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Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

A few days ago, we came across several articles on the connection to gut health and Covid-19 from Reuters, American Society for Microbiology, Yahoo News, etc, essentially saying the number of good bacteria living in your gut may help the severity of Covid-19 symptoms and recovery. Basically, good bacteria benefits our immune system, which as we all know, a strong immune system is key to battling deadly viruses. The reports also state that poor gut health is increasing the severity of Covid-19. Because of this, we started looking into gut detoxification, probiotics, GI Tract support, and of course, more ways to boost our immune system and make sure our gut has good bacteria. Luckily, there are multiple probiotic health and wellness products, supplements, and foods that aid in exactly what we’re looking for – building up our gut health.

Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

In case you didn’t know, the word probiotic literally means “for life.” As in, it is necessary for life. We’re going beyond the typical yogurts and kefirs; we’re highlighting supplements and other foods that provide the probiotics our bodies need to help win the battle against this deadly pandemic. Thanks to these probiotic-rich products from Tokyo-based brand SHINYALab, Routine, YouTheory, Shrewd Food, and Fond, we’re making sure our gut health is at the optimum level.

SHINYALab Intestinal Youth and Vital Enzymes Supplements

SHINYALab Intestinal Youth and Vital Enzymes Supplements

Intestinal Youth, $39.99, is a Saisei Blend of “sticky” ingredients (seaweed, lotus root, and okra) that brings the best of Nippon Wisdom to your body. Developed by SHINYALab’s in-house Ph.D., these “sticky ingredients” help support rejuvenation and graceful aging of the GI tract. They contain large amounts of mucopolysaccharides, a biologically active substance that supports wound healing, tissue regeneration, and provides a protective barrier over an inflamed digestive tract.

Vital Enzymes, $49.99 is a unique supplement that includes fermented ancient Japanese grains, seeds, and flora manufactured using low-temperature technology. It contains Koji, an abundant beta-glucan that stimulates immunity through macrophages and glycosylceramide. It has improving effects on the skin and intestinal microbial flora.

We’ve added the above Japanese supplements to our daily vitamin and supplements intake. It’s just over a week and we look forward to the wonderful health benefits and results.

Routine Probiotics for Her

Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

Routine Probiotics for Her, $39.95, is a complete prebiotic-probiotic supplement. It boasts 24 billion CFU per capsule, curated with 5 premium strains, and delivers with minimal eco-impact. Motivated to design a simpler, streamlined, scientifically-backed supplement, Routine is rooted in 5 core principles—science, ingredients with integrity, transparency, community, and sustainability. It’s about building a foundation for whole-body health—living better, feeling better, and nourishing a healthier, more vibrant you. Adding Routine to your every day is one of the easiest, fastest ways to nourish your body. The daily women’s probiotic was carefully curated with 5 USA-sourced strains that have been scientifically proven to improve gut health, boost immunity, balance vaginal health, promote healthy weight, and relieve stress and anxiety.

YouTheory Spore Probiotic Capsules

Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

Youtheory Spore Probiotic capsules, $27.99, are uniquely designed to survive and thrive. The word “spore” means seed. Like a seed, each spore probiotic is covered by a naturally protective shell that safeguards it until it reaches the intestinal tract. Spore technology is simply a better way to replenish the body’s microflora – offering multiple advantages over traditional probiotic preparations. Unlike other probiotic strains, spore probiotics do not require big doses to stimulate a large biological response in the body. Unlike milk and lactose-based probiotics, they also do not require refrigeration, resist stomach acid breakdown, effectively colonize the human GI tract, and secretes L-lactic acid, which is favorable for health.

Shrewd Food Protein Cookies

Gut Health and Surviving Covid-19: Is There a Connection?

We know what you’re thinking, can cookies benefit gut health? Yes, these do! Made with 7 different fruits and vegetables, the Shrewd Food Protein Cookies, $14.99/variety pk, are delicious AND good for you. Each serving contains 8g of protein, probiotics (1 Billion CFU), prebiotics for digestive health, and of course, those tasty fruits and veggies mentioned earlier. Each bag of cookies contains only 200 calories; this allows you to treat yourself to the protein snacks you love without spoiling your diet. They are peanut and tree-nut-free, have no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Available in Oat & Chip and Oat & Berry, Shrewd Food is honestly the smartest way to snack your way to good gut health.

FOND Bone Broth

FOND Bone Broth

Although we haven’t tried it yet, FOND Bone Broth, $8.99/14oz jar, is another excellent foodie option to add probiotics to your day. You won’t find any preservatives in this broth, just all-natural goodness. It’s brewed like beer and infused similar to tea, creating a flavorful tonic while banning blandness in the process. Its unique flavor combinations make it unlike any other broth on the market. More importantly, it boasts a long list of health benefits. This includes gut health, anti-inflammatory properties, skincare restoration, weight maintenance, and more.

We want to know, are you doing anything to assure the health of your gut? Will you look into how good bacteria and gut health can help you beat Covid-19? Let us know in the comments.

Outdoor Winter Dining: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Outdoor Winter Dining: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

It’s clear that Americans have had to make incredible sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, we’ve had to adjust to working from home, seeing our friends through a screen, and even canceling major life events. Weddings and graduations have been postponed, while nine out of 10 funeral services held today have loved ones who are unable to attend.

That said, the pandemic has forced us to get creative. Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention — and despite the risks, many are determined to soldier on (albeit in new ways). That’s especially true for the restaurant industry, which was arguably one of the hardest-hit sectors during this health crisis. Things may not be back to normal yet, but we’ve found plenty of ways to support our favorite eateries — and experience something slightly resembling normalcy, in some cases.

Outdoor Winter Dining: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

igloo dining @nyc via  Instagram

Is Winter Outdoor Dining Safe?

One of the main questions being asked is whether winter outdoor dining is actually safe. Not only are the temperatures rather frigid in many parts of the country, but temporary structures are being erected by many restaurants in order to accommodate customers. The problem is that many of these structures don’t seem much safer than indoor dining when it comes right down to it.

There’s a lot of variation when it comes to outdoor dining structures. Some restaurants are using igloos or yurts, while others have enclosed areas on two or three sides. It’s a bit of a mystery as to whether or not any of these structures have proper airflow, which could be a problem if you’re dining with someone outside your immediate household. It’s also up to the municipality to set rules pertaining to outdoor dining capacity — but there’s no guarantee whether or not the restaurant will comply.

When an environmental engineering professor was interviewed by Vice News, it was revealed that an enclosure with multiple walls or sides can’t technically be categorized as outdoor dining from a safety standpoint. It’s also important to note that there are no totally safe indoor environments, even with good ventilation and air purification. Some restaurants are forgoing the six-feet rule with outdoor dining, as walls or tents provide a false sense of security and separation. And because customers don’t wear masks during meals, dining outdoors might be a lot riskier than you’d think. Of course, weather conditions can also make outdoor dining less safe. Snow, freezing temperatures, and even heat lamps could pose dangers to diners.

COVID-19 is certainly a huge concern for most Americans, given the number of rising cases across the country. Although anywhere from 8,000 to 18,000 U.S. residents are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease every year, more than 27.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last year with approximately 488,000 fatalities. While this isn’t deterring Americans from eating outdoors (or inside, in many cases), many experts agree that it’s nearly impossible to know whether an outdoor dining setup has good ventilation — and you might not know until you arrive how a given restaurant is adhering to health guidelines. Although virtually no situation is without risk, it’s worth asking yourself whether it’s really worth it in this case.

Outdoor Winter Dining: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Olio é Piu indoor/outdoor dining

What Should You Wear When Dining Outdoors This Winter?

If you live in a warmer state, you might not have to bundle up for outdoor dining. But in many areas, cold temperatures and inclement weather can make eating outside a lot less comfortable. And while some eateries will attempt to use technology to fight some of those effects, it’s never going to be as pleasant as indoor dining would be.

So how can you stay cozy? Dressing in layers is key. Instead of wearing breathable fabrics like cotton, opt for wool or synthetic fiber for your base layers. You should probably wear a thick, long puffer coat, thick socks, insulated boots, a scarf, leather gloves, and a hat, as well. It’s a good idea to BYOB — bring your own blanket, in the case — to cover yourself up as your body temperature drops throughout the evening. You might even consider getting yourself a battery-powered heated jacket or hand warmers for some extra warmth.

Overall, try to keep your meal brief (which you should do anyway to reduce transmission risk!) and check the weather forecast before you decide to dine out. It’s a good idea to call the restaurant directly, as well, to assess whether they have the room or what kinds of accommodations they might have. If you know you’re someone who is sensitive to the cold, it might be best to sit this one out.

Outdoor Winter Dining: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

What’s the Best Way to Keep Supporting Local Restaurants?

Many people choose to dine outdoors because they simply miss the restaurant experience. But a CDC study from September found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative (and there was no discrimination made between indoor and outdoor dining). Another study published in November found that restaurants were the riskiest places for new infections. If you’re being tempted because you see others enjoying meals outside or you want to support your favorite eatery, you might want to consider some alternatives.

Although fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh as much as 18,000 pounds, lighter-weight food trucks are still a common sight on many roads throughout the United States. If you have a favorite, follow them on social media to see where they might be headed if you’re looking for a restaurant experience without taking as big a chance. Ordering take-out is also a popular option, albeit not a new one. Instead of relying on GrubHub or DoorDash, which take a percentage of sales from the restaurant, opt to order directly through the restaurant for pick-up or delivery. Many restaurants put together special dining packages for holidays or even virtual events, so inquire with them about whether there might be something exciting to try at home.

It’s not easy for many of us to accept that restaurant dining isn’t yet back to normal. But until it is, dining outdoors this winter might be a bit too risky — or just a bit too uncomfortable — for some.

Must-Haves Kitchen Tools for Your Pandemic Needs

Must-Have Kitchen Tools for Your Pandemic Needs

If you’re like us, then the time spent in your kitchen has doubled or maybe even tripled. We can absolutely say that this pandemic has us spending much more time in the room we usually spent the least time in; much to the detriment of our refrigerator and groceries. It has also shown us that there are things we desperately needed in our kitchen. Kitchen tools that will make our pandemic lives easier.

Must-Haves Kitchen Tools for Your Pandemic Needs

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. If it wasn’t before, it certainly is now. We’re sharing kitchen tools from Ambrosia Bag, Verve Culture, and S’well that are sure to make your pandemic kitchen life a little easier. In some cases, a lot more fun.

Ambrosia Produce Bags

Ambrosia Produce Bags

We love fresh vegetables but for some reason, they seem to go bad quickly once they enter our refrigerator. Granted, it may be because we overbuy and can’t use everything all at once and we end up having to throw a lot away. Our asparagus purchase tends to suffer the most. Thankfully the Ambrosia Bag came into our lives and solved our issue. This sustainable bag is the solution to all of your food-wasting problems! Say hello to the eco-friendly fix to keeping your food fresh in the fridge. Say goodbye to the waste and guilt of spoiled fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs! These flax linen vegetables and fruit bags are a godsend to those of us who have gardens and for the rest whose fridges seem to be the place where vegetables go to die. The Ambrosia produce bags come in four varieties – Vegetable, Berry, Mushroom, and Herb. They range from $24.00 – $30.00 and can be purchased at www.ambrosiabag.com.

Tortilla Press Kit – Red Cast Iron with Servilleta

Tortilla Press Kit - Red Cast Iron with Servilleta

Everybody loves tortillas! They seem to be the perfect snack or meal. Whether you’re cooking for just yourself or feeding an entire family, nothing pleases a crowd (or a single), like a delicious tortilla; you’re probably craving one right now. Well, Verve Culture has the perfect kit for you when those tortilla cravings hit –  the Tortilla Press Kit – Red Cast Iron with Servilleta, $45.00. You are sure to wow the crowd, whether they be your family or your friends on Zoom with your street tortilla skills. Instead of searching for the perfect tortilla, you can just make them. Our favorite thing about the Verve Culture Red Cast Iron press? It’s made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons. It will last you forever and gift you with perfect tortillas every time. What’s not to love! Plus it also makes an amazing gift. Get one or more now on www.verveculture.com.

S’well Eats

Must-Haves Tools for Your Pandemic Kitchen Needs

More cooking means more leftovers. And while you can bury yourself under a cupboard full of plastic storage food containers (if you can find the covers), we’re got a more stylish alternative. Savor your leftovers the next day with S’well Eats sustainable containers and bowls. Whether working from home or on the go, these handy, insulated containers are perfect for storing food and look great in any kitchen. Available in two handy sizes, these fashionable, reusable containers are the perfect storage for both hot and cold food. These 16oz and 20oz containers keep food cold for 12 hours or hot for 7 hours. Get your favorite color and design for $40.00 – $50.00 on www.swell.com.

We’d love to hear what kitchen tools have become essential to you during this pandemic.

How Can South Africa's Wine Industry Recover from COVID-19?

How Can South Africa’s Wine Industry Recover from COVID-19?

There aren’t many industries left unaffected by the global spread of COVID-19 this year. With each affected industry is the many people who work within it and depend on its success for their livelihoods. Despite an increase in at-home drinking in the U.S. and Britain during the pandemic, the wine industry is among these affected industries. The restaurant and hospitality sectors were almost immediately impacted by the resulting lockdowns and quarantines from COVID-19. causing global wine sales to drop significantly.

How Can South Africa's Wine Industry Recover from COVID-19?

In the famous South African wine country, those in the industry have been struggling even more acutely with a total ban on the sale of alcohol during the lockdown and a temporary ban on wine exports. South Africa is the only country to have imposed such bans during the global pandemic.

How Can South Africa's Wine Industry Recover from COVID-19?

The controversial alcohol bans came in two waves. The first ban on the sale of alcohol began at the end of March and lasted for about nine weeks. For five of those weeks, wine exports were also banned. As about 50% of South Africa’s wine is exported in some of the 17 million shipping containers that circulate globally, this was a devastating blow to the industry. This initial ban was lifted on June 1, but President Cyril Ramaphosa reinstated it on July 12 when COVID-19 rates began to rise again.

The purpose of these bans is to ease the burden on South Africa’s health services. So far, coronavirus has hit the country the hardest out of all nations on the African continent. The health systems in many areas of South Africa are on the verge of collapse.

Graham Beck Wines - South Africa Wines

Officials hoped that the initial ban would reduce the number of injuries and accidents hospitals had to deal with if alcohol was out of the picture. With 1.25 million people dying in road crashes and an additional 20 to 50 million people sustaining injuries from traffic collisions around the world every year, removing a primary cause of these accidents could make sense. According to the South African health minister Zweli Mkhize, the government reinstated the ban after a study showed that when the alcohol restrictions were lifted facilities reported as much as a 60% increase in trauma emergency center admissions and up to a 200% increase in ICU trauma admissions. Mkhize also said that models showed that a ban on alcohol sales could result in a 20% decrease in all trauma cases and a 40% reduction of all alcohol-related trauma by the third week.

While the reasoning behind the ban is to ultimately save lives, the 290,000 people directly employed in the South African wine industry fear for their financial futures. There are 533 wineries operating in the country and 2,778 grape-growing farms. The worries over job losses in these businesses are not so different from the worries those in the 28 million small businesses in the U.S. are facing. Without the ability to produce and sell products, jobs are at risk.

“For the initial ban on both local sales and exports, we anticipated losses of up to 18,000 jobs. Depending on how long this new ban is in place, this figure is likely to double…With the initial lockdown, we estimated that up to 80 wineries could have to close their doors,” a spokesperson from the industry body Wines of South Africa (WOSA) said.

Many of those in the wine industry, and people in the hospitality industry as well, have taken to social media with the #JobsSaveLives campaign in an attempt to save their futures. The campaign urges Ramaphosa’s government to partially lift the ban and allow the sale of alcohol in sit-down restaurants. It also calls on the government to ease the 9 pm curfew that was imposed in July 2020.

The stand to save the wine and hospitality industries has even made the leap from virtual to tactile, as protesters have gone to the streets in cities across South Africa. They’re hoping that government leaders hear their voices and realize that the hundreds of thousands of people who work in these industries are going to suffer without some kind of help.

Graham Beck Wines - South Africa Wines

Another social media campaign, identified with #SaveSAWine, is calling on wine drinkers around the world to help support the South African wine industry by purchasing and consuming their wine. As the eighth-largest wine producer in the world, the South African wine industry has an impact on the global wine industry. The country produced 974 million liters of wine in 2019, according to figures from WOSA.

For the sake of the global economy as well as the 40,000 grape farm and winery workers and their dependents, people around the world need to support the South African wine industry. Whether you show support by purchasing South African wine or raising awareness of the industry’s struggle through social media, you could be helping the thousands of families who depend on this industry to survive.