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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Health Benefits of Creativity

Are you too busy for creativity? As family, work, and personal responsibilities increase, it seems more and more people are forgetting to "think outside the box". However, "all work and no play" can effect more than just your creativity. It can effect your health.

Chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes are affecting millions of Americans. In the meantime, the burden of these diseases are linked to chronic stress, depression, and other mental illnesses.

You may be surprised to read that arts are becoming an increasingly popular aspect of medicine programs throughout the nation and world. A review published din the American Journal of Public Health highlights the health benefits of several creative channels, including expressive writing, movement-based creative expression, visual arts, and music. Music engagement, for example, has been shown to restore emotional balance and even control pain. According to the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, music therapy can calm neural activity in the brain which reduces anxiety and even boosts the immune system. Music therapy is even used to control pain and increase immunity in cancer patients.

Don't brush off (no pun intended) painting, dancing, or creative writing as merely a waste of time. Research in creativity and its link to health has increased in recent years. A growing body of evidence points to the stress-reducing effects creative activities have on an individual as they encourage comfort and relaxation. They can also boost self-confidence and improve brain function, which lowers the risk of dementia with old age.

Stress encourages weight gain, heart disease, and unstable blood sugar levels. Creativity reduces stress and its damaging effects. Creative acts done simply for self-fulfillment are stress and worry-free by default. You can challenge yourself without the fear of failure because there's no "wrong answer" when it comes to creative acts. You can work but feel happiness.

Grab a pen, pencil, brush, or instrument!

The beauty of creativity is that everyone can manifest it in different ways and still experience the same, common benefits. From visual arts, culinary arts, and writing to music, interior designing, clothing and jewelery making, there are endless possible ways to channel your creative energy.

Garden, knit, take a class, or learn a new language. Learn something new or creatively teach others about a subject you care about. When a creative avenue sparks your interest or curiosity, follow it and see where it may take you.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stay Hydrated!

Water Down & Drink Up

High quality protein. Disease-fighting antioxidants. Essential vitamins and minerals. Fiber. Many people do a great job of making sure they get adequate amounts of these essential nutrients. What often slips through the cracks, however, is a basic nutrient without which none of the previously mentioned nutrients would work: water.

When they hear of dehydration, most people think of marathon runners collapsing as they struggle toward the finish line. For example, more than 2,100 runners were treated for dehydration at the 2012 Boston Marathon. Although these are true cases, they aren't the only cases. Dehydration can occur in all age groups, including children and the elderly, and in all types of weather conditions.

The Body's Water Supply

We all know water is important. Water is a basic part of blood, digestive fluids, urine, perspiration, and found in bones, fat, lean muscle tissue, and the brain. It helps oxygenate the body, digest, extract, and deliver nutrients from food, and eliminates toxins.

Unforunately, as important as water is, it's all too easy to become dehydrated. The body does not store it. In addition, we lose water from our lungs, skin, urine, and other bodily processes. Most adults lose about 2.5-3 liters of water each day, with an active adult's water loss being on the higher end. Even a three-hour flight can cause up to 1.5 liters of water loss due to the dry air conditions of airplanes. Clearly, we need a steady supply of water every day.

Listen to Your Body

Your body will show signs of dehydration inside and out. Constipation and dehydration can go hand in hand. Water helps waste move more quickly throughout the colon. Without adequate water, even a high-fiber diet will not help relieve constipation. Stiff or painful joints can also be caused by dehydration because the cartilage that protects them is mainly made up of water.

Dehydration can even cause dull, dry, and wrinkled skin. Bodily functions and enzymatic processes slow down leading to fatique and tiredness. Dehydrated individuals even have higher cholesterol levels in their blood. A dehydrated body leaves the kidney and bladder more vulnerable to infection and inflammation.

Prevention is best. Drink water to prevent thirst, not to quench it. Try to avoid dehydration in the first place. To achieve water balance, the amount of water intake should match the amount of water excreted. For a healthy adult, this usually requires 2-3 liters of water each day. Your body will let you know if you're optimally hydrated. Clear to nearly clear urine at least once every 24 hours indicates adequate hydration.

Signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches, mood changes, dry lips, dry nose, dark urine, lethargy, weakness, slow responses, confusion, or hallucinations.

Tips for more sips:

-If water bores your taste buds, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to plain water, or a scoop of Greenergy!

-Always have a full bottle or glass of water handy (in your bag, on your desk, etc)

-Make ice cubes with fresh mint or fresh fruit and add them to your water

-Drink a scoop of Greenergy with a scoop of ProEnergy protein powder (all 3 flavors go great with the Greenergy) throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep trickling those essential nutrients into your system all day long.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Understanding Whole Grains

Unstable blood sugar. Energy crashes. High blood pressure. Constipation. Depression. Inflammation. High cholesterol. Acne. These are just a few of the unwanted consequences of eating a diet high in refined grains. Refined grains, starches, and sweeteners are processed carbohydrates that are low in fiber and high in glycemic index. Just how much is lost? According the Whole Grain Council, refining wheat removes half or more of a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients—including 78% of its fiber.

Whole Grain Anatomy 101

Unlike refined grains, nature produces a whole grain in all its glory—with the bran, germ, and endosperm. All of these parts are essential for providing the rich, balanced, naturally-occurring nutrients in their original proportions.

The bran and germ (outer and inner layer, respectively) hold concentrated amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Refined grains completely remove them. The endosperm (middle layer) contains starchy carbs and is relatively low in nutrients compared to the other two layers. It is basically high in calories and low in nutrients. (Nutrient density goes out the window!) Refined grains keep this layer and manually add back a fraction of the nutrients that are thought to have been removed.

Even though whole grain consumption in America grew about 20% from 2005 to 2008, most Americans still don’t make all their carbohydrates unprocessed and all their grains whole. Where do you fall in? Do you include 1 serving of unprocessed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, with each meal or snack? Can you swap your refined products with whole grain products? You can use them in mixed dishes, soups, pilafs, salads, and side-dishes.

The benefits of whole grains are overwhelming. Rich in fiber and with a low glycemic index, whole grains produce short and long-term benefits. They help lower the risk of heart disease or the discomforts of constipation or diverticulosis.

They can even help with weight management. Consider a recent study done by Danish researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Researchers followed overweight and obese women for 3 months. Women ate calorie-restricted comparable diets with either refined wheat or whole wheat. Even though both groups lost weight, only one of them showed a greater drop in their percentage of body fat—the whole wheat eaters. Also, the total and LDL cholesterol levels of the refined wheat eaters increased.

Whole Grain Label Reading

How can you make sure the foods you buy are whole grain? Don’t be fooled by label claims such as:

· Multi-grain (This claim may describe several whole grains OR several refined grains. Double check to make sure.)

· 100% Wheat (This claim could mean 100% refined wheat.)

· Bran

· Stone-ground

· Cracked Wheat

· Seven-grain (or 12-grain)

These claims do not guarantee the product is a whole grain. To be safe, read the ingredient list (Don’t forget your reading glasses!) Look for the word “whole” and the number 100%. Don’t settle for less. A combination of whole grains and refined grains is not a “whole grain” product.

If it says “enriched”, “degerminated”, “bran” or “wheat germ”, it is not describing a whole grain. White flour, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal are all refined grains.

The world of whole grains is far from boring. The more you familiarize yourself with the whole grains that are available, the more variety and subtle differences you will see in their color, texture, shape, and taste. What are some whole grains to look out for?

· Amaranth

· Barley

· Brown Rice

· Buckwheat

· Bulgur (cracked wheat)

· Corn (whole cornmeal)

· Millet

· Oats (rolled oats and oatmeal)

· Rice (brown and colored rice)

· Rye

· Quinoa

· Sorghum

· Teff

· Triticale

· Wild rice

· Wheat

Whole grain products, like whole grain low-carb bread, whole wheat low-carb tortillas, or whole wheat pasta are also great ways to include whole grains in your meals.

Remember, the benefits of whole grains are most evident in the context of an overall healthy diet. Whole grains, alone, will not solve or prevent all health problems. Whole grains should be part of a balanced diet. Since exercise and diet go hand-in-hand, your balanced diet should be paired with a regular physical activity regimen. For best results, fuel your workout with the best quality ingredients and pure sources of energy such as EnergyFirst protein shakes. Combining all of these factors will help you fight off disease while living an energetic, balanced life.

The Journal of Nutrition, April 2012; 142(4):710-6.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not All Fibers are Created Equal

It turns out fiber is not as easy as soluble versus insoluble. There are several different types of fibers that fall under each category, all varying at the molecular level. They even vary in terms of their health benefits. One type of fiber researchers have been focusing on lately for its blood glucose and cholesterol lowering effects is beta-glucan.

Beta-glucan is a polymer found in cereal cell walls, such as oats and barley, mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake, maitake, or yeasts, seaweed, and algae.

How They Work?

As they pass through the small intestine, you can say beta-glucans kill two birds with one stone: they regulate the immune system and your blood sugar.

The digestive tract can accurately be named the headquarters of the immune system. This is where the majority of our immunity comes from and this is where beta-glucans concentrate their efforts. Although beta-glucans are known for fighting cancer and infections, they don't directly kill cancer cells. Beta-glucans tune up the immune system as they pass through the intestinal tract. Like a motivational company supervisor, they inspect, interact with, and stimulate the immune system cells directly. This contributes to a more efficient workforce of macrophages and white blood cells (called lymphocytes). For example, shitake mushrooms have a type of beta-glucan called lentinan that is believed to slow down or stop tumor growth.

In the process, they also form a gel in the small intestine like most soluble fibers do. This gel formation helps delay the delivery of glucose to the bloodstream, thus preventing a spike in insulin. Studies have shown that beta-glucans can also lower blood cholesterol levels by 5-8%.

Compared to a diet with no beta-glucans, beta-glucans can also reduce appetite and increase satiety after a meal.

How to get it?

Beta-glucans aren't the only secret weapon to solving every health problem. However, they are a crucial weapon in the fight against disease. It's easy to get an adequate supply of beta-glucans if you eat a diet free of processed carbohydrates. Oats and barley are the most abundant sources. Even algae has been shown to contain beta-glucans. To help make plant fibers part of your daily diet, EnergyFirst's Greenergy powder has a good source of dietary plant fiber from an overwhelming list of green superfoods, include barley grass, organic kale, organic spinach, spirulina, and algae.

J Clin Invest. 1996;98(1):50-61.
J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-211.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Top 5 Signs Your Family is Ready for a Lifestyle Upgrade

 We're happy this month to introduce a guest post this month from our friend Leslie Klenke, the author of "Paleo Girl."  It's a fun and engaging primer on how to integrate the Paleo lifestyle into the life of teen girls or anyone for that matter.  Enjoy!

You’re stressed. Your spouse is never awake. The kids are bored. The dog is…wait, has anyone seen Rex? Your family used to have it all together, but lately something has been off. Now that school is out, it’s time to reassess everyone’s schedules, summer plans, and family goals—but where to start? It’s time to go back to the basics and rebuild a solid foundation. The following are the top five signs you and the family are ready for a serious lifestyle upgrade.

1. Is this a kitchen or a 7-Eleven?
Problem: Your kitchen is bursting at the seams with junk food—candy, soda, snacks, and everything in between.

Solution: It’s time to purge. The obscene amount of chemicals, processed junk, and sugar your family is consuming is causing more problems than you realize: weight gain, anxiety, skin problems (acne, eczema, etc.), poor sleep, and the list goes on. Help your family (and yourself) get on the right track by tossing anything that has a long shelf life, and stick with real food like meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, nuts, and seeds.

2. Night owls
Problem: Now that school is out, everyone stays up all night, and sleeps the day away.

Solution: Limit or reduce the use of electronics that emit bright light from screens at night—like cell phones, TVs, computers, etc. The artificial light from such devices suppresses the body’s production of melatonin (the chemical that helps you sleep) and skyrockets cortisol (the stress hormone that makes you crave sugar and store fat). Ever notice your family get the late night munchies when they stay up and watch TV at night? Well, now you know why!

3. We’re bored!
Problem: Summer break just started, and your kids are already complaining about being bored.

Solution: Boredom is actually a good thing for kids to experience (although it might not feel fun to them in the moment). So don’t beat yourself for failing as a “child entertainer of the year” because, quiet frankly, this isn’t your problem to fix. When your kid finds him or her self with nothing to do, this sense of boredom actually spurs creativity and play—not to mention it helps them learn how to become motivated and take initiative. Let them figure it out on their own, and if necessary, a few hints along the way won’t derail the lesson.

4. Who, me? Stressed? How dare you!
Problem: Your stress levels have you feeling less like yourself and more like a villain out of a Disney movie—and it’s starting to wear off on your spouse and the kids.

Solution: Take a deep breath. No really, do it right now. When is the last time you’ve stopped worrying and took a moment for you? Think of the oxygen mask analogy on an airplane. If the masks drop from the compartment overhead, you’re supposed to put your mask on first so that you can help others. After all, if you pass out, you won’t be able to help anyone. This logic applies to real life too. If you take care of your own health and wellness first, you will be able to help your family thrive that much more. Don’t let this feel like a selfish act. It’s much more selfish to put it off.

5. What now?
Problem: You’ve found your family in a rut that you just can’t seem to get out of.

Solution: It’s family bonding time! When nothing seems to be going right, the most important thing is love and togetherness. Sometimes all it takes is a little communication and fun to strip away the funk and reveal the things that really matter. Try incorporating a family fun night at least once a week. I suggest the entire family collaborate on a meal they’d like to try, and cook it together. Talk about your day. Share something you’ve learned. Tell a funny joke. When the meal is ready, sit the whole family down at a real table (not parked in front of the TV) and continue the bonding time distraction free. The members of your family probably have crazy schedules and getting everyone in the same room can be tough at times, but at the end of the day, togetherness is vital and these are the moments that really matter—so make an effort!

For more tips to help your teen get in great shape and find true happiness, check out and don’t miss my new book Paleo Girl available now through PrimalBlueprint, Amazon, and other retailers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why Encourage Your Teen to Build Strength

The common thought is that we do not have to worry about diabetes, heart disease or other similar health risks until later in life. Should we really be waiting until the “Middle Ages” to try and prevent these diseases though? If we let this pattern continue, our youth—our children and adolescents—may follow along. Is there any benefit to taking beneficial, preventive measures earlier in life?

A recent finding published in the journal Pediatrics found remarkable benefits when adolescents stay active to maintain good muscle strength. According to the findings, adolescents with greater muscle strength had

· less overall body fat

· better cardiorespiratory fitness

· smaller waistlines

· are considered less likely to have a high body mass index (BMI)

· a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The benefits don’t end there. A recently published study found that physical activity at a young age increases bone health—increased bone mass and size which contributes to overall bone strength. Interestingly, the researchers followed study subjects into their 80’s and found that these benefits continue with age.

Adolescence is a Window of Opportunity

Another common though (and myth) is that it is not safe for adolescents to engage in exercise. Numerous professional health and fitness groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine all agree that strength training exercise can be safe and beneficial for children and adolescents when supervised.

Encouraging a healthy eating and physical activity at a younger age is not too early. It’s the best time to start. Why? Adolescence is a time when teenagers begin to gain more independence regarding their personal choices. It will be easier for your teen to learn a good, useful habit now than to break a bad one and learn a good one later on.

Doctors do not have to be the only people encouraging our youth to build healthy habits. As a parent, guardian, teacher, or coach, you can accomplish a lot by word and example to help adolescents build a routine that is healthy and safe for their age. We are always thinking about the future of our youth. Why not set them up for success by helping them do what they can to prevent diseases such as cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes!

ProEnergy Whey Protein Powder is a healthy source of lean protein that can benefit many teenagers who want to improve strength and endurance. It helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Our protein powder is organically sourced and has 100% natural ingredients that easily mix into a tasty drink.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Quick Fix For Stress

Do you feel you’re under too much stress? Common stressors include not having enough time, getting more than you can handle, or having expectations that aren’t met. Often, stress can make a person practice unhealthy habits, such as eating unhealthy foods, skipping exercise, or excessive drinking. What can you do to avoid this?

When stress attacks, you may have a greater chance of fighting it back successfully if you act quickly. Next time stress levels rise, try to stave it off on-the-spot with the following practical methods:

  • Count to ten before you begin to speak. Take several deep, focused breaths. 
  • Walk away from the situation that is stressing you out and settle on handling it later. 
  • Take a walk or safe, slow drive. New research suggests that parks and green spaces (even in cities) make people happier. Find an urban green space in your city that you can retreat to in case of a stress emergency. 
  • If you just made a mistake, don’t hesitate or underestimate the benefits of saying “I’m sorry”. 
  • If you have a tendency of being late and this becomes a common stressor, set your watch or clock five to ten minutes ahead to avoid being late. 
  • Take apart a big problem so that you have several smaller problems to tackle individually. 
  • Enjoy a simple pleasure in life, such as a smile, hugging someone dear to you, or smelling a flower. 

According to the American Heart Association, these emergency stress stoppers can be combined or individually selected based on the situation you are dealing with. What works best for you? Write it down. Post it on your desk or work area as a reminder.

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (2), pp 1247–1255

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Research In Fish Oil

Another Great Catch

The discovered health benefits of fish oil are ever-growing. The growing body of research on omega-3 fatty acids never disappoints. Fish oil from fish or supplements has recently been shown to protect from loss of precious brain cells during aging.

A study published in the journal Neurology followed the omega-3 intake and brain volume of more than a thousand older women. The results are more promising than ever because of the objective evidence—brain scans. Unlike questionnaires and memory tests, these results are solid, tangible, and less skewed.

MRI scans of study members revealed a greater brain volume in participants who had two times more omega-3 fatty acid intake and blood levels than the other members. According to the researchers, a 0.7% higher brain volume was observed. This is equivalent to delaying brain cell loss by 1-2 years!

Interestingly, the greater brain volume was located in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory formation, emotions, and learning. This is also the area where Alzheimer’s disease attacks first.

How can you boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids? Fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. EnergyFirst OmegaEnergy Fish Oil capsules are high-quality, USP-certified supplements with the perfect, recommended dose of EPA to DHA in an easy-to-swallow capsule. Free from pesticides, heavy metals, and PCBs, this product was safely prepared with strict molecular distillation.

Learn about more health benefits of fish oil and our EnergyFirst fish oil supplement here:


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Do You Measure Your Health?

What is your first inclination when you want to gauge your current health status? Most people would hop onto a scale to check their weight and then grab a calculator to determine their BMI (body mass index). Is there something else you should be looking at, however?

According to the American Journal of Medicine, a growing body of evidence points to yes! Our priorities should include maximizing and maintaining our muscle mass. This recent study determined the muscle mass index of study participants. Muscle mass index refers to the amount of muscle relative to height.

The study revealed a remarkable secret that may change the way you (and most health professionals) view health. People with greater muscle mass had a significantly lower death risk. In other words, your BMI alone will not suffice—it only scratches the surface.

Make Optimal Body Composition your Health Goal

Our EnergyFirst program puts great emphasis on achieving the right body composition. Your weight alone will not give insight on your lean mass versus your fat weight or your risk for chronic disease. Your body composition does.

Yes, your (underappreciated) muscle mass play a role in the recovery and prevention of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, cancer, and heart disease. Your muscle mass plays a critical role in your body’s overall metabolism and even your mood. The strength and density of your bones also depend greatly on your muscle mass and function, thus playing a role in osteoporosis prevention.

Build Muscle Mass Effectively

To build muscle mass, you have to put those muscles to work. A big mistake many people make, however, is to waste that workout by not providing adequate recovery nutrition to a worked out muscle.

In order to build lean muscle mass, our bodies need to absorb the protein we eat. As we age, however, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing protein. EnergyFirst’s Whey Protein Isolate is the most easily absorbed protein available. It also has the highest amino acid profile of any protein.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Digestive Enzymes

A Healthy Diet is Not Enough

Health does not just happen. The closer we peer into the human body, the more we appreciate the intricate and complex parts and processes it’s made of, including the digestive system. The digestion or breakdown of the food we eat does not stop at chewing. Natural chemicals, including acids, enzymes, and emulsifiers break down our food so our cells can absorb them.

You may have made several changes to your diet to improve your health. However, even if you do eat healthy foods, the nutrients will not do you any good unless they are inside your cells. Put simply, you are what you eat and absorb!

Do you still feel low in energy, indigestion, bloating, or gas after a meal? If this happens time and time again, it may be a sign that your digestion needs to be enhanced.

Digestive Enzymes - Why Supplement?

It’s uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing. Most importantly, it’s dangerous. When nutrients are not properly digested and absorbed, undigested food can cause inflammation which leads to a long list of digestive complaints. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, and malnutrition can occur.

Although certain diseases can compromise the body’s digestive processes, other factors can also affect the body’s secretion of enzymes. When food is processed or cooked, naturally occurring enzymes found in raw food are lost. Even a high-fiber diet can benefit from digestive enzymes due certain plant fibers that human enzymes are unable to digest.

The alarming increase in food allergies causes an ongoing inflammatory condition in the digestive tract that can also lead to reduced enzyme secretion. Those with celiac disease, for example, generally have low fat-digesting enzymes.

As we age, the quality and quantity of our naturally-occurring digestive enzymes declines. As these silent helpers reduce in number and function, the digestive system’s function gradually declines. Stress can also lead to problems with digestive enzymes. Even the simple act of hurrying through a meal can lead to uncomfortable symptoms that digestive enzymes can ease.

The Right Supplement

In order to see and feel a difference, the right supplement should be chosen. What should you look for in a digestive enzyme supplement? Look for a blend of enzymes to cover all your nutrients, especially one that includes a protease (protein-digesting enzyme), a lipase (to digest fats), and an amylase (to digest carbohydrates).

Key enzymes to look out for include:

· Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple, helps prevent inflammation and enhances the absorption of the antioxidant quercetin (found in various fruits, wine, tea, and herbs).

· Papain is another enzyme that helps you absorb protein. In fact, it is so effective at making protein digestible that it has been shown to reduce inflammation and accelerate wound and burn heals.

· Hemicellulase: This enzyme, which breaks down a type of fiber called hemicellulose, can help prevent symptoms that tend to occur with a high-fiber diet (bloating, gas). Although a high-fiber diet is healthy and important for disease prevention, certain enzymes are needed to help human enzymes digest fiber more completely.

An effective way to reinforce the function of your own digestive enzymes is with EnergyFirst’s Greenergy, which is loaded with digestive enzymes.  You can also supplement with EnergyFirst's Enerzyme.  This supplement even contains lactase to help those intolerant to lactose to ease digestive discomforts from dairy foods.

Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2000 May-Jun;63(3):55-7.

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