All posts by lifes abundance

Infographic: Fourth of July Safety Prep

We’re only one week away from the Fourth of July! And while we may be ready to celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s one of the hardest times of the year for our companion animals.

Every year, pet parents all across America deal with the emotional toll from fireworks. They’re loud, scary and unpredictable. Even dogs who typically have totally chill personalities can go a bit bonkers at the “bombs bursting in air.” The extreme fear felt by canines can be both traumatic and shocking.

And the patriotic displays aren’t just limited to a single evening. In the days running up to Independence Day, fuses will be lit everywhere from stadiums to cul-de-sacs. So, what can we do to protect our furry friends from explosions of anxiety?

Here’s a handy infographic to help you begin making preparations now to help make this year’s festivities safer, and thus much more pleasant, for everyone! To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF Document

Womansplaining Men’s Health

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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/

Pick The Right Pup: Infographic

There’s never a bad time of year to welcome a new pup into your home, but with kids now out of school, loads of folks are thinking about adopting or buying a dog right now.

What many don’t realize about picking the right pup, while it’s important to learn about a prospective companion animal, it’s just as vital to know yourself. By thinking about what you want and need in a canine companion, you’ll be better prepared when you try to find that perfect match. To help guide you, we created this handy infographic!

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. Be sure to print a copy to help inform your big decision!

PDF Document

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!

Happy National Puppy Day

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They're adorable and loving. They're hilarious and a bit clumsy. And they're so soft and cuddly. As much as they depend on you, we all really know who's really coming out on top in this relationship ... you! Whether you're celebrating National Puppy Day with fond memories of a past puppy, or you're living puppy day in the moment, these sweet creatures are special in every way!

Cherry Limeade Fresh Whips

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The perfect complement to any springtime table setting, it just doesn’t get any better than this sweet treat! Not only does it double as festive décor, it's also loaded with nutrition. Packed with protein from egg whites, a super-health boost from Life's Abundance Minerals & Antioxidants and minimal sugar, the crowd will come running for more.

This simple recipe yields about 45 cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

2 egg whites

2 scoops Minerals & Antioxidants (Cherry or Tropical Fruit Flavor)

1/2 C confectioner sugar

1/4 tsp lime zest

DIRECTIONS:

Place the oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 (see overnight method) or 225 degrees (see alternate method). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form (about 15 minutes). Slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, sprinkle Minerals & Antioxidants one scoop at a time and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

Spoon small dollops (about 1-inch round) onto the parchment paper. Or, you can pipe the batter onto the parchment using a pastry bag and 3/4-inch tip. Dust each cookie with a sprinkling of lime zest.

Overnight Method (325 degrees):  Once the cookies are in the oven close the door and turn the oven off. Do not open the door until morning.

Alternate Method (225 degrees):  Bake the cookies for 35 minutes and then turn the oven off, allowing the cookies to continue drying as the oven cools.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Enjoy!

5 Common Signs of Mineral Deficiency

unexplained-aches-and-pains

Don’t take this the wrong way, but chances are that you’re deficient … in minerals. That’s because nearly half of the U.S. population receives less than the daily recommended levels of one or more minerals. Despite awareness campaigns to highlight the critical role minerals play in optimal body function, confusion persists about how to avoid a mineral deficiency and know if you’re affected.

Inadequate mineral intake has become problematic because our food supply simply does not provide the same amounts or variety of minerals that diets did 100 years ago. This is largely because our food is grown in increasingly de-mineralized soils. Plus, the more that we rely on processed food (even if it’s fortified), the fewer minerals we ultimately consume.

Other factors affecting mineral levels include pregnancy, dehydration-causing illnesses like those involving vomiting or diarrhea, and more serious medical conditions such as kidney disease. Certain medications and alcohol consumption are also common causes of reduced mineral absorption. For these reasons, in the U.S. nearly a quarter of all of dietary supplements are purchased based on a physician’s recommendation.

tired-at-work

That covers a lot of territory. So, how do you know which column you’re in – adequate or deficient? To help you make a determination, here are the top five most common signs of mineral deficiency and their underlying culprits:

1. Low energy or fatigue: If you’ve been waking up tired, relying on an extra cup of coffee, or generally wondering where the pep in your step has gone, it may be a sign that you are low in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, sodium, selenium, copper or chromium.

2. Aches and pains: If your limbs feel a bit wobbly after walking a flight of stairs, you are experiencing leg cramps or have unexplained joint or bone pain, you may have low levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium or manganese.

3. Emotional or cognitive symptoms: Inadequate magnesium, iron, potassium, sodium, zinc or chromium contribute to irritability, confusion, brain fog, mood swings and even anxiety. Be aware that women’s mineral stores are regularly depleted. Experimenting with supplementation during ovulation can be a means to help with menstrual symptoms of an upcoming cycle.

4. Tummy trouble: We commonly associate bloating, gas, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea with food sensitivity, but low levels of potassium, sodium, zinc and magnesium can also lead to these same gastric issues.

5. Visible changes in your appearance: Calcium, iron, sulfur, zinc and copper all support the integumentary system which is the protective grouping that involves hair, skin and nails. The development of brittle, course or thinning hair, pale skin or brittle, yellow or spotted nails can all point to a long-running deficiency in one or more of these minerals.

brittle-hair

For precise information and advice on your mineral levels, talk to your doctor about adding these tests as part of your annual physical. If the results indicate a deficiency, be aware that even with supplementation and diet improvements, it may take up to a year to fully reverse depletions such that a blood test can confirm. That being said, your efforts will surely be rewarded!

To add a steady source of minerals to your diet without investing in half a dozen costly supplements, look for one product that provides a wide array of these life-sustaining substances. Life’s Abundance Minerals & Antioxidants drink mix fits that bill, containing 74 trace minerals including calcium and magnesium that have been sustainably sourced from sea vegetables. Plus, this product features a wealth of antioxidants from 11 super fruits and alkalizing, electrolyte-rich organic coconut water. This formula features aloe vera powder which provides a source of digestive enzymes to help maximize the product’s benefit. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious, which makes Minerals & Antioxidants a dream solution to give the entire family what they’ve been missing.

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!

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Smoothie

Really, do we need to provide any explanation for the taste sensation of combining chocolate and peanut butter? Even vanilla lovers look to this yummy combo when they want to be a bit naughty.

Now we’ve turned this world-famous flavor into a healthy and satisfying shake that you can enjoy as often as you like!

So, go ahead and treat yourself to this super simple, incredibly delicious and oh so healthy temptation.

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Smoothie

1 cup milk of choice
1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/2 ripe frozen banana
1 scoop Life's Abundance Chocolate Plant Protein
5-10 ice cubes (fewer cubes for thickness)

Blend for 10-15 seconds and serve in your favorite glass. What could be easier!

Ginger-Vanilla Protein Bar Recipe

With this crave-worthy recipe at your fingertips you’ll no longer worry about falling off the healthy eating band-wagon at snack time. Plus, you can spread your great inspiration by making an extra batch to share with friends and co-workers.

The best part is that because this isn’t a perfectly scientific recipe, it can be a clearinghouse for your pantry. Don’t have sunflower seeds or sun butter on hand? No problem, swap them out for chopped pumpkin seeds and that last 1/3 of a jar of nut butter lurking in the back corner. Or, put those pecans leftover from holiday baking to work in place of almonds, all in the name of good eating.

Even with this versatility, be sure to stick with the crystallized ginger (at least for your first batch) because it is undoubtedly the superstar of this recipe (less Kim Kardashian, more Dame Judi Dench).

Let us know how your batch turns out and if you made following these exact directions, or if you got creative!

Ginger-Vanilla Protein Bars

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
scant 1/2 cup Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
1 cup oats (gluten free optional)
1 cup corn flakes, pounded to large crumbs
1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (approx. 3 oz whole pieces)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter, whisk in maple syrup. Add milk and protein powder, whisk together until smooth. In large bowl, add oats, corn flakes, almonds, sunflower seeds and about 3/4 ginger pieces. Pour melted butter mixture over dry ingredients, mix together thoroughly. Add sun butter to mixture and mix well, kneading with hands if necessary. Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment, foil or non-stick spray. Transfer mixture into pan; using a spatula or damp hands, press down firmly in even layer. Sprinkle shredded coconut and remaining ginger pieces, press down into bars. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.