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Muscle Cramps Don’t Come from Nowhere. It Happens for A Reason

Muscle Cramps Don’t Come from Nowhere. It Happens for A Reason

As anyone who suffers from them will know, muscle cramps can cause a huge amount of discomfort and pain. This is why so many people are keen to find out how to prevent cramps. Muscle cramps often strike with no warning at all. It could be while you are working out, while you are walking, or while you are relaxing.

There are various possible causes of muscle cramps, and familiarizing yourself with these will help you when it comes to prevention. A lot of research has been carried out into the causes and treatment of muscle cramps. This has enabled medics and researchers to find solutions that can help with the prevention of these cramps.

Muscle Cramps Can Strike at The Most Unexpected Time

Muscle cramps can cause a lot of issues for sufferers. They can be very debilitating and in some cases can even pose a hazard. For example, you may be driving when these cramps strike, and if they affect your leg muscles your driving will naturally be affected. They can strike at night, which can cause issues with sleeping. They could even strike at work, which could pose another hazard depending on the type of work you do.

Muscle Cramps = Uncontrolled Contraction of Muscles

We need to learn how to tackle issues such as muscle cramps ourselves. To do this, it is important to have a better understanding of why muscle cramps occur and what might be causing them.

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In a nutshell, muscle cramps are caused through the involuntary contraction of muscles. They usually affect the calf muscles but they can strike elsewhere too. You may have heard these cramps referred to as ‘charley horses’.

You will know when you experience a muscle cramp, as the muscles in the affected area become very tight, hard, and painful. You will actually be able to feel the spasms and the speed with which these cramps can strike can come as quite a shock. If you are a keen exerciser, you should bear in mind that cramps can occur many hours after exercising.

Muscle Cramps Are Caused by Multiple Reasons

There are a number of possible causes of muscle cramps, and it is important to familiarize yourself with these if you want to know how to prevent cramps. So, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you may be experiencing cramps:

  • Lack of circulation in the legs
  • Exercising calf muscles too hard [1]
  • Failing to stretch and warm up before exercising
  • Being too active when temperatures are high
  • Being dehydrated
  • Muscle fatigue
  • A deficiency of magnesium, potassium, or both
  • An underlying cause such as a spinal issue or nerve problem
  • A side effect of taking certain medications

Interestingly, muscle cramps are very common but they are most common at night when you are sleeping. According to reports, 75 percent of muscle cramps are experienced at night. By familiarizing yourself with the possible causes, you can take certain steps to prevent muscle cramps. This could include drinking more water, warming up before exercises, and putting less strain on the muscles.

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When Muscle Cramps Strike, These Easy Exercises Help

One of the things you will be keen to learn if you suffer from muscle cramps is how to treat them. Of course, prevention is the best medicine, and this is something we will look at. However, if you are suffering from muscle cramps the first thing you need to know is what action you can take to treat them and alleviate the pain. Below are some of the key solutions for treating muscle cramps:

Do some stretching

When you get muscle cramps, your muscle goes into involuntary spasms. This causes a lot of tightening, discomfort, and strain. When these cramps strike, you can try stretching the area. Simply drop and stretch the affected area to try and alleviate the cramps. Better still, if there is someone there with you it is worth getting the area massaged. This can help to quickly alleviate the spasms and discomfort.

Try to relax

It is natural when muscle spasms strike to try and push through the pain. However, this can often make the problem worse. Instead, try to relax and let the pain ease away. Simply take a break and wait for the spasm to pass rather than to risk making it worse by battling with it.

Speak to your pharmacy

You may find that anti-inflammatory treatments can help to tackle muscle spasms [2] . It is therefore worth taking a quick trip to the pharmacy to see if they can recommend anything. Some of the treatments available over the counter at pharmacies can help to ease the soreness that stems from muscle cramps.

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These are some of the simple but effective ways in which you can quickly treat muscle cramps and alleviate some of the symptoms.

How to Prevent Future Muscle Cramps 

Of course, one thing that is very important is learning how to prevent muscle cramps on a long-term basis. To do this, you need to look at the possible causes of these cramps. You can then reduce the risk of them occurring by taking certain steps. Some of the key steps you can take include:

Drink plenty of water

Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, so you need to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Take vitamins

Deficiencies such as magnesium and potassium can increase the chances of muscle cramps. Taking vitamins can help to combat this possible cause.

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Make sure you stretch

Always make sure you do some stretching exercises before and after working out, as this can help prevent muscle cramps.

Eat the right food

As mentioned before, certain deficiencies can heighten the risk of cramps. Therefore eat foods that are rich in nutrients like potassium, such as bananas. Also foods that are rich in magnesium and calcium can help.

Limit alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol can cause dehydration, which in turn can lead to muscle cramps. You should therefore limit your alcohol intake – this will also benefit your health in other ways.

As you can see, there are various ways in which you can treat and prevent muscle cramps. Many of these are lifestyle changes while others are short term measures to provide immediate relief. By keeping the causes of muscle cramps in mind, you can more easily treat and prevent them

Reference

[1] The National Center of Biotechnology Information: Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps
[2] WebMD: Drugs & Medications Search

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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