February 27, 2017

Top 5 Highly Energizing Yoga Poses!

Top 5 Highly Energizing Yoga Poses!

Feeling fatigued? We here you and spring is the time to come out of hibernation and return to the blossoming of new life. Spring the perfect time to our body and mind. Through a few basic yoga poses, I have personally found a simple, but effective way to increase energy and cultivate mindfulness.

Below are essential poses I practice on a daily basis each morning. This series can be completed at your own rate, but I’ve found that just 15 minutes can have a substantial influence on how you feel the rest of the day.

 

Easy Sit Pose

HowUse a meditation cushion or fold a thick blanket to create stable for this pose. Sit near the edge of your cushion and extend your legs in front of you on the floor. Cross your lower legs, your knees outward, and bring each foot below the opposite knee. Keep your spine long allowing your eyes to close while mindfully breathing (inhaling and exhaling through your nose). Allow your abdomen to expand as you inhale and contract with each exhale.

Why: By lengthening your spine and finding a balanced a stable position, your breathing pattern will flow in and out with more ease. Mindful breathing in this way harmonizes and replenishes your vital energy. To gain a bit more energy take deeper and longer inhales.

 

Cat/Cow

How: Beginning on all fours, make sure your hands are directly beneath, about shoulder width apart and your knees are about hip width apart, directly beneath your hips. For cow pose, bring your head up, while pushing your stomach towards the floor. Keep your eyes open, wide as you inhale deeply into this pose. Transitioning into ‘cow’ bring your head downward, chin towards your chest as you stretch your back up like a cat. Your spine should be rounded. Exhale completely as you move into this pose. Move between cat and cow pose slowly at first and at your own rate. You can gradually go a bit faster as you feel warmed up. 

Why: The pose energizes by clearing emotional end energetic blockages as begins to direct energy up the spine from lower to higher chakras.

 

Sun Salutation A

 

 How: Sun Salutation A has 11 basic components

 

 1.) Standing Pose —Tadasana

Stand hip-width apart and bring palms together in prayer position. With your thumbs resting against your sternum, take several deep breaths.

2.) Upward Salute —Urdhva Hastasana

As you inhale, extend your arms to out to your sides and above your head. Mindfully arch your back and look toward the sky.

3.) Standing Forward Bend —Uttanasana

Fold forward at the hips as exhale deeply. If feeling tight, bend your knees slightly. With the top of your head should be pointing toward the ground, let your arms hang and head hang.

4.) Half Standing Forward Bend — Ardha Uttanasana

As you inhale bring your torso halfway up, lengthening your spine so spine becomes flat and parallel to the ground. Fingertips can be touching the ground or resting against your lower legs.

5.) Four-Limbed Staff —Chaturanga Dandasana

As you exhale, step or jump into plank pose (high push-up) with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and feet hip-width apart. Continue your exhale while you lower toward the floor.

6.) Upward –Facing Dog — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

As you inhale, bring your chest forward and extend your arms. Bring your shoulders back and draw your heart toward the sky. The tops of your feet should be pressing down as you lift your thighs from the floor. Keep your elbows tucked in as you finish your inhale.

7.) Downward-Facing Dog — Adho Mukha Svanasana

As you exhale, draw your hips up and roll over your toes, positioning the soles of your feet to the ground. Heels need not touch the ground. Stabilize through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine. Draw your abdomen and sit bones toward the sky and stay for five-ten breaths. As you exhale, bend your knees and gaze between your hands.

8.) Half Standing Forward Bend — Ardha Uttanasana

Step or jump both feet forward between your hands on the inhale. Raise your torso halfway up while lengthening your back flat. Fingertips can either be touching the floor or lightly against shins.

9.) Standing Forward Bend — Uttanasana

As you exhale, bend your torso to your thighs. Keep your knees bent if necessary. Emphasize the lengthening of your torso.

10.) Upward Salute — Urdhva Hatasana

As you inhale, stretch your arms out to the sides and extend up once again. Mindfully arch your torso back and look toward the sky.

11.) Mountain Pose — Tadasana

Exhale as you find yourself grounded in this standing position. Bring your hands together in prayer position. Rest your thumbs once again to your sternum. Repeat this sequence three to four more times.

Why: This series builds heat through movement and breath. As the heat builds, energy increases. The arching backward opens the front body allowing energy blockages to clear. 

Gate Pose

 

How: Kneeling with one leg extended to the side, directly in line with the hip joint. Inhale and extend arms overhead. Exhale side bend towards extended leg.

Why: Lateral pose stretch and open the sides of the body, particularly the areas around the ribs. These poses allow the breath to be directed to one lung and one side of the rib cage with more intention. Lateral bends build heat are energizing because of the depth of breath that occurs.

 

Seated Twist

How: Sit with your right leg extended directly away from your hip, keeping your left knee bent. Lengthen your spine and as you exhale begin to rotate to the left while squeezing the bent knee close to the mid-line of your body.

Why: Twists have a grounding and energizing effect. The heat increases as the twist acts to flush tension out from the body, while the grounding occurs by having to maintain the hips rooted to the ground. This is a great pose to end with as you feel more energized and balanced.

Welcome to spring with the warmth and energy in provides. Namaste!

December 30, 2016

Cordyceps: Clearing up the Confusion on Performance Benefits

Is it conceivable that a single mushroom can act as a powerful mood enhancer, promote vibrant health, and significantly enhance athletic performance? Companies that have been promoting cordyceps, an adaptogenic mushroom used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, have made these assertions for centuries. The scientific evidence for such claims has, up until recently, remained quite elusive and unclear.

Have we learned any verifiable, scientific facts about cordyceps?

We're scientists and supplement manufacturers jointly misguided all this time?

With recent, peer-reviewed studies coming out, the answer is yes —we have finally cleared up the confusion and have finally applied this research toward the most optimized cordyceps extract.

 This is cordyceps sinensis. How is it that some research looks promising, but others fall flat? It turns out we sometimes end up with a case of mistaken identity, and ultimately choose to avoid sinensis altogether!

Cordyceps is a genus of medical mushrooms (specifically, sac fungi) whose various extracts can “sometimes” increase lactate threshold and aerobic exercise capacity, depending on what study you look at.

  • Cordyceps sinensis has bee the most-marketed form in the 2000’s. Unfortunately, cordyceps sinensis is commonly misidentified and DNA testing shows many supplements aren’t even in the cordyceps family!
  • Cordyceps militaris, however, has been revealed validated and reliable, as recent studies have shown improved VO2 max, peak power, and time to exhaustion.
  • The best cordyceps sports enhancement supplement is currently One Elevated Vital Ultimate Pre-Workout, which has been developed for health-conscious athletes and contains 1g of PeakO₂. We recommend 1 – 2 scoops per day (divided between pre-workout and during workout).
  • No known side effects of cordyceps militaris have been reported with healthy users.

 

What are Adaptogens?

The term, “adaptogen” has been around for decades, but the usage often is misunderstood.

Adaptogens are natural substances, which have been shown to help the body adapt to stress and assist in normalizing bodily processes. They are considered as biological equalizers making them highly beneficial to your health and wellness regimen.

Several herbs are known to be adaptogens: Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Licorice Root, Rhodiola, and our favorite, Cordyceps Militaris.

A Background on Cordyceps

These powerful adaptogens made international headlines after Chinese runners decimated two word records in 1993. According to their coach, the secret to their remarkable athletic performance was a natural fungus, namely cordyceps militaris. They are found in the Himalayas around Tibet and Nepal as well as regions closer to India and China where the elevations are conducive for their growth. In Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, it has traditionally been used to treat reproductive ailments, increase energy, and decrease the effects of aging. Additionally, cordyceps have also traditionally been used to:

  • Moderate stress, [1]
  • Increase endurance, [1,2]
  • Support anabolism and muscle protein synthesis, [3]
  • Advance glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, [4,5]
  • Enhance virility, [6,7]
  • Improve general health, [5,8,9]

A number of the above uses have only data from animal subjects (ie. mice and rat studies) to support these claims, however, the most recent research has been done on endurance and is human-based, which has driven the purpose to spread the word on these often misunderstood products of nature.

The most recent investigations into these elusive adaptogens have shed light into its ergogenic or performance enhancement potential.

 

Increase Endurance and Reduce Fatigue

In a double-blind human trial, cordyceps have been shown to significantly increase oxygen intake during exercise. Furthermore, it has also demonstrated the ability to decrease basal glucose and lactic acid levels. Another study showed that mice given cordyceps improved their swimming endurance from 75 to 90 minutes. [1]

 

Moderate Stress Levels

Within the same study referred to above, the scientists also discovered a change in the weight of the subject’s adrenal gland, spleen, thymus, and thyroid, indicating that cordyceps reduce stress hormone production.

This is vitally important for athletes because less stress means less cortisol, thus decreased catabolism or muscle breakdown, amongst several other benefits. [20]

That’s Not Cordyceps You’ve been Taking!

It turns out not all “cordyceps” is actually cordyceps! The “cordyceps sinensis” that has been out on the market and researchers had been testing may not have actually been cordyceps sinensis. Up until recently, identifying mushrooms species was done by visual observation. Now researchers are using a more scientific approach by using DNA sequencing. [29]

Is that Paecilomyces (PH) or Cordyceps?

Most of the research being done on “cordyceps” had been on Paecilomyces Hepiali (PH)!

This fungus belongs to a separate genus named Paecilomyces. It is not related to cordyceps other than by appearance! [30.31] Knowing now that vast amounts of this genus of fungi have been distributed, it is quite possible most are actually P. Hepiali, while some amount could be indeed cordyceps sinensis. For 23 years, we have all been collectively deceived, all to be enlightened by modern scientific technology!

So what does this mean?

The answer to our confusion problems? Skip sinensis altogether… and go with these guys, cordyceps militaris!

With raw materials manufacturers previously relying on visual indicators, we can’t say for sure which “cordyceps supplements” were authentic. While Paecilomyces Hepiali has some benefits (namely anti-tumor), there isn’t any evidence that they support athletic performance or neuroprotecion, the aim for many cordyceps consumers. If these supplements had no effect for you, the reason could be this: misidentified raw materials. It has become clear that we should not have faith in any product labeled “cordyceps sinensis” for your athletic enhancing goals.

Cordyeps Militaris: The genuine mushroom supplement for athletic enhancement

Cordyceps Militaris has recently left its mark, and without the confusion of mistaken identity. By combining cordyceps militaris with other adaptogens, aerobic performance and delayed fatigue by improved oxygen kinetics are evident. A combined mushroom blend has recently entered the market known as PeakO2™ by Compound Solutions. We believe this adaptogen blend is the “Next Big Thing” that sports nutrition consumers have really been searching for all this time

As shown in the study above, there was a significant increase in time to exhaustion. Subjects in this research study were asked to pedal at full speed for as longs as they could (until they had fallen below a set resistance point). At that point, they took away the resistance, letting the subjects get their speed back up, until a set time when they would reintroduce the resistance.

When the study says “significant”, it’s not mincing words being that subjects added over a minute to their time before resistance was taken away. This has some serious implications. We don’t know of any other non-hormonal supplements that have demonstrated such profound and verifiable results in just seven days. Furthermore, this isn’t just some run of the mill study done at a no-name university. This is UNC conducting a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study.

Cordyceps Militaris: More effective than Cordyceps Sinensis

Multiple research studies have recounted that CM products yield higher levels of active ingredients as compared to CS products. One recent comparative study of the protective effects against oxidative damage reported that CM extracts were shown to contain greater antioxidant efficiency, greater amounts of bioactive ingredients cordycepin and adenosine, greater polyphenolic contents, and greater flavonoid contents than CS extracts. [33]

Testing also revealed higher concentrations of exopolysaccharides and cordcepin in CM as compared to CS. [11] Cordyceps Militaris was shown to have over twice the max cordycpein potency.

Which Cordyceps product is best?

Now that it is clear that Cordyceps Militaris is superior in many ways and does not have the misidentification problem associated with Cordyceps sinesis, we’re going with PeakO2™ and for a pre-workout containing PeakO2™ we suggest Vital Ultimate Pre-Wokout as they are both trusted blends that led by Cordyceps militaris. Each of the other adaptogens play a critical role in increased performance and recovery as well.

Vital Pre-Workout is a results driven and health conscious pre-workout supplement. Containing zero sugar, artificial colors, or excipients, Vital Ultimate is an excellent choice for the, cross-fitter, bodybuilder, athlete, or weekend warrior.

Do Cordyceps or PeakO2™ have any side effects?

Upon investigation into whether cordyceps show any sign of side effects, more benefits are to be found. Frequently cordyceps are used as a conjunctive therapy with various medical treatments to assist in averting side effects of those treatments.

The various benefits are will be discussed in further articles, however it is safe to say we haven’t found any negative side effects.

Do Cordyceps Help with Gains?

Research has demonstrated that you will have increased power, therefor lifting more, and have more endurance which can lead to more reps. Cordyceps also increase VO2 uptake allowing for quicker recovery.

This translates into the ability to sustain harder workouts for a longer duration. Does this equate to gains? If you are not taking advantage of these enhancements by increasing the amount weight/volume, but instead experiencing an easier workout, then you will not see much in the way of muscular gains.

Cordyceps do not provide “free gains” like someone new to bodybuilding might obtain from using creatine for the first time. Instead, there are performance gains, which only lead to muscular gains when you feed yourself and recover appropriately.

In Conclusion, Who Should Consider Cordyceps?

Cordyceps have a powerful ability to improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen. Everybody can benefit from that sports nutrition supplements, but remember they only complement and can not offer a quick fix.

Our belief is that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now and we will begin to see further applications in medical fields and supplement products.

Is cordyceps militaris a necessary, low cost ingredient such as protein, or creatine? No, but if you are an endurance athlete or intending to stretch out your volumes to higher levels of training, then cordyceps and a product like Vital Ultimate Pre-Workout would be a smart choice.

 

References

 

  1. Jong-Ho KOH, et al; “Antifatigue and Antistress Effect of the Hot-Water Fraction from Mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis”; Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin; 26(5) 691 – 694; 2003; https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/26/5/26_5_691/_pdf
  2. Hirsch, K. R., Mock, M. G., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., & Smith-Ryan, A. E.; “Chronic supplementation of a mushroom blend on oxygen kinetics, peak power, and time to exhaustion”; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(Suppl 1), P45; 2015; Full source available at https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/hirsch-cordyceps_militaris_improves_tolerance_to_high_intensity_exercise_after_acute_and_chronic_supplementation.pdf; abstract at http://www.jissn.com/content/12/S1/P45
  3. Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S; “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.”; CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/
  4. Zhao, C; “CordyMax Cs-4 improves glucose metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity in normal rats”; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 2002 Jun; 8(3):309-14; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12165188
  5. Choi, S; “Improvement of insulin resistance and insulin secretion by water extracts of Cordyceps militaris, Phellinus linteus, and Paecilomyces tenuipes in 90% pancreatectomized rats”; Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry; 2004 Nov; 68(11):2257-64; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15564662
  6. Huang, BM; “Effects of Cordyceps sinensis on testosterone production in normal mouse Leydig cells”; Life Sciences; 2001 Oct 19; 69(22):2593-602;  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11712663
  7. Hsu, CC; “In vivo and in vitro stimulatory effects of Cordyceps sinensis on testosterone production in mouse Leydig cells”; Life Sciences; 2003 Sep 5; 73(16):2127-36; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12899935
  8. Xiao, JH; “Secondary metabolites from Cordyceps species and their antitumor activity studies”; Recent Patents on Biotechnology; 2007; 1(2):123-37; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19075836
  9. Xhou, X; “Cordyceps fungi: natural products, pharmacological functions and developmental products”; The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology; 2009 Mar; 61(3):279-91; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19222900
  10. Winkler, D; “Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis) and the Fungal Commodification of Tibet’s Rural Economy”; Economic Botany; November 2008, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 291-305; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12231-008-9038-3
  11. Kim, HO; “A comparative study on the production of exopolysaccharides between two entomopathogenic fungi Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis in submerged mycelial cultures”; Journal of Applied Microbiology; 2005; July 25; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2005.02682.x/full
  12. Dai Ruqin; “Research on Paecilomyces Hepiali”; Chinese Academy of Sciences; 1989; http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-NYDX198902020.htm
  13. Dong, Caihong; “Cordyceps industry in China”; Mycology; 2015; 6:2, 121-129;  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/21501203.2015.1043967
  14. Zhu, J; “The scientific rediscovery of an ancient Chinese herbal medicine: Cordyceps sinensis: part I”; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 1998 Fall; 4(3):289-303; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9764768
  15. Huang, Y; “In vivo stimulatory effect of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium and its fractions on reproductive functions in male mouse”; Life Sciences; 2004 Jul 16; 75(9):1051-62; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15207653
  16. Wang, J; “Protective effect of Cordyceps militaris extract against bisphenol A induced reproductive damage”; Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine; 2016 Aug; 62(4):249-57; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27315037
  17. Song, Jingjing, et al; “Studies on the Antifatigue Activities of Cordyceps Militaris Fruit Body Extract in Mouse Model”; Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine ; 2015; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553310/
  18. Li, X; “Protective effects on mitochondria and anti-aging activity of polysaccharides from cultivated fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris”; The American Journal of Chinese Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21061463
  19. Yi, X., Xi-zhen, H., & Jia-shi, Z; “Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers”;  Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine; September 2004; 10(3), 187-192; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02836405
  20. Hsu, C; “Regulatory mechanism of Cordyceps sinensis mycelium on mouse Leydig cell steroidogenesis”; FEBS Letters; 2003 May 22; 543(1-3):140-3; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12753921
  21. Ohta, Y; “In vivo anti-influenza virus activity of an immunomodulatory acidic polysaccharide isolated from Cordyceps militaris grown on germinated soybeans”; Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry; 2007 Dec 12; 55(25):10194-9;  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17988090
  22. Ng, TB; “Pharmacological actions of Cordyceps, a prized folk medicine”; The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology; 2005 Dec; 57(12):1509-19; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16354395
  23. Sugar, Alan M., and Ronald P. McCaffrey; “Antifungal Activity of 3′-Deoxyadenosine (Cordycepin)”; Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy; 42.6; 1998; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC105616/
  24. Zhou, X; “Effect of cordycepin on interleukin-10 production of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells”; European Journal of Pharmacology; 2002 Oct 25; 453(2-3):309-17; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12398919
  25. Li, SP; “A polysaccharide isolated from Cordyceps sinensis, a traditional Chinese medicine, protects PC12 cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced injury”; Life Sciences; 2003 Sep 26; 73(19):2503-13; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12954458
  26. Yun, Yunha; “Anti-diabetic effects of CCCA, CMESS, and cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris and the immune responses in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice”; Natural Product Sciences (2003), 9(4), 291-298; http://chemport.cas.org/cgi-bin/sdcgi?APP=ftslink&action=reflink&origin=wiley&version=1%2E0&coi=1%3aCAS%3a528%3aDC%252BD2cXlvVOnsw%253D%253D&md5=3adc421d497eafad0074cc5a3a487a31
  27. Parcell, AC; “Cordyceps Sinensis (CordyMax Cs-4) supplementation does not improve endurance exercise performance”; International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism; 2004 Apr; 14(2):236-42; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15118196(full text at http://fitnessforlife.org/AcuCustom/Sitename/Documents/DocumentItem/2950.pdf and backed up at https://www.docdroid.net/file/download/EdDfGg9/2950.pdf)
  28. Chen, Steve et al; “Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps Sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 16.5 (2010): 585–590; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/
  29. Yu, Yi et al; “Draft Genome Sequence of Paecilomyces Hepiali, Isolated from Cordyceps Sinensis”; Genome Announcements; 2016; 4.4: e00606–16; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939783/
  30. Xinli, Wei, et al; “Analyses of molecular systematics on Cordyceps sinensis and its related taxa”; Mycosystema; 2006; 25(2):192-202; http://europepmc.org/abstract/cba/618538
  31. Yang, JL; “Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Paecilomyces hepiali and Cordyceps sinensis”; Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica; April 2008; 43(4):421-6;  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18664207
  32. Park, Seong-Yeol et al; “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cordyceps Mycelium (Paecilomyces Hepiali, CBG-CS-2) in Raw264.7 Murine Macrophages”; Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine; 15.1 (2015): 7–12; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4371127/
  33. Yu, HM; “Comparison of protective effects between cultured Cordyceps militaris and natural Cordyceps sinensis against oxidative damage”; Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry; 2006 Apr 19; 54(8):3132-8; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16608242

 

 

 

November 05, 2016

9 Incredible Health Benefits of Folate

Folate, or vitamin B9, is one of many essential vitamins. You may also be familiar with folic acid as a form of folate; folic acid is the synthetic version used for food fortification and supplements. Folate is important because it plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. It encourages cell and tissue growth. In fact, these benefits barely scratch the surface and its effects are far reaching. That bring us to nine incredible health benefits of folate.


1.Great for the Heart
Folate helps metabolize homocysteine into methionine, an essential amino acid. Without adequate folate, homocysteine levels increase. You don’t want this; homocysteine has been linked to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular problems. The evidence is clear, to encourage cardiovascular health by facilitating the breaking down of homocysteine, folate is incredible.


2.Supports Normal Fetal Development
Folate plays an integral role in fetal development and the benefits for pregnant women and their offspring cannot be understated. Folate deficiency during early pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects. This is a serious problem that can lead to pregnancy termination or a baby born with spina bifida. The good news? Studies have found increased folate levels from one month prior to conception to 3 months afterward can reduce the chance of these defects by 50%.


3.Helps Perinatal Mood Management
Often, perinatal depression cannot be addressed with pharmaceuticals due to concern for the child. This has led researchers to seek out more safe, natural alternatives. Folate, along with other B vitamins, is known to encourage the creation and absorption of neurotransmitters. Some experimental studies have indicated that micronutrients, including folic acid, can improve symptoms and outcomes.


4.May Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Not only is homocysteine bad for the heart, it can lead to stroke. An overabundance of homocysteine, or hyperhomocysteinemia, results from a breakdown in the methionine-homocysteine metabolism. This results in increased chances of blood vessel damage and blood clotting. Although stroke can have many causes and no one measure is a complete safeguard, folate, or the supplemental form folic acid, have been recommended for use to reduce the risk.


5.Promotes Sperm Viability
Studies exploring the role of folate in spermatogenesis have linked it to sperm health and function. Men with a lower folate intake have been shown to have sperm with incorrect chromosomal structure. A 2012 study reported that previously infertile patients who took a nutritional supplement, which included folic acid, experienced significant improvement in sperm motility and successfully achieved pregnancy with their partners.

6.Provides Neurological Support
Research suggests there may be a link between folate levels and neural health. A Korean study of elderly patients found that those suffering from dementia had the highest levels of homocysteine, and the lowest folate levels. Patients in the control group who did not suffer from dementia had higher folate levels.

7.Encourages Normal Cholesterol Levels
A Polish study found folic acid supplementation encourages normal cholesterol levels. In the study of 124 individuals, researchers observed significant reductions in LDL cholesterol levels in subjects who’d supplemented with .4 mg of folic acid daily for 12 weeks. The result is believed to have been derived from reduced homocysteine levels.

8.Great for Colon Health
Could folate be good for your colon? A 2013 case-control study linked folate intake to gene activation that alters the chances of developing colorectal cancer. It’s also a testament to the importance of diet at the cellular level.

9.Reduces the Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
A Harvard Medical School trial of women with a risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) explored the impact of B-vitamin therapy (including folic acid, vitamin B6, and B12). The control group had a higher incidence of AMD than the group taking the B vitamin therapy. Researchers concluded that daily supplementation might help the fight in reducing the risk of AMD.

Folate: The Facts are Clear
Within the body, folate is an activator. It has a positive action on cardiovascular, neural and psycho-emotional health. The research suggests that maintaining a consistent dietary intake of folate is essential to managing homocysteine metabolism and protecting long-term health. I agree. Is folate part of your nutrient intake? What’s your favorite source of folate? Please leave a comment below and share it with us!

November 04, 2016

How to Choose a Pre-Workout

So we often consider these qualities:

  1. Anabolism / Catabolism
  2. "Pump" or Vasodilation
  3. Stimulant or Energy
  4. Increased Strength

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy today to just “check the boxes” and succeed in this highly competitive market. It’s so difficult, in fact, that the pre-workout market has segmented into three distinct categories. We’re in an ambitious industry with ambitious customers. Customers want to be the best versions of themselves. In this pursuit of “one more rep” or a faster sprint time, we eat whole foods, supplement with heavy amounts of protein, and train hard and often. But in our rush to win, we often overlook the simplest questions. For example, why do muscles fail in the first place? And, what is the psychology of physical performance?
Why do muscles fail? It's best explained by these four verticals:
  1. Depletion of ATP and/or glycogen
  2. Accumulation of hydrogen ions from lactate
  3. Muscle failure contraction due to ATP-dependent calcium release/uptake
  4. Oxidative stress (excess free radicals) causing muscle damage

Past 10 Years of Pre-Workouts

Before we hit these four verticals, it’s valuable to take a step back and review the last decade of the pre-workout category. Essentially, why are we just now circling back to the basics of why muscles fail? We started the last decade in sports nutrition with N.O.-Xplode, which contained a heavy dose of actives and revolutionized the category. It actually started the category. Then, about eight years ago, Jack3d hit the scene with a “concentrated” pre-workout. The total dose of Jack3d was around 4g and it took the pre-workout category to new heights. It used DMAA (dimethylamylamine) (aka 1,3-DMAA) in addition to caffeine. DMAA provided a euphoric feeling and complemented caffeine extremely well. Unfortunately, DMAA was not regulatory-compliant and was largely removed from the market.

Five years ago, Muscle Tech started a line that fully disclosed its ingredient quantities. Then, three years ago, Jim Stoppani took it a step further and focused on really large, clinical doses of several key actives, all fully-disclosed. The formula was simple but effective, and it led to an industry focus on label transparency and ingredients with claims at validated doses.

Nearly two years ago, some people started taking out the “pump” portion of pre-workouts and putting them in a non-stimulant, “pump pre-workout" category. That history preceded what we have today, a category that has been divided into three unique categories. It’s these three differentiated subcategories that have led us back to the basics of why muscles fail.

Those 3 Categories are:

  1. Stimulant Pre-Workout
  2. Pump Pre-Workout
  3. Fully-Dosed Pre-Workout

The Science Behind Muscle Failure:

One reason muscles fail is ATP depletion. When people talk of ATP depletion, they are usually talking about creatine. With glycogen depletion, it’s typically a conversation about the use of carbs. Beta-Alanine dominates discussions about excess hydrogen ions from lactate, and no one typically discusses muscle contraction failure. Any talk of free radical damage to muscles is most often a back-burner issue for R&D. The consumer can be overwhelmed by these details about why muscles fail, so brands often take an easier, non-educational path. The consumer just wants immediate results. They want a sensory effect, something they can feel.

November 02, 2016

10 Tips to Improve Your Eye Health

10 Tips to Improve Your Eye Health

Current statistics show that over 20 million people in the U.S. have or are experiencing loss of vision.  Although some age-related, eye diseases might be inevitable, there are some easy, precautionary measures we can all do to ensure the heath of our eyes.

 Below are ten of the most highly suggested ways to prevent eye disease:

1. Use UV protecting sunglasses.

 Simply wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you can prevent cataracts because evidence shows direct sunlight accelerates the advancement of such conditions at any stage. Shielding your eyes from direct UV light safeguards your eyes from retinal damage as well as cancerous growths in and around the eye. Be sure your glasses offer 100% protection from UV, UV-A, and UV-B rays.

2. If you smoke, quit.

 Smoking cigarettes have a detrimental effect on many systems of the body and can be directly attributed to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research has demonstrated that there is a much greater likelihood of developing AMD if you are a smoker. Furthermore, those who smoke cigarettes, significantly increase their chances of developing cataracts.

 3. Eat nutrient rich foods.

 A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is not only one of the best ways to care for your eyes, it is also fundamental in ensuring the health of your body as a whole. If you aren’t getting enough vitamins, you could be putting the functionality of your retina at risk. As a rule of thumb, incorporate a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables into your diet. Studies show that those who eat a diet high in vitamin C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are far less likely to show any signs of AMD.

4. Get your eyes examined.

 Initial symptoms of eye disease typically begin at around age 40. It is recommended that you get a baseline eye disease screening at this time to prevent the onset of disease. Your ophthalmologist will ensure the requisite follow-up visits and help you determine the appropriate course of action. If you are showing any symptoms, have a family history of eye disease, or have high blood pressure, it would be prudent to make an appointment with your doctor for a professional consultation.

 5. Eye Safety

 Often regarded as “common sense”, the use of eye protection for certain sports, home repair, house cleaning is often neglected. It is estimated that 2.5 million people suffer eye injuries every year. Wearing appropriate eye protection can reduce the chances of damaging your eyes significantly. When doing repair work or activities around the home that might involve projectiles near your eyes, standard ANSI-approved eyewear is recommended. When considering protection from sports related injuries, check with the specific sports’ governing agency along with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

 6. Consider your family history.

 Knowing what runs in your family could save you a lot of work and frustration. You could have a high risk for a specific eye disease that if checked early, may be preventable. Many age-related eye diseases can be traced to familial origins. Diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts are expected to be more common by the year 2020. You have the power to minimize the risk now.

 7. Don’t wait.

 Early intervention might be all it takes to prevent eye disease. Glaucoma and AMD for example, are treated with a higher success rate when symptoms are diagnosed and cared for early on. Severe loss of vision and even blindness can result if these diseases are not attended to. Some attentiveness to your eye health now can help you avert serious consequences down the line.

 8. Find the right doctor.

 There are a variety of eye care specialists trained to diagnose and treat eye conditions. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians each have unique skills and expertise, so finding one fits your needs is important. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and ask any relevant questions.

9. Be careful with your contact lens

 Your eye doctor will provide instructions on how to care for contact lenses should you require them. Be sure not to neglect your lenses by sleeping with them on or using solutions other than what your M.D. prescribes. Ensure your solution and lenses are not expired as this could result in ulcers, irritation, and possible loss of vision.

10. Follow the 20-20-20 rule.

 If you regularly work in front of a computer monitor, your eyes could get strained and fatigued leading to more serious conditions. Focus your sight away from your monitor every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you don’t notice any improvement, it might be an indication of another disorder. Alternative conditions may be dry eyes, presbyopia, or eyeglasses with distorted lenses. Tell your doctor about your symptoms to determine the best possible treatment. Great sources to ask questions about eye health and to find an ophthalmologist are: Ask an Eye M.D. and Find an Eye M.D.

October 23, 2016

7 Benefits of Strength Training

Lifting. Resistance or Strength Training, Pumping iron, however you choose to name it, the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction plays a critical role in improving the overall health and well-being of people of all ages and fitness levels. While strength training can seem somewhat unapproachable at first, the health benefits far surpass any concerns you might have about picking up weights for the first time.

If you are on the fence and require more persuasion, then read on. Below are 10 important explanations as to why you should integrate resistance training into your next life!

 

1.) Posture and Balance. Weight-bearing exercise builds muscle and contributes to better balance and coordination, resulting in improved posture. Having a strong core along with a wider range of motion (which proper lifting develops) can reduce your risk of falling by as much as 40 percent. This is a crucial benefit, especially as you get older. Everyday activities all become easier and safer when you practice strength training!

2.) You'll burn fat faster. Strength training keeps the body burning calories for hours after the workout is through. You’re probably familiar with the fact that lifting weights burns calories, but did you know that simply lifting weights thereby adding lean muscle mass, you're boosting your metabolism and turning your body into a more efficient calorie-burning machine. More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat, so pumping iron can really stimulate some serious weight loss quickly.

3.) Feel better and mentally balanced. Strength training will escalate your level of endorphins, which delivers that “runners high” or “feel good” feeling. Research has shown that people that include strength training into their routines have lower stress hormones than sedentary people. On top of that, weight-bearing exercise has demonstrated to be a natural and highly effective antidepressant.

4.) It’s great for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends strength training as the best way to keep your heart healthy. Evidence shows that strength training can help avert heart disease and can even assist in reducing risks with people who already have heart disease. Additionally, several studies have found that strength training at a moderate intensity can lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels, boosting heart health. Furthermore, research conducted in the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University has shown that resistance training can lower blood pressure by as much as 20% as it increases circulation to the muscles, heart, and body.

5.) Lifting generates stronger bones. Bones, which are actually comprised of living tissue, get stronger with as a result of weight bearing exercises. With regular strength training, you can advance the health and strength of your bones by increasing or maintaining (depending on your age) your bone density. Osteoporosis and related bone disease can be prevented through consistent strength training.

6.) Reduce your risk of diabetes and manage diabetic symptoms if already diabetic. Lifting weights helps regulate the way your body processes sugar as well as insulin production and blood glucose control. Furthermore, resistance training improves heart health by normalizing cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which serve to manage the symptoms diabetics face. Researchers have also found that the quality of life can be improved when people with diabetes lift weights regularly.

7.) You'll lose reduce body fat quicker. By burning calories at a faster rate than other forms of exercise, lifting weights will also help you to shed extra pounds. Penn State University recently conducted a survey, which found that people who lift weights lose, on average, six more pounds of fat than those who don't strength train. When you reduce calories and begin lifting weights, your body has to reallocate energy to fuel your workouts. When you combine weight training with a reduced-calorie diet, energy is used to build and maintain lean muscle mass while as you shed pounds. Your body will continue to obtain more energy from your fat stores, so you lose more fat while maintaining muscle mass.

So why not incorporate resistance training into your life? Consider getting a personal trainer to keep you keep track of your progress to keep motivated.