Tag Archives: nutrition

How to Beat the Sweets: The Gradual Approach

BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador

If the thought of cutting out every last gram of sugar sounds impossible – especially the idea of going cold turkey – maybe we could simply reset the goal. Cutting back gradually may be more effective in the long run.

Here are a five Fitlicious ways to help cut your sugar intake without feeling deprived. I really believe they’ll give you big returns:

  1. Start your day with a no-added-sugar breakfast, because starting your day right sets the tone and balances your blood sugar for your remaining meals;
  2. Use cinnamon and 1 tablespoon protein Chaga powder instead of sugar in your coffee. It helps curb sugar cravings and balance energy;
  3. Replace sugar and fat laden ice-cream with Fitlicious 3 ingredient banana ice cream (yes, only three ingredients);
  4. Craving a chocolate fudge Brownie? Have a Perfect Date instead! For a single serving after dinner dessert, simply remove the pit of a Medjool date and replace it with a tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao nibs and unsweetened coconut flakes. You’ll love it;
  5. Make protein, fibre and healthy fats the building blocks of your meals and snacks. These nutrients slow down the digestion process and prevent quick blood sugar spike and crash. That’s important, because a sudden drop in blood sugar can cause extreme sugar cravings.

Most importantly remember, you’re human. You don’t need to be perfect. Give your taste buds and brain time to adjust to lower sugar intake by reducing your sugar intake a little bit each week until you reach your new goal.

(Recommended PURICA superfoods and supplements: PURICA Trimactiv, PURICA Power vegan protein powder; PURICA Nopal, PURICA Fiberlicious and Garcinaia Cambogia).

Just Because It’s Common, It Doesn’t Mean It’s Normal

BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador

At least 85 per cent of menstruating women experience a symptom of PMS every cycle. Does this staggering number mean that having PMS is normal? No, it means it’s common. Just because something is common, does not mean you need to accept it as normal.

In my experience as a woman and health coach, I’ve concluded that by reducing inflammation in the body, many if not all premenstrual symptoms of cramping, bloating, sugar cravings and mood swings can be reduced and often ultimately eliminated.

For my clients who report mild to extreme PMS, I apply system support on the strength of the following PURICA products:

A recent study found that women who have higher levels of inflammatory proteins are more likely to suffer from PMS symptoms such as mood problems, cramps, back pain, cravings, bloating and breast pain.

To lower inflammatory proteins you must detox your body: Remove alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed flours and inflammatory fats such as those found in full-fat dairy products, red meats, peanuts, margarines, shortening and hydrogenated oils from your diet.

Incorporating some vegan meals or days into your weekly nutrition program can also help lower acidity and inflammation. With the new PURICA Power vegan protein powder, it’s easy to incorporate an alternative to whey isolates. PURICA Power also has the added antioxidant support of Chaga. The fermented PURICA Power vegan protein powders get my two thumbs up first of all because they taste great and also because they are more bioavailable pre and post workout than other non-fermented, or soy- based vegan powders.

The best way to make PMS “MIA” is to:

  • Rest. Drink More Water.
  • Limit Alcohol, caffeine and salt and at any time of month stay committed to healthy whole foods.

Balance lean proteins such as organic chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, omega-3 eggs and legumes, healthy fats such as coconut, olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc. and a variety of complex carbohydrates including vegetables, fruits, kamut, beans, rye, oats, and quinoa every three to four hours during the day. This will stabilize blood sugars and avoid undue stress and hormonal imbalance because of skipped meals.

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.

What to Do If You Have Inflammation Acne?

By Melissa Tucker, RHN

We might not think of it this way, but the skin is our largest organ. As such, it provides an outward reflection of the quality of your health deeper within.

That’s especially true of your complexion and whether you are dealing with acne. If you fall into this category – and many of us do – I suggest taking a close look at your diet and the other common contributors to inflammation (listed below) to help you on your way to healthier skin and better looking skin.

So often we treat a pimple or acne breakout with a new expensive topical product, when in fact, inflammation rather than a clogged surface pore is what lead to your breakout. Blocked pores set the stage for acne, but chronic inflammation is the engine that fuels it and maintains it as a problem for us.

The causes of chronic inflammation are many. In the majority of circumstances, it is not one particular problem that leads to chronic stress outbreaks, but dozens of poor dietary and lifestyle choices.

Any one of the following in isolation would not cause a huge inflammatory response but when they begin to add up – and they become a regular part of your life – the burden on your body becomes too much, resulting in stress pimples, or adult acne.

Here’s your checklist to consider:

A poor diet:

Eating too many processed foods is a leading cause of chronic inflammation. A prime example of this is the trans-fat, which is notorious for causing inflammation. Artificial ingredients in processed foods are inflammatory as well, because our body just cannot process them very well. When consumed in abundance the inflammatory response begins and can carry over to appear as a food allergy to other natural food ingredients.

Sleep deprivation:

The lack of sleep can cause elevations in inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals, making sleep deprivation one of the quickest ways to disrupt hormonal balance, energy levels, digestion and skin health. Get your sleep! And you can help yourself out on that front by paying attention to the next factor.

Lack of exercise:

Sitting around all day can cause inflammation because there is lack of circulation. Moderate exercise will reduce chronic inflammation. Breaking a sweat is one of the most effective ways to eliminate toxins from your body and improve skin and overall health. #MoveItToLoseIt (It will also help you sleep).

Not getting enough support:

The power to support the immune system that is provided by high quality vitamins, minerals and other supplemental adaptogens is undeniable. A prime example is zinc, which by the way is famous for curing acne. Other dietary factors include getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Magnesium and Vitamin C to give skin a more radiant, healthy and youthful glow.

Paying attention to your diet, getter better sleep and exercising regularly are the real keys here. Yet I strongly recommend supplementing with vitamins C and D, immunity products such as PURICA Complete 360 and whole body health formulations such as PURICA Recovery will go a long way towards improving skin health and mitigating against inflammation acne.

I also recommend minerals such as PURICA Magnesium and medicinal mushrooms such as PURICA Red Reishi and PURICA Chaga. The latter is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet while Reishi can calm your system down, helping to combat the stress that often triggers acne.

Healthy Skin, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind! 

Your Metabolism and a Healthy Lifestyle

Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn’t have to slow as you age.

It’s true that we experience a decline of between 2 and 4 percent in our resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. On average, we drop about five pounds of lean body mass per decade from age 25-65.

Yet it’s also true that these declines can be prevented by changing a few simple lifestyle habits. That’s because a slow metabolism is not age related; it is lifestyle related.

A decreased metabolism simply stems from a decrease in activity. That means an increase in activity can help increase your metabolism.

By making physical activity part of your daily regime, along with other smart lifestyle choices, you can rev your metabolism, keep your energy up and maintain an optimal weight and body composition late into life.

The more lean muscle mass you have, the better, especially later in life. When it comes to building and maintaining lean muscle mass, think of the saying “use it or lose it”. Performing a weight bearing routine 3-6 days per week stimulates your metabolism because muscle is metabolically active. You are not made to sit all day; so start moving and don’t blame weight gain on a slow metabolism.

It’s also smart living to support your active lifestyle with a balanced whole food diet. Many people are in fact undernourished and overstressed with fast food. If you’re feeling exhausted, rather than reaching for a caffeine or sugar fix to push through, try slowing down and supporting your cardiovascular system with some deep breathing before your meal to support proper digestion and micronutrient absorption.

The bottom line is: Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.

Do your best to stop filling up on empty calories and start loading up on alkaline and nutrient rich whole foods. If you have cravings, it’s because your body is starving for vitamins and nutrients. The quickest way to add vitamins to your diet is to eat produce.

If a food comes from a plant eat it. If it is made in a plant, don’t.

NOTE: I recommend you consider taking a metabolism-supporting supplement. High on my list are Carnitine and natural formulations such as PURICA Trimactiv Weight Control, PURICA Vitality Adrenal Support and PURICA Provascin Cardiovascular Support.

“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/

7 Ways to Support Vitality

If you’re alive, you’ve got stress. It’s a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences. There are also two kinds of stress, each with different effects on the mind and body.

Acute stress can make you feel pumped and is thrilling and exciting in small doses and can be good for you because the stress hormones released help your mind and body to deal with the situation. However overdoing short-term stress can lead to irritability, anxiety and depression. Acute stress can also cause muscular problems including tension headaches, muscular tensions, stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

While acute stress can be thrilling and exciting, chronic stress is not.

Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and depression. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, paired with chronic stress can flip the switch that turns on these health problems.

Cortisol is the primary hormone responsible for the prolonged stress response. In the short term, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but chronic stress puts your health at risk because it causes the ongoing elevation of cortisol, also known as “cortisol resistance’. Eating a wholefood balanced diet, minimizing environmental toxins, and committing to a regular exercise and sleep routine are great ways to regulate cortisol levels.

Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress. If you often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning or prop your energy up during the day your adrenals may be on route to exhaustion. When they are unable to produce adequate stress hormones the thyroid function is affected. Every cell in the body has receptors for both cortisol and thyroid and nearly every cellular process requires the optimal functioning of thyroid.

When cortisol gets too high, you start getting resistance from the hormone receptors and none of the hormones such as insulin, progesterone, estrogens, testosterones and even cortisol itself are able to work at their optimal levels.

Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.

Here are 7 supplements to support the adrenals and help prevent cortisol dysregulation.

  • Vitality Adrenal Support helps the body better handle stress, reduces inflammation, increases DHEA and sports endurance and optimizes immune system.
  • B-Complex helps support nervous system
  • Vitamin B12 can help healthy secretion of cortisol during periods of stress.
  • Magnesium is important for energy production of every cell in your body and is essential for adrenal gland recovery.
  • Probiotics can be beneficial during times of stress to help populate good gut bacteria. ( dosage 10 billion CFU daily with food)
  • Vitamin D3: Cortisol desensitizes the Vitamin D receptor sites in the body, which results in lower Vitamin D levels in people who have chronic stress. (Dosage 2000-4000IU)

7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

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 my nutritional adaptation of one of my favourite books “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” written by Steven Covey.  These seven habits are not new techniques that you’ve never heard before, but they are simple, effective, and will build a lifestyle that will last, rather than a fad diet that you will “fall off the wagon” trying to maintain.
Continue reading

Rookie mistakes – how to avoid making them

Adam O'Meara - PURICA Ambassador
Adam O’Meara
PURICA Ambassador

Adam O’Meara, a Victoria-based professional triathlete, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors who are committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. Adam shares some valuable preparation tips based on his own personal experience.

I’ve completed over 15 Ironman triathlons, have been a student of endurance sport for half of my life and usually prepare well for my races.  But on May 2nd, I ate an entire humble pie and came out of my first race of the season with a sub-par and disappointing result.  Even as a veteran, in my preparation for this event, I made some classic rookie mistakes. Continue reading