. Much of it is already working its way into your veterinary office. So, what does the veterinary clinic of the future look like? Here are my predictions:

1. You’ll Be Taking Advantage of Telemedicine Options

Fifteen years ago, if your vet wanted a radiologist’s opinion on an x-ray, she would have to pack the film into an envelope and send it off. Nowadays, with digital x-rays, an expert opinion is just a click away.

Right now, telemedicine is mostly used as a means for one veterinarian to consult with another one. Having a remote veterinarian examine and diagnose your pet without seeing him or her in person is currently against the law in most states. Expect veterinary medicine to follow the trends in human medicine; I can talk to a doctor I’ve never met before over the phone about my child’s ear infection and get a prescription, so it’s only a matter of time before consumer demand will make veterinary telemedicine more accessible. It won’t happen until state regulatory boards make it legal, though, so don’t expect this to happen anytime soon.

The intermediate step you will probably notice first is either remote consultations with a veterinarian you already have a relationship, or a third-party triage service that can provide general advice without providing a diagnosis or treatment recommendation. Both of those options are legal under today’s laws. Once that becomes the norm, the rest will follow suit pretty quickly.

2. Health Monitoring Technology Will Grow

Each night, my husband and my son sit down to compare notes from the little fitness trackers they wear on their wrists and see who got the most steps in for the day. In the morning, my husband can tell me exactly when he was in REM sleep and how often he woke up. These devices even sync with our scales. The amount of data is almost overwhelming!

Over the past five years, multiple fitness trackers for dogs have come and gone. Most are still too large to fit on a cat’s collar due to the limitations of the battery size, but we’ll get there soon. Some of them just track steps for the day, but the latest versions can look at data such as breathing rate and whether or not a dog is scratching excessively. That’s good data to have if you are concerned your pet is in pain or wondering if those new allergy meds are helping!

In veterinary medicine, these fitness trackers are just the start. For those who live with diabetic cats, a litter box is in the works that can track glucose in the urine, a vital marker for diabetes. Imagine if that same litter box also could tell you when your cat loses a pound, which is a substantial health concern but often subtle enough that owners don’t notice right away. Expect these technologies to help us catch disease processes sooner rather than later, which will undoubtedly save lives!

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3. We’ll Be Using DNA Analysis to Predict Health

Ever swabbed your cheek and sent it off for a DNA analysis to learn about your ancestors? That’s only the beginning. Genetic testing to see what dog breeds make up your dog’s DNA has already expanded into an enormous database that helps improve our understanding of canine disease. Mapping of the dog genome already allows us to pick up early markers for many genetic diseases such as the MDR1 gene, degenerative myelopathy and Von Willebrand’s disease. Our ability to anticipate these disease processes before they develop will allow us to provide much more meaningful care and prevention.

Having such specific health information about individual companion animals will allow us to make completely individualized treatment plans!

4. We’ll Be Using Bioengineered Solutions to Treat Disease

Stem cells are a huge buzzword these days … but do the results really backup the hype? According to many veterinarians who use them to treat dogs, cats and horses, the answer is “yes!”

Stem cells are unique in that they can differentiate into different cell types, which makes them particularly useful in orthopedic disease where regeneration is a challenge. Stem cells can be harvested from a dog or cat’s own adipose tissue, grown at the lab, and returned to the veterinarian to be introduced to the site of an injury. A 2008 study in Veterinary Therapeutics showed a significant improvement using stem cells in dogs with elbow injuries, a notoriously difficult joint to treat.

Another area of research that makes this vet excited is immunotherapy: a cancer treatment that helps the pet’s own immune system recognize cancer cells as abnormal. Scientists are currently investigating the ability to create immunotherapy treatments for tricky cancers such as mast cell tumors, melanoma and osteosarcoma. Imagine a future where an injectable vaccine reduces the need for more invasive treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation!

Technology is both a blessing and a burden. I admit I sometimes long for the days when I wasn’t accessible 24 hours a day, and have to chase my kids outdoors and off their mobile devices. That being said, I am also so very excited to see how these amazing new developments will improve life for both pets and people!

Are pet health monitoring devices something would consider using? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM