Tag Archives: Heart

Healthy, happy hearts

Provascin is designed to protect the cardiovascular system in a host of ways.

Q&A WITH PURICA FOUNDER JASON WATKIN

Q. We tend to think of heart disease as something that mainly affects the middle-aged or elderly. When does someone need to start thinking about their heart health?

Jason: It’s never too early. Ideally, we’re thinking of heart health in our late teens and early 20’s when we start to reach our full height and our growth hormones start to drop. Our body is at that second stage of life. There’s a higher state of breakdown, with a lower capacity to heal and maintain optimal status of the cells and body overall.

Practically speaking, though, most people don’t wake up until they feel themselves declining—when energy levels drop and their skin and whole body starts to show signs of aging.

It’s important to note that if you tend to be a more “high-strung” person, you are typically more susceptible to heart disease because you have higher level of stress hormones circulating throughout the body. This induces the breakdown of tissue and decreased PH levels, which cause inflammatory bursts and suppression of the immune system. Potential warning signs are you find yourself easily irritated, worrying excessively or having mood swings that are not related to hormone fluctuation. The biggest sign will be low energy!

So starting as early as possible is best, but definitely as soon as you start seeing symptoms.

Q. Is heart disease hereditary? Your father had major heart surgery. How did that change how you looked at your own heart health?

Jason: Instead of being what we would classify as genetically hereditary, it’s more familial. Different families exhibit different traits. It’s related to stress and how people process potential stressors. In my dad’s family, there was a tendency to hold things in.

My uncle had a massive heart attack and died at age 42. That’s why my dad initially got tested—because there was an indication that it could be a familial problem. Sure enough, my dad had six blockages that were over 95% and they rushed him in for surgery. He had six bypasses and had a massive heart attack on the table. Given his congestive heart failure, they gave him a defibrillator and pacemaker and didn’t expect him to live past seven years. It’s now 25 years later.

Q. Was this family history the inspiration behind Provascin?

Jason: It started with my uncle dying and then my dad having his heart attack, which literally happened within just a few weeks of each other. The shock was that my uncle was in great shape! His death caused me real concern, especially given that he died so young and in such good shape. It shouldn’t have happened. I was already interested in cardiovascular health, but finding out my entire family had abnormal blood markers only increased that interest, but now on a personal level.

Q. When we refer to heart disease, what conditions are we actually talking about?

Jason: Artherosclerotic, arteriorsclerosis, valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, angina, arteriol stenosis, ambiliousim. These are some of the conditions that define heart disease.

Q. What are the causes of cardiovascular disease? What are the risk factors to look for?

Jason: Using an analogy, let’s say you have a small leak in plumbing that you don’t notice and then over a long period of time it creates rot and swelling on the floor. It’s the same kind of idea with heart disease. For instance, high blood pressure is an after effect of something that is already going on. The key question is where is the source? The damage is happening underneath. That damage leads to breakdown of tissue and inflammation. It happens way before the blood pressure and cholesterol issues arise. Often you don’t notice it until the damage is already done; again, just like with the leak in the plumbing.

Our culture is set for go-go-go and we are often in a state of accelerated aging due to stress. Even low-levels of stress are very common in modern-day living. Whenever you stress, you are breaking down. This can manifest itself in mild on-going stressors such as irritation, worry, frustration, blood sugar issues and mood swings. Over time these things start to become more pronounced. Subconsciously, our bodies are always in a state of tension, in that fight-or-flight state of readiness, instead of the restand- digest parasympathetic state.

We need to try to reduce and mitigate the stress response that leads to that damage. That’s why PURICA Provascin was formulated: to provide broad spectrum cardiovascular support and help to mitigate the stress response. Heart disease is not from one single cause, so addressing it from a number of different angles is what PURICA Provascin is intended to do.

Q. People often don’t think about how important cardiovascular support is. So what advice would you give baby boomers and others in terms of monitoring their heart health?

Jason: I would say to eat as many antioxidant-rich foods as you can, along with supplements. Try to change your dietary habits by minimizing those simple sugars and trans fats. I also really believe it is very important to learn how to manage stress through meditation or other relaxation techniques.

Q. As someone with heart disease in your family, what message do you want to send people who may find themselves in the same situation?

Jason: The good news is that there definitely are ways to deal with familial predisposition to heart disease. The key is the earlier the better. Heart disease is the number one killer. Signs often show up after the damage has already started. I encourage people to start changing their dietary habits to reduce those simple sugars and trans fats. Stop cooking with cheap oil. Incorporate as many antioxidants as possible. It’s certainly not always easy, but strive to “let go” mentally where possible. As I often say, it’s simple but true: ease is the opposite of dis-ease.

PURICA ambassador triathlete Adam O’Meara wins Elk Lake Triathlon

Our athlete ambassador and territory manager Adam O’Meara won the Elk Lake Triathlon on August 6th. The “standard” or “Olympic” distance event consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Adam exited the water right on the heels of the first two swimmers, but once on two wheels he quickly took over the race lead and never looked back. Adam’s race splits of 21:08 swim / 59:46 bike / 37:07 run brought him to the finish line just 7 seconds over the 2 hour mark.

Here are Adam’s thoughts on the event. “It is quite the treat to get to wake up in your own bed on race morning, but I was still up at 4:30am to take care of everything in a stress free manner. It took my body a while to warm up but once I got things firing I felt like I was ready to race strong. I led the swim for about the first half, whereupon another swimmer came up beside me, I decided to allow them to take a turn leading so I could relax a bit. I came out of the water in 3rd place right behind the lead swimmer and Karen Thibodeau (a local female athlete who is a great swimmer). One of my main goals for the day was to have a really solid bike, and I felt I had prepared properly to do that. I felt strong from start to finish on the bike and then as I started the run my legs were feeling good – relatively speaking of course! I didn’t know how far behind 2nd place was but I had a pretty good idea since there are stretches on this course where you can look back and see a distance of about 2 minutes. As always there was some rough patches sprinkled in throughout the day but overall I was very strong and very happy to have taken the win. It was made all that much better because my wife, son, daughter, mother and sister were all there to cheer me on and see me at the finish line. Something I have learned over the years is that it is very important to celebrate your successes, so for the rest of the day I definitely was in a great state of mind as we all enjoyed some awesome family time…… and the cold beers tasted extra good!”

This win was preceded by a 3rd place finish at the Great White North Triathlon on July 2nd and a 1st place finish at the Nanaimo Triathlon on May 28th. Adam has completed over 15 Ironman distance events, many shorter distance races and he is no stranger to the podium. This father of two is passionate about living life to the fullest. When he is not working, spending time with is family or training he enjoys preparing healthy food for is family and himself.

“Rise and grind?” or “Sleep in and win!”

If you are a motivated person, especially when it comes to exercise then your choice expression from the title is likely quite obvious.  I am an early bird by nature and I love being out in the early morning for my training sessions.  And for many years (10+) I have always prioritized my workouts over that extra 30-120 minutes of sleep.  But recently I listened to an episode from my favourite podcast – Sigma Nutrition Podcast – and it really struck a chord with me…… sometimes we need a reminder to put us back in check with things we know we should be doing.

I know that sleep it important for overall health and athletic performance so I have always tried to prioritize sleep, but often life gets in the way and so I rise and grind at the crack of dawn (or before) to get my workouts in.  I have a passion and hunger that almost can’t be satisfied when it comes to training hard, so it is never a question of whether or not I get up to do the workout, it’s just a question of how much less than 9 hours of sleep I get before I rise.  I say 9 hours because I know for me that that 9 hours is a golden number, if I can hit that I feel fantastic (relatively speaking) even in the heaviest training periods.

What does the science say?  Let’s start with a biggie – “the major metabolic perturbations accompanying sleep deprivation in humans are an increase in insulin resistance and a decrease in glucose tolerance.” (VanHelder T, 1989 Apr).  When carbohydrate metabolism is interfered with the negative effects abound for both high end athletes and the general public, some issues that can result are weight gain, decreased energy and lower power output.  Oxygen consumption, heart contractility and cardiac output can also be affected by the effect that sleep deprivation has on our thyroid – TSH is increased and if this becomes chronic it is problematic (Mullington MJ, 2009).  Furthermore, notes from one study conclude that response to muscle strength, aerobic and anaerobic performance capability were not affected with 30-60 hours of sleep deprivation, but time to exhaustion and rate of perceived exertion were both negatively affected (VanHelder T, 1989 Apr).

One of the next systems in line to get negatively affected would be the immune system.  And being sick can further inhibit sleep quality and quantity.  It quickly becomes clear that not getting enough sleep can have a snowball effect leading to issues that decrease the quality of our day to day lives.  Now, if we circle back to the title of this article we can start to see how anyone with athletic goals needs to prioritize their sleep.  For me this has meant actually planning in days where I can get 9-9.5 hours of sleep.  By planning it in I mentally accept it ahead of time, so when I wake up at 5:15am on my sleep in days I can silence the devil on my shoulder and go back to sleep.

I am not advocating people sleep in to the point where it affects other aspects of their lives.  But I am very much in favour of going to bed early enough that 8-9 hours is realistic and practical.  As an elite level, working athlete with a family I can’t always get 9+ hours of sleep, that is the reality.  But here are some things that I recommend to help you get enough high quality sleep on a regular basis:

  • Change your schedule (and frame of mind perhaps) so that you are actually in bed and ready to fall asleep at a decent time.
  • Take a magnesium glycine (aka bisglycinate) supplement 20 minutes before bed in a dose large enough (200-500mg) to calm your neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems
  • Keep your cortisol in check by:
    • striving to minimize the life stressors that are out of your control
    • looking for supplements such as ashwagandha that help regulate cortisol production
  • Practice good sleep hygiene:
    • make sure your room is as dark as possible
    • lower your thermostat to as cool as possible while still feeling comfortable
    • avoid caffeine later in the day (subjective)
    • avoid watching tv or looking at your computer screen in the 60-90 minutes before bed*
    • consider favouring complex carbohydrates (over fat) at dinner time if you have trouble falling asleep
    • don’t perform intense exercise in the hours leading up to bed time
  • Keep your immune system strong with a very healthy diet and the strategic use of whole food supplements such as medicinal mushrooms

Consistency is the key with any physical pursuit and/or with achieving great health and longevity, and this includes getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis.  If you think you aren’t getting enough sleep and/or your quality of sleep may be poor than do your best to make it a priority to fix it!  I assure you it will be an eye opener 😉 when you start to feel the benefits of meeting your body’s sleep needs.

In good health,

Adam

*If you must use your electronics before bed then it is a good idea to install a program such as f.lux (PC) or Twilight (androids) that will block out the spectrums of light that interfere with your brains ability to produce serotonin.

How Synergy Works for Me

Adam O’Meara has a unique perspective on natural supplements. He is not only a professional triathlete, but part of the PURICA team. The PURICA Ambassador explains why PURICA Recovery®, Provascin® and Cordyceps – our PURICA Sport Synergy Line – serve as the foundation of his regime of nutritional supplements.

BY ADAM O’MEARA

Our bodies respond well to new stimuli.  That’s why, when it comes to fitness and exercise, it is imperative to increase the workload (stimulus) in order to see improvements.  General fitness is best achieved by combining two or more modalities and a combination of strength and aerobic work.  Even a properly-structured program for a single sport focus — such as training for a 10k road race — will incorporate various types of workouts including recovery, interval and long runs.

Whatever the fitness goal, it is best to approach it by providing a variety of stimuli.  This is also true when it comes to dietary supplements.  As a professional level triathlete, I perform swim, bike and run training, plus I include core strength work.  When it comes to food, I choose a well-balanced diet that favours vegetables and other whole foods. I am also sure to include good variety in all three macro-nutrient categories.  Furthermore, I top off my diet with a targeted supplement regime that has the PURICA Sport Synergy Line as the foundation.

Soft tissue and cartilage healing

PURICA Recovery® was one of the products that perked my interest in PURICA many years ago.  After much research and hearing countless anecdotal success stories, I was certain Recovery® would help me as a high level endurance athlete.  Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects combined with its ability to encourage soft tissue and cartilage healing and rebuilding make it a primary supplement for me.

Improving my exercise performance

Many athletes are familiar with the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps sinensis (CS). CS is one of the most widely-examined medicinal mushrooms and has shown promising results in many double-blind and placebo-controlled studies; including a 10.5% and 8.5% increase in metabolic and ventilatory thresholds, respectively, which equals an improvement in exercise performance (Chen S. Z., 2010).  Studies showing those types of improvements coupled with countless anecdotal accounts from athletes and my own experience is why I continue to take PURICA Cordyceps almost daily.

Supporting my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential

As a high level endurance athlete, my primary goal is to train my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential.  When we exercise we increase oxidative (a.k.a. free radical) stress through the production of damaging ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) molecules.  ROS are unstable molecules that have potential to do damage to our bodies.  Even the most sedentary person is producing ROS as the body continues its perpetual cycles of cell turnover, but as activity levels increase the body may struggle to provide enough anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals being produced.  So it is then our job to provide our bodies with ample amounts of anti-oxidants which we do by eating healthy whole foods and taking high quality supplements.  My food choices are primarily based on nutrient density and anti-oxidant potency, and this is quite simple since the healthiest foods usually contain high levels of nutrients and anti-oxidants.  And my preferred supplement for combating free radical damage to my cardiovascular system is Provascin.

Provascin® is one of the broadest spectrum cardiovascular products available.  The combination of ingredients offers a multi-faceted approach to protecting the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart.  One of my favourite ingredients in the formula is Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). It is a powerful medicinal mushroom that offers very impressive ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) levels and SODs (Superoxide dismutase) values.  With an ORAC score of ~50 times greater than that of blueberries, Chaga is an incredible free radical scavenger.  SODs serve as the front-line defense against ROS in living cells (Fukai, 2011).  Furthermore, mitochondrial function is regulated by SOD (Fukai, 2011) and our overall health and performance is only as good as how healthy and efficient our mitochondria are.  My reasons for using Provascin® extend beyond its fantastic day to day support, I also rely on it as a preventative measure for avoiding cardiovascular disease later in life – I have a family and I want to do all I can to maintain great health through my senior years.

I am perhaps the number one fan of the PURICA Sport Synergy line and use PURICA Recovery®, Cordyceps and Provascin® on an almost daily basis.

Suggested dosing for athletic performance

I typically take 2-3 caps of Cordyceps upon rising and another 2-3 in the afternoon.  Recovery is taken in 5 cap or 1 teaspoon doses 2-3 times per day, 20 minutes prior to a meal or as part of a post workout smoothie or snack. When it comes to Provascin®, I simply take it three times daily with food.  In order to make the most of my supplement regime, I treat it just like training and ensure consistency, but I don’t fret if I miss a dose or two.

Remember, supplementation is just like exercise and training – it is best to support your well-being with a good variety of healthy and smart choices.


References

Chen, S. Z. (2010, May 16). Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Retrieved from Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/

Fukai, T. a.-F. (2011, September 15). Superoxide Dismutases: Role in Redox Signaling, Vascular Function, and Diseases. Retrieved from Antioxidants & Redox Signaling: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151424/

Make Every Second Count with Tempo Training

Tempo training is an awesome way to make every second of your workout count. Different tempo prescriptions provide greater training variety and stimulus, which means fewer plateaus and more strength gains. A tempo prescription is usually listed after the reps and sets of an exercise as a series of four numbers that represent the time it should take to complete the four stages of a lift. 

The First Number refers to the lowering (eccentric) phase of the lift. 

The Second Number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the lift – the point in which the lift transitions from lowering to ascending. 

The Third Number refers to ascending (concentric) phase of the lift – the amount of time it takes you to get to the top of the lift. 

The Fourth Number refers to how long you should pause at the top of the lift.  

If you are given a 4220-tempo prescription for a set of squats you want to ensure that your 4-second count doesn’t take 2 seconds to count when things get tough. Proper counting technique to practice is verbally counting out one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand…yes it will burn!

Proper tempo prescriptions can help athletes develop a stronger mind muscle connection by giving them an opportunity to “feel” which muscle groups are activating through the four stages of each lift. Tempo training can be beneficial for all types of athletes. CrossFit for example, most often pushes athletes to the limits with maximal effort lifts and workouts, slowing down movements with tempo prescriptions allows for a greater amount of time under tension with less overall stress on the central nervous system, this allows athletes safe strength gains to support their workout of the day. 

If you are looking to increase your training results I encourage you to try implementing tempo training into your program for 4-8 weeks to experience the benefits. If you’re not sure how to create tempo program for your specific needs, please shoot me an email and inquire about online coaching programs. 

Clearing Up the Confusion Around Cardio

Whether you love it or hate it, the truth is most people start their fitness journey with cardio workouts and ponder the question:  “How much and what kind of cardio should I do?”

I can’t tell you how many hours of cardio I have done over the past year, let alone my entire fitness career.  Simply put: Cardio has become a habit for me. I didn’t always enjoy doing hours of it when prepping for competition, but that’s because I didn’t know then what I know now. I have experimented with hundreds of different cardio prescriptions — both in my own training and with clients for almost 20 years — so let me just say, I know a few things about what works and what wears you out!

As with any personalized training program, each person has different needs and therefore different cardio prescriptions that will work best for them. There are, however, some golden rules that work if you want to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass.

The good news is you want to do less of more and more of less. What I mean by that is, you will lose more fat and build more muscle by doing short burst and intense interval sessions rather than long, slow, boring machine cardio sessions.

I always recommend that you do your cardio after lifting weights or, if you’re able to train twice per day, in a separate session.  This will ensure you get maximum strength gains which will increase your lean muscle mass, which in turn will increase your BMR (Body Mass Ratio). In English, that means you’ll burn more calories, even when you’re not at the gym!

One negative effect of aerobic training — more so than weight lifting — is that it produces high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Too much cortisol post-workout will interfere with lean muscle gain and actually increase body fat.  So unless your goal is to be skinny fat or to increase your fatness, I do not recommend “hamster wheel” cardio for hours on a machine like a drone.

If you get on a treadmill while hanging onto the handle bars or get on an elliptical and go for an hour while watching TV or reading a book and not even break a sweat, you are not getting the most out of your minutes. The only time I would say it’s best to do low intensity cardio is if the person is severely obese and just starting a workout routine. Once you are in the routine of working out, cardiovascular conditioning requires you to challenge the heart and lungs, which makes interval training the way to go!

The truth is that proper nutrition accounts for more than 80% of your weight management results. So when it comes to cardio prescriptions, optimal fat loss can be achieved with a sensible nutritional plan and interval sessions that are 20-40 minutes 3-6 days per week.

Home is Where Heart Healthy Cooking is at

It can be difficult to eat right when you’re eating out, ordering in, or eating processed foods. The portions are usually too large and the foods contain too much salt, sugar, and hydrogenated fats. Cooking at home will give you full control over the nutritional content of your meals and can also help you to save money and lose weight, if needed.
Making a quick, heart healthy meal is easier and less time-consuming than you may think. Here are a few suggestions: Continue reading

Heart disease and women – knowing the signs

In a powerful message delivered with humour, popular actress Elizabeth Banks plays an example of a modern day woman coping with the everyday demands of raising a young family. She might even be playing you and the lengths many women with great intentions like you go to be everything to everyone; often even at the expense of their own health. This video shows common symptoms of heart attacks in women that are critical to recognize. Do you listen to your heart? Do you act on warning signs?  Do you protect it? Elizabeth Banks may help you answer those questions.

Five Must Do’s For Optimal Heart Health

Melissa Tucker - PURICA Ambassador
Melissa Tucker
PURICA Ambassador

Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. With our focus on heart health during Heart Month, here’s Melissa’s blog on some basic guidelines to keep your heart happy.

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease…if you have had a heart attack or stroke…or if you have family history of cardiovascular disease, you may want to follow these guidelines to help protect yourself and prevent future problems.

The first five things you must do are:

  • If it has been more than a year since your last doctor visit, book your annual check up now.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • If you are overweight, lose weight (make small changes in your lifestyle; they’ll make a big difference with respect to your weight).
  • Begin a program of regular exercise (taking one step at a time, but getting out there).
  • Eat heart healthy foods daily.

Do’s

  • The foods you choose are critical for good cardiovascular health. Having high-nutrient dense foods will help keep your heart healthy and disease risks lower.
  • Be sure to include magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins, soluble fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Consider taking a high quality multivitamin or cardiovascular supplement such as Provascin.

Don’ts

  • Skip dried fruit, fruit juice, and alcohol if you have high triglycerides.
  • Skip grapefruit and grapefruit juice if you are on cardiac medication.
  • Avoid eating foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt, cholesterol, and refined carbohydrates.

Life’s a journey. Make it a heart-healthy journey by taking some of these suggestions to heart!

For more information, check out www.melissatucker.com or email PURICA Ambassador Melissa Tucker at melissa@melissatucker.com.  And for regular healthy eating and training tips, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/puricawellness and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/puricawellness

Valentine’s Day Delights

Melissa Tucker - PURICA Ambassador
Melissa Tucker
PURICA Ambassador

Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. Here’s Melissa’s suggestion on how to enjoy Valentine’s Day, but not go off the rails.

Are you craving a hunk of chocolate for Valentine’s Day? You can avoid a diet disaster, satisfy your hearts desire and improve your heart health with a one-ounce piece of dark chocolate filled with heart healthy flavonoids. The Antioxidant effects of the flavonoids can lower cholesterol and help prevent certain cancers, such as skin cancer. Dark chocolate with at least 80% cocoa has less sugar and more antioxidants than milk chocolate or white chocolate making it by far the healthiest option.

Chocolate ranks among the most heavily sprayed crops, so be sure to choose organic. For the greatest health benefit, buy traditionally prepared or “artisan” chocolate, it’s most likely to contain more flavonoids because it’s gently made with reduced heat.

Skip those heart-shaped boxes of milky, cream-filled sugar bonbons this Valentine’s Day and try this heart healthy, antioxidant rich; Chocolate – Pomegranate – Ginger Bark recipe!

Chocolate – Pomegranate – Ginger Bark

This simple recipe is amazingly delicious with heart healthy nutrients and a flavor explosion to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1-cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 ½ Tsp. dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Prep talk:

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone-baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate. If using a microwave, be sure to use a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, heat in additional 10-second increments if necessary.
  3. Gently stir half of the pomegranate seeds, ginger and the salt into the chocolate.
  4. Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into a rectangle. (Approx. 8×10)
  5. Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds evenly over the top, pressing them into the chocolate.
  6. Refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes.
  7. Break the bark into chunks and enjoy.

* The bark will keep, if refrigerated, for 4-5 days if you don’t eat it all in one sitting.

For more information, check out www.melissatucker.com or email PURICA Ambassador Melissa Tucker at melissa@melissatucker.com.. And for regular healthy eating and training tips, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/puricawellness and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/puricawellness.