Sleepy Time Nutrients

sleepBio-rhythms are critical to our routines from sleeping, awaking, working, and hunger. All are energy related, therefore it stands to reason that both nutrient and quality caloric intake may contribute to ones ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider your dietary intake before taking sleep medication; by making a few nutritional and routine changes you may find that you are able to take control of your night’s rest.

Relax, let go of your day.  32% of the population actually meet the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of magnesium. Without it the body is unable regulate sleep, its deficiency leads to asthma, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and osteoporosis. It can reduce the severity of symptoms related to: fibromyalgia, migraines, heart attack, premenstrual syndrome, stroke. “Magnesium is required for the active transport of ions like potassium and calcium across cell membranes. Through its role in ion transport systems, magnesium affects the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm”, stated by the Micronutrient Information Center at Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

By including a variety of foods it easy to obtain the necessary amounts of magnesium needed for one to fall asleep.
Consume: dark leafy greens (spinach 1 cup raw 24 mg vs. 1 cup cooked 157 mg), pumpkin or sesame seeds (1 oz 150 mg), brazil nuts (1 oz/28 g 125 mg), almonds (1 oz/28g 93 mg), avocado (1 chopped 58mg), beans/lentils (1 cup cooked 148 mg), Mackerel fish (3 oz/85g 82mg).

Zinc Inhibits Magnesium. While it stands to reason that certain medications can interfere with proper magnesium absorption (discuss with Doctor), a study conducted on men, and another study on adolescent boys showed that the mineral zinc decreases the body’s absorption of magnesium. However increased amounts of protein (3 ozs/90g) promote magnesium absorption.

The body needs zinc for cell/energy metabolism, growth, development, cell signaling systems, immune system, neurological development, reproduction. Found in all body tissues zinc is important for enzyme and hormone function, vision, taste, smell, and in wound-healing.

Since both nutrients are critical to the life cycle, newer DRI standards suggest that amounts of magnesium should be increased to the following: Men DRI 420 mg/day and Women 320 mg/day. (old DRI: M 300 mg and W 270 mg)

Depletion of zinc & magnesium can come from consuming high amounts of coffee and tea.

Stay Asleep with potassium.  Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes fluid balance within the body, ridding excess sodium, aiding in cellular growth, and muscle contractions. It is found in most fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C making it readily available and can be included at almost every meal.
Eat: grapefruit, berries, oranges, bananas, kiwi, avocado, melon papaya, corn, and potato.
Men and Women (DRI) 4,700 mg/day.

Wake up Rested.  Include foods with Vitamin B6 and the protein Tryptophan. Vitamin B6 helps create serotonin from the protein Tryptophan. Serotonin is neurotransmitter that is linked with happiness.  In simplified terms, a Neurotransmitter (serotonin for example), is like the super-autostrada of information in your brain that allows different parts to talk to each other. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin while one sleeps.
At dinner time find health and comfort by including variety of foods: eggs, oats, bananas, poultry, meat, whole grain pasta, fennel or sunflower seeds, figs, fish, peanuts, milk, cottage cheese, and 1 ounce chocolate.
Men and Women Vitamin B6 DRI 400 mcg/day
Men and Women Tryptophan DRI 67 mg

Exercise is equally important to de-stress the body, provide oxygen to the muscles, excite, create neurons, and promote relaxation. 30-60 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week will keep your body and brain energized and strengthened.

Foods that should be avoided are: fried, fatty in taste, salty, sugary, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.

A sample menu has been put together to present an idea of what your dietary intake should look like in order to stabilize your bio-rythym and have a more restful night.

By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio

Suggested Menu to Promote a Rested Body
Breakfast
Yogurt
Wheat Toast
Fruit of choice: orange, banana, kiwi, melon
Tea

Snack
1 ounce pumpkin seeds
Banana
Water

Lunch
Bean or Lentil soup
Sandwich: Turkey, Avocado, lettuce, cheese
Fruit
Peanuts
Water or tea

Snack
Apple
Celery
Water

Dinner
Poultry, Meat, or Fish 4 ounces
Pasta, rice, or potato
Dark leafy green salad
Cottage Cheese
Fruit of choice
1 ounce Brazil Nuts
Glass of Wine, Water or Milk

References:

Heat Up & Cool Down! Foods to Add & Remove in Diet

Feeling ‘overheated’  emotionally or physically? Lack of daily movement or what you eat can both contribute to the sense of being warmer than usual.   Addressing the  behaviors that  lead to emotions of anger, depression and stress, all result in negatively heating the body. Headaches, sleepless nights, skin flare-ups, irritability are all examples of how the body heats up as a direct response to stress. Continuing on a declining path will create physical heath conditions: heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc.

Best Exercise for Managing Stress
Walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga and golf are good examples that contribute to relieving or cooling down an individual so that emotional stress is controlled through physical activity. Exercise  increases the endorphins within the brain so  the blood pumping, energy is restored and you will feel more focused.  It can be as simple as a 30 minutes of movement per day!

How Stress Affects Hormones
Choosing to stay on an unenthusiastic  cycle alternates both stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and how they function in the body. Adrenaline and cortisol when adversely effected influence changes in our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stimulating the ghrelin hormone (hunger) that promotes an excessive appetite and depresses the leptin hormone that signals satiety in the stomach!  Appetites have now been re-defined.

Foods that Promote Over-Eating
Avoid spices, condiments, drinks , and certain foods that promote over eating when facing stress: fried, greasy or oily foods, margarine, black pepper, chilies, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, onion, salad dressings, rosemary, white and brown sugar,  white flour, wine, beer, coffee.
Reduce amounts of:  salt, red meat, chicken (4 ounces 2-3 times a week),  cheese (1 oz q/day).  Poor quality fats clog arteries and lead  to heart disease. Calcium and magnesium uptake interference  can be altered by an excess of certain meats spices and drinks, having a negative effect on calming and cooling the body. A deficiency of magnesium leads to anxiety and hyperness.

Dietary Solution to Control Stress 
Fats in the diet must be high quality in order to maintain healthy organs and vascular system, use: fish oils, extra virgin olive, grape seed, flax seed , almond oils. Introduce foods that promote calcium, magnesium absorption, anti-oxidants and polyphenols.
Best food preparation: Grilled, Braised, lightly boiled (7 minutes), steamed.
Consume raw vegetables, fruits (remove citrus fruits if they create digestive problems), berries, nuts, whole grains, yogurt and seafood. Include salads, melons, cucumbers and bitter greens (broccoli, arugula, celery dandelion, basil, parsley, cilantro) which are full of water and needed for calming and cooling the body. Eat plants that are in season for optimal nutrition. Consider pomegranates as way to intake resveratrol protein which helps raise HDL cholesterol and reduce red wine intake. Add decaffeinated black, green and white teas as a way to hydrate and include anti-oxidants and reduce caffeine.

Daily and Weekly Diet
Consuming breakfast is critical for energy and initiating the metabolism and should not be skipped. 5-6 small meals are necessary for proper maintenance of a healthy individual, light evening meals eaten 4 hours before bedtime to optimize a restful sleep.  Daily intake of  nutrition should include: 4 servings of fruit, 5 servings of vegetables, 1 ounce (28 g) cheese,  3-4 weekly servings fish, 2 weekly servings meat, multi-grain breads, pasta rice, 1-2 servings soy or lowfat milk, 6 cups water (250 ml).

By incorporating a healthy diet and managing stress through exercise hormonal balance can be achieved. While the initial steps can be put into place by you, communicate any dietary or physical activity changes to your doctor so that your overall health can be observed and guided as needed.

By: Kim Crocker