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Muscle Cramps: Causes & Treatment
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Muscle Cramps: Causes & Treatment

Muscle cramps are powerful, involuntary, painful spasms of a muscle. They occur most commonly in the calf, hamstring or foot. Whilst cramps most often fix themselves after a few moments as the muscle relaxes, many people have regular, recurring cramps. Regular cramping can be a sign of an underlying disease or ongoing nutritional deficiency. Rest assured if you cramp regularly,  your condition may be treated using the below tips.  

What causes muscle cramps?

The definitive cause of the muscle spasms we call 'cramps' are not fully understood. Muscle spasms are usually a sign that the cramping muscle is under excess stress, heat or lacking key nutrients. If you are cramping regularly, there could be a number of contributing factors:
  • poor physical fitness
  • tight muscles or lack of flexibility
  • inadequate diet / nutritional intake
  • genetic factors
  • excessive perspiration / dehydration
  • muscular fatigue or injury
  • shortage of key vitamins and minerals for muscle health (minerals critical for muscle function are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Other studies suggest that vitamin B, C, D and E shortages may also be indicated )
  • disease or prescription medications
Any or all of the above factors can lead to irregular muscle function, which increases the chance of spasm / cramp.  

How do I avoid muscle cramps?

In looking at the above risk factors, you can reduce your risk of cramping by trying the following tips:
  • Maintain your fitness.
  • Stretch regularly. 5 minutes of gentle stretching on the floor during a TV ad break each evening can be sufficient to drastically improve flexibility. Hold each stretch so that you are straining but not feeling pain, and release after 30 seconds.
  • Ensure you are getting the right minerals to maintain proper muscle function. Eating a varied diet is the best way to get a range of minerals. Cacao is a rich natural source of magnesium.
  • Try a supplement. Getting your RDI of some minerals is tough to do from food alone (adult women, for example, need 1300mg of calcium each day. That's more than 4 glasses of milk). If you think you are struggling to get enough nutrients into your diet to stop cramping, you may benefit from taking a multivitamin that contains magnesium and nutrients to aid muscle relaxation or:
  •  Incorporate a Magnesium powder sourced from wholefoods (more readily absorbed by the body than tablets) OR Cacao Powder (cacao is rich in magnesium and potassium). It is possible to have too much magnesium, yet the side effects at the upper limit of recommended daily magneisum intake have not been shown to produce toxic effects when ingested as naturally occurring magnesium in food (according to nrv.gov.au) as contrasted against magnesium tablets.
  • Try a Calcium Supplement OR Chia Seeds (chia seeds are incredibly rich in calcium, critical for muscles).
  • Ensure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day, especially before, during and after periods of physical exertion. Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up in the morning to top up any fluids lost during sleep.
  • Know your exercise boundaries. In hot / humid conditions, take it easy to avoid excessive perspiration.
  • If muscle cramps persist despite trying the above, see your doctor. Genetic factors, diseases such as atherosclerosis or sciatica or some prescription medications may be contributing.
 

Quick, I'm cramping! Help me!

We usually don't spare muscle cramps a second thought until the muscle is already spasming and we are clutching the effected limb in agony. Use the below tips to shorten the severity and duration of cramps.
  • Gently stretch the muscle that is cramping
  • Massaging the muscle (provided doing so is not too painful) can help increase blood flow to the area and relax the muscle.
  • Apply an ice pack to cool  down overheated muscles.
  • Take a rest after the cramp has subsided. A cramp is your muscle crying out for help. Taking a rest will help the muscle relax and can help ensure it doesn't immediately recur.
 
Metabolism MythBusting
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Metabolism MythBusting

Speeding up your metabolism is the holy grail of weightloss. But there are very few ways, other than exercising more and  increasing your lean muscle mass, that are actually proven to work.  So which of those “too good to be true” tips you’ve overhead at the gym or on Dr Oz are legit? Read on for our metabolism myths and truths.

 

Metabolism Myth 1: Some Foods Increase Metabolism.

We say: Confirmed.

 

"Diet-induced thermogenesis" is, in layman's terms, the amount of calories we burn just by digesting the food you eat. Just as running burns more calories than a walk in the park, eating certain foods burns more calories than others.  Doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health studied the thermic effect of different macronutrients. They found that protein is a clear winner in the quest to boost metabolism.  

Furthermore, coconut oil has been shown to help increase metabolism. Another study published by the European Journal of Nutrition showed that by combining chilli and medium chain triglycerides (such as those found in coconut oil) increased diet induced thermogenesis by more than 50%!  Thai chicken curry anyone?

 ---

Metabolism Myth 2: Eating small meals every 3 hours stokes your metabolic fire.

We say: Busted.

 

Two hours have clicked past since your last meal. You’re feeling hungry again. Must mean your metabolism is working overtime, right?  Well, maybe not. There are two things to consider here:

  1. If you are consuming carbs with your ‘small meals’, you could just be interfering with the way your body is regulating insulin production and actually causing unnecessary hunger.
  2. Your body needs time to properly process the protein you are consuming to ensure hypertrophy. Eating more meals more often can interfere with this.

So, how often should you be eating?

Studies have shown that consuming a balanced meal of lean protein, low-GI carbs and healthy fats will help to regulate your blood sugar AND increase muscle mass.  Eating 4-5 balanced meals, every 4-5 hours allows your body enough time for protein synthesis while helping to keep your blood sugar in check.

 

Metabolism Myth 3: Green Tea increases metabolism and burns more fat.

We say: Confirmed.

 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that subjects taking a green tea extract (50 mg caffeine and 90 mg EGCG) three times a day had a significant increase in energy expenditure over a 24 hour period.  One cup of green tea supplies approximately 20-35 mg of EGCG. Therefore, to experience benefits similar to those shown in the study you would need to be drinking upwards of nine cups of tea a day, or find a supplement with similar caffeine and EGCG content. Try our Metabolift product, which contains not only green tea extract and caffeine, but metabolism boosting guarana, bitter orange, B vitamins and more. Read More.

So, what’s the catch?

Well there doesn’t seem to be one.  Aside from weight loss and metabolism benefits, green tea drinkers appear to have lower risk for a wide range of diseases, from simple infections to chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bottoms up!

 

WHAT NEXT?

When all is said and done, increasing your metabolism is just one piece of the weight loss puzzle. In addition to the above metabolism myths and truths, the key to lasting weight loss is consistency – find an exercise program and nutrition plan you can stick to and commit to it!

Superfoods for Healthy Joints
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Superfoods for Healthy Joints

Natural joint health supplements like krill oil and glucosamine have ..
Figure Protein (Vanilla)
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Figure Protein (Vanilla)

Figure Protein is formulated for active women that are looking for a good source of protein to help support wellbeing and vitality! Containing iron, chromium, probiotics, folate, calcium and vitamin D, Figure Protein is the protein supplement to help support active women!
Introducing CoQ10
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Introducing CoQ10

Famous for heart health, more recently used for athletic performance.
5 Benefits of CoQ10
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5 Benefits of CoQ10

CoQ10 (co-enzyme Q10) is a substance found in our body that is critical in energy production and there is a mounting body of evidence to show that it is important for a number of other things, including maintaining a healthy heart. CoQ10 is found naturally in our body, but our body's ability to synthesize CoQ10 declines with age. Further, some blood pressure and cholesterol medications can reduce your body's CoQ10 levels. Therefore, as you age, actively trying to top up your CoQ10 levels may support better heart health.  

5 Benefits of CoQ10

 

1. CoQ10 might help prevent heart failure

Early evidence suggests that low CoQ10 levels are associated with increased risk fo heart failure.  

2. CoQ10 might help prevent high blood pressure

Preliminary studies suggest increasing CoQ10 levels may help manage high blood pressure. Further studies are required.  

3. CoQ10 might help migraine sufferers

A 2005 study suggests that participants taking 100mg of CoQ10 three times daily significantly reduced migraine frequency when compared to the control group who took a placebo. More research is required to replicate the findings.  

4. CoQ10 helps energy production

CoQ10 plays an important role in a process known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthesis. ATP is one of the most critical substances in cellular energy production. People with low CoQ10 levels may experience fatigue, and increasing CoQ10 levels has - over time - been shown to increase energy production and reduce fatigue in these same people.  

5. CoQ10 might help exercise performance.

Although further research is required, a small handful of preliminary studies suggest there may be a link between CoQ10 and strength and endurance among athletes.
Training tips to avoid joint damage.
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Training tips to avoid joint damage.

Whether you are already feeling the onset of sore / stiff joints, have early arthritis symptoms are are just trying to avoid joint pain as you age, there are some simple things you can do to protect your joints and limit further damage and inflammation during exercise.  
  1. Learn to lift

Whether it be in the gym, at the workplace or around the house, you need to learn how to lift heavy objects safely. Learning to lift heavy objects appropriately can not only save your back, but it can also save your joints. For heavy objects that are placed on the ground, squat down and lift with your legs rather than your back. If you feel strain or pressure in your knees or hips, stop and ask someone for help. When carrying heavy objects, hold them close to your body so your core takes the pressure rather than elbow and shoulder joints.  
  1. Recognise over-use

Suffering joint pain after prolonged use? Chances are you may be suffering a minor joint injury or an over-use injury. With injury, the fluids and cartilage that protect the joint can become damaged. This, in turn, can allow the bones to rub against each other and further injure the joint. If you have unexpected / sudden joint pain, try to limit use and see a health professional as soon as possible. Continuing to use an injured joint can make the injury worse and may cause permanent or more severe damage.  
  1. Stay trim, stay strong

Retaining a healthy body weight is important to protect your joints. Each kilogram you lose means up to 4 kilograms less pressure on your knees, hips and ankles as you walk... lose 12 kilograms and that’s nearly 50 kilos less pressure! Furthermore, focusing on maintaining strength through regular exercise or resistance training can help stabilise joints, meaning less wear and tear and lower chance of injury.  
  1. Go for low impact exercises

Exercise has so many critical benefits for our health, and it would be a shame to let sore joints or arthritis stop us from enjoying those benefits. However, exercise can often be damaging to joints: we have already mentioned that walking adds 4 kilograms of pressure per kilogram of body weight to our joints. Running adds an extra 10 kilograms of joint pressure per kilogram of body weight! The more pressure we place on a  joint, the more wear and tear we get on the protective tissues in the joint. The more damage to  the protective tissues, the greater the chance of permanent damage and arthritis. Low impact exercises like pilates or cycling can be more friendly for joints... see our article on exercises for arthritis sufferers for more ideas of low-impact exercises to help protect your joints.  
  1. Feed your joints

There are two nutrients that actually feed your joints and help your body grow and repair connective tissues in the joints. Glucosamine and Chondroitin work well in tandem to actively feed your joints and promote cartilage health... cartilage is critical for protecting your joint and acting as a shock absorber. ------- This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on dealing with arthritis, visit www.health365.com.au.    
Why We Need Magnesium
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Why We Need Magnesium

The Importance of Magnesium For Health Magnesium is abundantly ..
Figure Protein (Chocolate)
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Figure Protein (Chocolate)

Figure Protein is formulated for active women that are looking for a good source of protein to help support wellbeing and vitality! Containing iron, chromium, probiotics, folate, calcium and vitamin D, Figure Protein is the protein supplement to help support active women!