All posts tagged 'ife's Abundance'

Effects of Aging on Canine Cognition

close-up-dogs-eyes

I can’t tell you how often I ask pet parents about their senior dog and the response is “okay, but … I guess he’s just getting old.” I love this conversation opener, because it tells me two things. One, the pet parent is paying enough attention to know something has changed, even if they don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. Two, there’s probably something I can do to help!

All living things grow old. The aging process is complicated and messy, encompassing a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some we can control, others we can slow down, and the remainder we just manage the best we can. The good news is, there’s almost always something we can do to make a companion animal feel better.

When we think about what it means to be old, most of us jump to the most obvious complaint of age … aches and pains. The body stiffens, the joints dry out, the discs in our spines shrivel up, and we end up shuffling around like Carl from the movie Up. Almost all senior dogs develop symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is one of the reasons I recommend joint supplements for seniors. If a pet parent says, “He won’t climb the stairs anymore,” or, “He doesn’t want to go for long walks,” then I know we’re likely dealing with pain.

But what about cognitive dysfunction, the age-related decline in neurologic function? Referred to as “canine cognitive dysfunction” in veterinary medicine, some laypeople call it “doggie Alzheimer’s”. While the symptoms can be similar to what humans experience, it’s not exactly the same thing.

wolfhound-close-up

Unfortunately, cognitive decline is quite common in senior dogs. More than half of all dogs over the age of 11 show at least one clinical sign. Since we don’t know for certain all the biological changes that occur in an aging brain, we describe canine cognitive dysfunction as a collection of symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Changes in activity level
  • Changes in sleep/wake cycle (e.g., wandering around in the middle of the night)
  • House-soiling
  • Anxiety
  • No longer adhering to an established routine

For many years, we simply accepted this condition as a price for living a long life. However, we’re learning that there are ways we can actually decelerate cognitive decline in dogs.

One way veterinarians manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs is through medications. Certain drugs that increase the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine may improve brain function. In fact, the same drug used by dogs can also be used to treat Parkinson’s!

curious-dog

The other way we manage cognitive decline is through the nutrition and personal attention we provide our dogs. New and exciting research is showing that certain types of antioxidants and dietary ingredients can positively impact the brain function of senior pets! I love this because these are safe, easy changes we can use to improve the aging process for all our senior friends:

1. Feed a diet rich in antioxidants. Free radicals in the body accelerate the aging process. Antioxidants, such as those found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, can be added to a dog’s diet to limit the free-radical damage. Several studies have shown that seniors who eat a diet rich in antioxidants exhibit clinical improvement in cognitive function within just a few weeks.

2. Exercise the brain. Keep your pet’s neurons working through lots of daily playtime, walks, and puzzles. We joke that the brain is a muscle; it’s not, of course, but like a muscle it does benefit from regular workouts!

3. Fatty acids. We all know essential fatty acids are good for the skin and coat, but there’s also increasing evidence that a subset of fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) serve as a preferred energy source for the brain and can actually improve mental sharpness.

If your dog is getting a little grey around the muzzle, don’t accept “he’s just getting old” as a fact of life. Yes, we all age, but we can do it better by taking steps to preserve health and quality of life.

All my best to you and your lovable, aging dogs!

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Vitamin E for Stressed Pets

domestic-short-hair

As a holistic veterinarian, I feel it is incredibly important to take the whole animal into consideration when it comes to nutrition. And, whenever practical, my preference is to provide nutrients, minerals and vitamins in their natural forms. In this post, I’d like to talk to you specifically about vitamin E, to review both the strengths and weaknesses of natural and synthetic forms.

Vitamin E is an incredibly complex and important nutrient that, among other things, functions as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are naturally occurring nutrients that promote health by slowing the destructive aging process of cells (a breakdown called “peroxidation”). In peroxidation, damaged molecules known as free radicals steal pieces from other cells, like fat, protein or DNA. The damage can spread, damaging and killing entire groups of cells. While peroxidation can be useful to destroy old cells or germs and parasites, when left unchecked, free radicals produced by peroxidation also damages healthy cells. Antioxidants can help to stem the tide of peroxidation, thus stabilizing free radicals.

Antioxidants like vitamin E are crucial to the health of companion animals of any age. They can improve the quality of the immune response and the effectiveness of vaccines in young pets, and help maintain a vital immune system in seniors.

Vitamin E occurs in one of two forms, either natural or synthetic. Natural vitamin E is a collection of eight chemically unique compounds that are derived from plants, including four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. More commonly used and less expensive, synthetic vitamin E is one compound – alpha-tocopherol.

For me, the choice of using natural or synthetic vitamin E in my formulas couldn’t be clearer, and neither could the evidence. The synthetic form of vitamin E is not as active or easily absorbed as the natural form of vitamin E. The molecular structure of vitamin E determines how well the body can utilize it. In human trials, researchers found that proteins in the liver specifically select the natural form of vitamin E and largely ignore the synthetic form.

In a Japanese study, scientists found that it took three times the amount of synthetic vitamin E to equal the blood levels of natural vitamin E. In the U.S., researchers found that body tissues and blood retained far higher levels of natural vitamin E versus synthetic. In addition, synthetic alpha-tocopherol vitamin E has only half the vitamin activity of the natural alpha-tocopherol vitamin E.

Why is there such a difference between synthetic and natural forms of vitamin E? The key to understanding how the body absorbs these two types differently lies on the molecular level.

best-buds-napping

The cellular structure of mammals more easily recognizes natural forms of vitamins. And cellular proteins and blood plasma bind to natural forms more readily than their synthetic counterparts. Unfortunately, synthetic vitamins are cheaper and, therefore, are more prevalent in many products on the market today.

So, how can you determine if the products you are using contain the synthetic or natural form of vitamin E? Simply check out the ingredient labels! Natural vitamin E is listed as a-tocopherol acetate, d-alpha tocopherol, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate. Alternately, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a “dl-“ prefix.

Thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place for companion animals!

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

REFERENCES:

Kiyose C, et al. Biodiscrimination of alpha-tocopherol stereoisomers in humans after oral administration. Am J Clin Nutr 1997 (Mar); 65 (3): 785-9

Burton GW, et al. Human plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations in response to supplementation with deuterated natural and synthetic vitamin E Am J Clin Nutr 1998; 67: 669-84

Traber MG, et al. Synthetic as compared with natural vitamin E is preferentially excreted as a-CEHC in human urine: studies using deuterated a-tocopheryl acetate FEBS Letters 1998 (Oct 16); 437: 145-8

Yu W, Jia L, Wang P, et al. In vitro and in vivo evaluation of anticancer actions of natural and synthetic vitamin E forms. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008;52:447-456.

Blatt DH, Pryor WA, Mata JE, et al. Re-evaluation of the relative potency of synthetic and natural a-tocopherol: experimental and clinical observations. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2004;15:380-395.

Weiss WP, Hogan JS, and Wyatt DJ. Relative bioavailability of all-rac and RRR vitamin E based on neutrophil function and total a-tocopherol and isomer concentrations in periparturient dairy cows and their calves. J Dairy Sci. 2009;92:720-731.

Lauridsen C, Engel H, Jensen SK, et al. Lactating sows and suckling piglets preferentially incorporate RRR- over All-rac-a-tocopherol into milk, plasma and tissues. J Nutr. 2002;132:1258-1264.

Sen CK, Khanna S, and Roy S. Tocotrienols in health and disease: The other half of the natural vitamin E family. Molecular Aspects of Medicine. 2007;28-692-728.

Hayek MG, et al. Dietary vitamin E improves immune function in cats. In: Reinhart GA, Carey DP eds. Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition, Vol III: 2000 Iams Nutrition Symposium Proceedings. Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 2000; 555-564.

Understanding & Managing Stress

keri-drink

Stress affects everything. Yes, everything. There really isn’t one area of your “world”, body or life that isn’t impacted by stress. Your reactions to stress control everything from your breath to your hormones.

The immediate reactions to stress are what we think of as “fight or flight” responses. Upon experiencing a stressful situation, hormones are released that constrict your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure. Eventually, your hormone levels return to normal and your heart rate is regulated. This is healthy, normal, and fine! However, prolonged, chronic stress can lead to health complications including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The hormones released when we’re stressed include adrenaline, corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. While the first two work quickly in the body to give instant energy (which initially reduces hunger), cortisol hangs around in the body longer.

So while an immediate response to acute stress can be a temporary loss of appetite, prolonged chronic stress that goes unmanaged can be tied to an increase in appetite and craving (carbohydrates specifically), and in turn cause you to store fat specifically around the midsection.

Stress causes many problems because it increases free radicals (bad guy compounds that cause a whole lot of problems). The production of free radicals is what is known as oxidative stress. Though the presence of some free radicals is normal, prolonged oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation. This in turn can cause significant damage to your cells, and complications such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as arthritis, IBS and Crohn's Disease.

Stressful situations themselves are unavoidable, and sometimes a little stress can be a good thing. But there are ways to prevent elevated responses and manage the stress in your life. We hear it all the time that we should take time to relax, de-stress and unwind, but this concept is so much easier said than done. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is something you can work on in only a few minutes a day – you don’t have to go for a massage or book a spa weekend. Try the following quick stress busters:

  • If you have 15 minutes: read a chapter or two in a book.
  • If you only have 5-10 minutes: sit quietly with a cup of tea.
  • If you can only manage 30 seconds: rub aromatherapy lotion on your hands.

happy-outdoors

Yes, you can lower your stress by getting a massage or doing a little pampering, but you can also prevent elevated responses to stress from happening in the first place by practicing meditation, getting enough sleep, exercising, and, yes, eating foods that are linked to mood-boosting, calming benefits.

Oatmeal, leafy greens, celery, cashew, avocado, grass fed beef, and even dark chocolate can have a positive effect on reducing your stress symptoms. Some foods, like oatmeal, spinach, and dark chocolate, have the ability to regulate serotonin, which is the feel-good, mood-boosting and mood-stabilizing hormone. Others, like grass-fed beef and peppers are sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body and reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress.

Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to fortify your health is to supplement your diet with Minerals & Antioxidants blend. The boost of antioxidants helps to fight damaging free radicals. Think of antioxidants as the good guys that fight the bad guy free rads. Not only that, but when mixed and consumed with water, you’re contributing to your hydration to boot. What could be simpler?

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

Cherry Limeade Fresh Whips

pink-fluff-things

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!

Whey Overrated

DisappointedInWhey

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.

New Year, Fresh Start

It’s refreshing, right? The feeling of starting fresh in a new year, with an opportunity for self improvement and change.

Here’s a good tip for when you’re making New Year's goals and resolutions. It will help you stay focused on both short and long-term goals alike.

When defining what you want to achieve, keep it realistic, attainable and measurable.

However, no matter how doable your goal, it’s always nice to have that little extra bit of help and accountability when it comes to following through on your promises to yourself.

Everyone can agree that positive reinforcement is a great way to adopt new behaviors and leave bad habits in the dust. As we all know, there's no better feeling than feeling your best!

At Life's Abundance, we've assembled the most incredible positive-reinforcement pack. Think of it as your go-to bag for getting stuff done AND feeling great. This bundle pack includes everything you need to be your healthiest self in 2017 and you can get a 20% discount off the retail price until January 31, 2017! It includes the following six full-size supplements:

Chocolate or Vanilla Protein - A completely plant based, protein rich powder with amazing flavor that can be mixed with anything from water to your baked good recipes.

Cherry or Tropical Flavor Minerals & Antioxidants Mix - A healthy alternative to sugary sports drinks that provides you with nourishing minerals and antioxidants.

Greens Blend - Using this powder is an easy way to get all of your recommended greens in. It’s a non-GMO mix of raw, certified organic grasses and mushrooms with a subtle berry flavor, and a silky smooth texture.

Probiotic - This probiotic is a four-strain blend to help maintain an optimal microflora balance. Good gut health contributes greatly to your overall health.

Multivitamin - This is a natural capsule multivitamin with a focused approach to health. This means that it provides you with exactly the vitamins you need, while leaving out exactly what you don’t.

Fish Oil Capsules - These supplements are ultra concentrated with two to three times as much health promoting EPA and DHA as competing brands. Plus, they have a slightly citrusy flavor!

This pack is essential for making the positive changes you want to accomplish in the New Year. Positive reinforcements will not only help you achieve your goals, but also feel more energized and youthful at the same time!

Utilizing this pack is the perfect tool to start the momentum toward more confidence and focus on attaining your goals. As long as you remain committed, the strength of this positive feedback loop will only grow, enabling you to do more in 2017 than you maybe even thought possible.

So, let's all start the New Year with a big commitment to ourselves, and each other!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

May Your Holiday Season be Golden

According to one recent study, upwards of 60% of pet parents buy their pet kids a Christmas stocking. My response is … ONLY 60%? Granted, I fall a little further on the extreme end of the pet-enthusiast spectrum. I don’t just do stockings … we wrap gifts, don holiday sweaters and even keep a goodly supply of festive cookies!

My beloved Golden, Brody, started joining in the holiday merriment as a pup. His first Christmas was 2009, as a bouncy little five-month-old filled with joy at this strange new festivity. The candy-cane shaped chew treats were icing on top of the holiday cake.

My dog gets super excited on Christmas morning. (The cat not so much, but that doesn’t deter me from trying.) He senses the excitement as the kids start tiptoeing around starting at 5 am, poking boxes and whispering their prognostications about what might be hidden inside each festive package. Brody plays along, sniffing at each gift in turn and standing patiently under his own stocking until it’s his turn to discover his holiday goodies.

He isn’t as excited about his ornament as I would like him to be, but hey, we can’t win them all. Maybe if they made scented decorations he’d be more appreciative.

Your dog’s enthusiasm may vary, of course. My dog Kekoa, who blessed our house until her passing in 2012, was not nearly as excited about donning holiday garb. She was quick to figure out that not tolerating costumes meant she got to skip straight to the treats. That’s what you call a “smart cookie”.

As we enter the 2016 holiday season, I’m reminded of how much he has changed since Brody’s first puppy Christmas back in 2009. He’s a little slower, short one ear we had to amputate, and grey around the muzzle. He’s like the Ghost of Christmas Present from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol … an amiable chap who lives in the moment, which seems to pass by in the blink of an eye.

Dogs are an ever-present reminder to stop and enjoy every moment, because you don’t get it again once it’s gone. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to enjoy many more Christmases together. Taking my cues from him, I’m trying not to worry too much about the future, but rather just taking in the precious moments and enjoying his lovable presence in the here and now.

So this year, instead of being sad about that little bit of grey already creeping into his coat, I’m remembering to be grateful for all the joy he has brought us over the years, thankful for him simply being who he is, and appreciative of the varied comforts our four-footed companions bring to the holiday season.

What are your favorite canine holiday memories? Share your story in the comments section below! Or, submit your very own holiday pet pics to our secure Dropbox account.

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season! 

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang