The food we put into our bodies has a direct and significant impact on our health. If you eat a natural and healthy diet, you know how much better you feel when you put good fuel into your body! The same is true reversed: when you eat unhealthy, processed foods, you will feel miserable, and it can create some serious health problems.
If you look at food like medicine, you start to see how each fruit, vegetable, and herb can have unique qualities and benefits. Suffering from seasonal allergies? Try eating local honey. Suffering from kidney stones? Try drinking homemade lemonade. Feeling depressed? Drink more coffee. As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
This month, we are focusing on natural sleep aids. If you are one of the 50 million Americans who have trouble getting enough sleep at night, instead of turning to the synthetically-made sleeping pills (and their insane list of side-effects), try eating or drinking some of these foods to rest easier, and sleep longer.
These are some of my favorite healthy foods for better sleep.
A calcium deficiency can make it hard to fall asleep, and one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium is kale. One cup of kale has 137 mg of calcium. This super food is also rich in Vitamin K, which can help build and repair your muscles as you sleep.
For a healthy pre-bedtime snack, toss chopped kale with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little bit of Parmesan cheese, then bake it @ 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until crispy. You’ll be surprised at how satisfying this healthy snack is!
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are high in Vitamin B6, which helps create serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is used to treat depression and mood changes, and may help regulate mood and anxiety. Melatonin is a hormone made in the brain that controls sleep cycles. The combination of these two hormones can help you fall asleep, and get a good night’s rest.
Chickpeas add great flavor and texture to salads, soups and sauces. Try whipping up a batch of fresh caper and jalapeno hummus, with some fresh veggies for a light summer dinner. The tahini in hummus is also a great source of Vitamin B6.
Sweet potatoes are another great source for vitamin B6, benefiting you with serotonin and melatonin. They are also high in potassium, which acts as a natural muscle relaxant.
Instead of french fries, make a healthier version of sweet potato fries. Start by peeling and slicing sweet potatoes, then tossing with olive oil and sea salt. Line them on a cookie sheet and bake @ 425 for 30-40 minutes.
Grab a cup of tart cherry juice, or a handful of dried cherries before bedtime as a sweet and tasty natural source of melatonin. A study conducted on adults with insomnia showed that consumption of cherry juice prior to bedtime resulted in moderate improvements in insomnia severity. You will also get the additional benefits of the anti-oxidants that cherries have.
A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the correlation of carbohydrates and sleep onset. The results showed that high-glycemic carbohydrate foods, like jasmine rice, ingested 4 hours prior to bedtime reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep.
Jasmine rice has a mild and slightly sweet flavor, which makes it perfect company for a healthy vegetable stir-fry.
There are many myths about turkey’s ability to make everyone sleepy after a Thanksgiving feast. Some attribute the sleepiness to the high number of calories ingested, but there is more to it. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that has shown to be an effective sleeping aid. Tryptophan has even shown some promise as an anti-depressant, because it helps with low levels of serotonin.
For your next lasagna or spaghetti, substitute a leaner ground turkey for ground beef.
Chamomile tea contains relaxants and anti-spasmodic and can serve as a mild tranquilizer. Drink a cup of warm chamomile tea half an hour before bedtime to help you relax and fall asleep easier.
Try Natural Living Mamma’s Immune Boosting Tea, which contains organic chamomile, along with organic elderberry and organic rose hips.
If you’re suffering from allergies and having a hard time falling asleep, grab a bottle of raw, local honey. It is said to help reduce the production of orexin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that has recently been linked to wakefulness.
Add a teaspoon or two of honey to your cup of chamomile tea half an hour before bed.
Made from Valerian plant, the American Journal of Medicine reported that adults who ingested Valerian extract showed a statistically significant improvement in the quality of sleep. The study was shown to have some methodologic issues, but many people have reported using Valerian tea as a successful sleeping aid.
Do you have any favorite sleep remedies?
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