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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.
 
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, ..
Kombucha Lime and Ginger
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Kombucha Lime and Ginger

Nature’s Way Kombucha (kom-boo-cha) is nature’s naturally sparkling low sugar health drink that is refreshing and delicious. Kombucha is known to be full of the goodness of naturally occurring probiotics.
Introducing CoQ10
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Introducing CoQ10

Famous for heart health, more recently used for athletic performance.
What Is the Best Time To Take Protein?
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What Is the Best Time To Take Protein?

This commonly asked question has no universal answer... The best time to take protein depends on you and your specific health goals. Check out our protein timing cheat sheet below: these general guidelines will help you answer one of the most commonly asked questions in sports nutrition...

What Is The Best Time To Take Protein?

 

1. If you Take Protein In The Morning

BENEFIT A: WEIGHT LOSS Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that taking protein early in the morning gives a feeling of fullness and reduces appetite and snacking. Take a low carb protein shake in the morning to reduce hunger and help boost your metabolism. Better yet, blend a scoop of soy protein in with some almond milk, blueberries, spinach and a banana for a great superfood breakfast. BENEFIT B: SUPPORTS STRENGTH AND MUSCLE MASS Catabolism is relatively common among athletes. It is caused by over-training and under-eating. In short, catabolism happens when your body needs a food source for energy, has none to draw on, so starts to use your muscles as fuel. Needless to say, this is bad for an athlete. A 2006 study from Victoria University showed that taking protein first thing in the morning increased both overall muscle mass AND strength for athletes when compared to a control group who had no protein with breakfast. Worried about bulking up after your breakfast shake? You need not worry - unless your diet is rich in carbs and your fitness regime is designed to help you build muscle, you are unlikely to bulk up  after a protein shake for breakfast.  

2. If you TAKE PROTEIN THROUGHOUT THE DAY

BENEFIT: MORE ENERGY Find yourself nodding off mid-afternoon? The reason could be that your diet lacks long-lasting energy. Try splitting your 3 (large) main meals for 5 smaller ones, eating every 3 hours. Make sure your 5 meals contain protein. If not a shake, then a tin of tuna or a fistful of nuts can be an easy way to grab some protein in a meal. BENEFIT: WEIGHT LOSS A 2005 study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who got 30% of their daily energy intake from protein felt less hungry and lost more weight.  

3. If you Take Protein Before Training

BENEFIT: MORE EFFECTIVE WORKOUTS Many proteins contain high levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s). These help maintain muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen provides energy to the body... more glycogen means more energy. A pre-workout snack of a protein shake plus a complex carbohydrate like brown rice or oats 45 minutes before exercise can give the energy needed to go harder during workouts. Alternatively, try our Brown Rice Protein with Chia and Pea before training for a shake that delivers pre-workout carbs and BCAA's and for fuel plus readily absorbed brown rice protein  for recovery.  

4. If you Take Protein After Training

BENEFIT: RECOVERY AND GROWTH  A 2001 study published in American Journal of Physiology showed that post exercise is when your muscles are crying out for amino acids the most and are therefore most likely to absorb protein. The benefits of a post-workout protein hit for muscle growth and/or recovery are well documented.  Give your muscles the fuel they need to recover by consuming protein after your workout. A 2013 study from the University of Tampa studied the effectiveness of brown rice protein vs whey protein in helping post-exercise recovery. The study noted that "there were no differences between the two groups". Given that whey contains lactose (which can cause bloating, wind, nausea and diarrhoea in some people), brown rice protein is an ideal post-workout protein.  

5. If you Take Protein Before Bed

BENEFIT: RECOVERY AND MUSCLE GROWTH A 2012 study from Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands revealed that protein supplements taken directly before bed time do, in fact, get digested or used by your muscles while you sleep. This can boost overnight recovery and muscle growth. ------ This article was produced by our online health partners, Health365. For more  information on a range of exercise and fitness related topics, visit www.health365.com.au.  
Superfoods for Healthy Joints
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Superfoods for Healthy Joints

Natural joint health supplements like krill oil and glucosamine have well documented benefits for supporting healthy joints, and pharmaceutical / prescription drugs can be obtained from your doctor to help with arthritis and joint pain. However, your lifestyle and the food you eat  can also have a significant effect on joint health. Try these superfoods for arthritis and maintaining joint health.

CAMU CAMU

A fine powder derived from an Amazonian fruit, Camu Camu has impressive antioxidant properties and can be a great anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories cab be beneficial for arthritis sufferers, as the joint pain felt is often the result of swelling and  inflammation around the joint. Reducing inflammation, therefore, often means reducing pain. Further, Camu Camu is rich in vitamin C – vitamin C is critical for a number of bodily functions including production of collagen. Collagen is required for growing, healing and repairing tissue and cartilage.

CHIA SEEDS

Chia Seeds are rich in fibre, protein and – importantly – omega-3 fatty acids. Ensuring you have sufficient intake of Omega-3s is important for joints and the link between omega-3 intake and joint health is documented. If you aren’t eating fatty fish such as salmon or tuna 3 times a week, you should be trying to increase your daily omega-3 intake by:
  1. taking a Krill Oil tablet daily or
  2. including vegetable sources of omega-3 like chia seeds into your diet. Need some inspiration on how  to eat more chia? Check out our Chia Seed recipes.

TURMERIC

You may be familiar with turmeric as a spice used in curries and stir fries. You may not realise that it is actually a superfood that contains a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient called curcumin. Adding enough turmeric to your meals each day to achieve the full anti-inflammatory effect might not be feasible, but there are an increasing number of juice bars around that offer turmeric in their products that can help you increase your turmeric / curcumin intake. Alternatively, try Osteo Flex – it contains clinically studied levels of curcumin so you can be sure you are getting sufficient dosage. It also contains additional joint care ingredients Krill Oil and Green Lipped Mussel.   ---------- This article was provided by our online partner Health365. To buy superfoods online, visit www.health365.com.au.        
Lift Heavy To Get Lean
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Lift Heavy To Get Lean

Many women (and men) exercise to lose weight and get toned. After ..
Instant Natural Protein - Vanilla
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Instant Natural Protein - Vanilla

Instant Natural Protein (Vanilla) is a delicious way to get your daily protein needs and to support a healthy, active lifestyle. It is reduced in fat and contains no animal products, making it an ideal, great tasting protein food supplement for anyone from older children to adults. INSTANT NATURAL PROTEIN. EVERY BODY. EVERY AGE. EVERY DAY