2021 is the Year of Mental Wellness

Nice article in Fast Company – outlining why the #1 trend for 2021 will be “home-based health & wellness” businesses.

Jan 1 will be the start of a new decade – and one that I think will be focused on Mental Wellness – with people finally getting a handle on their stress, mood, focus, and ability to use mental fitness to fuel their physical performance.

There is no physical health without mental wellness…

apple.news/AjsEBrwQ8QWGJkMeXJMNgIg

11.26.20 | WORK LIFE

3 reasons why 2021 will be the best time to start a business

Today, amidst all that is happening in our country and the world, is the best time to launch a business.

For one, I fundamentally believe there’s never really a “wrong” time to start a business. Either way, you’re going to face challenges. Either way, you’re going to have to deal with some level of competition. So instead of waiting for the perfect time, you might as well dive right in.

But more concretely, the economy right now is fertile ground for entrepreneurs and business owners. Interest rates are as low as they’re ever going to get. Millions of people are looking for jobs, which means labor markets are abundant. The rise of “working from home” has opened a larger pool of talent to choose from when hiring. And most importantly, major industries are showing their vulnerabilities—which means opportunity for entrepreneurs savvy enough to invent new, compelling solutions.

There are a handful of trends that have emerged over the past year that will certainly begin to accelerate as we head into 2021. For one, as we get closer to creating a vaccine for the coronavirus, there will be a massive amount of pent-up demand for consumers who have been waiting to travel, go to concerts and sporting events, and even just get back to shopping in retail stores and dining at their favorite restaurants. At the same time, some of these other trends like remote work and leaner workforces I believe will also continue to accelerate—so finding ways to capitalize on both will be crucial for entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re looking to launch a new product or start a business in the near future, these are the three big trends I would encourage you to keep a close eye on in 2021.

1. The rise of at-home health products and remote wellness

Health and wellness products are certainly going through a major push right now.

Over the past year, I have talked to dozens of entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries: supplements, at-home genetic illness analysis, testing, home fitness, you name it. All of these businesses have quintupled in revenue in the last six months. And while I do believe this growth will most likely deflate a little bit initially after there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, I also foresee this trend roaring back with even more sophisticated products not long after.

For example, just in the at-home fitness market, sales of dumbbells and weight plates on eBay increased around 1,500% this year compared to 2019. Private-label vitamin and mineral supplement sales jumped 1,286% compared to a year ago. And according to CNBC and a study done by consulting firm Bain & Company back in May, “Only about 3% to 4% of grocery spending in the U.S. was online before the pandemic, but that’s surged to 10% to 15%.”

If there’s one thing the coronavirus really showed society as a whole, it’s that many of the ways we thought to take care of ourselves (going to the gym, going to the grocery store, etc.) can, in some way, also be done at home. I don’t believe after COVID-19 the everyday person will stop leaving their house and only want to work out at home and have their groceries delivered. But more and more, people have certainly found it to be a convenient alternative on certain days when they need it.

2. The diversification of supply chains

Many businesses outsource manufacturing to other countries: China and Mexico being two of the most common. But depending on how trade wars continue between America and these other countries will heavily impact many businesses here in the states.

That said, there has also been tremendous innovation and investment around manufacturing automation. And so, depending on the product, price point, and consumer base you’re targeting, it could begin to make sense to manufacture here in the United States as opposed to outsourcing those efforts to another country. You can also control all parts of your process a lot more easily than if you were to do so overseas. For example:

Less lag time

Can receive just-in-time inventory

Less strain on company cash flow

The trend that is emerging is that more and more entrepreneurs are beginning to realize how risky it is to have their entire business reliant on one supply chain, or one manufacturing partner. If something happens politically, or even just with their partner in the business, all of a sudden they’re in a tough situation. So, if you’re launching a new product or venture, I would strongly encourage you to at least have other supply chain options at your disposal and know what the possible implications would be if something were to go wrong.

3. The acceleration of e-commerce

E-commerce is quickly establishing itself to be the best and easiest way to launch a product and/or business.

From a testing point of view, it’s much more effective to engage and gather feedback from customers online than if you were to try to do something similar as a brick-and-mortar type of business. Facebook and Google remain the easiest ways to market to broad customers and also end up leading to the highest margins—because you end up owning the relationships you have with your customers directly (as opposed to someone walking into a store, buying a product, and leaving).

That said, I believe it’s important for businesses to maintain as much control over the shopping experience as possible. I would try to stay away from third-party ecommerce sites—including Amazon. A year ago, Amazon was driving 95% of our ecommerce sales here at Hydros. But at a certain point, we realized how much we were leaving on the table by building a business on their platform instead of driving customers to our own website, and actually capturing their information. We pivoted, and today Amazon represents 0.5% of our sales. It’s more of a marketing tool than anything else.

The reality is, the coronavirus has severely impacted both retail and mom-and-pop style businesses. Many have either pivoted to ecommerce, or gone out of business. I am still a believer in retail, and I think long term the category will come back and thrive in new, exciting ways.

But especially for entrepreneurs looking to launch a new product or venture in the world today, you are far better off starting online and then pursuing any kind of brick-and-mortar distribution later on down the road.

Winston Ibrahim is the founder and CEO of Hydros.

This article originally appeared in Minutes and is reprinted with permission.

Mood and Your Microbiome (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a very nice article yesterday (Dec 21) about the “unexpectedly huge role” that our gut bacteria (microbiome) play in our well-being.

You can read the original article here and see my highlighted version below.

You can also join me TONIGHT at 6pm PST for a discussion about this article, the future of mental wellness, and how you can naturally manage your own microbiome to improve how you feel mentally (mood, stress, energy, focus) and how you perform physically (exercise, metabolism, weight).

 Streaming live on Facebook (Facebook.com/amareglobal) and Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/9292793215) – password for Zoom is “amare”

At Amare, we have been helping people to naturally improve their mental wellness by modulating their microbiome through lifestyle interventions including “programs” (diet, movement, mindfulness), and “products” (targeted supplements including specific strains of probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fibers, and “phytobiotic” plant extracts). Our research has been peer-reviewed and presented/published dozens of times since our launch in 2018.

Here is the text of the WSJ article with my highlights:

Feeling Depressed? Bacteria in Your Gut May Be to Blame

New studies point to the trillions of organisms in the human microbiome as playing an unexpectedly huge role in our well-being

Scientists are exploring evidence that major depression may in part be a gut feeling, orchestrated by the microbiome—trillions of microorganisms living in and around our bodies, which influence our health and well-being.

In a series of studies, researchers are discovering that the microbial menagerie living in our digestive tract may help regulate brain function, including mental health. Recent findings by scientists in the U.S., Europe and China are linking our feelings of stress, anxiety and severe depression to disturbances among hundreds of microbe species living in our gut that some researchers have started calling the psychobiome.

Conversely, other bacteria in the gut appear to produce some of the same substances used by doctors to treat depression and may naturally play a role in maintaining our emotional balance.

“The feeling of malaise, if you will, is often associated with gastrointestinal disorders,” said microbiologist Jack Gilbert at the University of California, San Diego and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who helped pioneer the study of the human gut microbiome. It is “chemically altering nerve signals going into the brain, which alter brain chemistry and therefore behavior, mood and, we believe, depression and anxiety.”

As evidence, some scientists have been able to infect mice and rats with mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, by transplanting stool samples, which contain gut microbes, from human patients into laboratory animals, several recent studies show. “When you give these mice the microbes from depression, they begin to behave in a depressive-like way,” said psychiatrist Julio Licinio at State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. These behavior changes in mice affect such things as appetite, weight gain and activities like swimming. Dr. Licinio studies the biology of depression and helped design some of the experiments. “It’s actually transmissible,” he said.

Until now, though, no one has been able to single out specific species of microbes linked to a mental illness. This month, an international research team for the first time identified dozens of species of gut microbes involved in depression by comparing patients diagnosed with the disorder to healthy people. These 47 species are a tiny fraction of the gut’s microbial diversity, which includes other single-celled organisms, thousands of virus species and fungi.

The new research by neuroscientist Peng Xie at China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University and colleagues reveals a potential mechanism for a mental illness that affects an estimated 350 million people world-wide, several experts said. The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists are rushing to discover how such microbes interact with the human central nervous system, what signals they send to the brain and how that alters a person’s behavior or risk of mental illness, in hopes of new treatments and diets for maladies of the mind.

“The big race is on to understand what role all these play in various brain diseases,” said Emeran Mayer, a medical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles who studies the brain and gut microbiome and has written “The Mind-Gut Connection.” He adds, “if you already have genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s or major depression, this is a factor that could push it over the edge into a disease.”

Not so many years ago, the only microbes that attracted medical attention were germs that caused infections and diseases. But indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other sanitation measures eliminated the harm that bacteria cause at the expense of the protection they can provide. Unintended health consequences ranged from increases in liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and asthma to preterm birth and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, according to a 2019 review in the Journal of Experimental Medicine and many other microbiology studies.

During the past decade, advances in low-cost, high-speed gene sequencing machines allowed researchers to study millions of microorganisms that normally can’t be grown in a laboratory. In these studies, researchers can determine whether genetic material belongs to bacteria though a biomarker called the 16s ribosomal RNA gene, which turns up only in microbes. As a result, the study of the microbiome is one of the hottest new fields in medicine, with more than 15,000 scientific papers published last year alone. “There is a lot of excitement in the field of psychiatry now about this,” said John Cryan at the University College Cork in Ireland, who studies the microbiome and the neurobiology of stress.

Microbiologists calculate that the human gut contains more than 100 trillion microorganisms. Together they weigh about 5 pounds—about as much as a big mango and slightly more than the human brain, according to the European Society for Neurogastroenterology and Motility.

Moreover, where the human genome carries some 22,000 protein-coding genes, researchers estimate that the human microbiome contributes some eight million unique protein-coding genes, or 360 times more bacterial genes than human genes, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project.

These microbes appear especially adaptable to changes in the environment, diet and the biochemistry of emotion. While no one yet knows exactly why, patients with various psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism-spectrum disorder have significant disruptions in the composition of their gut microbiome.

The microbes appear to be in almost constant communication with the brain directly by affecting nerve signals and indirectly through chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream, said Dr. Gilbert, who also is scientific adviser for a small microbiome company called Holobiome in Cambridge, Mass., that seeks new ways to treat depression, insomnia and other ailments.

Some common gut bacteria, for example, help generate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which affects neural activity related to mood and memory. It’s commonly used to treat depression. Others make an amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid that naturally blocks some brain signals. It’s used in medication to relieve anxiety and improve mood.

“The bacteria are hijacking parts of systems within the body that we know are affecting emotional regulation,” Dr. Cryan said. “This has led us to the idea that by targeting microbes in the gut, we can have behavioral effects that are going to have impact on overall well-being.

Give the Gift of Energy

Please join me tonight at 6pm PST for a discussion about how to increase “energy” levels going into the New Year. Streaming live on Facebook (Facebook.com/amareglobal) and Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/9292793215)

By “energy” – I mean the you can naturally improve…

Physical energy (motivation)

Mental energy (focus)

Mental awareness (engagement)

Selling Our Farm

Sort of a bittersweet time – we are selling our 20-acre farm in Lisbon, Ohio.

Lisbon is a quiet little farming community that reminds me a lot of how Vermont “used to be” – with rolling hills, wildlife, and lots of peace and quiet. Lisbon is about 60min Southeast of Akron; 45min West of Pittsburgh; and 35min South of Youngstown.

We have owned the property for about 15 years and during that time have raised cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, and vegetables (including hunting deer and pheasants). There are bald eagles and grey herons that regularly visit the creek that runs along the lower field.

It’s a magical place that we are not visiting very often since my mother passed in April – so we’re hoping that someone else will enjoy it as much as we have. Take a look here.

Amare Live – Tonight!

Please join me and the rest of the Amare Global team for a quick (45min) overview of how Amare is leading the Mental Wellness Revolution by helping people reduce stress, improve mood, increase energy levels, sharpen focus, and optimize their mental wellness.

If you want to feel and perform your best, please join us at 5pm PST at amare.com/live

The Most Wonderful (Stressful) Time of the Year!

Please join me tonight at 6pm PST for a discussion about STRESS – and how we can reduce tension and improve mental wellness using a range of natural science-based approaches.

I’ll be talking about how to use your entire Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis to reduce stress and improve resilience across the entire Mental Wellness Continuum from Mental Health – to Mental Wellness – to Mental Fitness.

Join via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/amareglobal) or Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/9292793215) Password on Zoom is “amare”

Baked Apple Cinnamon Energy+ Muffins

I love being out in the cold weather – running, riding, skiing, snowshoeing, whatever…

But, what I love even more, is coming IN from the cold – especially when there is something warm and delicious waiting for me – like these muffins made with Amare’s Apple Cinnamon Energy+

I ate one of these before and another after my 50-mile bike ride today – but not a bad way to start off a work morning either…

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray (for your 12-muffin pan)

Dry:

  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose flour if whole wheat is too chewy for you)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 scoops Amare GBX Vanilla Protein
  • 4 scoops Amare Seedfiber

Wet:

  • 1 cup butter – melted
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 stick packs of Amare Apple Cinnamon Energy+ (dissolved in 1/2 cup water)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray the muffin tin
  • In medium bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together
  • In another medium bowl, melt the butter
    • Add the sugars to the melted butter and cream together
    • Add the eggs to the sugar/butter mixture until combined
    • Add the Energy+ liquid until combined
  • Add the sugar/butter/eggs/Energy+ mixture to the flour/dry mixture and mix well
  • Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins
  • Bake for 18-25 minutes – rotating pan halfway through baking time

When the muffins are done baking – allow to cool for 5 minutes before topping with:

  • Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter
  • Combine 1/3 cup sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon + 1 stick pack of Energy+
  • Brush tops of muffins with butter and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon/Energy+ mixture (you won’t use all the butter or topping – so sprinkle liberally!

Each of the dozen muffins delivers the following “nutrition”…

  • 250 calories
  • 15g fat
  • 20g carbs
  • 7g protein
  • 1g prebiotic fiber
  • Half a serving of Energy+ packed with brain-boosting phytobiotics and ~30mg natural caffeine

Take Control of Your Immune System

As the corona virus continues to rage across all parts of America – and shut downs are becoming more and more strict – this winter is shaping up to be a very dismal one for a lot of people.

The prospect of a COVID vaccine is not very likely for most people – at least in the short term – so what CAN you do in the meantime?

You can take CONTROL of your own immune system by making sure it is in tip-top shape for any challenges that you encounter.

Join me tonight at 6pm PST for a discussion about properly PRIMING your immune system for both optimal immune system protection and improved mental wellness (psychological vigor).

Our Season of Gratitude

It’s National Gratitude Month – so please join me tonight at 6pm PST to discuss how the super-simple expression of gratitude can be used to dramatically improve your mental wellness.

During these high-stress holiday months (and even more so in the age of COVID), it might be helpful to remember that one of the most-studied and most-effective ways to calm anxious thoughts, alleviate depression, and stimulate mental fitness is to express gratitude.

While expressing gratitude can be effective any time, it seems to be particularly effective as a regular nighttime routine before turning in for bed. The “trick” with a regular nightly gratitude practice is to “think small” – because expressing gratitude for the “little things” is a proven way to focus our minds away from negative thoughts and ruminations on problems, toward positive emotions and joy. 

Little things might include your gratitude that you have a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head; it might be the snoring dog on the floor; it might be that funny text you got from a friend, or the cat video that you saw online; it might even be that this shitstorm of a day is over and you have a “re-do” coming in eight hours. 

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” might sound hokey – especially when you have a lot of crap to deal with every day – but among all the research into psychological well-being, this is the technique that rises to the top again and again as being the most effective – and simplest to implement – to help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, while also improving myriad aspects of physical health and mental fitness, including sleep quality, which we delve into in the next section.

Why Does “Expressing Gratitude” Work So Well?

It is important to understand that our brains are actually wired to be more attuned to negative experiences than to positive ones. This “negativity bias” is why we can feel terrible after hearing a dozen compliments or getting numerous likes—and then a single complaint or rejection can ruin everything. Some studies have shown that we need three positive experiences to counteract each negative emotion—and that is just to keep us in a neutral emotional state. As such, one very effective technique is to try to create a daily diet of happy micro-emotions by using mindfulness techniques and gratitude moments sprinkled throughout the day to continuously buffer the negative emotions that come at us on a regular basis. (I personally use the reminders to stand and breathe that my Apple Watch sends me throughout the day to quietly express gratitude for little things, such as the cup of coffee I might be enjoying, the sunny day, or my goofy dog.)

Physical Performance and Mental Wellness

Please join me tonight for a discussion about how Mental Wellness is related to Physical Performance.

I’ll talk about the gut microbiome, gut-brain-axis signaling, neurotransmitters. stress hormones – and how they can all be managed (and improved) NATURALLY to enhance how we feel mentally and perform physically.