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Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Have you ever laid in bed, exhausted from the day’s activities, and yet still can’t fall asleep?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard, impossible even, to get back to sleep?

Have you tried cutting out caffeine and other stimulants from your diet, and still can’t sleep?

Have you resorted to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids to get you through the night?

If you have trouble sleeping, you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that over 20 million Americans experience some form of sleep problems, and over 40 million suffer from a chronic sleep condition. From trouble falling asleep to the inability to enjoy a full night’s rest, there exist more than 70 different sleep disorders that force many people to seek intervention. But most people don’t consider that, aside from sleep aids, there are many foods to help you sleep.

Why Try Foods Over Other Treatments to Help You Sleep?

Losing a night or two of sleep doesn’t seem like a big deal for most people, but too many sleepless nights can quickly take a toll on many aspects of your body. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, focus, physical appearance, and memory, and can ultimately lead to an increased risk in heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

These are serious consequences, but are ones that can be avoided when you introduce enough of the right foods into your diet.

People who continuously experience sleep troubles often turn to mainstream medicine to get quick relief. Doctors can prescribe medications that can make you sleep, or you can grab an over-the-counter sleep remedy. These seem like viable options to people who are desperate for any amount of sleep, but medications also come with their own sets of risks, like dependency, that might make you worse off than if you had forgone them altogether.

Prescription drugs and supplements often carry some type of dependency risk factor, tricking your body into lowering its own natural production of chemicals that help induce sleep. Sometimes, sleeping pills can help you get such an incredible night’s sleep that you’ll never want to go to bed without them again. But long-term use isn’t usually recommended.

Granted, most people know that foods and drinks like soda, coffee, and chocolate can greatly boost your inability to fall asleep, even when your body feels tired. But just as there exists stimulating edibles to keep you alert and moving, there are also several foods to help you sleep.

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And unlike potentially addicting sleeping pills, these foods are 100% safe, non-addicting, and prescription-free.

Before you make a mad dash to the pharmacy to help you catch your zzz’s, try incorporating some of these foods to help you sleep more soundly:

Walnuts

    Walnuts are a solid source of the amino acid Tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin and melatonin to help you sleep. Each 1-ounce serving of walnuts contains about 170 mg of tryptophan, so about 5-6 servings would equal that of an OTC supplement. In addition, the high quantity of tryptophan in walnuts can also help subside some of the moodiness generated by lack of sleep.

    Researchers from the University of Texas discovered that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, another chemical in the brain responsible for helping you sleep. Melatonin is available as an OTC supplement, but walnuts help you get it naturally.

    This dessert recipe is chock full of walnuts.

    Turkey

      Another food rich in tryptophan, there’s a reason why people want to snooze right after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. Turkey contains between 250-310 mg of tryptophan per 3-ounce serving, which is about the size of a pack of playing cards.

      Granted, most other meats contain about the same amount of tryptophan as turkey. But turkey, being a lean meat rich in protein, iron, zinc, and potassium, can also give you the benefit of better skin and teeth (due to the high amount of phosphorus) and lower cholesterol.

      Make your own mouth-watering turkey with this recipe.

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      Cheese, Milk & Yogurt

        You may have heard that a glass of warm milk can help you sleep, but honestly any dairy products can do the trick. Calcium-rich cheese, milk and yogurt helps the brain use the tryptophan to create sleep-inducing melatonin.

        Here’s a recipe for yogurt you can make in your own kitchen.

        You need calcium in your diet regardless of your sleep habits. Calcium can help prevent bone damage or loss, and helps regulate your muscle movement. It’s recommended that you take in between 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Eight ounces of plain, low fat yogurt typically contains around 475 mg of calcium, while an 8-ounce glass of milk yields around 276 mg. Don’t take more than 500 mg of calcium at each meal, and be sure you take it with some Vitamin C to increase absorption.

        Cherries

          It’s been found that all varieties of cherries are high in melatonin, which is crucial in inducing sleep. The best way to get your fill is to drink a glass of tart cherry juice or eat one cup of whole cherries before you turn in for the night.

          In addition, cherries can have a positive effect on joint pain and arthritis. If pain caused by arthritis is the culprit keeping you up at night, cherries could help alleviate both problems.

          Try this recipe for Sparkling Cherry Juice.

          Tuna

            Boasting even more trytophan than turkey, fish such as tuna, cod and halibut can help you sleep. A four-ounce portion of yellowfin tuna packs more than 300 mg of tryptophan. Try this yellowfin tuna recipe.

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            In addition, you can also get the added benefit of essential Omega-3 fatty acids that can help with depression, hypertension, joint pain, and arthritis.

            Honey

              The natural sugars in honey give your insulin levels a slight boost, which helps tryptophan easily enter your brain. Honey helps build a steady supply of glucose to get your body through the night, and contributes to melatonin release.

              Add a spoonful of honey to your chamomile tea, or slurp it straight from the spoon to set yourself on a path to a more restful sleep.

              This recipe combines honey with yogurt and fresh fruit to give you a tripe threat in combating sleeplessness.

              Chia Seeds

                They might be tiny, but chia seeds pack about 202 mg of tryptophan into every two-tablespoon serving. Chia seeds are also rich in calcium, another helpful aid in sleeping.

                Add a sprinkling of chia seeds to any of the above recipes. It doesn’t change the flavor, but will give you all the benefits.

                Pretzels

                  Pretzels produce a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, which reduces the time it takes you to fall asleep. Just like with honey, this burst also helps tryptophan enter your brain.

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                  You can buy pretzels at the store, or make your own healthier pretzels at home with this recipe .

                  Rice

                    Rice’s high glycemic index will, just like honey and pretzels, helps shorten the time it takes you to arrive in dreamland.

                    Both brown and red rice are high in tryptophan, with about 101 mg of it in each half-cup. Brown rice is also a good source of calcium and magnesium, two essentials that can promote a better night’s sleep.

                    This recipe combines trytophan-rich turkey and rice into one tasty dinner.

                    Bananas

                      Packed with potassium and magnesium, bananas can provide a quick remedy to help you get your nightly rest. A deficiency in magnesium has been attributed to relestless leg syndrome (RLS) and nighttime muscle cramps, two common occurrences that can hinder your night’s sleep.

                      You can get 32 mg of magnesium in a single banana, but you will need around 310-320 mg of magnesium per day to avoid deficiency.

                      This fun recipe for banana rice pudding combines bananas, rice and calcium-rich rice milk, three foods that can help you sleep.

                      Featured photo credit: parkimedes via youtube.com

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                      Alli Hill

                      Freelance Writer and Marketing Consultant

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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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