Tag Archives: health

Food Insecurity and Healthy Nutrition

Food insecurity is when a person lacks regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life, according to the FAO.  

Approximately 800 million people in the world faced hunger in 2021. That’s a lot. Food security, and the elimination of food insecurity, should continue to be a top priority. Our world population continues to grow, and the environment is becoming increasingly volatile, which means even more people may struggle to find healthy food in the future. 

Morning light welcomes the day on the Nutrilite Trout Lake West Farm in 2016.

That’s why when I hear insights from Dr. Christopher Gardner about things like stealth nutrition and other ways that our food systems can be made more sustainable, I pay attention to what he says. In a Medium article written by Ashley Abramson a few years ago, he pointed out the simple idea that nutritious food can also be the most flavorful. And in a more recent interview, he spoke about ways we can adapt our food systems to supply healthier food while also helping the planet. 

Dr. Gardner is the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and his approach to nutrition and food is what we need more of. Because if we are going to have a resilient future, we need to be thinking not just about food security, but more specifically, about nutrition security. There is a difference. Shifting from food security to nutrition security means shifting our thinking from quantity to quality.

Of course, people need enough food to be food secure, but addressing hunger also includes giving our bodies the nutritious food we need to live long healthy lives.  

Where does our food come from? 

Where our food comes from is something we often take for granted. For many of us, it’s easy to go to the market or the grocery store, find food that appeals to us and simply buy it. We don’t always think about how and why it made it to the shelf for us to choose and consume. Because how it is grown or raised, and how it gets to the market, can directly affect the environment. Which means our food choices can help support the planet. That’s why we should choose wisely. 

The Standard American Diet or Western Diet, which is low nutrition, low-cost, and convenience-focused, is becoming more prominent in low-income countries and in large countries like China and India. This might seem like a way to address food insecurity but relying only on this type of diet also means more people are becoming subject to obesity and disease.  

The reality is that good nutrition from quality food would help prevent many diseases from occurring in the first place. Imagine a world where our global health systems could focus on helping people achieve their best health instead of treating their illnesses. What a difference that would make!   

Healthy colorful food is also incredibly tasty!

That’s the idea behind nutrition security. If we can make nutritious food flavorful, desirable and available to people who want it, we will have a much healthier world. And eating the proper mix of delicious plant-based foods combined with the right type of protein will help make the world more sustainable.  

And if you know what you’re eating is good for the planet, your food will taste even better! 


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Heart Health: 3 Simple Steps to Healthy Living

Family hiking with dogs in the mountains
Enjoying a walk in the fresh mountain air with Francesca and our daughter Koral along with her two dogs Cosmos and Nala. Simple steps towards healthy living, such as these regular walks, allow us to be ready whenever the next adventure calls. Telluride, Colorado. 2019


Heart health is about taking simple steps to live healthy. And living healthier doesn’t have to be complicated. Besides, being in good health is the best form of prevention. The dividends it pays forward can keep you living a meaningful life even beyond 100 years.

And, speaking of the heart, it’s truly one of the most important organs in the body. Each day your heart beats around 100,000 times. So, it works around the clock, pumping blood through your cardiovascular system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to tissues while carrying away unwanted carbon dioxide and waste. It just keeps everything flowing.

What you eat can have a big impact on heart health. Tweaking your diet to be more heart healthy doesn’t mean you have to lose out on flavor. You can still enjoy delicious meals. Changing your diet isn’t the only thing you can do to support your heart health, but it sure is a good place to start. Here are three simple steps you can take.

Don’t smoke.

Smoking is tough on your heart. It chokes your entire body of life-sustaining oxygen. More than 7,000 chemicals are inhaled with each puff, damaging your heart and blood vessels and increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and more.

If you are a smoker, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to become a non-smoker. You may need a few attempts to finally quit, but the reward is huge.

You don’t need to go it alone: join a group or team up with a friend and figure out a good plan to get it done. You’ll make your heart (and your loved ones) happy.


Just like any other muscle, the heart will weaken and atrophy with little use. “Use it or lose it,” as the saying goes. It’s a big reason why exercise is so important for heart health. Plus, exercise helps lower blood pressure, decreases artery-clogging “bad” LDL-cholesterol and raises “good” HDL-cholesterol.

Regular exercise also helps you stay independent as you age so you can enjoy an active, vigorous lifestyle well into your senior years. I know it works for me!

And, let’s not overlook the simple joy of movement, and how effects of a good workout carry over into the rest of your day.

How much? Health experts suggest that getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week is an appropriate long-term fitness goal for just about anyone interested in a healthier heart. Choose something that you enjoy and can do regularly. Perhaps have a friend or spouse join you?

Pay closer attention to your diet.

Enjoying healthy, delicious foods doesn’t have to be a burden. Instead, it’s an opportunity to experience new worlds of flavor and texture that you may not have tasted before.

When it comes to heart health, there are a few foods that I especially like. You may want to add one or more to your menu. Here’s the breakdown:

Assortment of nuts on a white background
A handful of nuts makes for a heart-healthy snack.

Nuts and seeds contain heart healthy fats such as mono, poly and omega-3 fatty acids that can help support cholesterol already in the normal range.

 Salmon and other fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and lake trout are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help support the health and structure of arteries and other blood vessels. If you’re not a fish eater, you could consider supplementing with Nutrilite™ Heart Health Omega to fill the gaps in your diet.*

 Dried beans are a rich source of fiber, particularly water-soluble fiber. This type of fiber not only helps support healthy cholesterol but helps balance blood sugar as well.

 Berries (particularly blueberries and strawberries) are rich in anthocyanins, a type of phytonutrient that provides antioxidant protection.

 Garlic has been shown to have heart-health benefits. Nutrilite™ Garlic Heart Care is an excellent option if you are concerned about garlic breath.*

Leafy Spinach
Leafy green spinach is good for the heart.

Dark leafy green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli are rich in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, especially folate. This B vitamin has been shown to help support a healthy heart.

Don’t forget: To really enjoy your meals, be sure to include lively conversation, good cheer, and perhaps a little indulgence now and again. After all, a little red wine, and dark chocolate—in moderation—have been shown to have benefits, too!

In the end, having a healthy heart, and a healthier life, shouldn’t be difficult. The simple steps you take each day will get you there. Stick with it!


* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

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Living Beyond 100 Years

Living beyond 100 years is becoming much more commonplace, despite the global challenges we’ve faced recently. In fact, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy in the United States reached an all-time high of 78 years.

The global pandemic will cause this number to decline in the short term, but it still means that more people are facing the reality of living much longer lives. The startling truth is that of the babies born in the United States today, as many as half can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday.[i]

Baby who may live beyond 100 years laying on a blanket with mother in the background.
As many as half of the babies born today will live to see their 100th birthday.

That’s why I was excited to learn about an intriguing new initiative that was launched late last year by The Stanford Center on Longevity called The New Map of Life. It outlines how our societies need to change to account for our ever-increasing lifespans.

A new way of living

I’ve been a lifelong champion of prevention and if we’re going to be around longer while staying healthier, we need to be preparing ourselves for a new way of living, living that isn’t only about our life span, but also about our health span.

If you want to extend your health span, simple habits are the shortest path to doing so. Your health span is about living more of your years in good health. To me, it’s a big deal because good health is where we get our energy and vitality to fully enjoy life’s adventures. It’s also where we find strength and resilience—both mental and physical—to overcome life’s challenges.

If we are going to be living longer lives, past 100 years, how we experience them becomes even more important. Especially if we want to improve our quality of life. What will we do with all that extra time? Luckily, The New Map of Life initiative provides guidance on how we might reshape our longer lives.  

Here are some highlights from the report that I think you will appreciate:

Stay curious and keep learning

Instead of only focusing on education early on in your first couple decades, look for learning opportunities beyond formal education. Be curious at every stage of your life and have a growth mindset.

Embrace life transitions

If you are living a 100-year-life, you should be resetting your direction often. There are multiple intersections throughout the decades of life that provide more opportunity for meaningful interactions across generations. Interactions where knowledge and wisdom will flow, improving everyone’s quality of life, no matter the age.  

Exercise regularly

Healthy older man standing on a snowy road with mountains in the background.
Hiking on a gorgeous winter day in Telluride, Colorado. Photo: Francesca Rehnborg, 2021

Americans over 30 years of age gain about a pound a year on average, and by 40 years they begin to lose muscle mass. Many health changes that we experience throughout life that were thought to be inevitable signs of aging can, instead, be attributed to disuse. Staying active – such as 30-minute walks five times per week and muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week – can help mitigate aging effects.   

Build a strong community of friends

Make an effort to emphasize friendship even during the busiest years of your life when it might seem harder to make time for relationships. A healthy social life with a handful of close friends is a strong predictor of health, and even the length of our life. 

See yourself living a good long life

Although we’ve added 30 years to our life expectancy, we shouldn’t just add them onto the end. Take advantage of those extra years throughout your life by thinking holistically about all 100 years. Find a new sport, go back to school, or even start a new career later in life. 

The human body is an amazing machine. Given the right nutrition and maintenance, it can keep going strong for a very long time. Well past 100 years. Healthy eating and taking Nutrilite™ products to fill gaps in my diet have been like extra insurance for me.

For starters, I consume enough high-quality protein every day because it is an essential building block to help regain muscle mass. Nutrilite™ All Plant Protein Powder can be a good protein supplement. And studies have found that supplementation of plant-based multivitamin supplements, like Nutrilite™ Double X multivitamin, provide antioxidant benefits on oxidative stress that are essential to support optimal health.* 

Making the most of our lives and improving the way we think about each stage of our growth will maximize our health spans. And a healthier world is a better place for everyone.


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[i] https://longevity.stanford.edu/ 100 Years to Thrive

*This statement has not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What Does it Mean to be Well? Stanford Update

Eight friends look out to the water in this photo taken before physical distance guidelines. I think we are all looking forward to catching up in person with our friends. Hopefully, the time will come soon as social connectedness is an important component of wellness.
Eight friends look out to the water in this photo taken before physical distance guidelines. I think we are all looking forward to catching up in person with our friends. Hopefully, the time will come soon as social connectedness is an important component of wellness.

After five years, the Stanford WELL for Life study has completed Phase I, and I’m excited to share the team’s key accomplishments and what the future holds for the WELL study.

The WELL study started with the launch of the Wellness Living Laboratory in 2014. We can thank Dr. John Farquhar for leading the charge to get things up and running so quickly. 

As many of you know, John was the founder of the Stanford Prevention Research Center. He was also a lifelong friend and one of my mentors. I recall so many lively conversations over the years about our shared passion for disease prevention. A common topic was how to study disease prevention in a measurable, scientific way, but so too was uncovering the diverse factors that relate to optimal well-being.

Of course, we agreed on the usual suspects – physical health, mental and emotional health, and spirituality – but we also knew there was more behind this seemingly elusive notion of well-being. 

But what? 

This is the question we need to answer if we want to improve well-being for everyone. It starts with finding a better, more complete definition of “well-being,” one that captures all the diverse factors that people point to when they talk about their well-being. Then, we need to learn how best to measure it and, of course, promote it. 

That’s what the WELL study is all about. 

John did a yeoman’s job getting the WELL study up and running. Amway provided Stanford University with much of the seed money to get the ball rolling, thanks to an unrestricted gift through the Nutrilite Health Institute Wellness Fund. John provided the visionary leadership, and the research team hit the ground running.

Building a solid foundation for future research

The first phase of the WELL study was completed in December 2019. During these initial five years, the research team focused on creating the infrastructure needed to support and grow its research efforts and foster collaboration with others interested in sustaining global health. To date, they have recruited over 28,000 study participants and have five WELL cohorts around the world, including WELL Bay Area (United States), WELL China, WELL Taiwan, WELL Singapore and WELL Thailand. 

Identifying a more complete definition for “well-being” 

Using solid research methods, the WELL team has been able to uncover just how multi-dimensional well-being is. A fulfilling life, it turns out, is much more holistic than just physical fitness or mental health.

The researchers identified at least 10 separate domains that people associate with well-being. Yes, a healthy mind, body and spirit are included, but other domains related to a person’s social, economic, and physical environments are also important. 

And, some of these may surprise you.

For example, people also rate factors like social connectedness, financial security, resilience and stress management, a sense of self, and the ability to explore and be creative as important for their well-being.

Armed with this information, the team was able to develop a qualitative questionnaire that could help them better understand the impact of each domain on the level of an individual’s level of well-being. While they are all important, some are more important than others depending upon where you live. In the WELL Bay Area cohort, for example, the researchers found that well-being is mostly linked to social connectedness and lifestyle behaviors. In the WELL China cohort, however, the key well-being domains are physical health and stress/resilience. 

To me, this is such valuable information. Why? It allows us to focus on the specific factors that matters most to people in their own communities. 

The WELL Flower includes the 10 domains of well-being: (1) social connectedness; (2) lifestyle behaviors; (3) stress and resilience; (4) emotions and mental health; (5) physical health; (6) purpose and meaning in life; (7) sense of self; (8) financial security; (9) spirituality and religiosity; and (10) exploration and creativity.
The WELL Flower includes the 10 domains of well-being: (1) social connectedness; (2) lifestyle behaviors; (3) stress and resilience; (4) emotions and mental health; (5) physical health; (6) purpose and meaning in life; (7) sense of self; (8) financial security; (9) spirituality and religiosity; and (10) exploration and creativity.

WELL BioBank and its role in accelerating well-being research

The researchers are also collecting clinical information on study participants in various WELL cohorts. They now have over 300,000 blood, urine, stool, toenails and hair specimens from the WELL cohorts in Asia. All specimens are collected in the WELL BioBank, which serves as a first-of-its-kind repository for such a vast data set. 

As the researchers analyze the information collected, they are publishing their findings to share with public health stakeholders in academia, business and government. And, they are off to a wonderful start. The WELL team has already published six articles in peer-reviewed journals on their initial findings, and they expect to submit a dozen more in 2020. 

A woman practices yoga as the sun sets. Stress management and resilience has been identified as one of the ten domains of wellness.
A woman practices yoga as the sun sets. Stress management and resilience has been identified as one of the ten domains of wellness.

Future plans to expand and streamline 

I am so proud that Amway and the Nutrilite Health Institute played an important role in launching the WELL study. Now other organizations and individuals are funding the WELL study as it enters its second phase. This is an important phase as the team builds on their initial work, expands their global reach, and streamlines data collection with innovative technologies like wearable devices that can capture real-time data. 

Dr. Farquhar passed away in 2018 at the age of 91, one year before the completion of the first phase of the WELL study. I miss him and our lively conversations about well-being. If he were alive today, I can only imagine how incredibly proud John would be of the WELL team, their initial accomplishments and their commitment to take the WELL study into the next phase. I know I am. After all, it all adds up to one important thing: Helping more people live a fulfilling life with purpose.   

Continuing to lead the way in wellness research

The WELL team continues to investigate the lifestyle factors that matter most for people today. In one fascinating study, Professor Ann Hsing, PhD, MPH, the primary investigator for three WELL cohorts (China, Singapore and Taiwan) and the Stanford WELL for Life research team are currently investigating the effect of sheltering in place on well-being. For this study, about 5,000 study participants are completing a WELL questionnaire that measures distress and other parameters of well-being over the next year. With information like this, we can get a better handle on the short- and long-term effects of physically distancing on physical health, emotions and social connectedness. 

Stay tuned!

Dr. Sam Signature

P.S. To learn more about the WELL researchers, publications, updates on the WELL cohorts around the world, visit the official Stanford WELL for Life website.

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Questions from the Heart

A heart-shaped flower (Asian bleeding-heart /Lamprocapnos spectablis) stands out in the forefront.
A heart-shaped flower (Asian bleeding-heart /Lamprocapnos spectablis) stands out in the forefront.

Just a few months ago, our youngest daughter and her husband welcomed their first child into the world. Her name is Hazel Honey, and the way she studies the world around her is just a marvel. I fully expect her to grow up to be as feisty and gregarious as her great grandmother and namesake. Hazel is certainly our sweet little nut, and she’s off to a great start. 

Continue reading Questions from the Heart