Tag Archives: sleep

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.

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! 

How To Combat Feeling SAD

During the winter months we tend to eat more sleep more and experience more ups and downs during the shorter days. Winter can cause some people to experience weight gain and a lack of energy but it can also bring on a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Research by the Mayo Clinic reports SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD than older adults. Living far from the equator and having family history of SAD or other forms of depression may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Cravings for sweets and starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
  • Noticeable drop in energy
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating at work and at home
  • Irritability, Constant agitation and anxiety
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Hopelessness (including suicidal thoughts)

Don’t brush off these seasonal feelings as simple “winter blues” that you have to tough out or just shake off. Here are some effective remedies to keep your mood, motivation and movement up throughout the winter.

  • Exercise regularly, even in cold weather. A brisk walk outdoors can improve mood and help combat weight gain.
  • Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • A healthy diet rich in Vit D, E and B
  • Light therapy is a common treatment for winter SAD. Light box therapy mimics outdoor light and can improve mood in as little as two weeks.
  • Decreased sunlight hours can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing your diet with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement can help regulate mood.
  • Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include: Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Guided imagery and Massage therapy

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for several days or weeks at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, be sure to see your doctor.

Winter Lifestyle Practices

Winter is the season with the least amount of light, coldest temperatures and very skin drying conditions indoors with furnace heaters etc. Your skin might need more moisture and your body might crave more sleep to keep a healthy glow. Waking up in the dark to go to work and then not having time in the sun after work can create a natural tendency to feel introverted and can trigger feelings of depression or you might naturally want to eat warm, hearty comfort foods. To prevent hibernation pounds from creeping on this winter season here are some Winter Lifestyle Practices to help your health radiate!

  • Stay hydrated and add warming spices such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon to your herbal teas and recipes rather than sugary lattes or dehydrating caffeinated beverages.
  • Increase your fat intake slightly with healthy essential fatty acids found in avocado, raw nuts, fish or chia seeds to nourish supple skin and provide a grounding feeling during the dark cold months.
  • Incorporate more root vegetables such as, yams, pumpkin, squash or sweet potato rich in beta-carotene that will keep skin nourished and bright from the vitamin A conversion.
  • It’s tempting to curl up and not want to move when it’s cold outside, but the combination of dark days, cold temperatures and non-activity is the perfect combo to weaken immune function and contribute to depression. You must stay active! There are thousands of great DVD’s, online programs and apps that you can do at home to avoid the cold and still honor your workout time.
  • If you are limited to the amount of sunlight exposure I suggest taking a high quality Vitamin D3 vitamin, such as the Vegan D3 gummies by PURICA to help keep immune function string, balance moods and maintain healthy bones.
  • Honor your body’s natural tendency to want to stay in and sleep more. A nice relaxing evening in, sipping on some warm Effervescent Magnesium while enjoying a hot bath will help support muscle relaxation, improve your quality of sleep and increase your overall level of wellbeing.

“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,


*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.

3 Ways to Say Goodbye to Belly Fat

High levels of the stress hormone Cortisol have been shown to contribute to higher levels of body fat especially deep belly fat. Chronic stress, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are a few stressors that can lift cortisol levels and keep the body in fight or flight mode, which triggers the body to hold on to fat in self preservation.

The good news is that you can get rid of deep belly fat by following three simple steps.

1. Proper food combining.

Be sure to include a protein, fat, and carb in each meal with an adequate amount of fiber rich foods. When your meals are balanced, your hormones are balanced and your body will absorb the foods nutrients better increasing satiety and decrease the odds of overeating.

2. Control your portions.

When you need to learn how much is enough, invest in a digital food scale and weigh your proteins, fats and complex carbs when prepping your meals at home to learn what a healthy portion size is for you. In our super sized society what is common does not mean it’s normal. After just a few months of measuring with your scale you will be able to eyeball a portion when eating out and determine if it’s enough to starve, satisfy or stuff your hunger. When you’re really trying to lose those last 5-10 lbs. or drop five percent body fat, portion control is a must!

3. Eat frequently and consistently.

To lose access body fat and build muscle being consistent with your meal timing to help maintain proper blood sugar balance. I support the current recommendation of eating five meals per day rather than two to three large meals. This can be made up of three main meals and two snacks or five to six calorically equal meals to fuel your activity level. In all cases be sure to have breakfast within thirty minutes of waking and time your last meal to be at least two hours before bed to support energy levels and quality sleep.

When you consistently eat nutritionally balance, properly portioned meals you will have more energy to fuel your workouts and decrease the mindless indulgences that caused the access belly fat to accumulate in the first place.

How to Handle Stress Better

Giving your body nutritional and supplement support it needs is only part of the solution to be better at handling stress. When you start feeling anxious and stressed out, ask yourself “Am I in imminent danger?” simply taking a moment to realize that the true answer is no, is often enough to turn off your “ fight or flight” response and allow your adrenals to relax. Much of the sugar cravings, exhaustion and irritability that are so common these days stem from adrenal exhaustion. To get well and feel less stressed long term; try these healthy habits to help you handle stress better. Continue reading

Restorative Sleep as Stress Relief

Tawnya Ritco
Registered holistic nutritionist

The saying “let’s sleep on it” is a staple for everyone from those making complex and high stakes decisions to those wondering what colour of paint would work best in the living room.

Most of us have thought it would be best to “sleep on it” before giving an immediate response on the basic questions of day-to-day life?

This is more than just a saying. The fact is we rely on sleep for clarity of mind and to recharge our bodies. It’s easy to understand why we’ll make better decisions with a clear mind and a rested body.

At the other end of the spectrum, the odd night of restless, broken or insufficient sleep is inevitable. The key is to avoid a chronic deficit, one that starts to impact our overall ability to function at an optimal level, leaving us fatigued — and often quite irritable.  

The relationship between sub-optimal sleep and stress for women is one of the big talking points among health care practitioners and researchers. It can be compounded during perimenopause (the period leading into menopause) when fluctuating hormones can certainly play a role in throwing our systems off.

I’m sure most would suggest that the night sweats commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause do not make for a comfortable sleep! Moreover, a perpetual state of worrying can exacerbate a sleeping issue.

So what can we do about it?  The goal is to find ways to relax and calm the mind; to incorporate into our lives some of the simple steps we can take to promote restful sleep.

How much sleep?

  • Most of us require 7-9 hours of sleep per night;
  • If life commitments make it impossible to get 7-9 consecutive hours of sleep at night, look for ways to take cat naps from time to time, as needed. Even a 20-minute cat nap can help balance the hormonal flux we go through during perimenopause and menopause, especially if you’re not getting the sleep required for your body.


  • Ideally be in bed by 10:00 p.m.;
  • Research shows that for most people (those not working night shifts), the hours between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. are the key restorative hours of sleep. That’s when the brain does most of its repair work. Get most of those “optimal” four hours as part of your seven to nine per night and you’re going to make the most of the rejuvenation and renewal that sleep can ring. Getting to bed after midnight on a regular basis will deprive us of the best hours of restorative sleep.

What can you do to best prepare for sleep?

  • What you do each day can often determine how well you sleep that night. Getting regular exercise – even brisk walks daily – can help set the stage for good sleep;
  • Yoga or other forms of stretching can help to relax the body. Yin yoga, for example, could be part of your evening regimen, either at a yoga studio or at home. It involves deep tissue stretching and long, meditative holds of postures designed to calm the mind and body;
  • Slow deep breathing can positively affect our parasympathetic nervous system resulting in relaxation. How many of us can relate to sighing after we have been relieved of a stressful situation? Focus on calming the breath.
  • Eliminate or reduce stimulates such as alcohol, caffeine and sugar from your diet, especially in the evening;
  • Do not eat three hours before bed; if you need to snack keep it light, ideally vegetables;
  • Recreate your environment: Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary; start by removing clutter and electronic devices from the room;
  • Refrain from using electronic devices, such as cell phones or laptops, at least one hour before your bed time. Even though many of us have been conditioned to do it, watching television immediately before bed is not the best preparation for sleep;
  • Dimming the lights and playing soft music for 30 minutes before bed can prepare us to transition into a restful state, which in turn helps us transition to restorative sleep;
  • A guided meditation or soundtrack of ocean waves, running creeks or rain water for 15 to 30 minutes before sleep can also serve as great transitions from the stress of our work and personal commitments to a good night’s sleep;
  • Sleep in complete darkness: This increases our natural production of melatonin, which is essential in regulating sleep. Blinds and curtains are typically enough to do the trick but some find a sleeping mask can do the trick!

How do we manage tossing and turning?

We’ve all had nights when we can’t seem to fall asleep or we can’t help but toss or turn or we get locked into the worrying modes that keep us awake.

How do you reset when the same thoughts keep recirculating in your mind? Have you often noticed when we worry, we’re often thinking about the same issue over and over again? Finding a way to set these worries aside and “organize your mind” can help reduce the number of nights we lose sleep to tossing and turning and insomnia.

  • Journaling before bed can help clear the mind of lingering emotions or thoughts of the day;
  • Thinking about tomorrow? Write a list of what is on your mind and then commit to putting it aside until the morning when you are feeling refreshed.

Natural supplementation

When the underlying issue of our sleep breakdowns or deprivation is hormonal, as in the case of Menopause in women; supplementation can provide additional and often beneficial support. As a hormone balancing formula, PURICA Menopause Relief works to naturally, safely and effectively balance hormones, thereby providing relief for common symptoms associated with menopause, such hot flashes and night sweats. The natural supplement also increases energy, regulates mood and supports the body and mind in dealing with stress. To learn more visit: www.puricameno.com

The bottom line is finding the right sleeping regime that “works for you” and committing to it. Good sleep is arguably the best ally in stress relief and it’s worth doing the things that can help you get the most of a good night’s sleep.

An advocate of whole foods, supplements and healthy lifestyles, Tawnya Ritco is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and product specialist for PURICA. Follow her on Twitter at @Tawnya_PURICA and follow PURICA at @puricawellness.

* Always consult your physician or naturopath if you believe there may be additional underlying conditions affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, including but not limited to sleep apnea.

A note on vegan and vegetarian options: At PURICA, we’re committed to empowering you with the best in whole foods, supplements and positive lifestyle solutions. We support all athletes and active living people whatever your dietary preferences, although we will always do our part to raise awareness about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan options.

Having trouble concentrating?

Tawnya Ritco
Registered holistic nutritionist

Tawnya Ritco is a registered holistic nutritionist and product specialist in the natural health food industry.

Q:I’m having trouble concentrating. What can i do to regain some mental clarity and calm?

Many of us are familiar with the saying “You have the attention of a goldfish.” If your attention span feels like it’s floundering, though, there are plenty of options to help you regain your focus.

In this era of information overload, the key to mental clarity and focus includes managing stress and controlling anxiety (which can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia). Your toolkit for stress management and overall brain health should include the following.

Physical Exercise

Robust aerobic exercise enhances synaptic plasticity and related body processes such as neurogenesis, metabolism, and cardiovascular function. When you work out, you exercise your body and your brain.


We need sleep to regenerate. Aim for seven and a half to nine hours each night whenever possible to fully recharge.

Mental Workouts

Learning a new skill can alter the physical makeup of your brain. Keeping cognitively fit also improves your ability to solve problems, cope with stress, and handle change.

Rest and Meditation

In addition to a good night’s sleep, the brain requires regular down time to remain sharp. Taking short timeouts throughout your day may help clear a foggy mind.


A moderate intake of healthy fats, such as omega-3s, can encourage optimal brain health. Hydration is also critical for cognitive performance and mood.


Certain deficiencies can result in poor cognitive health, but they can often be addressed with supplementation, such as with B vitamins. Other supplements, such as lion’s mane mushroom, have been associated with optimal brain and nerve function.

Combining some or all of these practices may help you gain focus and productivity. Most importantly, they could have a positive impact on your overall brain health for the long term.

*A note on vegan and vegetarian options: At PURICA, we’re committed to empowering you with the best in whole foods, supplements and positive lifestyle solutions. We support all athletes and active living people whatever your dietary preferences, although we will always do our part to raise awareness about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan options.

The Four Factors Challenge

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 promoting positive lifestyle solutions, including healthy eating and training tips. Here are Melissa’s thoughts on how to reboot and reset for the New Year.

Why are so many people over-tired and stressed out today?

Research shows there are four factors that contribute to more than 90% of stress related doctor visits.

The four factors are:

  • Too much technology
  • Too much caffeine
  • Too little sleep
  • Too little exercise

Continue reading