All posts by lifes abundance

Tailgating The Healthier Way

tailgating-made-healthy-lifes-abundance

Fresh fall air, over-the-top team spirit, delicious food and your favorite beer — tailgate parties offer up a true slice of Americana! And this time of year, untold sports enthusiasts enjoy these gatherings every week, outside stadiums and in backyards from coast to coast.

Unfortunately, tailgating also has the potential to wreck your best-laid plans for a healthy diet. Hot dogs and lager, while some might argue to be among humankind’s great achievements, pack enough fat and empty calories to set you back several hours at the gym. Sorry to rain your parade, but it’s true.

That said, there’s no need for you to stand on the periphery of your group, forlornly choking down baby carrots while your friends inhale nachos by the fistful. No, that won’t do at all. What you need is a better game day game plan!

The Proteins

Bratwurst and hot dogs are tempting, but traditional varieties are chock full of saturated fat and sodium, not exactly heart-healthy. “Hot dogs are processed meats with a high content of salt, saturated fat, and additives including nitrites/nitrates, which may be carcinogenic,” said Jennifer Glockner, a registered nurse and the creator of Smartee Plate, on Eat This Not That.1 Resist the siren call of cured pork and all-beef products and reach for lower-fat options made from chicken or turkey. Or drive your meat-loving friends crazy with a vegetarian or vegan hot dog.2

If burgers are more your jam, opt for the leanest ground beef possible — 98% lean if you’re feeling virtuous, 93% if you want a little more flavor. Slap that sucker on a whole-wheat bun with ample tomatoes and lettuce, and you have yourself a veritable health food.

The Sides

Yes, tater tots are delicious. Yes, we know you want fries with that. Yes, you could technically eat just one. But please repeat after us: Oil-soaked potato products are not your friends. True, they’re a decent source of potassium — that’s how we used to justify eating them, too — but we’d argue that the 170-300 calories and 10-15 grams of fat in each serving aren’t worth the tradeoff. Instead of regular fries, opt for a handful made from antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes. Or if you must have chips, choose baked. Air-popped popcorn and pretzels are also imminently snackable, lighter options. You might also cook up a batch of tots made from cauliflower, the cornerstone of the low-carb diet. Loaded with vitamin C and fiber, they’ll satisfy your crunch needs without sabotaging your weight goals. And it’s always easy to bring a veggie platter with a side of hummus to a party!

The Libations

You didn’t think we’d forget this part, did you? Most regular beers have at least 150 calories in them, or as our inner grouch likes to think of it, between 10 and 20 minutes running on a treadmill. But fret not. Thanks to the wonders of science, we now have a plethora of perfectly acceptable-tasting light beers from which to choose — some with as few as 55 calories and 2 carbs per bottle. Or, you could crack open a can or single-serving bottle of dry wine and sip it s-l-o-w-l-y. We want rushing yards, not rushing blood-alcohol levels (which could lower your inhibitions in the eating department).

Don't drink alcohol? No problem! Although purified water is always a good choice, you could kick it up a notch by adding sliced fruit or cucumber. Or perhaps you’d like one of the gazillion flavored seltzers on the market, most of them with no calories and little sodium. Green and black tea, both excellent sources antioxidants, are another great choice.

The Sweet Stuff

No one expects you to bring a bag of grapefruit slices to the party. That’s ridiculous. But we also can’t give you license to chow down on gooey, football-size cookies, some of which contain a full meal’s worth of calories in one pillowy serving. Tough love mandates a compromise. Ginger snaps are big on flavor and smaller on calories and fat. Not a fan? Look for options with more than a gram of fiber, which fills you up, aids in digestion and also helps control blood sugar.3 Fig Newtons, anyone?

If you’d prefer candy, break off a few squares of dark chocolate, which has loads of antioxidants and enough flavor that a little goes a long way toward satisfying your sweet tooth.

What are your favorite tailgating health foods? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And may the best team win!

REFERENCES:
1. www.eatthis.com/healthy-tailgating-foods-for-weight-loss
2. www.wired.com/story/in-defense-of-the-vegan-hot-dog
3. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

My Skin’s Road To Redemption Is Paved In Serum

friends-on-the-road

Author Profile: 40-something mom of two; Life’s Abundance marketing manager; part-time farmer; full-time penny pincher; a little more crunchy than country.

My dearest friend from college, Kristan, has spent much of our friendship lovingly prodding me to take care of my appearance — via makeup tips, wardrobe audits, encouragement toward adopting a basic skin care routine, etc. Much the way I view my floors — “With a good scrubbing, that tile will really shine!” — she’s long been adamant that a little TLC could do wonders for my complexion.

Alas. Clean floors and counters bring me joy, but for most of my adulthood, I just haven’t found it within myself to invest time and money into my own appearance. Then I turned 40, and a close look at my reflection led to an unsettling series of revelations. I have perpetually dry skin despite my high-humidity environment, irritating monthly breakouts, patchy redness on my cheeks and fine lines around my eyes (OMG).

I realized Kristan had been right all along — skin care was worth my attention. The proof was staring back at me in the mirror.

Now, in fairness to myself, it’s not like I’d neglected my skin completely. For years I’d bounced around between organic or natural daily moisturizers. I’m a label-reader, so though I never loved any of these products (and they clearly weren’t working for me given the state of my complexion), I stuck with my lotion strategy. After all, these were nontoxic — that’s worth something, right?

For a while, I was generally OK with this half-truth. But when my 30s ended, it was time to get real. With those lines around my eyes, smiling suddenly felt like a high-stakes game. Because my skin felt so parched and brittle, I was certain any expression of emotion would be permanently etched into my face. I needed to make a change.

So, I took a deep breath and plunged into the murky and expensive world of serums. Being new to this level of skin care (and a little bitter about having to undertake this journey in the first place), I didn’t know what I was looking for, which made the shopping process unpleasant and tedious. Researching these potential cures-in-a-bottle — vetting their ingredients, reading their claims and poring over online reviews — was about as much fun as listening to Uncle Jim drone on about his wine collection during family dinners. And no matter how much money I spent, I got mixed results. Sometimes these products left me feeling greasy; other times they had no effect at all. Regardless, I used every last drop because I’d spent my family’s money on this higher-priced product. Always I cursed my inability to get the skin I wanted.

Countless disappointments later, I thought I had three options — live with new wrinkles, shell out big bucks for not-so-nontoxic treatments, or train myself not to smile.

But then, my employer developed a skin-care line, and I decided to give serums one more try.

lifes-abundance-serum

Life’s Abundance doesn’t mess around with iffy ingredients, and we pride ourselves on selling products that deliver on their promises. And guys, this product delivers. I introduced Life’s Abundance Serum into my routine without changing anything else. After a week of once-daily use, the redness on my cheeks was completely gone! I have small pores to begin with, hence the dry skin, but they’ve tightened up and smoothed out even more. I feel like my skin looks flawless! Plus, I am delighted to report — NO monthly breakouts! I’ve now found a balance using the serum two to three times a week, and the Life’s Abundance Facial Moisturizer on the other days. And, shout out to all the other label-readers out there: This formula is 100% botanical. Read it and leap!

Bottom line: If my complexion was smooth, plump and even-toned when I was 20, I didn’t appreciate it. But, I sure do now.

Arin-Roos
Arin Roos, Marketing Director

World’s Creepiest Cat Legends

hearing-scary-cat-stories

If we asked you to name something spooky about cats, you’d probably mention a black cat crossing your path leading to misfortune. But a bit of bad luck pales in comparison to some of the terrifying myths of times past.

Cats are undeniably mysterious. There’s just something about those haunting eyes, their silent, stealthy movements and a wail that reminds some of babies crying. Whatever the cause, that air of mystery has lead humans over the course of human history to entertain a whole host of seriously scary - or even downright strange - beliefs involving felines. Honestly, it would be easy to fill a book’s worth of information of this topic, but we’ve culled that down to a manageable list of five. After reading these decidedly spooky superstitions, you’ll feel like the scaredy cat. But don’t worry, your sweet kitty will be there to comfort you.

Sith Cats

A fairy creature from both Celtic and Scottish mythology, Sith Cats were large black cats with splash of white fur on its chest. While Sith Cats were believed to be spectral in nature, they were inspired by actual creatures known as Kellas cats, a hybrid between wildcats and domestic cats only found in Scotland. They were believed to have wicked purposes, including a desire to consume souls immediately after death. Every year on Samhain (which we now celebrate as Halloween), houses where an offering of a saucer of milk was left outside would be blessed by the being, while those that did not would suffer a curse. Fun Fact: The Scots believed the Cat Sith was actually a witch that had the ability to transform into a cat, but that the witch was limited to only nine transformations in a lifetime. Scholars believe this is the origin of the belief that cats enjoy nine lives!

The Matagot

First conceived in the oral traditions of southern France, the Matagot (also referred to as Mandagot) is a mischievous spirit. While it was capable of shapeshifting into a number of animals (such as a rat, a fox, a dog and even a cow), its preferred form was that of a black cat. Matagots were considered evil in nature, but they could be trapped whereupon it would take a largely beneficial role for its captor. The legend states that if you lured one from its hiding spot with a serving of fresh, meaty chicken and then scooped it up and walked straight home without looking behind you, it would become a source of dependable good fortune. There were a couple of catches, as there always are with magical beings. First, before every meal, you would have to feed the first mouthful of your food and the first sip of your drink to the Matagot. If you managed to stick to that routine, each morning you would find a gold coin. Second, you would have to release the creature from this servitude well prior to your death. Otherwise, your last days on earth would assuredly be agonizingly painful.

screaming-cat

The Bakeneko of Nabeshima (aka, Vampire Cat)

The origin of this terrifying legend is from 16th century Japan. One of the more frightening creatures, this cat not only sought to devour humans, but immediately afterwards would assume their victim’s exact likeness, whereupon they would attempt to deceive other humans, thus continuing a vicious cycle. Aside from their shapeshifting abilities, they were believed to wear strange hats for dancing, perfectly imitate human speech, have the ability to place hexes on people (especially those who were known for their cruelty to cats), possession, and even a penchant for hiding in mountainous locales where they would tame and train wolves to assist them in attacking weary travelers far from home.

The Wampus Cat

Believed to originate among the Cherokee people, the mythical Wampus Cat is a common staple of Appalachian folklore. A shapeshifter, its most common manifestation was as a large, wild cat, but it could also take the shape of a beautiful woman. It was considered a ferocious creature, capable of driving even the bravest of warriors to the brink of insanity. J.K. Rowling’s fans may recognize this magical being as a source for the hair that Garrick Ollivander used in the creation of certain magic wands. Fun Fact: the word “catawampus,” which means “out of alignment” but also “fierce and destructive,” arises from this myth.

frightening-feline

The Black Cat of KillaKee

Like all of the supernatural kitties, this Irish creature's origins began centuries ago. However, sightings have continued into modern times, which makes this arguably the most frightening. Like the tall tales that are common in the area, this one is attached to a particular great house. But we can assure you, nothing like this ever happened on Downton Abbey. Located in Dublin, the Killakee House was rumored to be haunted by a spectacularly creepy cat. Though technically it stalked the grounds, unlike other big cat sightings in the UK, the main difference is that this cat is supernatural.

In 1968, a young couple bought the Killakee House and began much needed renovations. Within days, workers started hearing strange noises and sensing things that quite frankly were decidedly spooky. Things came to a head when the workers were shocked by the sudden appearance of a towering black cat with eyes that "glowed like a demon." Just as the renovators started freaking out, the specter vanished. Afterwards, the new owners listened politely to the story, but didn't put much stock in the tale. And then ... the creature appeared to each of the new owners in turn. The giant apparition appeared in every corner of the house, despite locked doors and windows, stalking the couple with its penetrating stare and toothy snarls. The newlyweds sought help from the Catholic Church, whereupon an exorcism was performed on the estate. For a few months, everything was quiet, and the two believed their nightmare was finally over. Sometime later, however, a group of actors visiting the estate held a séance, whereupon the devilish creature returned, bringing with it two frightening ghosts dressed in nuns' garb. And thus, the nightmare continues.

Pumpkin Spice Protein Truffles

pumpkin-spice-truffles

Nothing says Halloween is just around the corner like the arrival of pumpkin season. Sadly, many of us never really enjoy the fruits of this versatile squash varietal. Amazingly, you can easily bake or boil your own pumpkin purée using the innards of your decorative jack o’ lanterns!

This October, instead of stocking up brightly colored, high-fructose-corn-syrup concoctions that can cause repeated sugar crashes that leave you feeling like an empty gourd, why not try an entirely new fall delicacy using pumpkin purée? We promise, there’s nothing terrifying - or tricky - about these tasty treats.

Sure to delight, nourish and leave you with a big, toothy grin on your face, this no-fuss, no-bake recipe will help banish the hobgoblins of low-blood sugar and in-between-meal cravings. And the perfectly balanced blend of spices will instantly transport you to fall memories of years past.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cup oats
½ cup pumpkin purée
¼ cup coconut palm sugar
2 Tbsp. Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Unsweetened desiccated coconut or cinnamon to coat

DIRECTIONS

1. In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse oats until a fine powder is achieved.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oat powder with remaining dry ingredients.
3. Fold in wet ingredients until evenly combined. The batter should be firm with just enough moisture to allow the coconut coating to stick (next step).
4. Use hands or a 1-inch scoop to make small dough balls. Roll balls until outside is smooth, coating in chopped coconut, cinnamon or topping of choice.
5. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week … even though they’ll never last that long because they’re just too darn delicious!

This recipe yields approximately two dozen 1-inch bites. Enjoy!

Pudgy Pet? Surprisingly Easy Fixes

woman-and-pug

The latest surveys indicate that over half of the dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight. Moreover, a sizeable percentage fit the criteria for moderate to severe obesity. The extra heft puts pets at-risk for serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, painful arthritis, high-blood pressure, kidney disease and cancer, all of which can shorten their lifespan. The good news is that solving your companion animal’s weight problem might be easier than you’d expect.

A pet parent’s strongest weapon in the fight against obesity is small and powerful … a measuring cup! If you’re like many pet parents, you guess at the amounts, or simply replenish the bowl when it’s empty. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that as few as 10 extra pieces of kibble can lead to excess weight gain in smaller dogs. Amazingly, just by measuring meal portions, you can help your dog or cat shed unwanted weight!

While the feeding guide on a label offers a good rule of thumb, remember that most of these standardized charts are based on the needs of young adult dogs. If you’re feeding an older “couch potato” based solely on the label, you could be over-feeding your dog by about 20%. Each pet’s metabolism is different, so it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian … they can calculate your pet’s ideal daily intake.

Another vital measure towards curbing weight is also a simple one … selecting the perfect food. Choose a diet that states an animal-specific protein source (such as chicken or fish) as the number one ingredient. Avoid foods pumped up with corn, wheat and glutens, as carbo-loading will sabotage any weight-loss efforts. Made for canines with weight issues, Life’s Abundance Adult Weight-Loss Formula has 28% less fat and 32% fewer calories per cup compared to our original formula. This recipe also features higher protein levels to aid metabolism, and is enhanced with L-carnitine to support a healthy metabolism and weight management.

happy-frenchie

Now, let’s talk about treats. You know that great feeling you get when you give your pup an edible goodie? Yeah, you might not be doing them a favor, because too many treats on the market aren’t much better than canine candy bars. Again, stick with a trusted brand, one that commits to only selling treats with a targeted health benefit. For example, Life’s Abundance offers a whole line of baked treats, each made to promote overall health and happy tummies. Wholesome Hearts are delicious, low-fat dog treats, perfect for dogs who need to be careful about their weight. The rich aroma makes Wholesome Hearts simply irresistible. Break treats into smaller pieces and dole them out as mini-rewards for your pupper.

Lastly, research has proven the most effective way to living a long, disease- and pain-free life is daily exercise. Dogs make the best exercise partners … they’ll never tempt you to skip your new routine in favor of a flavored latte. We’re not talking about going out and running a marathon. As little as 20-30 minutes of brisk walking can have a remarkable effect, improving cardiovascular health, enhancing mood and boosting immune function. Plus, you’ll likely eliminate behavioral problems common among cooped-up canines. Do yourself and your dog a favor and commit to daily walks.

If you implement these simple suggestions, your companion animals will be well on their way to slimmer figures and healthier lifetimes.

Be sure to share this post with other pet parents. It just might be the first step in the process toward a better life for an overweight pet.

Red, Green or Cooked: It’s Apple Season

kids-at-the-orchard

There’s been a lot of ruckus lately about the decline of the Red Delicious. For the past 50 years, the Red Delicious apple has been number one in America. But according to the U.S. Apple Association, its reign has been usurped by Gala — and it seems there are many people out there who are pretty pleased by this news. “It’s the beginning of the end,” apple historian Tom Burford crowed to The New York Times. “How are you going to market a tasteless apple when the consumer has tasted so many good apples?”

Amen to that. Forget those waxy mealy red orbs you can find in every grocery store, gas season or public school cafeteria. It’s apple season, and anyone who has ever been apple picking knows there is a whole world of flavor out there in those orchards. Some apples are crisp with a honeyed bite; some are juicy and tart; and some taste like earthy brown sugar.

But did you know that just as every apple has a distinct flavor profile, each variety has varying levels of healthy properties? In other words, not every apple will necessarily keep the doctor away.

According to a 2009 study, researchers determined that the 800-year-old Pendragon apple has the highest levels of health-promoting plant compounds. The Pendragon’s rivals in the study were 12 organic apples and three conventional ones, including the Golden Delicious, Royal Gala and Cox. “Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained seven of the eight kinds of healthy components at the highest levels,” study author Michael Wakeman told the Telegraph. “In contrast, the non-organic apples consistently had low levels…in both the flesh and the peel.”

Because the top apples in the study were grown organically, Wakeman surmised that they naturally had more phenols to protect against infection. Many studies have shown that polyphenols — a type of antioxidant — in apples help fight inflammation.

apple-tree

So, more antioxidants in organic apples — especially the elusive Pendragon, which apparently you can only find in a small courtyard in England — are a good thing. But there’s another reason to only buy organic apples. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues [and] 80 percent of apples tested contained diphenylam, a pesticide banned in Europe.”

Yuck. Even worse — those apples were all washed.

This fall, stick to organic apples. Try out a local farmer’s market and taste the variety. And even if you can’t find the Pendragon, remember that the average organic apple is loaded with fiber (which helps with weight loss), vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants. According to Medical News Today, apples have been credited with reducing the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Just remember that if you’re baking your apples, they’ll lose a bit of their phytochemicals. Oh! And if you’re worried about whether to choose green or red — don’t worry about it. The differences between the two (slightly more antioxidants in red, slightly less sugar and more fiber in green) are negligible.

No matter which variety you love, be sure to enjoy your pickings!

HELPFUL TIP: For those times you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, you can get antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients from our premium supplement line.

REFERENCES:
http://usapple.org/after-50-years-red-delicious-falls-to-2-as-most-grown-u-s-apple-gala-takes-1-spot/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6151010/800-year-old-apple-healthiest-to-eat.html
https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290.php
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/16/is-there-a-nutritional-difference-between-red-and-green-apples_a_22088567/

7 Ways to Power Up Your Brain

power-up-your-brain

Humans are creatures of habit. Once we get into a rhythm, we're loathe to change things up. However, there's strong evidence to suggest that simply by doing things differently, you can boost your brain health. Others go so far as to suggest that opening yourself up to new cognitive activity can perhaps stave off certain forms of dementia (of which there are more than a dozen types), which is affecting an increasing number of Americans every year.

Before you balk at the mere prospect of doing things differently, check out the following easy - dare we say FUN - ways to get out of a rut and to start taking care of your brain's health.

Break Your Routine
Scientists have discovered an amazing series of life hacks to improve brain function. It all hinges on the fact that habitual actions - things we do by rote - require less and less brain power. By switching things up, the brain must compensate by creating new pathways and cells. If you drive the same way to work every day, mix things up by taking an alternate route. If you always go to the same grocery store, go to a different one. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. All of these activities can lead to a rapid and significant expansion of parts of the cortex, making cells stronger and more resistant to the effects of aging.

New Smells
Take a tour of your spice cabinet. Order collections of scented candles. Routinely vary your personal care products. Buy a new cookbook and try a new recipe every week. Begin your day by smelling something out-of-the-ordinary, then end your day the same. If you can connect new scents with an emotional meaning, you can stimulate different areas of the brain and naturally produce nerve-cell nutrients that improve memory.

Limit Your Binge Watching
In a 25-year study gauging the effects of binge watching, researchers note that people who watch more than three hours of TV score much more poorly on cognitive tests. In another study, binge-watchers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than those who were not. Same goes for the time spent staring at your phone. If you have a dog, take them for a walk along a completely new route. Or play a board game with the kids. There's a great big world out there that's not fictional, waiting for you!

brain-chart

Mental Stimulation
Switching your interaction with the world from passive to active can yield impressive changes in your brain. Rather than spending countless hours vegging, try on a new hobby or two. Crossword puzzles, sudoku or even a lecture series can stimulate new neural connections and the development of new cells, both of which contribute to mental elasticity. The best activities for your brain are ones that employ creative thinking and manual dexterity, so if you've ever wished you could draw or paint, now's the time to start learning!

Do All The Things
We've heard all the expert advice. All of what they've been telling us for years - don't smoke, don't drink to excess, exercise regularly, maintain an average blood pressure, get plenty of sleep, keep your blood-sugar and cholesterol levels in check - all of these can have a dramatic positive effect on your brain health. If you haven't been paying attention to these things, start taking steps beginning today.

Feed Your Head
If you're like most Americans, your diet could use some improvements. Walnuts, fish, olive oil, sage, blueberries, cocoa, tomato, broccoli, apples, spinach, black currants and pumpkin seeds all contain nutrients vital to brain health. To nourish your brain with a premium balance of omega-3's and 6's, look no further than Life's Abundance Fish Oil. Not only is it highly concentrated and ultra pure, research has shown that its consumption benefits cognitive performance due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists believe that cognitive decline associated with minimal intake of omega-3’s may be a predictor of Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, other studies have found a causitive link between deficiencies in omega-3’s and a number of serious psychological conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and even substance abuse.

Make New Connections
Socialization is hard-wired into your brain. When we isolate ourselves, it can lead to negative effects not only in the way we feel, but also for brain health. By cultivating relationships with friends, co-workers and family, you'll actually be helping to lower your risk for dementia, lower your blood pressure and even extend your lifetime. Get out there and make some new connections!

Put most simply, all of these tips boil down to being open to embracing new things. And the benefits are undeniable. We encourage you to try these simple tips and to let us know your experience in the comments section below!

References 
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/tv-may-be-bad-for-your-brain
https://apha.confex.com/apha/143am/webprogram/Paper335049.html
“Fish, meat, and risk of dementia: cohort study.” British Medical Journal, 2002; 325; 932-933.
"Plasma fatty acids are associated with normative variation in mood, personality and behavior." Abstract #1411. Presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Mtg of the American Psychosomatic Society, Denver, CO, March 1-4, 2006.
Hibbeln, J.R.. "Fish consumption and major depression." The Lancet, 1998; 351: 1213.
Hibbeln, J.R.. "Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in depression and related conditions, in Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder." (Lancashire, England: Marius Press, 1999), pp. 195-210.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young
https://www.businessinsider.com/brain-exercises-that-make-you-smarter-2018-1
“Dietary intake of fatty acids and fish in relation to cognitive performance at middle age.” Neurology. 2004 Jan 27;62(2):275-80.

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.

headaches-ruin-perfect-days

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 with 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.

on-the-grill

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!

millennials-grilling

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!