All posts tagged 'lifestyle tips'

Don’t Be D-Railed by Short Winter Days

sun-soaking-vitamin-d-woman

Even though the days are growing longer, we’re all coming off months of reduced time in the sun. While snuggling in the warmth of cozy dens holds appeal, there are some drawbacks to limited solar exposure. When it's colder and darker, outdoor activity is typically limited, too. Medically speaking, it also means we might start experiencing a dip in our vitamin D levels. The reason? According to the National Institutes of Health, most people need at least some of their vitamin D minimum requirements to be self-sourced through exposure to sunlight.

It's by no means a small problem. Approximately one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. This fat-soluble vitamin helps us absorb calcium, grow strong bones and maintain our immune system. Those who are deficient in vitamin D might find themselves at greater risk for such troubling diseases as rickets (especially in children), osteoporosis (especially among the elderly) and even autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D deficiency is even increasingly linked to seasonal affective disorder, that feeling of sadness or anxiety that expresses itself during the winter months.

So how do you keep your vitamin D levels ramped up even during winter? Here are three suggestions to help keep your body nourished.

1. Boost Your Diet: Vitamin D naturally occurs in very few foods. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are likely your best source, although you can also find it in smaller amounts in egg yolks, cheese and beef liver. If the thought of beef liver or mackerel doesn’t quite do it for you, and you’ve had your quota of salmon for the week, look for fortified foods on your grocery shelves. A lot of cereals are loaded with vitamin D, and dairy products started adding vitamin D in the 1930's to fight rickets. If you’re trying to figure out how to create a menu containing the 600 IU of vitamin D an average adults needs, the USDA has compiled a comprehensive list of food sources (visit https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/vitamin-d).

suns-rays-heart-hands

2. Go Outside: People who live farthest from the equator are at the highest risk of experiencing a vitamin D deficiency. That’s why it's so important that you make sure you expose yourself to sunshine every day, if at all possible. Even though we all know we're supposed to use sunscreen, doctors recommend that we all try to spend a few minutes outside without sunscreen so that those ultraviolet rays can soak into your skin, mix with your cholesterol and transform into vitamin D. You can keep your face covered, and just have your arms uncovered for 10-30 minutes a days. Healthline reports that midday is the best time to get some sunshine: “[A] study found that 30 minutes of midday summer sun exposure in Oslo, Norway, was equivalent to consuming 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D.” Be forewarned that melanin in darkly pigmented skin can act as a barrier that prevents vitamin D production. So, if you have darker skin, you might need to spend a little extra time outside. Try to schedule lunch breaks that coincide with the brightest time of day, especially during the winter months, to ensure that you're soaking up prime rays.

3. Pop a Multivitamin: Because so many people do live far away from the equator and struggle to meet their requirements with food, dietary vitamin D supplements are the best and easiest way to boost your health in this regard. Just one serving of our plant-based Life’s Abundance Multivitamin will provide you with the full recommended 600 IU of vitamin D.

Here’s to a bright and D-lightful New Year for all of us!

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4143492/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286496.php
https://ods.od.nih.gov/pubs/usdandb/VitaminD-Content.pdf
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun#sunscreen

Forget Resolutions, Try Intentions

Jessica-Vogelsang-and-brody
Photo by Tamandra Michaels, Heart Dog Studio

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? I used to, back when I thought I could keep them for more than two weeks. Over the years I’ve learned that the exercise resolutions always wavered, the commitment to less chocolate died when Valentine’s Day arrived, and I wound up more irritated than inspired. 

But maybe I’m just using the wrong word. “Resolution” seems so rigid ... you either do it or you don't. Each day is part of a journey rather than a destination in and of itself. I’ve done much better when I use the word “intention” instead. Rather than a number on the scale or on a clothing tag, I focus on habits and actions. If I have a bad day where I don’t live up to that intention, so be it. There’s always tomorrow.

I’ve found the most successful intentions come by building on something you already believe in and want to take to the next level. This applies not only to our physical health, but our work in life. In the last couple of months, I’ve had some great conversations with the Life’s Abundance team about personal success, and I want to share my intention with you in the hopes that you, too, will choose to embrace it.

My intention for 2019 is to focus on the “why” versus the “what.” Many of our readers are Field Reps and we are all here as a part of the Life’s Abundance family, sharing a common interest in premium products. But what is it that truly sets us apart from other companies?

For me, it’s the people.

I have worked with a lot of different pet-product companies over the years, and despite what we sometimes read, the vast majority of people who work in the industry do care about animals and try to do the right thing. This isn’t about ‘good’ people versus ‘bad’ people. But how many of them truly view their co-workers as family?

People who work at jobs may work hard, may put in great efforts, and be committed to excellence in what they do. But people who view their co-workers as family? There’s something very special about that kind of relationship. They go the extra mile without being asked, without having any incentive other than this is what you do. When you view those people around you as extended family, there’s never any question as to what motivates them ... it all boils down to the long-term well-being of everyone around them. It's much easier to trust a company when you believe not just in the product line, but the people behind the formulas.

As far as pet foods go, I think we’re going to see a lot of discussion about quality assurances this year. 2018 was a bumpy year for many in the pet food industry, and we’re seeing more about what happens when rigorous quality control isn’t in place. Today's savvy consumers are looking beyond just the ingredient list. They want to know, "What are you doing to ensure the bag contains what you say it does, is this the best version of this recipe, and can we trust what you are doing?"

You can’t underestimate the power of nearly 20 years of continuity and consistency in not only a product, but in a team. Most of the Life’s Abundance executive team has been here from the start. I am fortunate to be beginning my third year, and each year my respect continues to grow for the mission, purpose and team. It’s a group that does the right thing even when no one is looking, even when there might be an easier or cheaper option. When people ask why I choose to work with this team and this company, that is my "why."

You all have your own why, your own story to tell. When I meet Field Reps, I can hear in your voices as you talk about your Australian Shepherds, or show me pictures of your Persians, that you aren’t here because you’re doing a job. You’re here because you know you’re part of a family. A family takes care of each other. Your work is a reflection of your values and the choices you make. So as you move into 2019 and plan ahead, don’t forget to share your unique purpose that brought you here. And if you've always thought about becoming a Life's Abundance Field Rep but haven't committed, we invite you to visit our opportunity page today.

Here’s to a wonderful year for everyone!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Convenient Health Foods For Time-Strapped Eaters

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Most nutritionists encourage people to choose lean protein over fatty meats, and vegetables over french fries. But when it’s 6:45 p.m. and you’re staring down at a solid block of frozen chicken breast that you forgot to thaw overnight, the temptation to order pizza is strong. So strong.

Drive-through and fast-casual restaurants are in heavy rotation in many American homes. The truth is, we cook less than pretty much any other developed nation. But it’s to our own detriment, as a strong correlation exists between cooking at home and better nutrition. Among the main reasons we don’t cook? We just don’t have enough time. Fortunately, there is such a thing as a healthy convenience food! From the humble rotisserie chicken to a bag of mixed vegetables, these time-saving items are also super nutritious.

Rotisserie Chicken

Available at most supermarkets for well under the cost of a large hand-tossed Meat Lover's, these ready-to-serve birds make dinner a snap. Just add a side of vegetables and heart-healthy grains, and you’re good to go. One caveat: Some brands are heavy on salt, so either factor that into your choices for the rest of the day, or find a plain-cooked variety like those sold at higher-end grocery stores.

Frozen Fruits & Vegetables

Yeah, we feel pretty self-satisfied toting a basketful of fresh produce up to the checkout counter, too. But that quickly turns to guilt when we have to toss three-quarters of it in the trash a week later because "life happened." Chopping fruit and vegetables takes time we’d rather spend elsewhere, and the pre-prepped servings you’ll find at the store are often come with a significant markup. We’ve found our salvation a few aisles over, in the freezer section. Washed, cut and ready for action, frozen vegetables are the ultimate time-saver for stir-fry dishes, soups and sides. Or pop half a cup of frozen berries into the fridge overnight for a quick-and-delicious yogurt topper. Lest you worry that this convenience comes with diminished nutrition, know that frozen produce is processed at peak ripeness, and nowadays you can even find organic options in most supermarkets.

Prepackaged Oatmeal

We love a mason jar filled with elaborate overnight-oat concoctions as much as anyone, but when it comes to saving time and energy, there’s nothing like a single-serving packet of the instant stuff. The main advantage of traditional oats is their comparatively low glycemic index score (55 versus 70 for instant, which means they’re less likely to raise blood sugar). Whether you prepare your oatmeal the old-fashioned way with boiling water, or heat it in the microwave, within minutes you’ll have an fiber-, iron- and protein-rich bowl that’s delicious plain or with accoutrements. Just make sure to choose a brand without added sugar and sodium.

Canned Beans

Beans are near the top of many experts’ health-food lists, but by the end of a long day, the only thing we feel like soaking is our own bodies, in a hot bathtub, preferably within grasping distance of some dark chocolate. Good thing canned beans are nutritionally equivalent to dry beans, provided you choose products without added salt or sugar (or at least rinse them thoroughly to remove said salt or sugar). Canned beans make Meatless Mondays a snap. Simply mash them with a fork and spread them on a corn tortilla with melted cheese for a quick and tasty dinner. Simmer a can or two of black beans for 20-30 minutes in some pre-packaged broth along with a bag of frozen vegetables for an easy protein-filled soup. Or combine them with corn, olive oil and cilantro for a yummy side dish!

Canned Fish

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends we eat at least two servings of seafood a week. That might be easily achievable if you live on one of the coasts, but affordable fresh fish is harder to come by in many communities — and potentially labor-intensive to prepare regardless of where you live. Widely available canned tuna and salmon is already cooked and ready to eat or cook straight out of the tin. It’s also often cheaper than fresh while boasting the same high protein content and omega-fatty acid profiles. Mix it with salsa for a zesty sandwich topper or stir in plain Greek yogurt for a nutritious take on tuna or salmon salad. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, whip up a quick batch of five-ingredient salmon croquettes. #Drool.

How do you save time while eating well? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Sources

https://www.livescience.com/13930-americans-cook-obese.html
https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/get-cooking-at-home
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379714004000
https://www.kcet.org/food/grocery-store-economics-why-are-rotisserie-chickens-so-cheap
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/05/17/611693137/frozen-food-fan-as-sales-rise-studies-show-frozen-produce-is-as-healthy-as-fresh
https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs#1
https://www.forksoverknives.com/why-should-we-eat-beans/#gs.oZn3KuU
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/salmon-croquettes-recipe-1952311

A Moisturizer That’s Good For Me & My Baby On The Way

Sasha-lifes-abundance-two

Like many expectant mothers, I spend a lot of time reading mommy and baby magazines and blog posts. A topic that comes up frequently here: warnings about the dangers of ingredients in daily-use products. One day I’ll read about some scary compound that causes birth defects. The next I’ll read about the top three ingredients in your shampoo that can give you cancer. C’mon, now. As if the responsibility of impending motherhood weren’t enough to keep me up at night!

Fatigued though I may be, I still find the energy to obsess over the products I use. On any given day, you may find me standing in a store aisle, beauty product in one hand, phone in the other, as I Google ingredients one by one. (Pro tip: diazolidinyl urea, which happens to be a preservative commonly used in cosmetics, isn't very good for you).1

And don’t get me started on ingredient names. Methyl Gluceth-20 sounds like an industrial-grade paint thinner but is actually a perfectly harmless skin-conditioning agent. On the other hand, the "perfume" you see on many labels — familiar and seemingly innocuous — can actually portend a whole host of toxic effects.

I shouldn't need to be a chemist to buy a moisturizer!

Which brings me to Life's Abundance Moisturizer, which I love for many reasons — among them the fact that it contains no mystery ingredients that require a visit to Dr. Google.

As for the product itself? Glorious. I adore the matte feel, which is of particular importance to those of us who live in warm, humid clients. This product smooths and conditions my face without leaving it shiny, making it an excellent base for a powder-based and liquid foundation — whichever I feel like wearing that day. And the scentless formula is great for me. It doesn’t interfere with my other skin-care products’ fragrances, and it doesn’t overwhelm my senses, which are, shall we say, a bit heightened right now.2

And as a mother-to-be on a budget, the best part may very well be that a tiny amount goes a loooong way, which means less frequent re-ordering and more money for baby clothes (and shoes for mama).

Sasha Sasha Stephens, Executive Project Director

REFERENCES:

1. https://www.ewg.org/guides/substances/1735-DIAZOLIDINYLUREA#.W23mE9hKjOQ

2. https://www.babble.com/pregnancy/smell-pregnancy-nausea/

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

Junk Drawer Confessions

junk-drawer-confessions

Since my early 20s, I’ve been obsessed with skin care products. This means that over the course of 40-some years, I’ve brought home a heck of a lot of serums, moisturizers and, especially, cleansers. And you know where most of them end up? Not on my face.

They also don’t land in the trash because I hate the thought that I chose wrong — again — and wasted my money — again. So, I’ve got piles of half-empty failed products jamming up my bathroom drawer. Truth be told, I could probably pay for a new car with all the money I’ve spent over the years in my efforts to look and feel better.

It’s a vicious and annoying cycle that I think I’ve finally broken.

I’m a sucker for promises — that’s how this all started. Health and wellness are very important to me, as are looking and feeling better, so I have been eager to believe. Over and over again I’ll buy something because it seems great at first glance, but then it quickly stops working. Or I’ll read the ingredients more closely at home and realize that it’s packed with a bunch of scary chemicals that I don’t recognize or understand and should have more carefully researched before buying. Either way, it ends up in the drawer.

If it’s packed with chemicals, I then make a trip (a well-worn path by now) to the health food store, where I carefully read the ingredients and choose my next purchase. For a moment, I’ll feel really good about myself and hope springs eternal. But then it doesn’t work. Once again, the junk drawer receives another half-empty bottle. Same with all the new skin care companies online — the words sound good, but nothing has been effective. Yet, I’m the one with the guilt!

Finding skin care products that do what they say they should do while trying to avoid chemicals is a maddening process.

If you are even vaguely familiar with this vicious circle than you will understand why we at Life’s Abundance decided to develop a skin care line with organic ingredients that are formulated to actually work.

Skin Care 2

My favorite product in this new line is the Facial Cleanser. I have oily skin, so I've always used foams and gels. What I didn’t know was that these kinds of cleansers stripped my skin of its natural oils, making my skin go into oil-production mode.

When I first tested our cleanser, I noticed how light and creamy it is. It took off all my makeup, and after rinsing, my face felt super clean but smooth and soft. For the first time ever, my skin had noticeably less oil. And week after week, it stayed that way! I loved it so much that I kept returning to our warehouse for samples.

My bottle of Life’s Abundance is sitting proudly on my bathroom sink. And you know what? Now that I’ve finally found a product that works, I think it’s time to empty out that blasted drawer.

Linda Logue
VP of Marketing

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.

Introducing Life’s Abundance Skin Care

Skin Care 1

I’ll be the first to admit that we’re difficult to please here at Life's Abundance. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

You see, we have a long history of taking matters into our own hands to get what we want. The pet foods on the market didn’t live up to our standards. So we made our own. The supplements available at stores weren’t pure enough. So we made our own. And the so-called natural skin care products we’ve pinned our hopes on? We wanted to believe. But when we examined the labels on many popular “natural” products, here’s a short list of what we found.

Artificial colors, artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, PEG compounds and more.

Why would you want to put something on your skin that is questionable? We didn’t. So — you guessed it — we made our own.

A New Approach to Healthy Skin

I’m excited and proud to announce Life’s Abundance Skin Care, a premium system for cleansing, moisturizing and perfecting your skin. Made with pure, plant-based organic ingredients and formulated for fabulous results.

But that’s not all. We added a little more in each item than you’ll typically see in high-end skin care to lower the cost per application and reduce plastic in landfills. Also, because it is important to us to make a positive imact in everything we do, for each skin care product you purchase, one tree will be planted in your honor to help support a community in need.

Our product line includes:

Facial Cleanser - The ingredients speak for themselves. Aloe leaf juice. White willow bark extract. Argan oil. Sugar cane extract. Mango seed butter. Pure botanicals. Nothing synthetic. Our creamy, light cleanser gently melts away the residue of the day, including makeup, leaving your skin soft, revived and fresh. No matter what your skin type, this lather-free formula cleans deeply, without stripping away your face's natural protective oils.

Facial Moisturizer - This delicate moisturizer contains olive oil, aloe leaf juice and cardamom seed oil. Oh, and calming vanilla—the only edible orchid fruit! Plant-derived antioxidants, emollients and omega essential fatty acids deliver a conditioning boost and provide a protective barrier. No harsh chemicals that can irritate or toughen the skin over time. No synthetic junk. Just soft, natural, hydrating cream for soft, naturally hydrated skin.

Skin Care 2

Facial Serum - This targeted blend of radiance-boosting organic oils help correct and protect. The camellia, borage and carrot seed oils comfort irritated skin and promote a healthy complexion. And the age-defying broccoli seed oil delivers radiance-boosting vitamin A – think of it as nature’s retinol alternative. Every drop of this opulent potion is crafted to awaken your skin.

Body Lotion - Our long-lasting lotion softens and hydrates with shea butter and aloe. Light and fast-absorbing, it protects against environmental damage with plant-derived antioxidants. And with mood-lifting lemon and geranium oils, it smells as great as it feels. (True fact: I’m wearing it right now, and I can’t stop sniffing my own arms.)

Our Promise

Like all Life’s Abundance products, our skin care line is inspired by nature and informed by science. We started by raiding Mother Nature’s pantry, grabbing a vibrant array of fruits, oils and extracts. We carefully crafted each product with these nourishing organic botanicals to cleanse, moisturize and rejuvenate the skin.

Chemical free, our formulations are tested for purity and gentle enough for the whole family.

Radiant from the inside out, healthy from the outside in. That’s what Life’s Abundance looks like, and we hope you like how it looks — and feels — on you as well.

Explore the collection now!

Lester Thornhill
Lester Thornhill, CEO

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.

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!