Introducing our Shop

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We’ve embarked on a journey of building a health service that can help you achieve your health goals, whether you simply want to become more active and eat well, or your managing an active athletic lifestyle

Amplify’s small and passionate team have been working tirelessly on a revolutionary set of services, that will help to transform your health and life. And we are proud to launch a vitamins and supplements store with a wide range of health and fitness products, as our first milestone.

We are dedicated to providing a wide range of products and brands, that we know most of you are taking today, to maintain your health and to supplement your active lifestyle. And we promise what we are building in this store keeps very much in line with our broader health service offering and will always add value to your life.

If you want to continue to hear about our developments, you can drop us your email address here.

We’ll send on more updates as we go along!

 

 

7 Nutrition Tweaks for Active People

If you exercise and maintain a healthy and active life, it makes sense to ensure you are in the driving seat when it comes to nutrition, too. Here are some easy tips to help you make changes for the better NOW!

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  1. Choose ‘active-friendly’ nutrients

One in five adults and one in six children may have low vitamin levels of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin – an estimated 10 million people across England alone, according to NICE recommendations from 2014. Vitamin D is essential for active people as it’s been shown to help build strong bones and boost muscle health. Other essentials for anyone keeping active include magnesium, which is lost when we sweat, and essential fatty acids for a healthy heart. And take antioxidants to protect against damaging free radicals, which according to studies are produced when we train, particularly if it’s hard enough to feel exhausted. Try sports antioxidants from Reflex to beat oxidative stress.

  1. Eat before exercise

Before a run, cycle or cardio event, endurance athletes should focus on consuming slow release carbs and allow time to digest the fuel (this will vary from person to person, but for most it’s around two hours). If you’re in a hurry grab a carb bar, such as SIS’s Go Energy Bar. If you’re lifting weights opt for lean protein and carbs, for example lean chicken and noodles or for time-pressed gym bunnies try a Promax Bar from Maxi Nutrition.

  1. Fuel up on the move

If you’re working out aerobically for 90 minutes or more you’ll need to top up your glycogen stores and keep on top of electrolytes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommend we fuel every 45-60 minutes during a long workout, taking on board 30-60 grams of carbohydrate (120-240 calories) per hour. For ideas on what to eat during your workout visit the Amplify Shop.

  1. Get Carbs on board after your workout

After a long run or bike ride, or hard session at the gym, you’ll need to boost your carb and protein levels for energy and repair. “Choose a three-to-one ratio, carb:protein if you’ve trained hard and re-fuel within the first hour – the acute phase of recovery,” suggests Dr Justin Roberts from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Unrefined, or liquid sources of carbs are a good choice as they will digest quicker, try SIS Rapid Rego Recovery and for more ideas, check out all our post workout nutrition products.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital for total health as well as maintaining good performance in sport and it’s why we’ve included a hydration measure on our dashboard (coming soon!). When you are exercising and active it’s essential to stay on top of hydration levels, particularly as the weather heats up in the summer months. Try Zero Extreme tablets, which have the added benefits of extra vitamins, or Higher Nature’s Performax sachets with added electrolytes, great for post workout rehydration.

  1. Eat for your body type

Precision Nutrition, the world’s largest online nutrition coaching company make the recommendations based on body type. Ectomorphs (longer limbs and skinnier bodies – a typical runner) metabolise carbohydrates better than other body types. The recommendation is for a 55:25:20 diet (carbs: protein: fats). Mesomorphs (stockier, muscular athletic types) need a 40:30:30 diet. And endomorphs (rounder and heavier) are recommended a 25:35:40 combination.

  1. Get rid of refined sugar

Eddie Izzard, the 54 year old comedian who recently ran 27 marathons in 27 days, gave up ‘refined sugar’ three years ago, ‘Once you get yourself off refined sugar, you do get to a much better place,’ he told the BBC. The simplest way to kick-start going sugar-free is to get label savvy. If sugar is in the Red, don’t buy it! Hidden sugar is in most foods, even those we perceive to be healthy. For example, a 100g portion of granola can have around 13g of sugar. Swap sugar-laden cereal for protein, for example, boiled eggs, which will fill you up, and give you energy.

Looking for sugar free fuel for your training – check out the range at the Amplify Shop.

 

 

Magnesium

 

Twitchy legs, cramps, sore muscles and feeling tired? You may need to check your magnesium levels

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What is magnesium?

It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. About 50 per cent of your body’s magnesium is contained in your bones, while the remainder is inside your tissues and organs. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly. People get magnesium from their diet, but sometimes magnesium supplements are needed if magnesium levels are too low. Dietary intake of magnesium may be low, particularly among women.

Food sources

  • Spinach and kale (but don’t over cook)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds are a great source)
  • Nuts (particularly almonds)
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Whole unrefined grains
  • Halibut and Mackerel


The Benefits of magnesium

Bone health

As it’s found in the bones it’s needed for bone health, along with other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.

Heart and blood pressure

Magnesium is necessary in the transport of ions that conduct nerve impulses for normal muscle contraction, and heart rhythm, and a deficiency can result in arrhythmias (irregular heart beat, too fast or too slow). Magnesium deficiency can also lead to higher blood pressure (but take too much and your blood pressure can drop).

Muscle health

In 2006 researchers found that low levels of magnesium impact on muscle function: including oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance. A deficiency in magnesium can also result in calcium deposits staying in the cells, which can restrict muscle contraction. This, too, can lead to lactic acid build up and that painful muscle cramping, and twitches. The right levels of magnesium can help active people and endurance athletes recover from exercise by allowing muscles to contract and relax effectively.

Energy Production

Magnesium is responsible for synthesis of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate – known as the ‘energy currency’ of cells) energy. ATP energy is released for all muscle contractions and when we exercise it needs to be synthesised quickly.


When to take a supplement

We lose magnesium when we sweat and if you’re someone who enjoys strenuous exercise you should consider taking a supplement as it can, according to research, increase urinary and sweat losses that may increase magnesium requirements by 10 to 20 per cent (Nielsen and Lukaski 2006).

Lactic acid is produced when oxygen in the body becomes limited through strenuous activity, and this can cause a ‘burn’ in your legs. Research, including a Turkish study which looked at 30 people following a four-week jumping training programme has concluded that magnesium supplements can help lower lactate levels. Another round up of research from 2000 found competitive rowers who took a magnesium supplement (360 mg/d) for four weeks had lower serum lactate concentrations and 10 per cent lower oxygen uptake during a controlled submaximal exercise test.

The UK recommended intake for magnesium is 300mg for men and 270mg for women. In the US, the recommendation is higher but recent surveys have found that some 57 per cent of the US population is not meeting the recommended levels. And some experts argue athletes need more than this – as much as 500mg a day. Magnesium supplements are available in many formats and often are often combined with vitamin D, or calcium, to help boost bone health.


Oils and Bath Salts

Magnesium can be absorbed through your skin and help to displace the calcium ions that may cause muscle cramping and restlessness and some say it’s a more effective way to take magnesium and helps to avoid overdose (which can result in diarrhoea). Note when using oil, check to see if it has black pepper added; this can make itching and irritability associated with magnesium oil worse! Epsom Salts contain magnesium, too and added to a bath make for a fantastic post workout recovery.

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has a number of functions that help to keep us healthy, strong and illness free.

 

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What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is essential for the growth and repair of all tissues, and helps to produce the protein collagen. Collagen is used to make skin, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, and therefore vital in maintaining healthy joints and connective tissue. Vitamin C is also essential to bone health, for a healthy thyroid gland, and to help the body cope with stress. Vitamin C aids iron absorption and is a potent water-soluble antioxidant.


Food Sources

  • Beansprouts
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Parsley
  • Oranges
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Turnips
  • Melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Watercress
  • Tomatoes


The Benefits of Vitamin C

  • Protects cells and assists in wound healing.
  • Maintains healthy joints and connective tissue.
  • Supports the immune system.
  • Important for optimal post-exercise recovery.
  • Supports the body during times of stress and illness.


When to supplement

Vitamin C is perhaps best known for its role in helping to prevent and cure colds, and as an all-round immunity booster. However, when it comes to the general population its status as a cure for the common cold has been put under scrutiny. The Cochrane Review in 2004 looked at 29 studies (with 11,000+ participants) and concluded that regular use of vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the general population. However, when the body is put under significant stress, for example when we exercise, research has found that it can help alleviate the symptoms of a cold. Trials looking at the effects of vitamin C have shown that it can halve the incidence and duration of the common cold amongst sporty individuals. Other research has shown that vitamin C plays a role in conditions such as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (also known as exercise induced asthma). A 2014 round up of research from the University of Helsinki cited in Science Daily found that Vitamin C halved post-exercise FEV1 decline (i.e. the amount of air you can blow out within one second) in participants who suffered from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

Vitamin C also has a role to play in the helping the body absorb iron, particularly non-haem (vegetarian sources) of iron. Sports people (especially women) often need significantly more iron compared to the general population, and may therefore need more vitamin C, too. “For one part of iron to be properly absorbed five parts of vitamin C are required. That puts the vitamin C requirement for a sportswoman at 205mg daily, and for the sportsman at 180mg”, suggested running coach Frank Horwill in an article for the Serpentine Running Club in London.

Vitamin D

It’s estimated that around one in 5 adults, and around one in 6 children, may have low vitamin D status – an estimated 10 million people across England. We explore the benefits of this vital nutrient and explain why you may need to supplement

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What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D isn’t like other vitamins, which are chemicals we need for good health. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin it’s the only vitamin that can be generated by our own bodies. In fact, it is probably more appropriately described as a ‘pro-hormone’. The energy provided through the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light leads to natural cholesterol stored in our skin being able to change in form twice, leading to production of vitamin D3, the most beneficial, and biologically active form for humans – also known as cholecalciferol. From here, vitamin D is transported to the liver, then kidneys, where some more chemical changes take place. This allows the vitamin to become activated and take part in its many useful processes.


The Benefits of vitamin D

Vitamin D and your health

In the 1900s vitamin D was linked to preventing rickets. Recent research has shown that it has a role to play in all aspects of health. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked with high blood pressure1, obesity2, poor lung function3, multiple sclerosis4, and even schizophrenia5. Taking Vitamin D is also important for pregnant mothers, protecting the unborn baby, and helping deliver babies with a healthier heart.

Bone health

Vitamin D is needed for the incorporation of calcium into the bones, helping bones grow and strengthen. In an article published in the Current Sports Medicine Report in 2010, two scientists Larson-Meyer and Willis discussed emerging evidence that adequate vitamin D intake reduces risk of stress fracture (as well as total body inflammation, infectious illness, and impaired muscle function).

Muscle function: power and strength

A study of ballet dancers found that supplementation with vitamin D helped to improve muscular strength in vitamin D deficient dancers: they were able to jump higher and had fewer injuries. Other research found vitamin D was positively related to muscle power, force and velocity.

Vitamin D deficiency lowers immunity

Many studies (including one of 19,000 people over a six-year period6) have found that low levels of vitamin D result in a higher reported incidence of upper respiratory infections. This has negative consequences for those under physical stress and with often stressed immune systems, such as endurance athletes, and even those who share locker facilities at the gym!


When to take a supplement

Unlike other important vitamins, like vitamin C, dietary sources of vitamin D, usually found in eggs and oily fish, are simply not widely available in sufficient quantities for our needs. In addition, the sun, in northern latitudes, is only strong enough to stimulate vitamin D production in your skin from May to August. To benefit adequately from the sun’s rays, we ideally need 20 minutes skin exposure daily, without sunscreen, between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Even if a person is regularly outdoors (e.g. runners, walkers) the sun exposure they do get is compromised by the use of SPF creams and pollutants. Researchers have found that even distance runners are often not exposed to enough sunshine as they choose to run early morning or evening. A recent US study found that one third of a large cohort of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college athletes at a single institution had abnormally low vitamin D levels.

References:

Blood pressure and vitamin D

Low vitamin D status is associated with greater bone turnover, bone loss and obesity

Poor lung function and vitamin D deficiency

MS and vitamin D

Schizophrenia and vitamin D

Immunity and vitamin D

 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

For a healthy heart, mind and body, make sure you are getting essential fatty acids.

Rohu fish


What are essential fatty acids (EFAs)?

EFAs are unsaturated fatty acids that are essential to human health, but cannot be manufactured in the body. “The two main essential fats that we must absolutely get from food are alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA (the ‘mother’ Omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid or LA (Omega-6),” explains Lucy Ann Prideaux.

Humans have some potential to convert ALA to the highly-beneficial longer-chain Omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. Both, however are already present in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as seafood and some sea vegetables (see below).


Benefits of EFAs

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important to the normal functioning of all cells of the body and play a critical role in the development and maintenance of proper brain function; heart function; normal vision; and the production of hormone-like molecules that modulate immune and inflammatory responses. EPA and DHA are strongly associated with healthy cardiovascular function, and DHA is essential to brain development and visual health.

These two polyunsaturated fats can, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), “reduce blood cholesterol, including triglycerides”. They are recommended for a healthy heart, preventing the blockage of arteries as well as help prevent heart disease and stroke. Studies of heart attack victims have found that supplementing the diet or increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acids daily can reduce the risk of stroke, follow-on heart attacks, and death.

They can also relieve the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause the following:

  • decreased immune function
  • depression
  • dry/scaly skin
  • hormone imbalances
  • joint pain and inflammation


EFAs and Fat Loss

“EFAs have been found to inhibit fat storage, increase the chemical process ‘beta oxidation’ (i.e. fat burning), improve insulin sensitivity, and increase thermogenesis (i.e. calorie burning),” explains Lucy Ann Prideaux, “and therefore have a very positive effect on fat loss,” she adds.


Food sources

  • LA is commonly found in nuts, seeds and their cold-pressed oils, as well as vegetable oils and animal foods.
  • ALA is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds and most abundant in walnuts, hempseeds, flaxseed, chia seed and the oils from these foods, as well as rapeseed oil, red meat and dairy.

Oily fish contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) fatty and its recommended we eat it two to three times a week (see suggestions below). “This is regardless of whether we’ve had a heart attack or not due to a change in guidelines from NICE (National Institute for Care and Excellence),” say the BHF. Do check on mercury levels, PCBs and other toxins in deep-water fish such as tuna.

  • Anchovies
  • Bluefish
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)
  • Sardines
  • Sturgeon
  • Lake trout
  • Tuna


Should you supplement?

  • For heart disease prevention and management, a 500mg combination DHA /EPA from fish oil per day is often recommended. For optimal brain and immune system functioning, 1000mg/day is the preferred dose.
  • Pregnant women and mothers, nursing mothers, young children, and women who might become pregnant should choose supplements over potentially contaminated fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment and may be important for healthy birth weight as well. It is worth noting that supplements made from the body of fish, often called omega-3 fish oil supplements are safe to take in pregnancy. But those made from the liver of fish, such as cod liver oil, are not recommended to take in pregnancy.
  • Note: fish oil has both EPA and DHA. Algae oil has DHA and may be a good option for people who don’t eat fish.

Calcium

 

Calcium plays a key role in bone health and muscle contraction. Here we explain what foods contain calcium and how this vital mineral contributes to total body health.

Organic White Almond Milk


What is Calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It has several important functions – including regulating muscle contraction and heart rate. It’s particularly important for bone health playing a vital role in building optimum bone mass between the ages of 18 and 25. This is when the bones take up most calcium, due to hormonal changes and fast bone growth. The body, however, needs calcium every day, being vital for proper muscle and heart function, and to assist in Vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain calcium.

Food sources

  • Milk, cheese and other dairy foods.
  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, watercress, broccoli, cabbage and okra, (not spinach).
  • Sea vegetables and seaweeds
  • Soya beans and tofu.
  • Drinks such as soya milk, coconut milk and almond milk, with added calcium.
  • Nuts and seeds – especially almonds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
  • Dried figs
  • Food fortified with calcium including bread and cereals.
  • Bony fish (sardines and pilchards).

 

The Benefits of Calcium

  • Bones: Helps build strong bones and teeth (research shows that drinking calcium-rich milk can reduce risk of stress fracture amongst runners). Calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and osteoporosis (brittle bone disease).
  • Heart and muscle function: Regulates muscle contractions, including heartbeat, and ensures that the blood clots normally.
  • Weight loss: Taking three to four servings of low fat dairy a day may, according to researchers (Davies et al. 2000; Zemel et al 2000), help the body’s fat burning mechanism, and has a role to play in maintaining a healthy weight.

 

When to supplement?

  • For most of us we should be able to get all the calcium we need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Most adults need 700-1000mg of calcium a day.
  • Hypocalcaemia (calcium deficiency) can be as a result of many different issues, including: faddy dieting, eating disorders such as bulimia/anorexia; over consumption of sodium and processed foods, and malabsorption problems such as IBS/Coeliac/Crohn’s disease.
  • Post-menopausal women (particularly those who have consumed a lot of caffeine/fizzy drinks and alcohol) may need to supplement to keep their bones strong. Supplements should be combined with vitamin D and magnesium to enhance bone health.
  • Note, taking high doses of calcium alone (over 1,500mg a day) may lead to heart problems, and other issues long-term, so supplementing should be done with expect guidance, care and advice of a health professional or nutrition expert.