5 Ways to Protect Your Nitric Oxide Levels This Holiday Season

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The Red Rush Evergreen

It’s the holiday season. It’s a time for all sorts of great foods like mashed potatoes and boiled goose and suckling pigs and candied yams and sugar plums. What is a sugar plum? Do modern-day children still have visions of these dancing? I would guess not. They have visions of Pokemon and Xbox Ones. (Xboxes One?)  Perhaps, there will one day be a sugar-plum Renaissance. A celebrity, possibly from the east, will emerge and do for sugar plums what Michael Jordan did for sports shoes. But perhaps the time for sugar plums has passed. I actually don’t care. I care about nitric oxide.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you might forget to tend to your nitric oxide levels. It can happen,  A lot of people have thought about nitric oxide about as much as I’ve thought about sugar plums. For those of you who haven’t heard,  nitric oxide is a short-lived signaling agent  in humans and animals that your body produces through different systems with different materials. (L-arginine, citruline, dietary nitrate). Nitric oxide tells blood vessels to open wide, improving circulation and blood flow. It can improve stamina and temporarily lower blood pressure.

Sadly, a lot of things can negatively impact your body’s ability to produce the “miracle molecule.” Diabetes, for example, is linked to low levels of nitric oxide. And the holiday season can be especially trying on your nitric oxide levels. So here are some pointers on how to protect and bolster your NO levels during this joyous and stressful time of year.

1). Drink Beet Juice. 

Oh, yeah! Red Rush brand beet juice contains 500 mg of dietary nitrate. It’s an easy and great-tasting way to get the materials that your body needs to create some nitric oxide this holiday season. Give yourself a little extra endurance while running to your connecting flight, suitcases in hands or when you have to trudge through deep snow with an armful of heavy parcels.

2). Avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Bad Fats

High fructose corn syrup can wreak havoc on your endothelium, the lining of your veins where nitric oxide is produced. Stay away from candy canes and also sugar plums. Also, avoid saturated fats, dairy fats and trans fat.

3). Avoid Stress

Good luck with this. Stress can negatively affect the lining of your veins which can lower your overall nitric oxide levels. Avoiding stress will be next to impossible during the holidays. However, there is good news under the next bullet point.

 4). Exercise

Research has found that exercise may be able to help repair age-related damage to your endothelium. This is huge.  Even if you get stressed out, you can, in theory, repair some of the damage by exercising. Exercising also reduces stress.  It’s a win-win. So sneak in a sit-up or two while the kids are opening presents.

5). Sunlight and/or Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for venous health. And during the winter you may not get enough of it, especially with the shorter, cloudy days.  Exposure to sunlight causes the body to produce nitric oxide, too. So if the sun is shining at any point, try and soak it up.

Red Rush Athlete Jake Sitler: The Steeplechase Cyclist

Jake Sitler

Jake Sitler (right) and teammate Weston Schempf (left)

Jake Sitler was an All-Conference cross-country runner throughout high school and college–he has his Master’s degree in Business–but an injury to his sciatic nerve altered the course of his life. He took up cycling as a way to relieve stress and keep in shape while recovering. Nowadays, Jake races professionally as part of the three-man Cyclo-cross team SEAVS/Haymarket pb Van Dessel and also as a member of Astellas Pro Team.

Although he’s currently doing more road racing these days, he found some initial success as a Cyclo-cross rider. Cyclo-cross, compared to other forms of cycling, is nasty, brutish and short. All Cyclo-cross courses differ, but they are only a couple miles in length, are composed of multiple laps and can be littered with obstacles, uneven ground and steep hills.  Riders slide through snow or mud and may have to sprint uphill, their bicycles loaded on their shoulders or under their arms.

“It’s a mixture of running and cycling. During some short sections, you get off the bike and run. It’s kind of like a steeplechase. I was a steeplechaser. The skills you need to mount and dismount the bike properly during a Cyclo-cross race are very hard to master.”  -Jake Sitler

Earlier this year, Sitler and teammate Schempf, placed second and first respectively in the Hyattsville Cyclo-Cross. The two teammates and three others found themselves in a brutal battle for the lead during the last leg of the course. One of the other cyclists clipped a barrier and crashed, taking out the rest of the competition. Jake and Weston dodged the pile-up and earned the top two podium slots.

“We took Red Rush right before the race. It was the first time I had it. I used to juice whole beets, but it’s kind of hard on the stomach. The concentrated stuff is easier to handle. The boost is actually noticeable. It’s a subtle boost, not like coffee. It’s not a feeling you can put your finger on.”

Cyclo-cross is no longer Jake’s main focus. Road racing is what pays the bills, cycling-wise. (He also has a hand in running his family’s business). Although Jake enjoys racing both types equally, he admits that road cycling fits his tall-and-lean climber-style a little bit better.

“There are some team tactics in Cyclo-cross. At the front with two guys, you can control the race a little bit more, but it’s not nearly as team-oriented as road racing. You’d be surprised. If you race 50, 100, 120 miles, two guys will be assigned to feed the team. There’s literally a guy who bikes back and gets the sandwiches and the Coke and the Red Rush. It’s crazy riding in a caravan then having to pace back up to the front.

One guy is assigned to racing the break all day until he gets tired. There’s a director riding in a car. Then you have three guys protecting the guy who has the best chance of winning. There’s just a ton of teamwork. If you watch something like the Tour de France, you only see a small fraction of what’s going on.

Red Rush at CrossFit South Boise’s Christmas Throwdown

Last weekend, CrossFit South Boise held a Christmas Throwdown in support of Toys for Tots.

Red Rush Athlete Tony Lopez (Snake River CrossFit) finished second in the RX Division and Red Rush Athlete Thomas Hine (CrossFit 208)  finished fourth.

The WOD: ( From CFSB’s site):

WOD 1
7 Min AMRAP
4 Snatches (95/65)(75/55)
8 OHS (95/65)(75/55)
12 T2B

WOD 2
6 Min to complete
1 Rep Max Clean

WOD 3
8 Min AMRAP
42 Double Under’s (Scaled 82 single under’s)
24 KB Swings RX(1.5/1) Scaled(1/.75)
12 Up and Over’s Rx(24/20) Scaled (24/20)

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Congrats, guys!

3 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Nitric Oxide and Digestion

Nitric Oxide Digestion

Thanksgiving is over, but we still have at least one or two big meals coming up this holiday season, and the question on everyone’s mind is “Should I drink a lot of beet juice?” If that question isn’t on your mind, it should be. (I have subtle, ninja-like marketing skills.)  Anyway, the answer is a resounding “yes, you should drink a lot of beet juice.”

Beet juice contains dietary nitrate that the body converts into nitric oxide, a signaling agent that widens blood vessels and improves blood flow. There hasn’t been much research done on nitric oxide’s role in digestion, but I did manage to find three pretty amazing facts.

1. Beet juice-derived nitric oxide has been shown to improve endothelial function in overweight males after a meal. 

A common problem associated with obesity is impaired blood flow after a high-fat, high-carb meal.  A study published in Atherosclerosis found that 500 mg of beet juice-derived dietary nitrate was able to reduce the impairment of flow-mediated dilation to the brachial artery, and the effects were reported for two hours after the meal had concluded.

After eating, the body moves blood away from the skeletal muscles to the stomach in order to aid in digestion.  This is why you shouldn’t swim or exercise for about two hours after scarfing down all those delicious, delicious hot wings.

2. Nitric Oxide Plays A Huge Role in Gut Motility.

NO is one of the most important inhibitory neurotransmitters in the gut and its main role is helping the sphincter relax.

From Targeting Nitric Oxide in the Gastrointestinal Tract 

Impaired NO release is observed in diseases with non-relaxing sphincters or bowel segments like achalasia, infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, and Hirschprung’s disease…This indicates that inhibition of NO might be of benefit for patients with GERD  (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

This is not medical advice. This blog post is merely illustrative of the role NO plays in the body.

3. Nitric Oxide Protects The Goo That Protects Your Stomach

From Nitric Oxide and the Gastrointestinal Tract

Nitric oxide is important in maintaining mucosal integrity of GI tract by several mechanisms. Many researchers have shown that NO synthesized via cNOS plays a pivotal role in protecting the GI mucosa from a variety of noxious stimuli through maintenance of mucosal perfusion.

The gastrointestinal mucosa lubricates your meals and protects the stomach lining.

The 5 Worst and 5 Best CrossFit Exercises for the Uncoordinated Beginner

Red Rush Calendar

I have almost zero background in athletics. In my mid-thirties and pasty, I started CrossFit five months ago.  Although I look better outside of the gym—my body currently looks less like a frog’s and more like a featherless bird’s—I still feel pretty ridiculous trying to do some of the CrossFit movements inside of the gym.  I am uncoordinated, untrained and bad at many of the things that the white board asks me to perform day after day. The only skill I really possess is the ability to get up do it again day after day. Thanks to Red Rush, recovery isn’t an issue for me. If only beet juice could relieve the existential angst of constant failure. I must do further research.

You Decide Which Is Better

This is what progress looks like.

In my humble opinion, these are the five worst exercises for the uncoordinated CrossFit beginner.

1. Double-Unders

The last time I jumped rope was grade school. And the last time I even thought about jumping rope prior to starting CrossFit was during an Amen marathon. Now, I’m supposed to jump the rope twice without touching the ground. I can barely jump it once.

2. The Snatch 

All the coaches are like, “Olympic weightlifters spend their lives perfecting this.” And then they’re like “hey, just try it.” And then I suck at it and everyone is very encouraging afterward, but secretly, my existential crisis widens.

3. Pull-Ups/Toes To Bar

Kipping for me is a mixed bag. Sometimes, I’m kipping. Sometimes, I’m headbanging, my feet swinging wildly through the must-filled gymnasium air.

4. Wall Balls

Look. Wall Balls aren’t hard to do. They are just the worst thing to do.

5. Muscle-Ups

The last time I tried to do a muscle-up on the rings, I ended up lashed to a squat rack like Capt. Ahab at the end of Moby Dick.

Red Rush CrossFit

That’s one.

The Best

On the flip-side, there are plenty of exercises that may be tough physically but require very little coordination. I am almost always happy to see these guys on the white board.

1. Back Squats

I absolutely love back squats because they were the first thing that I was automatically good at.  You just put something heavy on your back, act like you’re going to sit down and then try and stand up. I’ve sat down, and I’ve stood up. Heavy is the only problem.

2. Burpees

A lot of people really hate burpees, but I’ve grown to tolerate them just because they are a simple exercise that doesn’t take a lot of skill to master.  And you can really feel that burn.

3. Running

Man, I used to hate running, but it’s grown on me because running is the area where I’ve seen the most gains the fastest. When I started, I could barely run 200 m, but last week, I think I did a mile or something between burpees. And it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

4. Sit Ups

Yes. An exercise where you get to spend part of it lying down. Plus, I’ve done sit ups all my life. So this one is always a gimme.

5. Box Jumps

The only problem with box jumps is that they seem very slow and arduous. I just pretend I’m Super Mario while trying not to scrape my shins.