The health and wellness market is evolving at an incredible pace with new business models, training concepts, and trends emerging constantly. The latest new trends are riding the wave of digital, driven by technology and demographic changes. Case in point: the Peleton bike. If you’ve been staying up to date on our social media platforms, you’ve seen numerous posts surrounding our recent whitepapers: Personalized Customer Experience and Sustaining Through Disruption. What we love most about this new wave of digital trends is that they are tapping into Millennials’ desires for personalization, freedom, and experiences over material things – disrupting the health and fitness industry while catering to the individual. This generation is in health and wellness for the long haul and ought to be considered a main target for companies to consider. Goldman Sachs explains why, “For Millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data and online information to find the healthiest foods. And this is one space where they’re willing to spend money on compelling brands.” Beyond Personal Wellbeing Looking beyond the idea of personal wellbeing, this new generation of conscious consumers are thinking about how the decisions they make are impacting the wider world, especially when it comes to the businesses they engage with. Consumers are demanding that brands demonstrate real engagement with sustainability, and they are driving the idea of purpose over (or at least alongside) profit and the philosophy that wellness brands should “practice what they preach.” Nielsen reveals that almost two-thirds (66%) of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact – proving that it pays to put your brand’s money where its heart is. At Stratum Nutrition, we do just that. We Practice What We Preach Nena Dockery, Scientific and Regulatory Manager at Stratum Nutrition, explains, “Stratum Nutrition is dedicated to keeping up with current trends, in all areas from sourcing fully traceable, consumer-relevant ingredients to helping our customers market a finished product. Stratum recognizes that consumers are now more interested in clean labels, transparency and efficacy. Therefore, we look for ingredients that are sustainably produced, friendly to the environment and are clinically supported.” One ingredient example of this is NEM®. “The manufacturing process for producing NEM® begins with the positive environmental impact of securing US-sourced eggshells from the food processing industry that are headed for disposal in landfills. The entire process is safe for the environment, safe for manufacturing personnel and safe for both human and animal consumption (excluding egg allergen risks),” explains Dockery. Backed by Science Whichever type of health and wellness trend becomes the next big thing for consumers, one thing will remain the same: joint health matters at every age. Dockery adds, “NEM® is the original and scientific leader for eggshell membrane and it is the only eggshell membrane backed by a significant number of published research studies, such as randomized control clinical trials, healthy population trials, in vitro mode-of-action, in vivo studies and veterinary trials.” Two clinical trials of NEM® have proven that it helps to alleviate exercise-induced joint pain. It rapidly improved recovery from exercise-induced stiffness by day four of the two-week trial, and joint pain by day eight. There was also a significant decrease in cartilage degradation. This means that NEM® should assist people in staying active and maintaining healthy joints as they age, as well as improve people’s inclination to exercise in the knowledge that joint cartilage may be protected from damage. The most recent study, and the largest study conducted to date involving NEM®, also confirmed its fast results in only 7 days for the 166 subjects diagnosed with Grade 2 or Grade 3 osteoarthritis of the knee. Kevin Ruff, Stratum Nutrition’s Senior Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, had this to say about the recent study, “We are pleased that it was supportive of its fast time to efficacy, even in subjects with moderate to severe arthritis. This, combined with its cartilage protecting effect recently demonstrated in healthy individuals, makes NEM® the perfect adjunctive therapy for those with joint issues.” No other joint health ingredient on the market has the wide range of published research to support claims related to cartilage protection as well as reduction in exercise-induced joint pain and stiffness. Joint Health Matters Predicting the spend on wellness will continue to grow as a massive multi-trillion-dollar industry, now is the time to ride the wave with a company that will keep you afloat. When considering a joint health ingredient, go with the one that matters and aligns with both the heart and mind of consumers who demand sustainable ingredients heavily backed by science.   For more information about NEM®, the #1 fast-acting, triple-action branded eggshell ingredient on the market, please contact us. The unique ingredients and superior formulations we use help people achieve a higher quality of life through health ingredients.
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Young Consumers Demand More
“Kegger at my mom’s house!” It’s known as Kansas City’s little inside joke made famous by KC native & superfan, Paul Rudd. When the KC Royals won the ALCS championship in 2014, a reporter asked Rudd on national TV, “So, where are you going to be partying tonight?” Rudd joked back with him about having a kegger and partying at his mom’s house. At the end of the interview, he jumps back into the scene shouting into the microphone, “$5 cover!” Little did he know, people would take his joke seriously. Many showed up at his mom’s house ready to party, except there was a problem. She no longer lived there. The door of opportunity closed quickly and the dudes standing in the lawn holding their 6-packs were left out in the cold. Someone could have capitalized on this joke, but instead, “Keggers at my mom’s house” became a missed opportunity. That is, until the Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl title in 2020. During the post-game celebration, Rudd, who is also a huge KC Chiefs fan, told FOX4, “I’m freaking out. I guess we really got to plan a big ole’ kegger, don’t we?! Somebody better let my mom know.” This time KC’s little inside joke wasn’t left on the field. Seizing the opportunity, Rudd teamed up with Big Slick and Charlie Hustle to birth “Kegger at my mom’s house!” tee shirts to benefit Children’s Mercy. They were able to capitalize on the missed opportunity at just the right time. Winston Churchill once said, “Opportunity, once spurned, may come again. But the hours that are lost in idleness can never be brought back to be used in gainful pursuit.” When an opportunity passes, don’t get lost in idleness. Instead - Write down problems as they arise and create solutions for each one. By practicing problem-solving, you’ll begin to catch opportunities as they come. Have vision and use it to build products or services for tomorrow. What are consumers going to want in the future? Talk Less, Listen More. Listen to hear opportunities, what are others saying? The smartest people in the room aren’t usually the ones talking but rather taking notes of everything happening. Some of the greatest opportunities are missed by people talking too much. Take an existing concept and make it drastically better. We went into great lengths about this in our whitepaper on disruption. Simplify. What are things people hate to do because it is complicated? Find pain points people have and create solutions for them. If you make it easier, you will always have a market for yourself. So, when a similar opportunity comes back around, you’ll be ready to pursue it.     P.S. Someone ought to find out Paul Rudd’s skin care treatment. He looks just as good now as he did back in his 1995 Clueless days. Maybe he’s born with it. Maybe it’s NEM®.  
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Cheers to Missed Opportunities
One of the most memorable commercials from this year’s Super Bowl was an ad for Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, featuring actor Jason Momoa. In one short minute, everything we thought we knew about Momoa was unmasked right before our eyes as he walked into his sanctuary and behind closed doors. In an unnerving, visually unappealing twist, Momoa “removes” his muscular arms and torso, revealing a super skinny frame underneath, and if that wasn’t enough of a shocker, he then proceeds to pull off his long, lustrous head of hair unveiling a combover that left viewers speechless. We’ve all been betrayed. Ok, ok. I know. It’s just a commercial, but the feeling of shock followed by betrayal is similar to what consumers feel when they find out that their favorite product isn’t as “clean” as it appeared to be. As a child of the 80s, Sloppy Joes from a can smothered with ketchup and pickles served on white bread might still be my kryptonite today. I loved running home from school and heating a can of Spaghetti-O’s, snacking on Ding Dongs and drinking Hawaiian Punch, but sadly, my children have never swished any of these around in their mouths. Why? Because the feeling of betrayal is like a strong, unforgettable punch to the gut. I still remember where I was when I first heard about the effects of a certain red ingredient on children. At first, I was skeptical and a bit naive, “Surely, there are guidelines in place to prevent the selling of harmful ingredients.” But my viewpoint changed when child number 3 came along. As soon as he consumes anything with this particular red ingredient, he immediately resembles Hammy from the movie, Over the Hedge. And that’s not okay. Once I came to my senses and realized this one ingredient was the culprit behind the dramatic difference in his behavior, my research into food consumption began and the floodgates of betrayal were opened. Everything I thought I knew about the food and dietary industry was wrong. Consumers want to know that they can trust the manufacturers of their beloved dietary supplements and functional foods, and the best way to convey that trust is to be transparent with ingredients. Clean labels build trust, expecting consumers to simply trust your label for what it says is like expecting a stranger to catch you in a trust fall. They will not. The clean label movement has increased in popularity as today’s consumers are the most informed and health-conscious of any previous generation. While there is no official definition of “clean label” requirements provided by the FDA, the most accepted description is that of products containing simple ingredients with no processing. Having clearly labeled, easy-to-understand and a minimal number of ingredients help communicate to consumers that your brand has their best interests in mind. Yes, costs most likely will increase, but according to a study by PR agency Ingredient Communications, 73% of consumers are happy to pay a higher retail price for products with clean label ingredients. Nena Dockery, Science and Regulatory Manager at Stratum Nutrition, breaks it down for us like this, “Demand for transparency and truth by consumers has challenged the Dietary Supplement and Functional Foods industries all the way from raw ingredient supplier to finished product marketer. Consumers who desire products with clean labels that are truthful and with an ingredient list that is easily understood are often willing to pay a premium for high-quality products.   They want to be assured that if a product states that it contains “natural” ingredients, that it does and not a synthetic substitute cheaply made in a lab.  The end-consumer deserves to know what is in their products, and manufacturers and distributors need to know they can trust their ingredient suppliers to provide raw ingredients that are what they say they are.” We do just that. “Stratum Nutrition is committed to seeking out ingredients that meet the needs of the end-consumer who wants simple, clean foods and supplements that are both safe and efficacious. The ingredients supplied by Stratum can be easily incorporated by reputable manufacturers into environmentally-friendly, clean-labeled products for both human and veterinary use,” explained Dockery. As consumers become more label-savvy, manufacturers who are proactive in being transparent, formulating with clean ingredients and building trust will benefit their bottom line. We can help your brand do just that. For more information on how to partner with an ingredient supplier you can trust, contact us here.
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Betty White. Who doesn’t love this golden girl?! Remember back in 2010 when her career was revitalized by Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign? There we all were, watching the Super Bowl and then Bam! Betty White shows up and is slammed down in a pile of mud. This campaign toiled with our emotions, giving us 30 seconds of shock and awe. We quickly went from, “Awe, we love Betty White” to, “Crap, that dude just threw her in the mud” to finally agreeing with their ever so relatable slogan, “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” (#truth) None of us are. Our beloved nonagenarian helped launch this successful campaign for Snickers which increased sales by $376 million in just 2 years. Advertisements work when done right. More than 75 years ago, the first television commercial ran for only $9 and has since grown into a $75 billion/year industry. Though the rise of the internet has decreased TV’s market share, internet advertising has ensured that video ads are more popular now than ever. But, marketers have one major problem: people hate advertising. Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, said, ads are often irrelevant and sometimes, “just silly, ridiculous or stupid.” We’re pretty sure he was thinking of the Puppy Monkey Baby video. The average person is bombarded with a significant amount of ads from various mediums 24 hours a day – radio, television, social media and print ads. Many consumers, especially the affluent younger generation sought out by most agencies, despise ads to the extent of paying to avoid them. With all this marketing noise and avoidance, how can brands make sure their ads stand out and are heard? Brands stand out by getting in touch with their consumers’ feelings.  We call this emotional marketing. Think about it like this: when considering a new business, if it were between two ads – one that simply talked about its products and another that made you laugh or cry – which one would “impress” you and leave its mark? The second one, right? First impressions form in a matter of seconds. The same goes for a first impression of a product or brand. Emotional marketing can shape a brand’s first impression by helping it be heard above the marketing noise. Evoking emotion through advertising achieves the emotional connection a consumer has with a brand.  According to Psychology Today, research shows people respond to the emotional part of an ad more than the text itself and according to the 2016 Neilsen report, “Emotions are central to advertising effectiveness,” and ads that generated above-average brainwave activity were associated with a 23% lift in sales volume. Brands count on consumers sharing their content in order to be seen – even by the haters currently blocking ads. According to HubSpot, the most-shared ads relied on emotional content, including happiness, friendship and inspiration. Ads that convey strong emotions often go viral and produce high results. Insert “sharing is caring” here. You may be wondering where to begin.  If you’ve not heard of the Story Cycle, it is a 10-step process inspired by American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey universal story template, we highly recommend it. It’s a resource your brand can use to create more compelling stories that resonate with their customers. A good example of this process is the Doritos Ultrasound commercial. It walks through each step capturing the story of the consumer, not just their brand. Your brand becomes bigger and better when your story weaves into theirs. Advertisements work when done right. One key component to successful emotional advertising is to know and capitalize on your brand’s core – not blindly reaching for an emotional reaction. Didn’t we learn from Nationwide’s mishap back in 2015? If your brand wants to hit on a negative, remember to bring it back around and end with a positive. Unsung Hero is an excellent example of this.  With over 64 million views, it’s obvious Thai Life Insurance knew how to hit on poverty and still make us believe there is good in this world. So, what makes a great ad great? They’re memorable - like “Wassup?!” They connect with consumers – Budweiser left us with a cliff-hanger leveraging the human-animal bond for full emotional impact.  They communicate the brand’s value. Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign does just that. Call to Action. Old Spice realized women buy most products, so they launched a successful campaign titled, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” The old expression is a true one: “people buy emotionally, then justify logically.” No matter which emotion your brand chooses to hit on – happiness, fear, sadness, etc. – just be sure the emotional triggers resonate with your consumers. Advertisements will work when done right.  
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Let's Get Emotional
December 3, 2019 (Carthage, MO USA) Stratum Nutrition®, the Global Leader of eggshell and eggshell membrane wellness ingredients, and President, Micah Osborne, announce, “NEM® has become an internationally recognized joint health ingredient as supported in a large, double-blind, placebo-controlled Clinical Trial from Turkey.” The Journal of Arthritis (J Arthritis 8(4):285.) recently published a large independent multi-center, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of Stratum’s flagship ingredient, NEM® brand eggshell membrane, in 166 subjects diagnosed with Grade 2 or Grade 3 osteoarthritis of the knee. This study was conducted at eight different university medical centers in Turkey and confirmed NEM®’s fast results in only 7 days. By Day 30, both knee pain and stiffness had improved by more than 30% in the NEM® -treated subjects. This study also employed a unique blinded, single-crossover design to compare subjects taking NEM® for 90 days versus subjects taking NEM® for 60 days (the former placebo subjects who began taking NEM® after Day 30). A responder analysis found a statistically significant difference between the number of patients having at least a 15% decrease in pain, which was greater in the 90-day NEM® group (71% of subjects) compared to the 60-day NEM® group (53% of subjects). “This is the largest study conducted to date involving NEM® and we are pleased that it was supportive of its fast time to efficacy, even in subjects with moderate to severe arthritis. This, combined with its cartilage protecting effects recently demonstrated in healthy individuals, makes NEM® the perfect adjunctive therapy for those with joint issues,” stated Kevin J. Ruff Ph.D., MBA – Sr. Director of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs for Stratum Nutrition.
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Large Independent Multi-Center Clinical Trial with Stratum Nutrition’s NEM® Confirms Results in 7 Days
‘Tis the season to get ready for the holiday rush. Channeling a more tailored approach during this time of year can make all the difference in your customer retention efforts. According to Deloitte, 75% of consumers are willing to purchase from new brands over the holidays. By building brand recognition that lasts beyond the holiday season, you turn holiday shoppers into repeat customers. The best part is that consumers who have been gifted your product might even be experiencing your brand for the very first time. But, with holiday marketing campaigns everywhere, how do successful businesses stand out from the noise and reach customers when every other business is competing harder than Aunt Bertha does for that last piece of pie?   Brands must first compete with a campaign that genuinely delights customers instead of contributing to the holiday noise.  The key to a successful holiday marketing campaign is analyzing your brand and figuring out which strategy is a natural fit for your business and then implementing that strategy. Let’s break down some great small business holiday marketing strategies: Find your brand’s unique holiday sweet spot Involve your customers Add holiday cheer to your site Dress up the unboxing experience Spread the joy all over your social channels Find Your Brand’s Unique Holiday Sweet Spot Uniqueness breaks through the holiday noise. It evokes emotion, often giving customers a warm feeling of nostalgia, tugging heartstrings, or making us chuckle. A unique holiday campaign stays true to the brand’s values and connects it with the true meaning of Christmas – capturing themes of family, togetherness, and giving. You know what kind of brand you want to be, but do your customers? Consumers need to know what you stand for or you’re never going to rise above the holiday noise. So, what does a brand’s holiday sweet spot look like? Just google “Best Christmas Ads of All Time” and you will see how each brand beautifully displays their uniqueness. One of my favorite brands that rose above the noise is a lottery company out in Spain. In Spain, their Christmas lottery is a beloved tradition dating back to 1912. It has seen its fair share of campaigns throughout the years, but it wasn’t until 2015 that one of them hit viral status. Justino tells the story of a night shift guard at a mannequin factory and the day shift workers he doesn’t meet, but deeply desires to connect with. The story plays out and viewers fall in love with his character, but don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ending for you. It’s definitely one to watch. So, what does this mean for brands? It means you must take the initiative and make your values clear. Seven out of ten millennials consider company values when making purchases. Whatever your brand’s values are, be sure to leverage them in your marketing this holiday season. Involve Your Customers Your customers are your biggest assets when it comes to authentic marketing, so why not involve them? For as many marketing wins, there are just as many losses. Here are two popular brands with their hit and miss holiday tales: Starbucks Holiday Involvement Win What would holiday shopping be like without Starbucks signature Red Cups? For years now, Starbucks has launched a holiday campaign built around its iconic red cups, which are only available during the yuletide season. One of their best marketing strategies occurred in 2016 when they let customers design their own red cups. Submissions were received from more than 1,200 customers stretching across six countries and resulting in 13 winning designs from customers around the world. Their campaign was brilliant. It connected their signature red cup with their customers and gave them the power to impact the company, knowing that their designs could potentially win and be featured on cups that would be seen in over 25,000 stores in 75 countries. Lesson Learned: Turn the tables and allow your customers to bring value to your brand. Coca-Cola’s Lack of Involvement Holiday Fail Back in 2011, the marketing gurus over at Coca-Cola decided to give their red cans of Coke a more festive look. Coke cans were changed to white and displayed in stores around the world. This was a disastrous holiday marketing mistake. Their new packaging design confused and annoyed consumers who thought they were purchasing their beloved Diet Coke. To the gurus’ surprise, the company pulled their holiday design off the shelves two months early resulting in sky-rocketing revenue loss. Lesson Learned: Involve your customers. They may see what you do not. Customer engagement most likely would have prevented Coca-Cola’s costly mistake. Add Holiday Cheer to Your Site It’s a good time to add some holiday cheer to your website. It creates the spirit of the holidays and gets potential customers into a festive mood, which makes them more likely to buy something while on your site. Consumers expect to see some holly jolly goodness when doing their online shopping. Check out these ways to easily tailor your website: Spice up your website with festive graphics Change your website colors Use a countdown timer Decorate your logo Add holiday overlays to your photos Add a calendar widget to mark special days Use decorative font Dress Up the Unboxing Experience In a study done by Pregis and the University of Wisconsin, they found that packaging impacts consumer’s perception of product value by 45%. As retail continues to shift from brick and mortar locations to online, the unboxing experience in consumer’s homes is replacing the store experience. It’s possible for your brand to bring the same excitement and anticipation to consumers by simply being intentional with your brand’s holiday packaging.   Here’s how – First, stay true to your brand while having fun with creating holiday packaging, but for the love of eggnog, please steer clear from using generic holiday imagery. It only dilutes your brand recognition and veers off course from your brand’s identity. Second, don’t overdo it.                             If you relate to Buddy the Elf, your accounting department probably appreciates you scaling your holiday cheer back a bit. The cost of customizing every element can quickly add up. More material equals more waste and today’s consumers are more attracted to sustainable packaging and products. No one wants to see your brand’s holiday cheer end up in a landfill. Not even you. Need some simple, easy ideas? Consider mailing out your products in branded boxes. Write handwritten notes to your customers. Give away free samples.   Add a QR code for downloadable coupons. Make your CTA big, bold, and easy to follow. Include a creative Postscript (P.S.) in your packaging material. Just to name a few. Spread the Joy All Over Your Social Channels Social media holiday campaigns are a fantastic way to remind your consumers what your company stands for beyond the marketing jargon. You will need to plan your campaign in a way that takes advantage of the holiday season and connects it to your products in a seamless way across all social channels. Holidays are about giving and sharing. You’ll likely gain the most traction with your social media holiday campaign if you create it to inspire your customers to give back to their communities. Create a hashtag and encourage customers to post their stories. Be sure to feature their stories on your social media channels. For our finished brand partners who use our NEM ingredient, one idea is starting a fun hashtag like #jinglethejoints or #joytothejoints. Encourage your audience to give your product to a friend or even a few bottles to their local gym this holiday season and post the why with a picture on social media. If you have a pet product, one way to encourage giving back is supplying animal shelters with your finished pet product. Wrapping It Up So, you may not have a large, marketing budget like Starbucks or Coca-Cola, but you can create a good amount of brand awareness and generate more sales this holiday season by executing the right holiday campaign that aligns with your company and products. The key to success this holiday season is dependent upon giving your customers a memorable experience that will keep them coming back. How you choose to present your brand can be the difference between offering something unique or something they can purchase anywhere. If you haven’t began preparing your company’s holiday campaign, there is no time like the present.
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Seasonal Marketing - Rise Above the Holiday Noise
It’s a bit deceiving, this vegan diet. You would think that someone who is vegan is indeed a healthy person. Well, like any unbalanced diet, you can be both vegan and unhealthy. In an ideal meal plan, a vegan’s diet should consist of mostly plant-based foods which include fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, fermented foods, legumes, beans, etc. A junk food vegan is a vegan who consumes a high amount of processed foods which are essentially made in a science lab.  Moving on from that sad reality, let’s focus on what makes our mouths water and causes our sweet tooth to take the lead in our food decisions.    Here are my top 10 vegan junk foods that made me squeal for joy and forget all about my own home-made, self-loved muffin top: Thin Mints Oreos Smartfood Delight Sea Salt Air Popped Popcorn Sour Patch Kids Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch Lay’s Potato Chips Clif Bars Airheads Fritos Nabisco Triscuits Don’t be Fooled by Labels Although I joke around in this article, we all know just because a junk food is vegan, it does not mean that it is nutritious. Therefore, vegans wanting to improve their health should stick to minimally processed plant foods and limit their use of the following products: Vegan junk food: Vegan ice cream, candy, cookies, chips and sauces generally contain just as much added sugar and fat as their non-vegan counterparts.Plus, they contain almost no vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.  Vegan sweeteners: Vegan or not, molasses, agave syrup, date syrup and maple syrup are still added sugars. Eating too much of them may increase your risk of developing medical issues such as heart disease and obesity. With obesity on the rise, don’t allow yourself to be a part of the issue. If we could take away one quote from Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, it would be “Take care of you”.  Mock meats and cheeses: These processed foods generally contain lots of additives. Additives equate to added health issues. They provide you with far fewer vitamins and minerals than whole, protein-rich plant-based foods like beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds. Some dairy-free milks: Sweetened dairy-free milks generally contain a good amount of added sugar. Opt for the unsweetened versions instead. Eventually, you will get used to the taste. Vegan protein bars: Most vegan protein bars contain high amounts of refined sugar. What’s more, they usually contain an isolated form of protein, which lacks the nutrients you’d find in the plant it was extracted from. That’s not great news – sorry for the being the bearer of bad news. ​But wait, there’s more…. Profit over Responsibility Nutritional content and marketing are two ways businesses are deceiving us and impacting society in an unhealthy way (pun intended). The nutritional content of food is an ethical issue. Companies are solely focused on profit over responsibility. Food developers are concentrated on ways to entice addictions by making foods convenient, less expensive, and extremely unhealthy. As we know, salt, sugars, and fats satisfy our physical cravings and create powerful food addictions.  This practice has had a profound effect on our public health. The next time you are at a public place, stop and look around. You will notice the increase in American obesity. The State of Obesity has published data that shows in some states, obesity has increased nearly 40% since 1990. Americans have nearly doubled in size.  So, who is to blame for the U.S. obesity epidemic? Is it the public for not taking good care of its health? Is it the government for not doing their job in regulating the food we consume? Or is it the food industry that sells us our food? I would dare to say, it is all of the above.  If we can not make the government do its job or change the way the food industry does business, then the responsibility lies solely on us, the consumers.  When food companies choose to be less responsible and increase sales without considering the long-term health impacts for their formulating and marketing decisions, it inevitably makes it much harder for the consumers to do the right thing. The good news is that this will not last forever.  One group leading the way for ingredient and brand integrity is the Council for Responsible Nutrition. CRN’s mission is to sustain and enhance a climate for our members to responsibly develop, manufacture and market dietary supplements, functional food and their nutritional ingredients. In a recent statement towards the FDA’s commitment to increased enforcement action, CRN applauded the FDA Commissioner for recognizing the maturity of the dietary supplement industry and the need for increased agency activity to promote consumer safety: "As the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) celebrates its silver anniversary, the time is right to dream of an even more vibrant future. CRN imagines that in the next twenty-five years, science-based nutritional products will become universally accepted and trusted as essential choices for consumers to achieve and maintain good health and wellness. The balance DSHEA achieved between preserving consumer access and assuring consumer safety, along with FDA’s appropriate regulatory oversight under DSHEA, have helped make the industry the robust market it is today. Through the commitment expressed today, FDA can make possible an even more vibrant industry tomorrow.” Eventually stakeholders will follow pursuit. We can only hope they will begin to demand and define the limits of responsibility for the companies rather than leaving it for the companies themselves.  We must begin to educate ourselves on what we eat. We need to stop asking, “where’s the beef?” and start asking ourselves, “what do our bodies need?”. (Answers are found all over Google.) But, when in doubt, remember the Vegan Golden Rule. Vegan Golden Rule If a product is loaded with salt, sugar, fat, and/or is derived from an animal – and lacks any notable nutritional value – abstain from eating it. If you are still in doubt, simply eat your vegetables and pop an Ahiflower pill for a superpower dose of your daily need for omega-3, 6, & 9.  Like everything in life, balance is the key. Sorry to break it to you, Junk Food Loving Vegans.    
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The Unhealthy Vegan
Have you noticed veganism in the mainstream media?  It seems that it is making its way throughout every industry on the planet and has come a long way once reserved for peace-loving hippies.  So, what exactly is veganism?  Well, simply put, it is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.  A follower of the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan.  Interest in a totally animal-free diet is at an all-time high, with celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, and Beyoncé (just to name a few) using their influence to encourage others towards a vegan lifestyle.  Speaking of Alicia Silverstone, she is far from “Clueless” when it comes to veganism.  Silverstone runs an online community over at “The Kind Life”, based off of her book “The Kind Diet”.  Her focus is all about living your healthiest and happiest life to the fullest while taking care of mama earth at the same time.  Most vegans strongly agree with this statement.  There are a handful of topics that can stir up strong emotions and controversies in the average person.  Politics, religion, and food choices are at the top of this list.  Different diets seem to work and make sense to different people and everyone swears by what they are doing. As someone who is looking into veganism, there might be a few different vegan diets you’re not even aware of.  Allow me to break them down for you. Different Types of Vegan Diets Whole-food vegan diet: A diet based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Processed foods are not an option.  Simply put, stay away from anything in a package or in a box. Raw-food vegan diet: A vegan diet based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or plant foods that are to be eaten raw or cooked at temperatures below 118 degrees.  Vegans on this diet are motivated by health reasons and believe that raw and minimally heated foods are more nutritious than cooked ones. 80/10/10: The 80/10/10 is a raw-food vegan diet that relies on mainly raw fruit and soft greens & limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados.  Also referred to as the low-fat, raw-food diet or fruitarian diet.  When considering this diet, you will want to make sure 80% of your calories come from carbs, 10% from protein and 10% from fats. The starch solution: A low-fat, high-carb vegan diet like the 80/10/10 but that focuses on cooked starches like potatoes, rice, beans and corn instead of fruit.  Raw till 4:  Raw foods are consumed until 4p.m. with the option of a cooked plant-based meal for dinner. Junk-food vegan diet: A vegan diet lacking in whole plant foods that relies heavily on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts and other heavily processed vegan foods. Who knew there were multiple ways to be vegan and that “Junk Food Vegan” was a real diet trend?!  (Sign me up!  Ok, ok.  I’m just kidding.  Kind of.)    Let’s break this down a little further.  What do vegans eat exactly?  9 Foods to Embrace on the Vegan Diet Fruits and vegetables: adopting a vegan diet gives you an opportunity to branch out beyond your old standbys.  Did you know bok choy, watercress, kale, and mustard greens contain high concentrations of iron and calcium?  We normally intake these nutrients through eating milk and dairy.  One can also try using fruits and vegetables in new ways, for instance, jackfruit tacos or stewed carrot “pulled pork”.  Nuts and nut butter: From almonds to macadamias to walnuts and beyond!  If you stay away from the overly processed, sugar-laden varieties, nut butters can be just as nutritious as nuts themselves.  Depending on the nuts, they can deliver iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and/or vitamin E. Legumes: Beans and lentils and peas, oh my!  To meet your body’s amino acid needs while eating a vegan diet, you’ll want to incorporate plenty of legumes.  And take the time to learn how to cook them well. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan:  Often used to make plant-based meats, like burgers, sausages, deli slices, and more. These versatile, protein-dense foods have proven health benefits and can take the place of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and even cheese in many recipes.  Seeds: Add these to salads, veggie bowls, and smoothies to up your nutrient intake.  Hemp, chia, and flax all contain impressive amounts of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids.  Another way is to add Ahiflower to your favorite smoothies. Plant-based milks, yogurts, and cheeses: Again, make sure to choose ones that are minimally processed and don’t contain unnecessary additives and chemicals.  Whenever possible, though, go for varieties that have been fortified with calcium and vitamin B12, and vitamin D.   The Jonas Brothers recently sang about vegan milk during their appearance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.  Just for fun, be sure to listen to “Got Milk?”  (Thanks for the great video, Live Kindly!)  Ancient grains and pseudocereals: Yes, this means quinoa, but also spelt, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, and more.  These foods are time-tested powerhouses that provide varying potent combinations of complex carbs, fiber, iron, B-vitamins, and several minerals. Algae: Yes, seriously.  Blue-green algae like chlorella and spirulina are complete proteins, while other kinds of algae can help you meet your iodine needs.  Nutritional yeast: Called “Nooch” by it’s fans, this umami-bomb can add a cheesy flavor to vegan dishes and (if it’s a fortified variety) increase your vitamin B12 intake.    6 Foods to Avoid on the Vegan Diet Meat and Poultry: Bid your farewell to anything that has two eyes; beef, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey goose, duck, and quail.  Whether wild or farm-raised, all kinds of animal flesh are out.  Fish and seafood: If it had been swimming in the sea, you will have to say, “just keep swimming.” Vegans do not eat fish, squid, shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, and so on. Dairy: Cow, goat, and sheep’s milk are out.  Your taste buds will not be bathing in yogurt, kefir, butter, ghee, cream, cheese, ice cream, and all other dairy products. Eggs: Whether sourced from birds or fish, eggs are not allowed on a vegan diet.  Bee byproducts: This not only includes honey, but also bee pollen and royal jelly, too.  Ingredients derived from animals: This category can be tricky and requires close label reading.  Some items to look for include whey, casein, lactose, gelatin, cochineal, isinglass, L-cysteine, animal-derived vitamin D3 and fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids. If you have made it to the end and you are still interested in the vegan diet, here are some tips to help you get started: You don’t have to go cold turkey.  You could start by preparing a couple meat free dishes each week and gradually make more substitutions – tofu in stir-fry instead of chicken, say or grilled veggie burgers instead of beef.  If your aim is also weight loss, amp up your exercise routine and eat fewer calories than your daily recommended max. Feature vegetables in your meals.  Loading up your plate with vegetables will give you plenty of vitamins and fiber, which can help you feel satisfied. Shoot for the colors of the rainbow. Research supplements to ensure you do not lack daily nutrients that are essential in preventing serious consequences later in life.  Plant-based eaters tend to not get enough vitamin B12, vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Zinc, and Omega-3 fatty acids.  All can be found on the shelves of your supermarket.  Finding a vegan omega-3 source is now easier than ever.  One ingredient sold by Stratum Nutrition is Ahiflower, a super plant providing omega 3, 6, & 9.  It is vegan friendly and making its way to the top of all omega supplements. Like everything in life, find what works for you.  Veganism isn’t as scary or difficult as it may sound.  There are tons of options for substitutions and people are way more understanding than in years past.    However you plan to start your journey towards a vegan lifestyle, be sure to not go extreme like one vegan bride did.    Remember balance and kindness go a long way.                
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Vegan Diet
“If you are going to build muscle, you have to eat more meat.”  If you are an athlete, the odds are you have heard some version of this statement at some point in your lifetime. For most, meat = protein = muscle = athletic success.  In contrast, the highly visible success of athletes in 2018 (and prior) who shun animal products is challenging this belief as the number of athletes following a vegan diet is growing at a rapid pace.  Many athletes are claiming that they are lighter, stronger, more successful, and healing faster with a plant diet providing an impetus, if not the tipping point, for the rest of us.   Global elite sports stars that have gone vegan include Venus Williams, Lewis Hamilton, David Haye, Mike Tyson, Tia Blanco, Jermain Defoe, Steph Davis, and UFC star Nate Diaz - just to name a handful.  Certainly, more and more elite athletes are turning to veganism in a bid to improve performance levels. So, how does a plant-based diet help improve performance?  Fueled by Plants Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and his colleagues have examined the science behind the advantages a plant-based diet provides to athletes.  In a new review, he published these interesting claims for the performance-boosting power of a plant-based diet: A plant-based diet keeps athletes’ hearts strong by reversing plaque, bringing down blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing weight. Meat consumption and high cholesterol levels exacerbate inflammation, which can result in pain and impair athletic performance and recovery.  A plant-based diet may have an anti-inflammatory effect. A plant-based diet, which is low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol, helps improve blood viscosity.  That helps more oxygen reach the muscles, which improves athletic performance. Plant-based diets improve arterial flexibility and diameter, leading to better blood flow. Compared with meat-eaters, people eating a plant-based diet get more antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals.  Free radicals lead to muscle fatigue, reduced athletic performance, and impaired recovery.  Plant-based diets, which are typically low in fat and high in fiber, can reduce body fat. Reduced body fat is associated with increased aerobic capacity – or the ability to use oxygen to fuel exercise.  Studies show that athletes on a plant-based diet increase the maximum amount of oxygen they can use during intense exercise – leading to better endurance.  With claims like these, it is no wonder why more athletes are currently pursuing a vegan lifestyle.  Let’s look at what some have to say about going vegan.    Vegan Football Player: David Carter David Carter is a former NFL Defensive Linebacker and vegan activist.  On his website, The 300 Pound Vegan, he explains how going vegan is better for his long-term health.  “Converting to a whole foods-based lifestyle was the best decision I could have made for my body, mind and spirit.”  He thought about how the average life span of a professional football player is only fifty-six due in part to excessive consumption of anial products.  Red meat contains a lot of saturated fat, which is a known risk factor in the development of several chronic illnesses including heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. “By making this one small change not only have I saved my own life but the countless lives of voiceless and defenseless animals everywhere.  Not to mention veganism is great for our planet as well.  Becoming vegan has given me a greater purpose, something bigger than myself to fight for, and fight I will.” Vegan Pro Bodybuilder: Julia Hubbard Julia Hubbard is a former masters 200m world champion, current British indoor 200m champion, and in bodybuilding, 3 x NPA British Champion, 3 x World Champion, Universe Champion, and former Olympia Champion.  “In 2015, the same year I switched to a vegan lifestyle, I won British World & Universe titles, along with winning my pro cards with four federations, and making my Pro debut in the USA.  I am fitter, I am stronger, and I also find it easier to stay leaner year-round (since going vegan). I think being a positive role model is the best way to help others think about the issue.  I try to inspire others to go meat-free, by trying to be the best example I can be of how you can really thrive on a plant-based diet.” Vegan Strongman: Patrik Baboumian Germany’s Strongest Man, Patrik Baboumian, is a vegan who holds world strength records.  Patrik turned vegan in 2011 after several years of being vegetarian.  In 2013 he set a world record in yoke walk by carrying a 550kg yoke at a Toronto Veg Fest.  After the amazing feat he told the audience, “This is a message to all those out there who think that you need animal products to be fit and strong.  Almost two years after becoming vegan I am stronger than ever before, and I am still improving day by day.  Don’t listen to those self-proclaimed nutrition gurus and the supplement industry trying to tell you that you need meat, eggs, and dairy to get enough protein.  There are plenty of plant-based protein sources and your body is going to thank you for stopping to feed it with dead-food.  Go vegan and feel the power!”   Vegan Rock Climber: Steph Davis Steph Davis is a world-leading professional climber, skydiver, and base-jumper.  She is the only woman to have climbed a 5.11 grade route without safety equipment, and the first woman to summit the 2685m icy peak of Torre Egger in Argentina. Following a plant-based diet and remaining at the highest level of performance is not something that traditional climbers had previously believed possible. “Twelve years ago, people were generally very negative and unsupportive of veganism in general, and especially relative to climbing.  Now it seems like most people know about the health and athletic benefits of veganism.   There are a lot of vegan climbers and athletes demonstrating the advantages of eating plant-based.  I have found that eating a vegan diet gives me optimum physical and mental awareness.”           Ultramarathon Runner: Scott Jurek Scott Jurek is described in Chris McDougall’s Book Born to Run as “the top ultrarunner in the country, maybe in the world, arguably of all time”.  Scott is an American ultramarathon runner who has run many of the most prestigious endurance races in the world.  In his book, ‘Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness’, he explains how adopting a vegan diet improved his performance. “It’s not like you wake up the next morning and feel ten times better.  The changes are more gradual, and you can see them better once you continue down the path for a while and then look back.  In regard to competing and training, I noticed my recovery times had shortened, that I was less injury prone, and had a higher level of energy.” Insight for Supplement Companies         These testimonials show that athletes can get the nutrition needed from a solely, plant-based diet.  Plant-based ingredients can be incorporated into their diet to ensure they are getting the essential nutrients their body needs.  However, out of the handful of nutrients lacking in a vegan diet, omega-3’s may require more research to find a plant-based source (non-fish).   What would be our recommendation, you ask?  Definitely, Ahiflower Oil.  It is the best omega value from a single, sustainable and traceable plant.  Ahiflower Oil is a balanced combination of omega-3, 6, 9 essential for health, vitality, and wellness, and it is vegan friendly with no fishy taste.  Unlike fish and flax, Ahiflower contains GLA, an omega-6 associated with skin health, hormonal balance and a healthy inflammatory response.   With the rapid growth of athletes going vegan, it would serve the supplement industry well to tap into vegan friendly ingredients to help replenish nutrients lacking in a plant-based diet.  We believe Ahiflower could be a profitable supplement option for your formulation team to look into.  Contact Stratum Nutrition to help formulate your finished product (without the fishy taste).      
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Athletes Fueled by Plants
Since the days of our youth, we’ve heard it said, “health is wealth,” but with deadlines and hectic schedules filling up our work day, our health is quite possibly the last thing on our minds while at the office. The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay this way. Incorporating small, realistic changes to your everyday work routine can make all the difference. We have compiled our top 12 tips to help improve your health while at work. 1. Just Say No We all know it’s hard to pass up the tempting candy so sweetly displayed on our coworker’s desk. But before you go consuming hundreds of unnecessary calories and wonder why your khakis don’t fit next week, start avoiding their desk like the plague when hungry. Those little candies will only give you an unhealthy sense of enjoyment. Start by keeping healthy snacks at your desk and trading in the candy jar for a fruit bowl. Need help on what to bring to work? Check out this list of 33 healthy snacks for work provided by Healthline. 2. Guzzle H2O It is easy to avoid drinking enough water when focused on getting work done. Many turn to caffeinated beverages to stay alert during the day, but this is actually counteractive due to their diuretic effects, which lead to dehydration and a decrease in productivity. So instead of grabbing that second cup of coffee, try replacing it with a glass of water. Guzzling water throughout the day comes with clear bodily benefits: Maintains the balance of body fluids Controls calorie intake Energizes muscles Enriches healthy skin Aids in kidney health Maintains normal bowel functions One simple way to ensure you are drinking water is to mark your water bottle with the hours 11am, 2pm, and 5pm. Try to drink past each hourly line before the hour arrives. This will ensure you are drinking the right amount of water each day. 3. Work it Out Did you know that exercise offers benefits like a boosted metabolism and better sleep? In fact, early morning workouts are proven to boost your energy, self-discipline, and focus throughout the day. Not only is a morning workout great for you, but also try incorporating a few of these exercises into your work day: Hit the gym on your lunch hour. Walk with a coworker during your afternoon break. Schedule walking meetings in the afternoon. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in the back of the parking lot. 4. Preppin’ and Savin’ Gone are the days when mom would pack our lunch, but the importance of meal preparation still remains true for all of us. It can be difficult for most of us to make good choices when we are hungry or when we eat out, especially if the restaurant has free chips and salsa. One way to help what goes on your plate is to pack your own lunch. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your wallet. How Sweet Eats has made lunch planning easy with this list of 45 healthy lunch ideas. 5. Be Like Gumby Sitting at a desk and typing for the majority of the day can cause all sorts of aches and pains. Try setting an alarm to stretch every couple of hours. Prevention lays out some perks to stretching that are worth mentioning: It increases blood flow through your entire body. It could help muscle coordination and help to avoid awkward tumbles. It loosens you up to make the most of your workout session. It helps you focus and lessens your chance of injury. It lowers your blood sugar. It tames the tension both physically and mentally.   To get you started, be sure to check out these 17 desk stretches. 6. All About the Eyes If you sit in front of your computer all day, you are most likely aware of the strain it has on your eyes. Eye strain causes headaches, difficulty focusing, and increased insensitivity to light. The best way to help your eye health is to ensure that your computer screen is arm’s length away from your face and that your computer’s brightness is turned down. If you have trouble seeing the screen, it’s ok to up your font.   The Mayo Clinic recommends blinking often to refresh your eyes and to give your eyes a break by looking away from the monitor. Have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? Every 20 minutes look at something at 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. 7. Take a Vacay This is the tip we all want to hear. Vacations are an important part of staying healthy at work.Taking time off helps recharge, reduce stress, and it allows your mind to rest. Stress can impair your immune system, which increases the risk of illness. Fortunately for all of us, vacations are just the way to minimize the stress in our lives. So, go ahead and book that trip to Tahiti. Your cheeks deserve to be sun-kissed. 8. Prioritize Your Day   We all have those seasons where we have focused on a task and feel the need to stay later in order to get it done, but most of us are unaware of the impact it has on our health. Staying longer days at work affects our relationships, our mood, and our productivity. This can lead to burnout. Burnout, like stress, can impair a person’s immune system, as well as interfere with sleep and the ability to concentrate. Prioritization is a highly effective way to not only get your work completed but to eliminate stress. Learning how to prioritize at work and in your personal life will leave you feeling more productive and less anxious. 9. Disinfect – Disinfect – Disinfect Your keyboard, mouse, and phone can harbor thousands of germs that are just waiting to make you sick. So, grab the disinfectant! According to the Science Daily, researchers at the 100th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported, “We know that viruses can survive (remain infectious) for hours to days on a hard surface…if a virus such as the rotavirus were on the surface of a telephone receiver, infectious doses could easily be transferred to persons using the telephone.” 10. Gratitude - Attitude The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have a stronger immune system. The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for each day. Gratitude journaling works because it adjusts our focus and slowly changes the way we perceive situations. Incorporating this into your work day is simple. Before grabbing your morning brew, try sitting down and writing out three things you are grateful for. 11. Time to Move Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns that include: Obesity Increased blood pressure Increased blood sugar Excess body fat around the waist Abnormal cholesterol levels Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer It’s hard to ignore the evidence of the downsides of sitting. To ensure you are moving hourly, try setting a reminder for every 30-60 minutes. Remember any activity that involves movement is beneficial to your health. Examples of movement while at work include: Taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Stand while talking on the phone or watching something on your computer. If working at a desk, try a standing desk – or improvise with a high table or counter. Walk with a coworker for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room. Position your work surface above a treadmill – with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand so that you can be in motion throughout the day. 12. Lunchtime Siesta Daytime drowsiness can affect concentration, mood, productivity, accuracy, and creativity. When it comes to boosting your productivity, sleeping on the job may not be so bad after all. The Huffpost lists out 6 convincing reasons why you should take a nap today: Boots alertness Improves learning and memory Increases creativity Boosts productivity Lifts your spirits Zaps stress Don’t worry if your workplace doesn’t have a designated area for naptime. Try one of these ways to sneak in a quick nap at work: Park your car away from the front door and take a quick nap inside. Lay your head on your desk and snooze away. Hide behind a plant. Sleep sitting up in the bathroom stall. Whichever option you choose, don’t forget to set a timer for 20 minutes. The last and final tip is this: do everything in moderation. Healthy habits are about balancing work and pleasure, vegetables and cookies, sitting and standing. You don’t have to completely change it all, but if you slowly start incorporating these 12 healthy tips, you’ll get to a better, healthier you all while working the daily grind.                            
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Health at Work

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