Tag Archives: optimal health

Travel and the Power of Connection

This past month I visited Malaysia and Singapore and experienced the joys of traveling to Amway markets once again. It was great to be on stage sharing my optimal health journey with so many new people. And I’m so impressed by the passion of the staff and leaders. They are incredibly focused on being the best they can be and building the future of our business.

I believe that when we have the opportunity to experience different geographies and cultures, we often change our perspectives about ourselves. My travels have helped me see the world differently and better understand how connected we all are. And I believe that being able to connect through health and wellness makes our bonds even stronger.

Back when I was in my 40s, I was eager to take the Nutrilite brand around the world. To do this, I felt that I needed to experience the customs and dietary practices of various cultures around the world firsthand. So I set sail on a three-year journey on a sailboat called the Firebird that would take me to 36 countries.

During my travels, I discovered that the people I met with the best nutrition were also the happiest, most prosperous, and most involved in their communities. It was this observation that confirmed my belief that taking charge of our own nutrition is critical to living full, satisfying lives, to going after our dreams, and to having enough drive to act on what’s really important to us.

Continuing in my 50s and 60s, I traveled extensively around the world, helping Amway open up international markets at a record pace, introducing Nutrilite products to 47 new markets over a 20-year period from 1986 to 2006.

My latest trip reaffirmed my belief in the power of optimal nutrition and the incredible goodwill of people all over the world who make up our Nutrilite community.

Here are some photos from the trip.


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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Here is how to maintain focus on Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning, learning about people and the world around me, has always been an important part of my growth. The discoveries I’ve made throughout my life of learning and curiosity have kept me young in spirit, and in mind.

Setting off on a journey of learning and discovery on the Double X sailboat in 2014.

It’s not only the product of a growth mindset, but also the simple idea that lifelong learning makes for a longer life. Our brain’s neuroplasticity will keep expanding as we age if we keep challenging ourselves. Learning pays us back in many ways.

Remaining in our comfort zone with simple brain tasks that won’t impact neuronal plasticity is easy. And, yes, it’s harder to learn new skills or pursue new ideas or education that challenges our long-term memory and high-level cognition. But it will map new pathways in our brain. I find it magical that intensive learning not only teaches you something new, but also improves your brain plasticity and health.

Staying young and improving neuroplasticity is also about maintaining focus. Knowing that we live in an “attention economy” where constant distraction has become a barrier for many people, focusing on fewer things is one way to be more effective. Because if you really think about it, you don’t necessarily need more time, you need more focus. So what you decide to commit yourself to is important.

Taking Healthy Risks

Committing to something often requires you to take a risk. And risk can be stressful even when it gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you stretch. In certain situations in our lives, I’ve discovered that it’s a bigger risk not to take one. Taking a healthy risk challenges our thinking by exposing us to new ideas and learning about different points of view.

And you might fail. But you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. Failing means you are trying and growing and stretching yourself further outside of your comfort zone. I’m not saying that success isn’t wonderful! But succeeding at something easy may not be as meaningful as failing at something hard. It may not give you the same opportunity for mental growth.

Here are a few ways to maintain your focus and keep expanding the neuroplasticity of your brain:

Find someone different from you and get to know them. Seeing something from another point of view helps occupy your mind with opposable ideas. It’s a key to empathy, expanding your world and making better decisions. You don’t necessarily have to agree with someone’s perspective to understand what’s motivating them. Someone who thinks differently from you might be the perfect complement.

Try learning a new language. There are so many wonderful tools available nowadays to help you learn to speak a new language. Understanding the nuances of languages, and the dialects that accompany them, gives you deeper knowledge of diverse cultures and appreciation for different ideas. Not only are you creating more neural pathways as you master pronunciation and conversation, but you can begin to have deeper interaction with the people around you.

 Learn how to play an instrument. Music is wonderful to listen to, but playing an instrument opens a whole new world. Find a music teacher and pick an instrument to learn that you love listening to. Learning how to play it will give you more appreciation for the music you hear every day.

And finally, as you continue learning and growing throughout your life, don’t forget to laugh!

Laughter and a positive mindset are the best form of prevention.


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Finding the Blue Zones

Blue Zones are made up of specific people in this world who have discovered a worthwhile formula for healthy aging.  Blue Zones are comprised of five areas in the world where people live the longest.

Man and woman embracing on the back deck of a boat with water and mountains in the background.
Francesca and I enjoying our time in Capri, getting ready for a “Blue Zone” style dinner on the island.

The archipelago of Okinawa, Japan, known as the “Land of Immortals” is a Blue Zone. The small island of Ikaria, Greece, is another, as is Sardinia in the Mediterranean nicknamed “Place Where People Live the Longest in the World.” The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica and the Southern California city of Loma Linda, which is home to a high number of Seventh Day Adventists, also made the Blue Zones list.

Blue Zones and the healthy communities that come with them shouldn’t be a secret. It’s a sustainable approach to living that should be spreading across the world. But instead, data is showing that people spend more time alone as they age, not getting enough of the social interaction that can bring meaning to our lives.

Spending time alone

This is certainly true in the United States where a recent report showed a spike upward in time spent alone after the age of 40, the age where we generally seem to be most engaged with our partners, family, friends, and colleagues. The data shows that when people reach the age of 80 the balance of their time spent alone in minutes per day far outstrips their time spent with others.

This has me thinking about how we might bridge this gap and circumvent the loneliness and despair that many world citizens encounter each day. It’s too easy in our 21st century cultures for people to zap their lives and miss out on the meaningful human interaction that we need to sustain us as we rush around trying to experience as much as possible. This takes a toll, and it can lead to more time spent alone, simply because we probably aren’t creating enough of the social bonds that can make a life truly worth living.

So what can you do?

You don’t have to live in the Blue Zones to lead a lifestyle inspired by them. In fact, it’s the elegant simplicity of Blue Zone living that we should be adopting. And you don’t have to go “all in” to get started. Because you might already be living in ways that coincide with this philosophy without realizing it.

For instance, exercise does not have to be an intense pursuit of constantly pushing yourself to get stronger, faster, or better. Instead, tending to your backyard garden coupled with extended walks and other simple activities is how you can move naturally and reap the benefits. Adopting a Blue Zones exercise regime is quite simple and rewarding. It’s why the daily walks I take with Francesca literally keep me on my toes and thinking about how to live healthier with every step I take. It comes naturally.

Here are more simple steps you can take to lead a lifestyle inspired by the Blue Zones:

Know your Purpose

Man playing golf with ocean shoreline in the background.
Enjoying the fresh air while playing a round of golf in Corsica.

Having purpose in your life has been shown to help you live longer. Find what you are passionate about and lean into becoming a better you each day. Maybe it’s a hobby, or a spiritual commitment that brings meaning into your life? Whatever it might be, don’t be apathetic. Find your why for living a healthy life. 

Eat healthy meals with family and friends

Make mealtime not only about the healthy food, but also about connecting with those you care about. This is your daily opportunity to support those around you simply by being present. Listen to your loved ones and share your wisdom and advice with them when they need your counsel. 

Get enough sleep

Your life will run more smoothly if you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Those who sleep six hours or less are also less happy. It stands to reason. Create rituals before bed to prepare you for rest. And enjoy your wake up time, and the coffee that comes with it, if you like to enjoy a morning cup.

Get out every day

Get outside and be active every day. If the sun is shining, it can brighten your outlook. And even if it’s raining, you can find beauty and peacefulness in the drops falling from the sky. So grab your umbrella and go.  

Get involved in your community

Join like-minded people in your community. Volunteer for a cause you believe in or simply look for your tribe of people who are working to make positive impact. By improving the community, you are making the whole world a better place for everyone. What could be more enriching than that?




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Taking Care of Immune Health

Getting ready to take a brisk walk with Francesca. Being outdoors surrounded by nature is one of our favorite ways to maintain a positive outlook.
Getting ready to take a brisk walk with Francesca. Being outdoors surrounded by nature is one of our favorite ways to maintain a positive outlook.

I find it heartwarming to see so many examples of resilience and compassion making headline news. Glass walls may separate the most vulnerable from their loved ones, but care and love are still on full display. Older folks may need to shelter in place, but neighbors are stepping up to help shop for supplies or lend a helping hand.

It’s important to realize just how connected we all are. If we focus on staying healthy and positive, we’ll have an easier time navigating the uncertainty ahead. Plus, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we are able to help those around us.

Videoconferencing from home. Many employees are moving to remote work to help maintain social distancing.
Videoconferencing from home. Many employees are moving to remote work to help maintain social distancing. 

Putting it all into perspective

Staying informed can go a long way to helping you feel calmer. But be careful not to overdo it. Even the experts suggest that we take breaks from watching and listening to the news, including social media, to avoid becoming too anxious.

Staying positive can help too. In fact, a positive attitude is directly linked to a healthy immune system. What’s more, researchers recently found that optimism is a trait associated with living longer. For this study, the researchers compared results from two large, independent, long-term surveys. One survey was the decades-long Nurses’ Health Study with more than 69,000 women, 70 years of age on average, followed for 10 years. The other was the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, with about 1,400 men, 62 years of age on average, followed for 30 years.

Both groups reported how optimistic they were, whether they felt in control of important situations in their life, and if they expected good or bad things to happen to them in the future. Findings are published in the September 2019 issues of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Not only did the more optimistic and positive participants live longer, they lived up to 15 percent longer. To me, that’s an impressive difference just by looking on the bright side of things.

“Optimistic individuals tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them; thus, optimism may foster health-promoting habits and bolster resistance of unhealthy impulses through greater engagement with one’s goals, more efficacious problem-solving, and adjustment of goals when they become unattainable,” explain the researchers.

Interestingly, the researchers say your outlook is about 25 percent inherited, but the rest is learned and influenced by your social connections.

Time to choose more foods that support your immune defenses

It’s always a good time to let your positivity and optimism shine. What better way to start than by focusing on a healthy diet to fortifying your body’s immune defenses? 

Whether you’re heading to the kitchen to prepare more home-cooked meals or ordering food delivered, I encourage you to keep healthy food choices top of mind. Of course, before preparing or eating any food, it’s important to wash your hands with clean water and soap for at least 20 seconds. And, as you think about each meal and snack, ask yourself, “What is the best choice I can make to fortify my immune defense?” 

For inspiration, here are five essential immune-boosting nutrients and ideas for foods you can add to your menu now and all year long:

1. Vitamin C

Slices of orange and lemon. All citrus fruits—oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and more—are a rich source of vitamin C.
Slices of orange and lemon. All citrus fruits—oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and more—are a rich source of vitamin C.

For all its body benefits, vitamin C is most recognized for its role in immune health. Without it, you would be hard-pressed to maintain the protective membranes that line your nose, mouth, throat and intestinal tract. Your body would also have a hard time producing and activating key immune cells and maintaining a healthy inflammatory response.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, are your best food sources. Although, don’t overlook frozen options as freezing helps retain the vitamin. In fact, commercially frozen foods are often higher in vitamin C than their fresh counterparts shipped across long distances and stored on supermarket shelves.

2. Zinc

A meal featuring garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Garbanzo beans are a good source of zinc.
A meal featuring garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Garbanzo beans are a good source of zinc.

Zinc is critical for healthy immunity in large part because it is required for the optimal function of neutrophils, natural killer cells and other immune cells. Plus, zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin and the protective membranes that line the nose, mouth, throat and intestinal tract. 

You’ll find zinc in meat, fish, poultry, milk and milk products, but don’t overlook plant sources such as nuts, enriched cereals, garbanzo beans and other legumes, and whole grains.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps maintain the integrity of your skin. In this way, it fortifies your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders. Plus, vitamin A plays a central role in the ability of white blood cells to develop and differentiate. All good stuff for immune health.  

Animal foods are a source of pre-formed vitamin A (retinol), but don’t overlook plant foods that contain carotenoids like beta-carotene that easily convert to vitamin A in the body. For this reason, one of the easiest ways to boost your intake of this protective vitamin is to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily plate, especially orange, yellow and green varieties. 

4. Vitamin E

Nuts and seeds. A good source of powerful vitamin E.
Nuts and seeds. A good source of powerful vitamin E.

While most people recognize vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant, it also helps fortify the body’s immune defenses. Why? Molecules and enzymes in immune cells use vitamin E to help maintain optimal function.

Just about any meal or snack is an opportunity to boost your intake of vitamin E. You’ll find it in a wide variety of foods like fortified cereals, vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and nut butters. Fruits, vegetables and fish are also good sources.

Toss a few sunflower seeds on top of scrambled eggs at breakfast. Grab a handful of almonds as a mid-day snack, or serve up a spinach salad with a drizzle of olive oil at dinner. It all adds up to more support for your hard-working immune cells.

5. Vitamin D

In the body, the major circulating form of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) is a potent immune modulator. Nutrition experts attribute this action to an intracellular vitamin D receptor and key enzymes expressed by immune cells that metabolize vitamin D. So, it’s important not to skimp on this immune defender.

Yes, you can produce vitamin D in your skin from sunlight, but it may not be enough. So be sure to add food sources to your daily plate. Fatty fish, egg yolks and cheese are natural sources and other foods may be fortified with vitamin D.

Of course, you can fill any nutrient gaps between what your diet provides and what your body needs when you include Double X multivitamin in your daily routine.

The real value of prevention 

There’s no debate that healthful habits practiced throughout a lifetime go a long way to helping people of every age stay healthy in good times and bad. All without spiraling healthcare costs out of control or putting an undue strain on the healthcare system and healthcare personnel. 

While it may feel like we have little control over the environment or the economy these days, remember we do have control over how we react and adapt. 

Stay positive and take good care of yourself and those around you.

Sending lots of love, 

Dr. Sam Signature

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