supplements

The Unexpected Result of "The Smoothie Days of Summer"

At the beginning of August, I hosted a 7-day, online event on Facebook that I called the Smoothie Days of Summer. I decided to do this because over the past 8 months, my breakfast 5 or 6 days a week has become a smoothie that has, as its centerpiece, my preferred brand of plant-based protein powder. I feel like I've become pretty good at putting together a good-tasting, good-textured smoothie, so why not share some recipes?  I had also talked to some people who said  they lacked the knowledge or the imagination to do much more with their protein powder than to mix it with water or milk. So I hoped that by doing this event, I could share some recipes, and maybe in the process inspire someone to get a little more creative. Here's what we did over the course of seven days:

  • Just Peachy Smoothie
  • Strawberry Basil Bliss
  • Chocolate, Oats and Peanut Butter Smoothie
  • Carrot Cake Smoothie
  • Super Fruit, Flat-Belly Smoothie
  • Tropical Fruit Smoothie
  • Anti-Inflammatory Chocolate Smoothie

This event required me to pay closer attention to exactly what I was putting in my smoothies, in order to share the recipes. I kept track of actual amounts of the ingredients, and I really tried to pay attention to nutritional balance--incorporating the protein, a healthy fruit, vegetables (sometimes), fiber, healthy fat, and spices. An unexpected result of that seven days, however, is that I lost a few inches! While I didn't really set out with that as a particular goal, I couldn't be happier that those pants that were too tight last year suddenly fit again! This event proved to me first-hand how a smoothie as a light, healthy, complete meal can really make a difference in a short amount of time.

If you use a protein powder now, take a look at the label and examine what you've got. Does it have sweeteners in it? What kind? Stimulants? Anything artificial? How about other seemingly-healthy ingredients, like greens? Here's the thing--by using a protein powder with minimal ingredients, you gain the flexibility to add what YOU want, rather than be forced the ingredients that someone/some company chooses. Using a clean protein powder as a foundation, you can add natural sugar with a fruit.  Add your own fresh greens, in the form of baby spinach or baby kale, and you'll gain natural fiber as well as a load of minerals and vitamins. This, and the addition of a small amount of healthy fat, like a quarter of an avocado or a tablespoon of natural nut butter, maybe some spices, an extract, or essential oil for flavor, and you have a well-balanced smoothie that is apt to keep you satisfied for longer than many pre-fabricated "meal replacement" shake.  Yes, I have a go-to source for protein. But, the basic ideas I would suggest to anyone who's looking for a protein powder are:

  • Understand that a protein powder on its own should be a supplement, not a complete meal. One that has 14-15 grams of protein per serving is plenty. Combine it with other healthy ingredients to make a light, nutritious meal.
  • The source of the protein is important. Whey is dairy. If you have trouble with dairy or don't know what's causing those belly aches, whey could be the culprit (it was with me). Soy, I also stay away from--too many varieties are genetically modified, and the links to cancer are scary enough for me to want to stay away from it. Rice proteins have been linked to arsenic. That leaves "other" plant proteins. The variety I use doesn't rely on just one--it contains pea, hemp, pumpkin, chia and quinoa, and it's silky-smooth to mix easily with water, non-dairy milk, or even coffee or tea.
  • Look at what kind of oil goes into your protein powder. If it's sunflower, you might want to steer clear because of the high levels of Omega 6. A better choice of emulsifier will be coconut oil. The emulsifier is what will affect the blend-ability of your protein powder and also the creamy mouthfeel that you get when you drink it. 
  • Look at what type of sweeteners are used. Are they natural or artificial? 
  • Where do the ingredients come from? Where is the protein powder made? Are the ingredients non-GMO? Gluten free? These things do matter. And the shorter list of ingredients, the better.
  • Finally, I know that everyone appreciates good value. Look carefully at the servings per container on protein powders. You may look at two containers that appear to be the same size, but one is priced lower. Naturally you think it's the better value--but if it's fewer servings per container, then the cost per serving is higher. 

Although I will be changing up the ingredients and flavors a bit with the onset of cooler weather, I'll be continuing to include smoothies as part of my diet regularly. You see, I'm already thinking about 2018, and my goal is to START the year in a great place (physically, nutritionally, mentally), not just start thinking about it with the rest of the world on January 1. This nutritional self-care through the fall and winter months is part of my strategy.

If you don't have a protein powder, or if even if you do, and you've found your present brand comes up short in the comparison I've outlined, I would love to give you a sample of Life's Abundance protein powder. Leave a comment, or message me at happyvalleyhealthy@gmail.com and I'll get it right out to you! 

 

 

What's This Supposed To Do For Me?

I had the same question when I first started taking the Probiotic from Life's Abundance, and it  comes up fairly often when anyone is trying to learn more about supplements. Truth is, you won't hear me making promises, because everyone's experience could be different. What I can tell you is my own experience and what I hear from my customers. The first difference I noticed personally was reduced sugar cravings. Desiring less sugar, I ate less sugar, and the next things I noticed were that my skin looked better and my energy level was more constant, less "crashy". One of my customers, who previously suffered with both acid reflux and irregularity, has felt that his digestive process is substantially improved. Just this week another customer told me how her sugar cravings have been reduced, after just a few days on the product. How can that be?

Gut bacteria, when balanced, can help or hinder weight control. When they're in a state of balance, they can truly reduce or eliminate cravings and improve your metabolism. An unhealthy diet, where your gut bacteria is out of balance, leads to insulin resistance. If your cells are insensitive to insulin and can't take in fuel in the form of blood sugar, your pancreas produces excess insulin. That excess insulin can lead to inflammation, fat storage, and weight gain; and it can also put you at risk for diabetes, heart disease and other disorders. 

For a healthy gut, first and foremost is eating as much of a whole-food (as opposed to processed) diet as possible. To that, consider adding Life's Abundance Probiotic. During the month of August, when you purchase the Probiotic, I'll give you two sample sized products of Life's Abundance nutrition products of your choosing! Try chocolate or vanilla protein powder, the Greens Blend, or either flavor of Minerals & Antioxidants drink mix as a thank you from me. And let your belly thank you for the Probiotic. The link is: bit.ly/saynotobloat.

Is Fish Oil a Waste of your Money?

The short answer is, it could be…if you just don't know, or you're not careful about what you’re buying. It’s widely recommended by doctors and nutritionists, and that alone is reason enough for some companies to prey on unsuspecting consumers who will buy on price without ever considering the potency, source, or purity of the product. Here’s the skivvy, and besides reading this, the other thing you should always, always do is read the label of whatever you are buying.

First, what is fish oil? It is a rich source of the two essential omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). (Please don’t ask me to say those; even spellcheck is confused.) Fish oil comes from the fatty tissues of cold water, oily fish, like salmon.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, which means your body can’t make them, they have to come from your diet. The typical American diet today provides an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids, mostly from refined vegetable oils that are used in fried food as well as many processed foods, snacks, cookies and crackers. Omega-3s, on the other hand, are now relatively rare in American diets. The result is an imbalance of these essential fatty acids. That imbalance has been shown to promote inflammation and shows links to diseases commonly plaguing Americans, including heart conditions, several forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. A deficiency in omega-3s can also show itself in symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry hair and dry skin.

By regularly consuming fatty fish and/or fish oil as a dietary supplement and reducing intake of omega-6 fatty acids, we may help protect our mental and physical health. EPA supports heart health and DHA is thought to play an important role in normal brain development and function.

Any independent expert will tell you that when you are choosing a supplement, look for one derived from molecularly distilled fish oils – these are naturally high in both EPA and DHA and low in contaminants. Also choose a supplement brand that has been independently tested and guaranteed to be free of heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and other environmental toxins including PCBs.

If you currently take a fish oil supplement, try this to test its potency. Put the oil or the pills in the freezer. They should not freeze solid. If they do, you should be looking for another brand. And check those labels! See my notes in the photo caption below.

Top: Life's Abundance Fish Oil Capsules. Middle: A brand sold by Sam's Club. Bottom: I don't remember where I saw this one, but let's call it "don't bother".

Top: Life's Abundance Fish Oil Capsules. Middle: A brand sold by Sam's Club. Bottom: I don't remember where I saw this one, but let's call it "don't bother".

Life’s Abundance fish oil supplements are ultra pure, ultra refined, ultra concentrated, and the purity of every batch is third party certified. Taken in capsule form (4 per day) or concentrated liquid (1 teaspoon per day), there is no fishy aftertaste. My personal experience with this product is that it has eliminated my dependence on anti-inflammatory products like ibuprofen, and has improved the condition of my hair, skin and nails.