Respect – Powering Communities Around the World

Too many of us live as though our lives are already scripted for us. We don’t realize that we are the agents of our own rebirth. When Ibrahim was startled out of passively playing his role, his real, purpose-driven life began. Now, he’s changing the world. 

I remember a day in middle school when our religion teacher said that he would tell us a story of the good woman and the bad woman. He started to describe his version of a bad woman: a sovereign, independent woman with her own dreams and aspirations who doesn’t necessarily cover every inch of her body, who chooses to express herself in her own style, and who doesn’t spend every ounce of energy on her family.

As he spoke, I thought of my mother, who has the most integrity and kindness of anyone I know. The fact that he put her in this category of a bad person jolted me into the awareness that not every narrative that children inherit from adults is true or right. It was a pivotal moment, when I realized that I could apply my own filter to every conversation and decide what works for me and what doesn’t.

Before that day, I would inherit conversations and perpetuate them, conversations that had continued from one generation to the next. That was the moment when I developed the kind of critical thinking that changed the trajectory of my life. I am thankful to that teacher for his perspective; because of him, I allowed my own perspective to enter the equation and guide my decisions. I determined to use my own judgment in my decisions from that point forward.

In the early 2000s, I had built a successful career in general technology investing. I could see the great damage that humanity was doing to the environment in California and around the world. I wondered how we could sustain this path of destruction of the earth without destroying ourselves. When a gentleman pitched the idea of investing in a new subdivision outside of Los Angeles, my partner and I saw the path ahead: buying a lot of land, cutting down a lot of trees, and contributing to urban sprawl, leading to more burning of fossil fuels for people to go to and from work.

The safe financial choice was clear, and we rejected it, just as I had rejected the narrative my religion teacher prescribed for me years ago. We chose, instead, to pursue a path that will help save the earth and invested heavily into waste energy. Humanity generates a lot of garbage, and even after recycling what’s recyclable, there’s still a lot of waste left—waste that can be turned into a fuel. We don’t need to bury it in the ground or throw it into the ocean, destroying so much of our world and its ecosystems! We can turn it into clean, consistent energy that can fuel five, if not ten, percent of our energy needs.

For the last decade, we’ve successfully only invested in socially and environmentally sustainable enterprises. Watching the world begin to reject the old, dirty ways of generating energy and replace them with sustainable solutions has been rewarding from not just a financial perspective but also a humanitarian and environmental one. It feels fulfilling to be part of that.

When we are young, we think we live forever. I wake up now with just enough awareness of how short a human life is. My awareness propels me to move quickly to make a difference because I know we don’t have as much time as we think we do. That’s why I wake up every day feeling happy to be alive and able to do more of what I love. My life is purpose-driven. Living a purpose-driven life is really natural, but we don’t know that until we choose to live it and have the courage to pursue it. I consciously choose to embrace my purpose every day through my morning ritual of oral hygiene, vitamins, and exercise before I start on my work. I love the planet, I love people, and I want to contribute my gifts to creating a world that sustains everyone.

Ibrahim AlHusseini is a partner in the Full Cycle Energy Fund, created to finance and own projects that revolutionize our relationship with waste by converting a costly environmental problem into clean, valuable fuel that can be used to power communities around the world.

Why Choose an Organic Whole-Food Supplement?

As you stroll through the produce section of your local market, amidst the many choices, ask yourself, “Why am I choosing organic carrots over conventionally grown? What makes me go with the organic blueberries rather than non-organic?”

We often choose organic because we know what’s not involved in the farming methods, such as synthetic, chemical herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. But did you know that organically grown foods are loaded with all sorts of disease-preventing, vitalizing nutrition called phytonutrients? “Phyto” means “plant” in Greek, so these are literally plant nutrients.

The research is gaining acceptance. According to Medical Mews Today, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University in the UK recently undertook a 4-year study, the largest of its kind, to compare the compositional differences of organic and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables.

They found that “concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were between 18-69% higher in organically grown crops.” Study leader Carlo Leifert, Professor of Ecological Agriculture at Newcastle University, says that the evidence is “overwhelming,” and the study shows that by switching to organically grown crop foods, and foods made from them, people would consume additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between one and two extra portions of fruit and vegetables per day.”*

Phytonutrients have been in our plants since agriculture began 10,000 years ago in the fertile soils of Mesopotamia. It wasn’t until after WWII that synthetic chemicals, originally used in the war, began to be used as insecticides for farming. A chemical boom ensued in the industry, destroying the natural nutrition in our foods for decades. The recent renaissance of organic farming has unlocked the botanical secrets that plants have held for millennia.

It’s these phytonutrients that have been proven to prevent some of our generation’s most insidious and prevalent diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Now, that’s true plant wisdom.

Take a moment to imagine those phytonutrients concentrated in your daily supplement. Every day would be a regenerating, revitalizing experience. Unfortunately, many supplements are synthetically made in a laboratory to mimic naturally sourced nutrients, and these so-called “natural” vitamins are not made from phytonutrient-rich, organic, whole foods.

What if the secrets to longevity and a healthier life are contained not in a lab, but in botanical wisdom? It seems that every day we’re learning more from scientists around the world who test and retest these theories to discover just that. Every plant contains its own unique properties, many of them medicinal. Organically grown plants seem to be extra potent in their life-enhancing properties.

Companies such as Vitanova, that create supplements made from organic, whole foods and herbs rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, such as tomatoes, carrots, garlic, spinach, beets, blueberries and other plant foods are dedicated to making a difference.

* http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279564.php

Other sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/phytonutrients-faq

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-organic-foods-more-nutritious/

http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/aboutdavidwessels.html

http://www.livescience.com/52541-phytonutrients.html

http://agrochemicals.iupac.org/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=3&sobi2Id=31

Can Vitanova’s Acai Berry Help Your Heart and Ward Off Disease?

When our medications come to us as uniform pills in childproofed bottles, it can be easy to assume that they originated in labs—but 40 percent of prescription medicines actually come from plant extracts or compounds. These plant-based medicines are more ubiquitous than we may think. Drugs from aspirin to quinine are derived from nature through natural products chemistry, as are many of the powerful ingredients in high quality multivitamins.

The vast majority of plant-based vitamins and medicines known in the West were first discovered by indigenous cultures around the world. In the Amazon jungle alone, where one third of Earth’s animal and plant species live, indigenous tribes have medicinal uses for 2,000 to 3,000 known rainforest plants. Among these is the acai berry.

Known to the west for only two decades, acai berries have been used for thousands of years by Amazonian tribes such as the Shuar to cure a wide range of ailments; they used it to increase their energy, protect their hearts, support their sexual health, and ward off diseases. They even used it to successfully treat a disease affecting 10 million Brazilians called schistosomosis. Acai makes up over one third of some tribal diets.

Western researchers learned of acai in the 1990s, and an antibiotic derived from the acai berry is now used to fight Staphylococcus aureus. Acai is also now known to lower cholesterol and is full of natural antioxidants. It contains essential fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, and minerals.

Wheatgrass, which Western scientists began studying under 100 years ago, has been used for its medicinal benefits for millennia—ancient Egyptians and possibly even Mesopotamian civilizations knew wheatgrass supported their health and vitality. More recently, the Interior Salish people of British Columbia used wheatgrass in food preparation. Studies have shown that wheatgrass can reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis and the side effects of chemotherapy for breast cancer. It’s packed with nutrients, including fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6.

Botanicals like acai and wheatgrass have had a pervasive impact on our society—and they never would have reached us without being discovered by indigenous people, who passed down knowledge of their health benefits from generation to generation. While the plants hold the healing properties, Earth’s tribes are the keepers of knowledge about those plants and their great potential to strengthen and revitalize human life. As global citizens, we must work to preserve indigenous cultures and their intimate knowledge of the world’s botanicals. It is only by partnering with tribes that we can preserve our world for our children.

Vitanova proudly supports organizations that respect and preserve tribes, tribal knowledge, and the plants yet to be discovered by Western medicine. We include acai, wheatgrass, and other botanicals in our vitamins, knowing that it is thanks to the world’s indigenous cultures that we have the knowledge to create potent whole-foods vitamins. We support Living Tongues in its preservation of indigenous languages, without which great wisdom will be lost. And The Answers Project, our partner organization, is seeking new Dalai Lamas and bringing them to the forefront so their rich historical knowledge and wisdom can be shared with the world.

How To Stay Beautiful and Healthy: Vicky Alvarez Covi

Vicky Alvarez Covi is a married mother of twin teenage boys in her 40s living in Denver, Colorado. After the birth of her children, she found herself gaining a great deal of weight. She felt unhappy and unhealthy. Through the power of a morning ritual, she reenergizes her body, mind, and spirit and supports her own daily rebirth. 

My husband’s company hosts a black tie event every year. I love it—it’s like a grown-up prom! I’ve always enjoyed shopping and dressing up for the event. Three years after my twins were born, I had a terrible time finding a dress that fit and flattered my body. When I saw a photo of us after the event, it hit me: I did not recognize myself. I had reached a pants size 18 and refused to buy a bigger size, but I hadn’t truly realized how heavy I had become until I saw that photo. I thought, “This is not me. This is not who I am!” It hit me all at once that day. I was finally honest with myself that I did not feel like the real me anymore. I didn’t feel attractive, and more importantly, I wasn’t happy. The sadness as I thought about letting myself get to this point was overwhelming.

I put that photograph up in my kitchen after the party and kept it as a reminder of how unhealthy I had allowed my body to become. I wanted to be healthy to see my children grow up and to be a good role model for them of a healthy lifestyle, eating good food and not crap, and giving a damn about myself.

To give myself the initial motivation I needed, I signed up with a company that helped me understand how to change my life and weight. I faced a hard fact: food is emotional for me. Some people drink or smoke in response to stress; I eat. I had to learn to see food as sustenance, as fuel for my body, not as a means to console myself. The program helped me learn new thought patterns and habits, but I will always have to remind myself how to see food—not as my comfort, not as my enemy, but as life—and work to overcome my greatest vice, portion control.

Staying in a healthy relationship with food requires a daily, conscious effort. I see my health transformation as a journey, not a destination, and I have to always remind myself that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. I make my ongoing transformation journey possible by adhering to my personal morning ritual.

My ritual starts as soon as I get out of bed and put on my workout clothes. I get straight into them because it’s the only way I can be sure I’ll dedicate the time to working out. If I try to put it off, I’ll lose my steam just like everyone else because evenings are so full of distraction and exhaustion from the day. I brew my coffee as I wake up my boys, enjoy one cup with breakfast and one after dropping them off at school, and take my multivitamin and vegan protein. I work out from 8:30 to 9:30, and during that time, I think only about keeping my body as its best. I can feel the adrenaline kick in and my sweat coming down during my last rep as I tell myself, “I can do it! I can do it!” It’s my own form of meditation. My workouts lift the stress of 12-hour hockey tournaments on the weekends and of everything else related to parenting twin teenage boys in my 40s. And my workouts inspire me to become my best self.

My commitment to this journey of transformation also includes healthy eating. For me, that means not only getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, but adopting a vegetarian diet. While it was frustrating initially because I liked the taste of meat, I love it now—my body doesn’t like to digest meat anymore and I’ve enjoyed discovering new cuisines. I love Indian and Thai cooking; both are so vegetarian-friendly and rich with amazing flavors and spices. I’ve been eating healthily for eight years now and I haven’t looked back.

I see women like Raquel Welch and Sophia Loren and know that I want to look as incredible as they do as they age. They really take care of themselves, and when I’m in my 70s, I want to look and feel like I’ve taken care of my body all these years.

My daily transformation through my daily ritual, workouts, and healthy eating help me become a better person. I wish I had started before my late 30s! But I am so proud of my personal renaissance. My hope is that my sons will experience this drive to be in the best, healthiest shape possible because they look at their mom and see how healthy I am.

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