By Anni Dahms
Owner of the retail chain
ANNI’s VITAL SHOP.
Nurse- & Health
specialist, Biopath and Nutritional Adviser.
One of my friends recently gave me a large and heavy anatomy atlas. She was moving, and the book was too heavy to take with her.
The book is German and very beautifully illustrated. I thank her many times for it and randomly open the book, ending at the section on muscles. This causes me to reminisce back to my nursing exam, many years ago. Many excruciating hours were spent memorising the names and functions of a load of muscles.
The hours studying the many and difficult names of our muscles were to be multiplied many times over, as I later become the teacher at nursing schools and other educational institutes.
The muscle types can be roughly shared into 3 groups.
1. Smooth muscle
This smooth musculature works subconsciously, and is found in the inner organs and walls go the blood vessels. It is controlled by the autonomous nervous system.
2. Cardiac muscles
The cardiac muscles work quickly, durably and has its own rhythm, which is adjusted up and down with help of the autonomous nervous system.
3. Striated skeletal muscle
The striated skeletal muscle has an impact on how our entire musculoskeletal system works. It is of importance to all movements of the body and extremities. It protects our inner organs. It takes part in heat regulation. It contributes to the circulation of blood.
Use muscles or lose them
If you don’t use your muscles, they gradually become smaller and smaller and can’t hold together on the joints.
We have more than 100 different muscles that strengthen movements and keep up upright. Not using your muscles will result in them shrinking and becoming weak. Anyone who has broken a bone and needed to wear a plastic cast will have experienced this.
Exercise is important. It increases muscle mass, strength and bone density. Muscles like to be used. If you wish to strengthen a group of muscles then they must be activated regularly. It’s a good idea to train the large muscle groups in the body, the legs and the arms..
There can be many reasons for muscle pain. Muscle pain often occurs if the muscles have been overburdened e.g. from over-exercising. The pain disappears quickly after a couple of days. Other reasons for muscle pain can be arthritis, or crookedness of the spine that results in you over-burdening certain muscle groups.
Muscle pain can also appear due to a herniated disc, where there is pressure on the nerves and to the muscles.
If you have done a lot of sport and have numerous pulled muscles, this can result in scar tissue in the muscles which gives muscle pain.
A very common muscle disease, which we Danes call “window-shopper syndrome” or claudication, is caused by atherosclerosis, bad blood circulation. Often, it is people suffering from diabetes that have the illness. When walking, pain suddenly appears in your legs making it difficult to walk. The pain in your legs disappears when you sit. Furthermore, many of us suffer from muscle pain without quite knowing why. In my experience, certain kinds of muscle pain with swelling and stiffness in the joints can be caused by allergy or intolerance. Allergy or intolerance to certain foods, most often wheat and dairy products. It could also be preservatives, flavour enhancers, pesticides and other chemicals.
Also, muscle and joint pain can be a symptom of vitamin and mineral deficiency. E.g. Vitamin B6, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin C.
Food you should stay away from
Many are nutritionally malnourished, because of the food in our every day diet. It consists of way too much bread, pasta, fast food burgers, pizzas as well as cakes and other sugary foods.
Combine this with unhealthy drinks and you are inviting muscle problems into your life.
Be careful what you drink. Stay far away from cola and other soda pops, and acidic drinks. Don’t drink too much coffee. Be aware that coffee is addictive. You should know, that more than 4 cups a day can give problems with muscle pain. Drink plenty of clean water then you can better tolerate your coffee.
Food that strengthens
Our whole body, the muscles included, need good complete protein substances. Therefore, it is important for your muscles that you get enough healthy protein.
If you eat dairy products, then milk, cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. Egg is also a good source of protein. Beef, calf, pig, sheep, lamb, goat, fish and shellfish all contain protein. Should you prefer to obtain your protein from vegetable products, or as a supplement, then lentils, beans in the form of soya beans and legumes are good. Seeds, e.g. sesame seeds, nuts, almonds. Whole grain products, e.e. brown rice, soya beans and quinoa. Much of the newer superfoods also contain protein. For example, wheatgrass, which is alkaline and contains many micro nutrients and also strengthens the adrenal glands. It is rich in amino acids and contains about 27% protein.
Protein – how much do we need?
It is a discussion among many circles to how much protein we need. You need for protein definitely depends on where you daily level of energy lies. Do you do a lot of sport? Or do you have a normal energy level? The World Health Organisation recommends that you have 0,75 g protein per kilo bodyweight daily. That would mean that a person of about 75 kg needs about 55 g. of good protein daily. Usually, it’s elderly people who have a protein deficiency in their daily lives. This is often due to them eating very lightly and unilaterally. Make sure to eat a versatile mix of organic foods, that contain good carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fats and proteins. This will ensure that you get a good foundation for your muscles.
Corn of all sorts contain protein. Protein is broken down into amino acids in order to be absorbed in the body. Unfortunately, corn products lack the amino acid lysine. The low content of lysine influences how well the other amino acids are used. Hence it is good to supplement corn products with lysine-rich food, e.g. vegetables and legumes, sesame, buckwheat, millet or dairy products.
If you are hungry before bedtime, then take a bit of fruit, a small bun with honey or with cottage cheese before going to bed. This will provide your muscles with something to work with throughout the night.
• Make sure your diet is being supplemented with a broad spectrum vitamin/mineral supplement.
• There are many liquid forms of vitamins, minerals and amino acids available.
• A variant of the product above is also available especially for people who do a lot of sport. It also contains a lot of other nutrients.
• You can prevent many muscle problems, by consuming a vitamin supplement that contains all the vitamins, with quite high doses of the B vitamins as well as vitamin A, D and E. The minerals you should pay special attention to are calcium and magnesium, along with selenium, potassium and manganese.
• Selenium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness.
• Sore muscles can be eased by eating rose hip. It’s available as capsules and in powder form.
• An extra supplement of magnesium can be a good idea, as it helps the functioning of your muscles.
• Spirulina is an algae. About 60% of the dried substance consists of proteins and thereby supplies the muscle with essential amino acids.
• Ginger can be a great help if your muscles are stiff or sore. Available both as powder and capsules. Ginger is found in various mixes, e.g. with turmeric. Add ginger to your smoothies.
• Carnosine consists of two amino acids. It is produced in the body and concentrates in the muscles when they are working. It is also found in the heart, the brain and many other parts of the body.
The content of Carnosine in the muscles and heart decrees with age, leaving you tired more easily. Here, a supplement of Carnosine would do wonders.
• Q10 is a co-enzyme that works in our mitochondria, which is the cells energy plant. We produce it ourselves, and is also supplied from a large part of our diet. However, the bodies deposit of Q10 is reduced with age and in crisis situations. Studies have been made showing how Q10 can protect against muscle damage, for people participating in hard sports. The result was published in the magazine, “European journal of nutrition”.
• Omega-3 oil helps flexibility in the muscles and reduces muscle soreness and possible inflammation. Omega-3 is available as fish oil and in various forms of algae. The latter has gained immense popularity in recent years, and can also be used by vegans.
• The amino acid L-Carnitine is pro- duced in the body. It is taken as a supple- ment, should you wish for more energy in the muscles, especially in the muscle of the heart. It can contribute to the improvement of an irregular heartbeat. L-Carnitine is also known to reduce cho- lesterol, and also for reducing triglycer- ides. Works best with Vitamin C.
• There are plenty of soothing balms, liniments and ointments to apply to sore muscles. Find out for yourself or visit your health shop to find out which is best suited for your needs.
• Exercise is good. If you are unused to exercising, then start up slowly and find a level in which you feel comfortable with. Only you can feel, where you stand and how much you can manage. You must find a form of exercise that you will stick with. If you do too much hard exercise, it can contribute to inflammation.
• In 1859 Søren Kierkegaard wrote in a letter, “whatever you do, do not lose the lust to walk”. It is a sentence which I have personally taken to heart. I go on long walks daily, and can really feel how it strengthens me both physically and mentally. I have walked away many a worry and turned heavy thoughts to happy thoughts.
• Louise Hay writes about likely problems with muscles: “Resistance to new experiences. The muscles represent our ability to move in this life”. As a new thought pattern she suggests:
”I experience life as a happy dance”