by Silvana Nardone in Food News, February 18, 2017
by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 17, 2016
You snooze, you win! Turns out eating sleep smart will deliver enough zzz’s to boost your immune system and shrink your stress. “Sleep is one of the first things I ask patients about,” explains Dr. Donielle Wilson, N.D. naturopathic doctor, certified nutrition specialist and author of the upcoming, A Natural Guide to Better Sleep, “because it tells me about their health and how well they’re holding up under stress.”
But a good night’s sleep — generally defined as 7.5 to 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber per night — can be elusive. Sure, caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disrupters, but your daily eating habits could also be sabotaging your shut-eye. Besides perfecting a bedtime routine (see below), here are Wilson’s top 5 ways to fix sleep issues by giving your diet an upgrade:
- Balance your blood sugar level during the day, which affects your blood sugar balance while you sleep. If you eat large meals, infrequent meals and/or high sugar/carb meals (including bananas), especially near bedtime, you’re likely to wake up from blood sugar fluctuations.
- Reduce inflammation in your body, which for many people means avoiding gluten and dairy. Inflammation can travel to the nervous system and cause symptoms from anxiety to insomnia.
- Boost nutrient-dense foods high in sleep-friendly vitamins and minerals, including magnesium (nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate), B6 (salmon, beef, chicken, turkey, sweet potato, hazelnuts) and melatonin (cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes).
- Ditch your sugar-filled, late-night treat for a non-dairy protein powder–fueled smoothie to break those sweet cravings.
- Calm your nervous system with herbal teas like chamomile and lavender. Stress triggers a stress response involving stimulating cortisol and adrenaline, which leads to disrupted sleep patterns.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 29, 2016
The whole truth about whole grains
We know whole grains are good for us, but do they have the same health benefits if they are ground up and used, say, as an ingredient in smoothies or flour in cereals? The New York Times’ Well blog has taken that question to nutrition experts and the answer is, basically, yes. “Whole” grains, in which the bran, the germ and the endosperm are all left intact (as opposed to “refined” grains, where the bran and the germ are stripped away), are beneficial either way. Some grains lose a bit of their fiber when ground, but taste better that way, the experts say, whereas others, like flax seed, are more nutritious when ground, because the body can absorb them better. The most-important thing, dietitian Maria Elena Rodriguez tells the Times, is to make sure products have three or more grams of fiber per serving and are marked “whole grains.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, March 4, 2016
Getting the most out of your cuppa joe
Coffee — it not only wakes us up and elevates our mood, but, research suggests, may also protect us against dementia and boost our memory and metabolism. However, Fox News warns, we may be unintentionally undercutting some of coffee’s benefits. The site lists eight caffeine-consumption mistakes to avoid, including buying coffee preground and storing it in its original bag, which increase the level of free radicals, using up the health-promoting antioxidants, as well as drinking it too early, drinking too much, overdoing it with the sugar and drinking the wrong roast. Also, if you’re the sort of person who lets your coffee sit there forever, which increases its acidity, you may be upping your risk of heartburn and indigestion. Plus, if you drink your cuppa joe within 20 minutes of brewing — when, let’s face it, it tastes best anyway — you maximize the antioxidant benefits as well.
by Leah Brickley in Healthy Recipes, September 7, 2015
Bedtime Snack Do’s and Don’ts
A little nosh before you hit the hay — what can be the harm? The Wall Street Journal suggests that some bedtime snacks may be better than others. For instance, for a solid night’s sleep, it’s best to steer clear of high-energy — high-fat and high-protein — foods, which can give your body a jolt, just when you’d like it to be settling down, and boost inflammation (although eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids during the day may reduce this effect). The best bedtime snack choices, Texas A&M Health Science Center neuroscientist David Earnest tells the Journal, are high-magnesium foods, like leafy greens and pumpkin seeds, which can relax your muscles and diminish restless legs syndrome; high-tryptophan foods, like milk, unprocessed turkey and hazelnuts, which can speed the onset of REM sleep; and fruit, especially melatonin-triggering cherries, bananas and pineapples. “Unless you’re exceeding the normal calories in a day consistently,” Earnest told the Journal, “late-night fruit should not be a problem.”
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, June 1, 2012
We’re not great sleepers in this country. According to Healthy People 2020, a science-based government organization, about 25 percent of us suffer from insufficient sleep (that’s less than six hours per night) about half of every month. That’s a lot of lost z’s! Some experts believe that tossing and turning at night can lead to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure and even heart disease. That means that a good night’s sleep may be just as important as a well-balanced diet and regular exercise! Read more
by Toby Amidor in Healthy Tips, January 30, 2012
- Food that are high in calcium, like cheese, can help you sleep.
Craving more zzzz’s? Some of the things you eat and drink can help you get more rest, others can work against you.
What You Eat
- Going to bed hungry is a big no-no for relaxation; have a light snack to help you unwind.
- Both calcium and carbohydrate-rich foods promote the effects of tryptophan, a sleep-promoting amino acid. Top picks for sleep are apples with peanut butter, cheese and crackers or cereal and milk.
- Magnesium is another mineral that aids with sleep – get some from nuts, seeds, bananas, beans, whole grains and avocado.
- Is sleep tied to a healthy weight?
After giving birth to three kids in less than 5 years, I never had much time to sleep. Like most folks, I savor those nights when I can get 6 or 7 hours of shuteye. Now numerous studies tell us that getting our zzz’s also helps with our weight loss efforts.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that folks trying to shed at least 10 pounds were more likely to achieve their goal if they slept between 6 to 8 hours a night and had lower stress levels.
A 2004 study by the Stanford School of Medicine found that the less you sleep, the more weight you’ll gain. They found that not getting enough sleep leads to higher levels of appetite-stimulating hormones and lower levels of the hormones that tell us when we’re full. Furthermore, lack of sleep was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI).
There are also numerous theories that find sleepless nights can lead to weight gain. One theory says that when you’re tired, you become less physically active during the day which can lead to weight gain. A second theory says that when you’re sleep deprived you don’t care as much to make conscious food choices—which can lead you off your healthy eating plan.