Dietary Nitrate Promotes Vascular Health in New Study

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A new soup-based study out of Korea has shed more light on the vascular benefits of dietary nitrate, a naturally occurring substance found in leafy green vegetables, root vegetables and Red Rush beet juice.  There have been quite a few papers on this subject over the last twenty years, and many now believe that dietary nitrate is the reason why the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension Diet stops hypertension.

This latest study published in Clinical Nutrition Research differentiated itself by measuring the effect of dietary nitrate on the augmentation index.

Which is basically:

The augmentation index is a ratio calculated from the blood pressure waveform, it is a measure of wave reflection and arterial stiffness. Augmentation index is commonly accepted as a measure of the enhancement (augmentation) of central aortic pressure by a reflected pulse wave. —Uscom

Central blood pressure and arterial stiffness are more closely linked to cardiovascular disease and damage than the peripheral blood pressure tests commonly used in studies.

The latest study followed twenty-seven healthy participants. Some were fed high-nitrate (845 mg) spinach soup and others received low-nitrate (0.06) asparagus soup for seven days and the rest of their diets were closely monitored. Both groups were told their soups were beneficial.

But those who slurped spinach soup for a week saw a 6.93% decrease in their after-meal arterial stiffness and a drop in systolic blood pressure by 5.9 mmHg. There was also a consistent reduction in the baseline blood pressure and augmentation index.

For those of you too busy to make soup daily, there’s Red Rush beet juice, providing 500 mg of dietary nitrate from a wholefood source. It tastes great, is always available and unlike most soups, you can put it right in your pocket.

Red Rush Athlete Diane Urban: The Chief

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Red Rush athlete Diane Urban has always been a world-class competitor. In college, she was a three-time Division II NCAA Champion in the discus throw, even making the ’84 Olympic trials. In 2013, she had dabbled in CrossFit and decided to enter the NorCal Master’s, the largest Master’s tournament in the country (outside the CrossFit Open). She placed fifth and fell in love with the sport. This year, she competed in the CrossFit Games Master’s (50-54) Division.  If all that wasn’t incredible enough, she’s also the chief of police for Hayward, California.  She took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us, and we are grateful. 

Red Rush: How often do you train and what’s your regimen like?

Diane Urban: I train five days a week with two rest days; currently I rest on Tuesdays and Fridays.  I chose these days as I usually have council meetings that go until 10 pm on Tuesday nights, and Friday night is “date night” with my “other half.” He is incredibly supportive, but I work to ensure we have quality time together.  Training on Saturdays and Sundays is a huge sacrifice as I have to give up a great deal of invites and social events, but the weekends are the longest periods of time I can train without work-related interruptions: cell phone calls, emergencies, on-going situations related to police work.

RR: What’s your daily nutrition like?  

DU: I use the Eat To Perform (ETP) regime. I initially went strict Paleo but wasn’t incorporating enough good carbs to sustain me through demanding CrossFit workouts.

Red Rush: Which CrossFit Open workout was the most challenging? Which the least?

15.5 the rowing and thruster workout.  (27-21-15-9 thrusters and calorie row) It hurt the most and was the most difficult mentally to get through. 

15.1 was not really the “least” challenging but definitely the one I didn’t worry about.

15. 1

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:
15 toes-to-bars
10 deadlifts (55 lb.)
5 snatches (55 lb.)

WORKOUT 15.1a
1-rep-max clean and jerk
6-minute time cap

DU: Everything they had in the two-part workout was well within my wheelhouse, and since it was the first workout, I was super excited and ready to go!  I also had my friend and three-time CrossFit Games competitor in my age group doing the workout with me. I knew we would be pushing one another to a great finish on that one!

RR: What areas/movements of CrossFit do you excel at?

DU: Anything heavy!  Thrusters, clean & jerks, squatting, deadlifts, jerking, snatches, but  I am pretty good at most of the movements.  I like muscle-ups, toes-to-bar, rowing.  I often struggle with double unders, and I am still learning to master handstand walking. It isn’t easy to learn “gymnast-y” moves in your 50’s!  To qualify for the Games, you have to be able to do everything pretty well; the sport exposes your weaknesses very quickly.

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RR: When during this year’s Open did you know that you were probably going to make it to the CrossFit Games?

I didn’t know during the Open.  The top 200 scores in the world for Master’s athletes are given four additional workouts that must be both video’d and performed at a CrossFit affiliate. The Open only counts for one part of our score.

In other words, I finished 9th in the Open, so I went into the Master’s Qualifier with 9 points while the woman who finished 1st in the Open went into the Master’s Qualifier with 1 point.  The Master’s Qualifier occurs about three to four weeks following the end of the Open, so we are working hard to prepare for our “master’s regional” called the “Masters Qualifier.”  The four additional workouts are announced on a Thursday night and all four scores are due in by 5 pm on Monday night.  Just like the Open, you have four days to complete.  You are really competing in the dark; since unless you are training with another Games athlete, you have no idea how people are doing because no one posts their scores until Monday at 4 pm for the most part.

This is  a real stressful and nail-biting time for the athletes.  So it was about 10 pm on Monday night after the Master’s Qualifier workouts were due that I was fairly certain I had made it, although it often takes CrossFit Headquarters another 24 hours to validate scores so people keep popping up all around you on the Leaderboard.  After that, CrossFit Headquarters requests a video of one of the four workouts (you don’t know which one in advance) of the Top 20 athletes…once they send you an email that says “congratulations your video has been accepted,” you hold your breath!  Shortly thereafter comes the most exciting email ever that says you are qualified for the Reebok CrossFit Games!  It is an awesome feeling!

RR: What were your goals/strategies—had you not had to withdraw—for the Games competition?

DU: My goal was simple–to truly enjoy myself and all the hard work and sacrifice I have put into this sport the past two years.  I wanted to finish in the Top 10 and soak up the experience, being in the huge stadium and hearing the crowd was going to be crazy exciting and nerve-wracking.  My strategy was to apply all the skills and strength my coach and I have put into my training and prove to myself that I am one of the top female athletes in the world in my age group in this sport!

RR: Are you going to compete again next year?

DU: I have been doing a great deal of soul-searching on this.  My job is so demanding and I have so little time to myself.  It has been a real collaboration with my soul-mate to determine if he and I can work to support another go at this….the answer is “yes,” but it has not been without great thoughtfulness and some reservation.

I am still very deeply impacted mentally by the death of my police sergeant.  I desperately want to get back to the Games and devote my best performance to the life he gave in the performance of his duties.  I have been working with CrossFit Headquarters and their law enforcement liaison and my dear friend Greg Amundson to create a Hero WOD in honor of Sergeant Scott Lunger who was murdered on a routine traffic stop the second day of the Games this year.

RR: How does the CrossFit training help you in your job as police chief?

In a hundred ways!  My job is incredibly stressful and CrossFit provides a healthy outlet for keeping my stress reduced.  Law enforcement is a job that requires a lifetime of fitness, but the daily duties of sitting in a car or at a desk do not lend themselves to a fit lifestyle.

Working long hours and not eating healthy can literally be the death of you.  CrossFit provides a road map to a healthy lifestyle: 360 degrees, at work, at home, and forever.  I believe in supporting my personnel in their quest for fitness mentally, spiritually, and physically.  With the help of several of my personnel and our Human Resources Director and Greg Amundson from CrossFit HQ, I was able to open up our own Hayward Police Department CrossFit gym, “Badges and Barbells” late last fall.

This new gym is providing an amazing opportunity for my personnel, both sworn and professional staff (non-sworn) to be exposed to CrossFit and all the awesomeness that is this sport!   I think it is essential to lead from the front and by being healthy and fit, I hope in some small way to inspire my police department to do the same!

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RR: How does Red Rush help your performance? 

DU: It’s pretty simple, Red Rush gives me that extra breath of air when I need it most, especially on those long cardio killer CrossFit workouts and runs.  I feel just as fatigued but my breathing seems a little easier, and I can go a little longer without the struggle.  I really appreciate and love the product. I think it is so important to maintain ethics when you are supported/sponsored by a product…you need to ensure you and the product are a good fit for one another, and Red Rush is a fabulous fit for me!  I am excited to represent Red Rush in my 2016 quest for the CrossFit Games!

You can read more about Diane Urban in an upcoming issue of Living Well magazine.

How Long Before Inactivity Takes Its Toll on Your Muscles?

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Did you ever get really into fitness and then stopped because you had a baby or moved to a new city or perhaps switched jobs? How long did it take to notice a change in your fitness?  A new study points out that the alarming alacrity at which your muscles atrophy.

According to the latest scientific research, lying around on the couch for too long or taking a Rip Van Winkle-style nap will make you physically weaker. The Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen found that it only takes two weeks of immobility for people to lose about one third of their muscular strength, putting them on the same level as someone forty or fifty years older.

The study was done to monitor muscle loss in people who were injured or sick. They found that during periods of inactivity young people lose more muscle mass than older people and that fit people lost more muscle mass than unfit people. It’s basically and unfairly because they have more muscle mass to lose.

From the Press Release:

“The more muscle mass you have, the more you’ll lose. Which means that if you’re fit and become injured, you’ll most likely lose more muscle mass than someone who is unfit, over the same period of time. But even though older people lose less muscle mass and their level of fitness is reduced slightly less than in young people, the loss of muscle mass is presumably more critical for older people, because it is likely to have a greater impact on their general health and quality of life,” says Martin Gram, researcher at the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, explains.

The other bad news is that it takes three times the length of the period that you were inactive to regain your former muscle mass. Simple cardio like cycling or walking isn’t enough either. You’ll have to include weight training.

Although complete immobility is–we hope–a long shot for most, it just goes to show how important a daily fitness routine is to maintaining your hard-earned muscle mass.

Red Rush and ProPeas

Protein Before Bed

ProPeas is 12 grams of vegan protein in every serving to help you maintain your precious muscle mass. Like Red Rush, it’s sport-approved and made from all-natural plant-based ingredients without stimulants.

And Red Rush beet juice provides the body with 500 mg of vegetable nitrate for the production of nitric oxide, a signaling agent that allows more blood to travel to the skeletal muscles. This makes exercise and recovery easier.

Regular Walking, Cycling Can Lower Heart Failure Risk by 21%

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Although we like to talk about the madcap feats of athleticism that one needs to tackle a CrossFit competition or a Spartan Race, what we need to keep in mind is that mind-blowing displays of strength and fitness are awesome to observe, but exercise in its pragmatic, workaday forms are the most useful to the most people, especially older people.

Earlier this year, exercise was dubbed “the miracle cure” by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in England. Researchers reviewed over 200 studies on exercise and found staggering evidence of its multiple health benefits. We can now add another study—one published in the August edition of the Journal of American College of Cardiology—to that ever-growing list.

The study followed more than 33,000 older men (average age of 60) from 1988 to 2012. Researchers learned that men who exercised moderately for twenty or thirty minutes a day–walking or cycling–reduced their risk of heart failure by 21% when compared to those who were the most inactive. Surprisingly, men who were the most active increased their risk of heart failure by almost a third when compared to the moderately active group. The researchers believe this is due to the stress that high levels of activity may put on the body or abnormalities in heart functioning caused by extreme activity.

From Health Day:

“The majority of cases of heart failure are preventable,” Fonarow added. Along with exercise, other healthy strategies include keeping blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels, keeping a healthy body weight and not smoking, he said.

Red Rush Helps You Exercise

Red Rush makes all forms of exercise easier by providing the body with vegetable nitrate from beets. Vegetable nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, a signaling agent that widens blood vessels, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. This means more blood gets to the skeletal muscles and that makes movement easier. According to several studies, dietary nitrate lowers the oxygen cost of exercise by about twelve percent and improves endurance by up to sixteen percent. Beet Juice also aids in recovery. So drink a Red Rush before you go on your daily walk or ride, and you’ll feel great before, during and after!
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Protein for Breakfast: A Slimming Strategy

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They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s why I eat it for dinner and lunch, too. Then “they” say that you can’t possibly do that, but I say that it’s important to have dreams, big dreams.  So “they” said ‘phooey on that.’ I may never see eye to eye with “them,” but there is one thing that we can all agree on: Breakfast is important.

A study out of the University of Missouri published in the Journal of Obesity adds more evidence to that consensus. They found that teenagers who ate high-protein breakfasts, on average, cut 400 calories from their diets and lost body fat mass. Protein’s ability to satiate hunger has been well documented.

Nearly sixty percent of young people skip breakfast, possibly because they are young and rebellious and think they know everything which drives their parents crazy. But smart eating habits are developed early in life, and since twenty-one percent of US teens are obese, it’s a situation that may have, at least, a partial solution–eat more protein for breakfast and more breakfasts in general.

The twelve-week study looked at three groups of teenagers. One group ate a high-protein breakfast (35 g), the second group ate a normal-protein breakfast and the last group continued to skip breakfast. Those who consumed the high-protein breakfast cut calories and body fat. The other two groups gained body fat. The high-protein group also had stabler glucose levels than the other two groups.

ProPeas is AIM’s all-natural, vegan protein supplement that provides 12 grams of protein per serving. It tastes great in almond milk, and makes a great addition to any breakfast, no matter your age.