You have more than 600 muscles in your body. These muscles are important in helping you move, walk, run, jump, work and play. These activities are made possible through the actions of your voluntary muscles, which are muscles you can control the movement of. Your involuntary muscles or muscles you cannot control the movement of, are just as important. Your heart and muscles in your digestive system are examples of involuntary muscles. The heart pumps blood and beats day and night, non-stop. The muscles in your stomach and intestines help digest the food you eat.
Healthy muscles allow you to perform various important activities and keep your body strong. Strong muscles also aid in developing healthy joints, which help prevent knee injury and help you keep your balance.
Nutrients and Foods Needed for Healthy Muscles
Aside from exercise, a balanced healthy diet is essential to achieve healthy muscles. Certain nutrients in the food you eat are needed by your body to maintain muscle health. These nutrients and the foods that are good sources for the said nutrients are:
- Protein – Proteins make up the bulk of your muscle tissue. The protein from the food you eat supplies the material needed by this tissue to remodel and replenish muscle cells between workout periods. Particularly, amino acids, the building blocks of protein, must be present in the protein-packed food you eat. Good sources of amino acids are milk products, meat, eggs, poultry and seafood. Plant-based foods are not as good a source of amino acids as animal protein sources. Only by eating a variety of plant-based products that have amino acids can you get all the amino acids your body needs.
- Carbohydrates – These nutrients provide your body with energy source or fuel you need for your physical activities. Eating a limited amount of food with carbohydrates before a physical exercise will give you energy. On the other hand, consuming carbohydrate together with protein after the exercise can help in muscle building. Whole grain products, fruits, vegetables and milk products are good sources of carbs.
- Fats – Healthy fats bring benefits to both your skeletal muscles and heart. Unsaturated fats help in maintaining fluidity and integrity of your muscle tissue’s cell membranes. They can improve communication between muscle cells and muscle recovery. Fats provide a reserve fuel source when you run low on carbohydrates, allowing you to work your muscles for a longer time. Some sources of unsaturated fats are those in olive oil, fish oils, canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, flaxseed and walnuts.
- Iron – This mineral keeps muscle tissues oxygenated, making you capable of sustained physical activities. Beef and dark poultry can provide good supplies of iron.
- Vitamin C – Foods rich in vitamin C improves absorption of non-animal sources of iron.
- Calcium – Dairy products like cheese provide good source of calcium, which helps in the proper contraction of your muscles.
- Sodium – Sodium from foods such as celery and crackers can bring the same benefits to your muscles as calcium.
The health of your muscles is largely dependent on proper nutrition. Coupled with proper physical exercise, consumption of foods that are good for your muscles will bring amazing results not just to your muscles but to your overall health.