All posts by lifes abundance

Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer Heat

Everyone knows not to leave their companion animals unattended in a hot car. But there's much more you can do to counteract the high temps we've been encountering this summer.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, which can often prove deadly. With a smidge of prep work and consideration, you can protect your floofers from the worst heat-related health issues. In this month's infographic, we're showcasing five tips that pet parents should know to keep their doggos safe and cool when the heat is on.

Without any further ado, here’s our handy infographic will all the details. To view or download the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF DocumentPDF Document

Do you have any additional tips for beating the summer heat? Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

7 Common Causes of Chronic Headaches

tension-headache

Chances are, you've interacted with more than one person today who's suffering from a headache. There are likely a number of people reading this post right now who have a headache. That's because millions of Americans suffer from mild-to-intense headaches. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer from chronic headaches on a daily basis.

For those who have more days per month with a headache than without, life starts to feel like an endurance test more than anything else. Between the pain, the throbbing and the pounding, folks with chronic headaches will begin to have difficulty concentrating. This lack of focus can prove quite dangerous, especially if your job puts you in hazardous situations.

If your headaches began all of a sudden and have lasted for three months or longer, you may be experiencing what experts refer to as New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH). Such head pain may grow or slack off in intensity, but they are constant. There are medications to provide relief for such round-the-clock headaches, as well as relaxation techniques and biofeedback which have had some success in treating NDPH's.

Do you or someone you know have chronic headaches? Here are seven common causes, along with some idea about how to remedy such triggers.

1. Medications
Some prescription medications may have the potential to trigger a headache. It may not be just one medication causing the problem, but rather an interaction between prescriptions or even over-the-counter medications. If you've recently switched up your prescription routine, and seen a corresponding increase in headaches, please consult with your doctor.

2. Stress & Anxiety
Stress can take a toll on you, and it's a common cause of tension headaches. If you can avoid stressful situations, great. If not, learning to cope with stress and be more chill could really help. If you're unfamiliar with breathing exercises, just Google it! They're easy to find online and take very little time and effort to yield results. Breathing and relaxation exercises may ease anxiety in stressful situations and prevent possible headaches. Just remember to breathe, relax and maybe take a stroll if your present environment is causing you undue stress.

bad-headache-day

3. Auditory & Visual Causes
Loud, repetitive sounds can definitely lead to bad headaches ... just ask anyone who has lived nearby a construction site. But it's not just super-loud sounds, even low levels of continuous noise can trigger head pain. Calming music playing over noise-cancelling headphones may help. Brightness from your computer screen, sunlight or overhead lights can ramp up the pain. Turning down your screen brightness, or simply switching your devices to night-mode, could make a significant difference.

4. Hormonal Changes
The sad truth is that women are more likely to suffer from chronic headaches than men. When estrogen levels drop, especially right before a period, you may be more likely to develop a headache. Keep track of your cycle in a journal or diary. By analyzing the data, you may be better able to plan for future headaches. We recommend that you share your diary with your doctor, especially if the patterns indicate a correlation between your cycle and chronic headaches.

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5. Poor Posture
Believe it or not, but your parents were right. Maintaining good posture can have a noticeable effect on your health. This is no laughing matter, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time looking down at our phones (text neck, it's a thing). Whether you're in your office chair or on your couch at home, sit up straight and raise your device to eye level to keep your blood flowing. Be sure to get up and move around every so often, especially if you spend hours hunched over your desk. Just as it is important to be aware of your posture during the day, you should also be mindful of your body position when you sleep. Don’t sleep in an strangely contorted position - especially in a cold room – as this can lead to painful muscle spasms. No one enjoys waking up in excrutiating pain, especially if you're already sleep-deprived, so take this suggestion to heart!

6. Too Little or Too Much Exercise
Since Ancient Greek times, thinkers and philosophers have cautioned us with variations on the phrase, "moderation in all things." Both physical over-exertion and not getting sufficient exercise can increase your risk for headaches. If you're leading a mostly sedentary life now and plan to begin an exercise routine, just be sure to start things off slow at the gym. Pushing too hard can result in an exertion headache from the swelling of blood vessels in your head, neck and scalp. To avoid such a scenarios, talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.

7. Poor Nutrition
Food and drink release neurotransmitters, which can cause headaches in some people. Such triggers include aspartame, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, alcohol (especially red wine), cheese and others. Skipping meals or eating junk foods can deprive your body of sorely needed nutrition. Doctors recommend focusing on a healthy balanced diet, with a good mixture of slow-release energy foods (taken in small, evenly spaced meals) and limiting your intake of refined sugars. To ensure that you're getting all of the nourishment you need, we encourage you to check out our selection of premium health supplements. Each innovative product was carefully formulated by registered dietitian, healthy cooking expert and author Keri Glassman, founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life.

Word of caution ... if you have eliminated all of these potential causes as the trigger of your head pain, be aware that there are other serious causes that can lead to a sudden headache. You should make an appointment with your doctor right away. GP's may order imaging tests - such as an MRI or a CT scan - to rule out more serious conditions that require immediate treatment.

Have you discovered a way to overcome your chronic headaches? We're interested to learn how. Please leave your helpful tips in the comments section below!

BBQ Fun on a Budget

mom-grilling

For most of us, when we hear “BBQ”, we think great food, cold drinks, good friends, fun time with family and also did we mention great food?

Summer BBQs are so much easier than an elaborate dinner party. They’re generally outdoors, totally casz and not nearly as much work. And, really, there’s no reason they can’t be inexpensive and stress-free, too!

Here are our ten best ideas for a banging, budget-friendly barbeque. Be sure to take advantage of any summer sales of fresh produce, like corn on the cob or tomatoes, and you’ll end up paying even less. Mix and match to meet your needs, fit your budgetary and time constraints, and don’t forget to add a dash of your own personal flair.

APPS:

Deviled Eggs - Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and they are very affordable. Deviled eggs recipes are easy to find and make, they taste great and go with almost any food. Be sure to make these in advance and store in the fridge until party time.

Dip & Veggies - Broccoli and carrots are inexpensive veggies. Buy fresh and wash and cut yourself. French onion dip is economical and goes great with veggies. If you’re looking for something more exotic, try our amazing Blackberry Tapenade!

Popcorn Recipe - This terrific snack food is relatively healthy and certainly easy on the pocket, typically costing less than $2 a pound. To make air-popped popcorn, place one-fourth cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag, fold the top a time or two to seal and heat it in the microwave until it stops popping. Add toppings of your choice, such as olive oil, sea salt or Parmesan cheese.

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MAIN DISH:

The Meat - You don’t need to break bank to make a barbecue banquet. Chicken legs and thighs are much more flavorful than the breast. Try skirt or flank steak and skip the more expensive cuts of beef. And there’s always the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs. With a ton of recipes available, you can easily choose whatever fits your budget best!

SIDES: 

Bread - Nothing pleases, or fills up happy guests, like fresh-baked breads. Check your supermarket bakery for rolls, biscuits or buns – whatever works with your main course.

Potato Dish - Russet potatoes are an excellent source of nutrients and typically available for a reasonable price. Potato salad is a great traditional dish but you can also roast them in the oven with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and oil olive.

Pasta Salad & Beans - Canned beans are budget-friendly, in addition to being highly nutritious. Different types of beans vary in price, but you can generally find them for less than $1 a pound. Same goes for pasta! Simply locate a fun, zesty recipe that complements your other dishes and mix up something wonderful!

DESSERT: 

Fruit – Nothing says “summer is here” like watermelon. It’s is usually cheapest in the summer and you can cut into crowd-pleasing shapes. Or, if you want to try something that’s sure to delight any kids in attendance, check out our delicious Mango Tropsicles!

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DRINKS: 

Punch – You know the saying “pleased as punch?” Fruit punch is much less expensive to serve than canned or bottled beverages. For an adult punch, look for a white summer sangria recipe with lemons and limes and wine and ginger ale. Also, be sure to check out our summer drink, Summer Wonder Slushie, which is not only easy to make, it’s chock full of goodness thanks to our Minerals & Antioxidants mix. 

There you have it … ten fabulous ideas to make your next BBQ a serious hit with friends and family. After a bit of prep work, all that will be left to do is pump up the volume and let the good times roll!

Infographic: 5 Common Cat Allergies

You hear a lot about people being allergic to cats, but did you know that sometimes THEY are allergic to US?

The truth is that you hear very little about what allergies cats suffer, even though a significant percentage of domesticated cats have them. In this month's infographic, we're highlighting five common feline allergies that pet parents should be aware of.

Do you already suspect your cat is suffering from a chronic allergy? Be on the look-out for the symptoms, such as:  sneezing, coughing or wheezing; itchy skin and watery eyes; ear infections; vomiting or diarrhea; noticeably louder snoring; and swollen or irritated paws. Some of these symptoms aren't what you would expect, so keep a journal (or at least a running list) of any health-related issues. That way, you'll be prepared to discuss all the relevant details should a vet visit become necessary.

In the meantime, here’s our handy infographic that reveals the most common causes of cat allergies and what pet parents can do to help their feline companions feel better. To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

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The Best Way to Pet a Cat

cat-petting

If you haven't had much experience with cats, or if you want to teach your kids how they can be affectionate without worrying about getting scratched, we’ve got the inside scoop on how felines want to be petted.

So, what’s the correct way to pet a cat? You may think, no one needs to tell me how to do a simple thing. But the truth is that petting a cat isn’t something you can do by intuition alone. If you’ve never had a close relationship with a cat, maybe because you had a bad experience before, don’t worry. We can help you change all that with a short tutorial. Simply follow the guidelines below and you too can begin to know the joys of feline companionship.

If there’s one rule to keep in mind, it’s that petting a cat is very different from petting a dog. While dogs usually love a good belly rub, cats typically do not. Why is this true? It boils down to psychology. Generally speaking, dogs are usually pretty secure in their identity as a predator. You may even know of a few tiny dogs who believe themselves to be big bad wolves (looking at you Chihuahuas and Terriers). However, cats are more cautious, because in the wild, they identify as both predator and prey. That’s why cats remain on high alert much of the time. If a cat feels threatened – like when someone they don’t know unexpectedly touches their soft underbelly - he will act defensively to protect his vital organs. Better you than him, he would say.

right-spot

So, the secret spots where cats enjoy being scratched are where a cat’s scent glands are located: in the cheeks, the top of the head and at the base of the tail. When a cat rubs against a piece of furniture or your leg, it’s referred to as bunting. Bunting is how a cat spreads his scent. It’s his way of saying, “Hey, I like you and want to include you among the things that make me happy.” Bunting releases pheromones, making objects – or people - in his environment smell familiar. It also has the added benefit of reducing stress!

Around the head is a sure-fire hit with most kitties. Rub your cat along the crown at the top of the head, gently under his chin, in front of the ears and cheeks behind the whiskers. Hit this last spot just right and your cat will actually rotate his whiskers forward, indicating interest and friendliness.

With cats, it really pays to be observant about how each individual responds to different kinds of touches. Most cats like it when you run your hand along the spine. Some even enjoy gentle pressure at the base of the tail. In fact, they’ll let you know by sticking their tails straight up. If you notice any growling or tail-swishing, these are clues that your cat is becoming overstimulated and may lash out. For cats with heightened sensitivities, it’s best to stick with gently scratching their head and neck.

kitty-scritches

If you’re interacting with a timid kitty, always let them come to you first. As you might imagine, chasing someone down is not a good way to start a new relationship with a cat (or anyone, for that matter). Instead, try a “peace offering.” When approaching timid cats, give them a couple of tasty morsels, like our Gourmet Cat Treats for Skin & Coat Health, to show that you’re friendly and mean no harm. This positive reinforcement for affectionate behavior could have your cat saying, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

We hope you find these tips helpful for tuning you in to your inner cat nature, and that you too will now feel completely at ease with all kitties.

7 Tips to Help You Sleep Like a Baby

perfect-night-sleep

Are you one of the millions of Americans who tosses and turns every night? It might be that, without even realizing it, you’re breaking the cardinal rules of sound sleep.

Stress, lack of exercise, poor diets and more play a significant role in insomnia. But since those are all “big things” to deal with, we’re focusing on low or no-cost, simple strategies you can try tonight to help you sleep like a baby. Here are seven simple adjustments you can make in your nighttime routine to help you drift off quickly and slumber more soundly.

Think Herbal. People all over the world have been using herbal remedies to get a good night’s sleep. Melatonin is produced naturally by the body, but if your schedule’s out of whack, taking a melatonin supplement can prove beneficial. Additionally, valerian has been used for centuries as a remedy for various sleeping disorders.

Be Comfy. There’s really no understating the importance of a quality mattress and pillows. Also, discover your perfect sleep temperature, which according to experts is between 60-67 degrees. 

Turn Off Your Screens. When you’re in bed, the light from your phones, tablets and laptops can seriously affect your circadian rhythms. That’s because these devices emit light that’s on the blue end of the visible spectrum, which can make it harder to fall asleep. If you can’t give up your devices, be sure to use “night mode” to avoid disruptive lighting. Some believe that the electromagnetic interference from these devices can cause sleep deprivation, so it’s better not to sleep by a charging device.

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Mind Your Feet. Have you ever woken to find at least one foot exposed? Though we’re not exactly sure why this tip works – most connect it to your body’s unconscious desire for a cooler temp – some find that leaving one or both feet uncovered will actually help you drift off faster.

Eat & Drink for Sleep. Everyone knows, don't eat a big meal before bedtime. Same goes for not eating, as your body has built-in protections against hunger which manifests as discomfort. And lay off the caffeine and alcohol. Even if you don’t feel jittery, caffeine’s effects can last for hours. While a nightcap might make you feel sleepy, it has a seriously negative effect on your body’s ability to remain soundly asleep.

Embrace Ritual. To prepare your body for sleep, adopt a new ritual! Having a regular task – like reading, listening to calming music or a hot bath – can be an unconscious signifier to your body that it’s time to enter “sleep mode”. Drinking herbal tea or warmed milk with honey is easy, quick, and not to mention, tasty.

Be Predictable. Champion sleepers swear by sleep schedules, allocating no more than eight hours for sleep (healthy adults typically require at least seven hours). Again, keeping to the same schedule will subconsciously train your body to sleep when you’re ready.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping after trying these tips, we advise that you speak with your physician.

Have you found a reliable solution to your insomnia? Be sure to leave your personal insights in the comments section below!

Summer Wonder Slushie

summer-wonder-slushie

We think it's time you adopted a new favorite beverage. Something chilled, tropical, real fruit flavor but nothing fake. Something easy, that you can blend to perfection in mere moments. Something that reminds us of the brash colors and bright sounds of summers long past. Something truly refreshing, delighting your taste buds, cooling your insides when it's impossibly hot out, and giving your body the nourishment it truly craves. 

Our culinary team has whipped this smashing summer apéritif that seriously might become your new favorite fruit drink! What’s so amazing is that it’s packed with nutrients, thanks to our incredibly nourishing Minerals & Antioxidants Drink Mix.

The following ingredients will make one large "Summer Wonder Slushie". If you're serving at a party, multiply times however many slushies you want to make, and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh fruit
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  • 1 scoop Minerals & Antioxidants (Cherry or Tropical Fruit)
  • Herbs, spices, honey or other flavor add-ins

Directions

1. Wash and roughly chop the fruit, discarding any pits or unwanted peels.

2. Add all ingredients except Minerals & Antioxidants to a blender. Blend on high until the ice is completely crushed and fruit is blended. Add more ice or fruit as needed to reach your desired slushie consistency.

3. Pour into a glass and stir in Minerals & Antioxidants.

4. Sip the slushie, close your eyes, and be transported to the paradise of a carefree summer.

Small But Mighty Chihuahuas

They may be the tiniest of puppers, but Chihuahuas have big personalities in spades, as well as a storied history and a loyal following. That's why May 14th has been named International Chihuahua Appreciation Day!

Learn more about the origins of this ancient breed in the fun and handy infographic below. 

Do you have a Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix? Share your stories about this clever little breed in the comments section below! And don't forget to celebrate these tiny tykes on May 14th!

 

Chihuahua Appreciation Infographic

Six Principles of Eating Clean

Clean-breakfast

Everything old is new again, as is common with all sorts of trends, but now Millenials are seeking out a simpler, more nourishing philosophy of food. Thanks to their renewed commitment to health, the principle of "eating clean" has found a home in this demographic. And, for some of their parents as well.

Eating clean is a new way of referring to a relatively longstanding mindset. In the 1960's, the natural food movement rejected processed foods, which were wildly popular at the time, not for health reasons, but rather for ethical ones. Today, it's about choosing more nourishing options than those offered by giant corporations that use unrecognizable chemical ingredients.

The whole idea behind eating clean is a reliance on healthy, whole and unprocessed food. Rather than counting calories, or restricting oneself to one kind of food (like, for instance, only those low in carbohydrates), this guiding philosophy is more a lifestyle, a consciousness about what qualifies as nutritious. Those who practice it find that it gives you more energy, and because it's flexible and thus adaptable, regardless of your unique routine. For our modern times, where people generally feel pressed for time and always in need of quality fuel to burn, it's the perfect fit.

Colorful-salad

To adopt the "eating clean" mindset, you won't have to keep up with complex formulas or calculations. Fortunately, you'll only need to understand six essential principles of this dietary philosophy, as follows ...

1. Stop eating processed foods in favor of whole, natural foods. A simple rule to remember is that if it comes in a box, can or brightly colored packaging, it's probably processed. Your grocery cart should be full of color, but only natural colors - fruits, veggies, nuts ... you get the idea.

2. Just say "no" to refined foods. Obviously, it takes a great deal of effort to do this 100% of the time, but committing to a daily intake of whole grains from sources like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet is definitely the way to go. And don't forget legumes and beans, as they're great vegetarian sources of protein. You'll also want to end your consumption of high fructose corn syrup, opting instead for sugars from maple syrup, honey and dehydrated sugar cane juice.

3. Say "goodbye" to meals with huge portions. Instead, spread out your consumption with 5-6 small meals evenly spaced throughout your day. These meals don't have to be all exactly the same size. A less drastic change for people who are accustomed to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner is to have three primary meals with small snacks in between. By adopting the small-snack strategy, you'll be less inclined to overeat at your main meals. Additionally, you'll find that spacing out your meals and snacks will help keep your energy up and your blood sugar levels even.

Fruit-salad

4. Every meal should include proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Most Americans don't need to be told to consume carbs and fats, but we often fall short when it comes to protein intake. Not only is protein essential for healthy muscles, it's great for curbing your appetite. Like with almost anything in life, balance is key.

5. Don't overdo it when it comes to the consumption of sugar, fat and salt. Don't worry, it's not that difficult when you eliminate processed foods from your diet. As you live with your new mindset, you'll soon find this is true, because clean foods are typically low in all of these ingredients.

6. Remember to move your body. Just as important as consuming clean foods is using that fuel to power regular physical activity. Establishing an exercise habit may be challenging at first, but within just a few weeks, it'll become second nature. Not only will you feel better, you'll sleep better too! And when you're burning that healthy fuel, you'll be decreasing your body's store of fat while also building your muscles. Soon, you'll be burning more energy even when you're resting, with the added benefit of improving your heart, lung and bone health, too!

We hope you'll start adopting some of these super healthy clean food attitudes and habits. We guarantee that once you commit to living healthier, you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of clean eating.

Five Reasons Why Pets Eat Grass

Tempted to Graze

It’s a question pet parents routinely ponder. While there are competing theories regarding why dogs and cats consume grass, a conclusive answer has yet to be supported by scientific study. Here’s a brief overview of the current speculation behind your companion animal’s impulse to graze …

1. It’s an ancestral thing. The prey of wild dogs and cats frequently have grasses in their intestinal system, so domesticated dogs and cats still retain a yearning for a spot of grass in their diet.

2. Our companion animals know of some nutritional value in grasses that we have yet to uncover (such as antioxidants).

3. They do it to provoke vomiting if they’ve eaten something that has upset their stomachs.

4. They are augmenting their keen sense of smell with taste to discover more about their environment.

5. They simply like the taste and texture of grass, so it’s just for the sake of satisfaction!

Although we may never know the exact reason why, we do know that this is one of the most commonly asked questions that veterinarians hear from their clients. If you notice excessive grass-eating with either your dog or cat, please consult your vet.