Healthy Living

Don't Disconnect, Decrease

man watching television

With the New Year here, many of us are thinking of some good habits we want to implement into our lives. One of the biggest things people think of is to completely disconnect from technology. This could mean staying off and away from their smartphones, televisions, and computers. While it sounds good on paper, it may not be the smartest to quit cold turkey. This can be quite unrealistic and hard to stick to, so a better option would be to decrease, not disconnect.

We get it, technology can be pretty overwhelming sometimes. You probably catch yourself scrolling through social media or stuck in front of a TV for hours at a time. Before you know it, the day just passes by. One of the other things about technology, primarily social media, is that we constantly compare our lives to the people we see online. This causes an unhealthy relationship with yourself as you start to become unhappy with your own reality. There are other harmful effects of too much screen time including:

  • Eyestrain
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • A disrupted circadian rhythm
  • Neck and back pain

So, it sounds pretty reasonable when you decide that you want to go on a full technology detox. You may think it’ll relieve you of any related stress and allow you to fully relax without the worries of needing to respond to someone. This may have worked well in the past, but it doesn’t necessarily do as much good as you think.

smartphone and laptop

Technology surrounds us in our everyday lives. Whether you work on a computer, or make calls and texts on your phone, our society is engulfed in it. Technology has only grown over the years, which has made it even harder to disconnect from it. Some of us might even flippantly say we are addicted to it. In saying this, it’s important that we don’t completely rid ourselves of it. Not only would it not last long, but it also doesn’t work so well when you are trying to go about your normal day. Texts, calls, and work emails are just a few things that make it difficult to fully disengage.

Instead of completely disconnecting from technology, set a goal to decrease and limit your time on it and around it. This is a much easier habit to implement into your life since you won’t be quitting it so abruptly. For example, if your screen time on your smartphone tends to be around five hours a day, set a goal of  two hours, or any amount you feel is achievable. Find yourself sitting in front of the television binge watching your favorite show? Decrease down to an episode or two.

If you find it hard to stick to it, you can write it down where you’ll always see it so you’re constantly reminded of it. You can even tell a friend to help hold you accountable. Set yourself up for success and schedule this time away from technology to do other activities. You can go for a walk, talk to a loved one, or spend time doing a hobby. Little by little, you will start to feel the results of decreasing your tech time, both mentally and physically. You can do this!

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Start Your Day Off Right

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Set Goals, Not Resolutions

journal writing

2020 has been quite the year and we’ve all been through this journey of ups and downs. The new year is finally here and you might be tempted to think of a long list of resolutions you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to start going to sleep earlier, make a workout plan, or save a certain amount of money. We get it - you may feel like you lost a lot of time and need to catch up on life. We’re here to tell you though, resolutions shouldn’t necessarily be your focus in the new year. Goal setting is a much more realistic way to reach where you are striving to be.

What is goal setting?

Goal setting is the process of defining exactly what your goals are and what steps you will take to achieve them. This ensures you have a solid plan in place with set deadlines. As you define these objectives, they should be attainable and tangible.

Why does goal setting work better than resolutions?

Resolutions are merely goals or habits you want to incorporate into your life without actually having a plan in place. This can make it extremely difficult to live out your resolutions in the new year. In fact, about 80 percent of resolutions fail before the end of February! This is usually because the resolutions set are huge goals that end up being very overwhelming, especially when you don’t have a deadline or clear plan set for yourself.

In saying this, goal setting is much more efficient in this way because even if you have a big, intimidating goal you want to reach, you can break it down into smaller ones. For example, if you are aiming to shed a bit of that holiday weight, it is better to take it little by little. Aim to lose a lesser amount of pounds each week rather than a higher amount of pounds in six months. Smaller goals are easier to obtain and you are much more likely to reach your target.

woman victory

How can you incorporate this into your life?

It’s best to identify a few goals you want to achieve. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a bunch of things you want to get done this year. It’s okay to have a top two or three objectives and put all your energy into those few. On top of this, there is also something called setting “SMART” goals. This means your goals should be:

  1. Specific - Stay away from generic goals like “eat healthier.” The more specific you are, the better it will be when you start planning.

  2. Measurable - Measure your progress in terms of amounts, time passed, etc.

  3. Attainable - Goals are meant to be achieved! They should not be so out of reach that you cannot attain them.

  4. Relevant - Keep your goals aligned with your life. Make sure it helps you get where you want to be.

  5. Time Bound - Set a deadline! It will only make it that more rewarding for you when you achieve it.


Now that you have your goals, it’s time to make a plan for each one. Write out the small steps within your large goal and make deadlines for those too. All that’s left to do is stick to your plan! Just remember that you can take advantage of goal setting at any time of the year, it isn’t only limited to each time the new year comes around.

Happy planning and Happy New Year!

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Let Go of Limiting Beliefs

New Year's Goals for Pet Kids



Make Your Holidays Sustainable With Eco-Friendly Decor

sustainable wrapping ideas

How great would it be if you could celebrate the holidays while giving our earth the gift of sustainability? Well, that’s exactly what we want to do! We’ve come up with some eco-friendly decor ideas so you can deck the halls without the guilt (or expense) of waste. Here are some of our favorites:

Pressed Leaves

As fall comes to an end, take up the leaves from your backyard and get to pressing! Elevate this tried and true activity to make gorgeous wreaths or tie them to your wrapped gifts as a colorful accessory. There are a couple ways you can press your leaves. You can use a heavy hard book and put the leaves between the pages to flatten them or iron the leaves between wax paper, paper towels or a thin cloth.  To preserve your pressed leaves, you can coat them with eco-friendly epoxy so you can use them for holiday decor for years to come!

Dried Fruit

Another elegant eco-friendly item you can use for your gifts, wreaths, and ornaments is dried fruit! This is a colorful way to decorate your space while using what you already have in your kitchen! Some of the best fruits to use are oranges, apples, and lemons. All you have to do is slice up the fruits and be sure to dry them out as much as possible with a paper towel. Then, lay them flat, bake in the oven at 200 degrees Farenheit for 3-4 hours, and make sure to flip them until they are completely dry! And there you have it! Beautiful eco-friendly decor that smells good and looks even better.

Cranberry and Popcorn Garland

Need a new garland? Look no further! Make a new one that pops with color by using cranberries and popcorn. This is a classic to be sure, but if you’ve never tried it, it’s a wonderful homemade addition! You’ll need none other than popped popcorn and washed cranberries as well as craft string and a needle for threading. Make the popcorn a few days in advance so it gets slightly stale and is firm enough for threading. Thread your two snacks through the string in any pattern you like and then add it to your tree decor! If you really want your homemade garland to last a few more years, spray it with shellac to preserve and reuse!

sustainable decor ideas

Gingerbread Ornaments

Get the kids in on the eco-friendly decor with gingerbread ornaments! This super easy craft looks adorable on trees and gives off an inviting cinnamon scent. These gingerbread cookies are made with only three ingredients, making it the perfect homemade project. All you need is craft glue, ground cinnamon and unsweetened apple sauce. Combine these ingredients together into a dough, roll out and get to work with the cookie cutter. Don’t forget to create the hole at the top for the string to hang. Let it dry by baking, air drying, or using a food dehydrator. Then, whip out the glitter and any other gingerbread accessories for decorating! Once these have all dried, string a ribbon through and hang them up for everyone to enjoy. Even though these look good enough to eat, make sure that you keep them away from kids and pets!

Cloth Gift Wrapping

Traditional wrapping paper doesn’t have the best impact on the environment, especially considering over two million pounds of it end up in landfills by the end of the holiday season. A fantastic alternative to wrapping paper, which is reusable and looks just as festive, is wrapping cloth. Also known as furoshiki, the practice of using cloth to wrap gifts originated in Japan. You don’t need to purchase the exact kind of cloth traditionally used because you probably have something very similar lying around the house. Once you find a fabric, check out the easy tutorials online for the many unique ways to tie up your gifts.

Recycled, Personalized Greeting Cards

Need a fun holiday decor project to do with the kids? Instead of buying a bunch of greeting cards that could potentially end up in landfills, make your own! You can get recycled cards or paper and customize them using potato stamps. All you need to do is outline the desired shape on the potato and then cut around it with a knife so the design sticks out. Dip into paint and you’re all set! This keeps the same festive feel as traditional greeting cards while adding a unique touch, and serious crafty bonus points

By all means, continue to enjoy festivities and less-DIY holiday decor! Just by making small changes to your decorations like we’ve listed here, you can reduce your environmental impact while still experiencing all the warm, fuzzy feelings of the holidays.

Five Healthy Habits That Can Extend Your Life

young woman cutting vegetables

People have spent centuries looking for the Fountain of Youth, hoping to stay young and prolong their lives. We now know that the real gold is in aging as well as we can by embracing a reasonably healthy lifestyle.  We’re here to share the great news that there are some healthy habits you can adopt to help you live longer and better! A recent study conducted by researchers out of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that your lifestyle choices do indeed make all the difference.

The Harvard Study

This 2018 study looked at existing information on thousands of men and women to see if there were patterns that might tell them why some people live longer than others.

They found that a healthy lifestyle played an essential role in how long people lived. According to the study, certain lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of death associated with cardiovascular disease and cancer. The earlier you start, the better, but adhering to these five standards by age 50 could add 14 years to your life.

Five Healthy Habits That Can Extend Your Life

 

1. Refrain From Smoking

This comes as a surprise to no one. But it’s important to reinforce avoiding the use of tobacco products as this is the most influential factor in living longer. Although the number of people still lighting up continues to drop, cigarettes are not completely out of style. Just one cigarette a day can result in cancer and heart disease later on in life. Also, younger people, especially teens, have taken up vaping and e-cigarettes.  Studies are still emerging on this hot group of products, but fundamentally it is just another way to introduce chemicals from tobacco into their bodies. Lung disease and early death are a risk from use of any form of tobacco.

The numbers might surprise you, but about 12 percent of women and 16 percent of men are still habitual smoking. And an alarming 3.6 million high school students admit to using e-cigarettes for vaping. Estimates are that smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year.

senior family yoga

2. Remain Physically Active

If you’re reading this while sitting, let this be the little voice that reminds you to get up and move. A sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also increases your risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, and mental illness.

Most people know by now that exercise should be part of their daily lives, but how important is it? The study found that the people living the longest did at least 3.5 hours a week, about 30 minutes daily, of moderate to vigorous activity. You can reach this goal by going swimming, dancing, or our favorite - taking a brisk walk with your furry friend.

3. Limit Yourself to Moderate Alcohol Intake

There has been some toss-up on the effect of alcohol on your life. Some studies say that drinking helps you live longer while others say it contributes to chronic illnesses that take years from your life. This study in particular shows that you can still drink, but there is a limit you should try to follow. The U.S Department of Health Dietary Guidelines lists moderate alcohol intake as one drink per day for women and two for men.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Generally, body mass index (BMI) is the tool that measures healthy weight and excess body fat. The study lists a healthy BMI as 18.5 to 24.9, so you’ll want to be within this range. You can calculate your BMI manually, but the math is a bit tricky. Talk to your doctor about calculating your BMI, or use one of the free tools online.

5. Eat a High-Quality Diet

We all know nutrition is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can be confusing to know exactly what you should include in your diet. The study used a tool called the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to determine what a high-quality diet looks like. The AHEI allows you to develop a score based on the number of daily servings you eat certain foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The goal is to follow a diet that is rich in foods that can help prevent chronic illnesses. The study suggests a score of 40% or higher as the standard for a high quality diet.

Along with following these guidelines, you can enhance your food choices and maintain a balanced diet by using high-quality supplements. One takeaway from this study is that even if we know the steps to take toward healthier living, we need support and reminders.  From probiotics to multivitamins and more, Life’s Abundance nutritional supplements provide key elements necessary for good health.

If you’re questing for the Fountain of Health, start by applying these healthy habits and you can potentially add more than a decade to your life.

Journaling For Your Self-Improvement

woman writing in journal

There’s never a better time than now to evaluate your habits and goals plus make changes that will benefit you. Some people might reflect on their daily routine and decide they want to start a fitness plan, focus on their diet more, or learn a new skill. It’s also just as important to pay special attention to your mental and emotional health while truly investing time in YOU!

This year has brought many difficulties as well as a “new normal” that we are all trying to get accustomed to. While physical distancing is necessary during these times, it is not optimal for mental and emotional well-being. It is natural for people to want social interaction and the lack of time spent in person has led to a great deal of anxiety and stress for many. There are multiple ways to work on your mental and emotional health, but journaling is an effective way to track your day-to-day moods. This is an age-old activity that allows you to reason through daily situations as well as make sense of both positive and negative thoughts.

Types of Journaling

Journaling can take many different forms. Many of us may have had a diary when we were younger, and though the fact that Kristi had a crush on Chad isn’t of great consequence, that was a form of journaling. You may have had to keep a journal in your English class when you were in school or maybe your healthcare provider asked you to keep a nutritional journal or one for any type of therapy.

The great thing about keeping a journal is that there are no real rules. Your journal can be about any topic that helps you or about anything that you're interested in. Some people keep journals full of poetry or little blurbs about daily events in their life. It can be a way to write out all your thoughts on paper. Journals can be strictly private for your eyes only, or they can be shared with others. Blogs, for example, are sometimes considered online journals. These are the blogs that are often personal in nature.

What Journal Method Is Right for You?

This is a personal decision. Some people are comfortable sharing their journal and they get a great deal from the feedback they receive from readers. In other cases, it might be easier to be fully honest if you know that no one else will read your thoughts. A mental health journal should help you gain clarity and it needs to be honest.

Your journal should be a way to guide you with self-improvement. This is going to be specific to your own needs. You might find that it's a good place to help you prioritize the things that you need to do in your life. Or, maybe it's a good space to write about the things you're afraid of or the relationships you're having trouble with. Again, there's no right or wrong answer here. You'll find that the act of writing these things down can offer a great benefit both in the present moment and long term.

Writing in a journal can be like a form of meditation. You have the ability to clear your mind and verbalize all of the thoughts in your head on the page. You can also look back at your writing later, with a clearer mind, and really analyze the thoughts in a more unbiased way. This can help you decipher and analyze things in a way that is exceptionally difficult to do in the moment.

How Do You Begin Journaling?

While journaling is unique to you, there are some basic rules you can follow to stay on track.

  • Choose the method that's most convenient. If you prefer typing or keying information, you might open a blank document to become your journal. You can also create a blog that's private or public.

  • Add your own creativity to the process. Journaling doesn't need to only be words, unless you prefer to use prose exclusively. You can add any form of creativity that you want to make it yours. This might include adding photos, drawings or paintings, and decorations of any type. This works for an online journal as well as a physical book.

  • Develop a routine. Journaling reaps the most benefits when it becomes a habit. You can set aside time each day to work on your journal or you might simply keep your journal handy to add bits as the mood strikes.

writing in journal


Your journal may change over time as your needs and goals change. It’s not a static process. Your goals now might focus on your health while in a year you may start to work towards a new hobby. Journaling can become a self-improvement tool that you can turn to at any point in your journey through life. So, grab your journal and start making strides towards the best version of yourself!

The Nutritive Power of Mushrooms

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Throughout history, humans have valued mushrooms as culinary delicacies and for their health benefits. In fact, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and many other healthcare traditions have utilized medicinal mushrooms for millennia.

In recent years, Western medicine has discovered medicinal mushrooms' nutraceutical value, as well. Research indicates that mushrooms have nutrients that offer a number of benefits, from specific nutrients (such as protein, key vitamins and numerous bioactive compounds) to properties that provide powerful antioxidants and fight stress while supporting the immune system.

Read on to learn about the nutritive power of mushrooms... and discover how you can reap the tasty benefits of adding organic mushrooms to your diet. 

Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

There's a reason why so many cultures have long enjoyed mushrooms as a food source. Not only are these popular fungi delicious, they're also nutritious! 

Mushrooms deliver a healthy helping of low-calorie, cholesterol-free protein and carbohydrates, as well as dietary fiber in the form of beta glucan. Research has found that this soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, and it has also been linked to heart health. 

Organic mushrooms offer vitamins such as B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and easily absorbed B12. Together, these B vitamins can benefit your cardiovascular health, give your red blood cells a boost, support the skin, and help balance hormones. Unlike many other plant-based foods, some mushrooms also offer vitamin D, which contributes to healthy bones, teeth and muscles. 

Mushrooms also provide necessary minerals such as potassium, choline, copper, phosphorus, and selenium, an antioxidant. And speaking of antioxidants, let's take a look at one of the most promising health benefits of mushrooms: anthocyanin compounds known as flavonoids that support the immune system. 

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Powerful Antioxidants

Multiple studies have explored the role antioxidants play in human health, and mushrooms have been discovered to be packed full of them! Why are mushrooms such a rich source of antioxidants? Unlike plants (which meet their metabolic needs through photosynthesis and drawing minerals from soil) fungi "feed themselves" by breaking down the plant matter around them, withdrawing what they need to survive and freeing key nutrients along the way. The more nutritious the growth medium, the more antioxidants the mushrooms will have!

This process creates antioxidants that benefit our health. Specifically, mushrooms are among the highest known dietary sources of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione, which have been linked to:

  • immune system support
  • performance enhancement
  • increased energy and stamina
  • improved mood

Another key benefit? Stress reduction. Certain varieties of adaptogenic mushrooms serve as nature's stress fighters. Commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, these mushrooms may help balance adrenal glands, which in turn may help your body better handle the effects of stress. 

While many mushroom varieties offer health benefits, certain varieties may be even more beneficial when combined. Recent studies indicate that specific mushroom nutrients provide extra support to the immune system when blended together. The combination of shiitake, reishi, and maitake mushrooms offers outstanding health benefits. 

- Shiitake

Lentinula edodes, commonly known as shiitake mushrooms, may be best known as a tasty delicacy. But did you know that shiitakes contain nutrients that may support heart health and your immune system? 

- Reishi

Reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, may support memory and improve mood. Known as the "immortality mushroom," studies indicate that reishi may also support immunity and even improve mood and reduce fatigue.

- Maitake

Maitake, or Grifola frondosa, are adaptogenic mushrooms known to support immune system function. Long used in Japanese and Chinese medicine, maitake contain high levels of antioxidants. 

Simple Way To Add Mushrooms To Your Diet

Life's Abundance makes it easy to add the benefits of organic mushroom nutrients to your diet! Our Greens Blend nourishes your body with a blend of raw, certified-organic grasses and certified, organic mushrooms for exceptional nutrient value. This certified organic blend of reishi, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms goes down easily in this lightly berry flavored mix.  Scoop, stir and enjoy your organic greens and mushrooms!

World Cleanup Day - Upcycle Challenge

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Upcycling, or creative reuse, is finding a way of turning your useless, unwanted packaging or waste into something brand new. At Life’s Abundance, we’re all about going green — that’s why we challenged ourselves to find exciting ways to upcycle with our own product packaging!

Our employees competed to create the best upcycle projects using their leftover product packaging at home. Here are our five upcycle challenge winners, including a runner-up and a winner! Which one will you try to replicate at home?

Cardboard Scratcher Tray by Arin Roos

“Upcycled

Cat parents unite!  Satisfying your cat's need to scratch can be costly, but cardboard scratchers are a popular recyclable choice.  To save a little money, buy the refill version that does not come with a cardboard tray.  With help from a little tape, you can create your own backing from the trays Life's Abundance canned cat food comes in.   

What you’ll need:

  • Two Life’s Abundance cardboard cat food trays 
  • Tape

Tea Light Holders by Sasha Stephens 

“Upcycled

This upcycle project was inspired by the many evenings we have been spending in our garden. After serving my dog her Life’s Abundance canned food, I cleaned the can out with soap and water. Next, I glued strips of wrapping paper (but you can use any paper or even fabric) around the can and voilà, instant mood lighting for a dinner in your backyard! 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance can food, can be dog or cat
  • Wrapping paper or fabric 
  • Glue 
  • Tea Light
  • Scissors  

Market Bag by Angelina Nava 

“Upcycled

Whenever I grocery shop, I bring my own bags and reusing my empty dog food bags are a great way to upcycle them! To start, just lay the dog food bag on the ground and decide how tall you want your tote to be, then cut off the top of your dog food bag. Next, take the bottom of the dog food bag and fold down the edges where you cut. Tape the folded-over flap on the bottom of your dog food bag and handles to secure them into place. Lastly, fold two pieces of tape in half (these will be your handles) and put them in place. Also, I found the best way to get rid of the dog food smell was a bit of dish detergent and a couple days of air drying. 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance dog food
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors 

Upcycle Challenge Runner-Up:
Coasters by Stephanie Greenhalge

“Upcycled

I was very excited to participate in this challenge! I have always wanted to find a creative way to upcycle my Life’s Abundance dog food and treat bags and this gave me the perfect opportunity to be crafty. To make these coasters you will need cardboard (I used a wet can food sleeve) which you will want to cut into 4- 6” squares. Next, you will cut your Life’s Abundance bag to the same size as your cardboard cut out, you will need two pieces per coaster. Then, glue on your Life’s Abundance bag cut pieces onto the front and back of your cardboard, I used a glue stick. After the glue dries you will want to use a clear acrylic gloss sealer and let it dry for 24 hours.  

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance Dog Food or treat bags
  • Glue 
  • Clear acrylic gloss sealer
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors 

Upcycle Challenge Winner:
Amber Glass Vase by Lindsey Whitehead

“Upcycled

Since spending more time at home I have been filling my apartment with flowers to keep things cheery and found the Life’s Abundance Fish Oil bottle makes an excellent vase! Simply clean your bottle with a bottle brush and leave it soaking in dish soap and water overnight. Peel off the label or scrub it off with a scouring pad — you can also use some baking soda to speed up the process and get rid of any residue. 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance Fish Oil bottle
  • Scouring sponge 
  • Dish soap 
  • Baking powder 

News Alert: FDA identifies over 100 dangerous hand sanitizers

“Mom

 

Note: Life’s Abundance Rinse-Free Hand Cleanser is not involved in this FDA report. Our product has been tested for safety and is confirmed to contain at least 70% organic ethyl alcohol and does not contain any methanol.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to be on the lookout for dangerous hand sanitizing products. There are two areas of concern to watch for.

Methanol Contamination

The FDA has seen a spike in hand sanitizers that have tested positive for methanol contamination. This has led to an increase in adverse health events related to methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and can even be life-threatening if ingested. 

“Consumers must… be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol. 

Low Alcohol Content

FDA test results have shown that other hand sanitizers have “concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol,” which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products. These sub-potent hand sanitizers have also been added to the FDA list of hand sanitizers to avoid.

Click here for the FDA's full list of dangerous hand sanitizers to avoid.

Why Magnesium Is Important To Your Health

“Healthy

Magnesium is instrumental to many body functions and necessary for every biological organism, not just humans. Technically, it is an essential mineral nutrient, meaning it’s something the body needs, but it cannot make itself. That means it has to come from a dietary source like food or a supplement. 

This mineral plays a critical role in the brain, heart, and muscle health for humans. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you can avoid magnesium deficiency: 

What Is Magnesium? 

Magnesium is one of several minerals in the body and the fourth most abundant (the first is calcium.) It’s a functional part of muscle movement, heart rhythm, blood sugar levels, protein synthesis, bone formation, and DNA building. 

Having low levels of this essential mineral can lead to weak muscles, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. An estimated 68% of the U.S. population fails to meet the daily requirement, possibly leading to magnesium deficiency. 

Magnesium and Brain Health

Magnesium is a key player in translating messages between the brain and body. Nerves generate electrical impulses to send these messages. If the impulse is strong enough, it activates a receptor that allows it to continue to the next axon, a thin cable that carries the electrical impulses in nerve cells. 

Not all the electrical impulses that travel down an axon are strong enough to move forward, though, which is a good thing. If they were, your brain would be continuously flooded with messages that it doesn’t need. 

Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper for some of these receptors, so impulses that are not strong enough stop before they hit the brain. This way, it prevents nerves from overstimulation that might cause damage. 

Magnesium and Heart Health

Magnesium is critical for maintaining a stable heartbeat. When your heart beats, calcium floods the cells of the heart muscle to cause a contraction. It relaxes when magnesium enters to block the calcium. Calcium and magnesium are natural competitors — when magnesium is present, it blocks calcium. These actions are essential to keep the heart beating. 

Magnesium and Muscle Health

Magnesium plays the role of calcium blocker in all muscle tissue, not just the heart. When calcium enters the muscle cells, it contracts. When magnesium comes in to counteract the calcium, the muscle relaxes. Now, think about how many times your muscles contract and relax every day, and you get an idea of how vital magnesium is to health. 

“Woman

How To Tell If You Have Magnesium Deficiency 

Some symptoms of low magnesium levels include:

  • Muscle twitches and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Personality changes

There are also medical conditions sometimes associated with magnesium deficiency, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • Mental health disorders

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium varies by age and gender. On average, adults need between 400 to 420 mg. The older you get, the more you will need.

How to Get Magnesium? 

One of the easiest ways to make sure your body is getting enough magnesium is through diet. Some foods that contain high levels of this important mineral include:

  • Nuts
  • Black beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Chicken breast
  • Broccoli

Even if you eat right, you might still find that you struggle to get the proper amounts of daily magnesium. For you, the answer might be a supplement like a Multivitamin

Some people prefer to rely only on food for their nutrients. With that in mind, you can add minerals to your water using a drink mix and get the same benefits. Dietary supplementation will help you sustain energy throughout the day and the right formula can add delicious flavor to your drink! When choosing a supplement, look for something with all-natural flavors and no added sugar or colors.

Magnesium is a critical part of hundreds of cellular processes in the human body, and many people don’t get enough of it. But don’t worry, it’s easy enough to increase your intake. Simply add some mineral-rich foods to your diet, add a supplement, or both!

4 Great Protein Substitutes For Meat

Woman Enjoys Protein Substitute Chocolate Shake

Everybody needs protein, but not everyone enjoys eating meat. Fare including the usual suspects like beef, chicken, and fish, is among the best sources of protein available.

Just check out the amount of protein in a single serving of the following cooked meats and fish:

  • 3 oz of chicken breast: 13 grams 

  • 3 oz of steak: 23 grams

  • 3 oz of salmon: 21 grams 

All that protein is made up of varying combinations of molecules called amino acids, dubbed the "building blocks of life." Your body really can't function without them and relies on amino acids for everything from repairing tissue to digesting food.

So, does this mean you have to be a meat-eater if you want your body to get all the nutrients it needs to thrive? The answer is ‘No!’ In fact, whatever your reason for exploring non-meat protein substitutes, you'll be pleased to know you have plenty of alternative options. Here are a few simple ones you can start with:

  • Eggs

Like chicken, beef, and fish, eggs are considered a complete protein source. Crack just one open and you'll find six grams of protein inside. If you skip the yolk, you'll still get about 4 grams of protein from just the egg whites. 

Eggs may be a good choice for people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle or simply want to cut back on their meat consumption. Not so good of an option for people with egg allergy, however. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2 percent of kids are allergic to eggs, although most (70 percent) will outgrow the allergy by age 16. There are vegan and plant-based egg alternatives that have similar amounts of protein as well.

  • Plant Protein

Plant-based diets are an integral part of human history, but for several reasons (e.g., ethical, environmental, taste, health) they've become even more popular lately. A 2018 study found that 14 percent of Americans regularly consume plant protein sources, even though the majority of them (86 percent) do NOT consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. 

Replacing some of your calories from meat protein with plant protein can even lower your risk of heart disease and early death, according to a study from Harvard Medical School. In other words, the animal vs. plant debate isn't necessarily an all-or-none choice, and you don't have to swear off meat completely in order to enjoy the health benefits of plant protein. 

One of the most delicious ways to get your plant protein is in a convenient powder that you can mix into water, smoothies, pancakes, baked goods, oatmeal and more. Our delicious plant protein mixes have 13-14 grams of protein and 100-120 calories in every serving — that’s more protein and less calories than half of a chicken breast! 

Other top plant protein options include pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, hemp, spirulina, and quinoa. Like meat, these plants are considered complete protein sources. Additional options include rice, legumes (lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans), and other nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. 

Bowl of Healthy Plant Protein Options

  • Dairy 

Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk also earn a spot on the "complete protein" list. A 16 oz glass of skim milk has a little over 16 grams of protein, while 8 oz of cottage cheese has a whopping 25 grams. 

About 65 percent of people are unable to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy. This explains why so many of us experience uncomfortable symptoms (like diarrhea, gas, and bloating) when we eat dairy products. If dairy intolerance symptoms sound familiar to you, you may consider avoiding this protein substitute. 

  • Soy, Tempeh, and Tofu

Soy and soy-based products like tofu and tempeh are also good sources of plant-based protein. We're mentioning them separately from other non-meat protein substitutes because many people avoid soy due to allergies or other health reasons. (Keep in mind a lot of plant-based protein supplements are made with soy, so if you're trying to avoid this ingredient be sure to look at the label carefully.)

For reference, just one ounce of dried soybeans contains 12 grams of protein. One cup of tempeh (fermented soybeans) contains over 30 grams, and one cup of tofu (soybean curd) has about 20 grams.

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When meat's not on the menu, you'll need to be sure you fill your plate (or shaker bottle) with other good protein sources. Why? Because protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies must get in order to grow, repair, and stay healthy.

Remember, even if you do eat meat and other animal products, consuming plant-based protein offers additional health benefits and may even reduce your risk of certain diseases. So, in addition to non-meat protein substitutes like dairy and eggs, be sure to get more plant protein in your life.