The Best Foods to Eat for Better Sleep

Author Article

Nonfat Popcorn
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Nonfat Popcorn

The carbohydrates in nonfat popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain, where it’s used to make a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Since eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, popcorn (just 93 calories in three cups popped) is a great late-night snack. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with some curry powder or any of these other tricked out popcorn toppings.

Halibut
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Halibut

Halibut is packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6, and when it comes to seafood, halibut has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky fish eaters. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and eggs.

Mango Lassi
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Mango Lassi

Packed with antioxidants, protein, and vitamins, this treat satisfies your creamy, sweet craving as well as ice cream—without the sugar bomb.

BTW, a lassi is basically a smoothie, but it’s always made with yogurt. To make a mango lassi: cut up one fresh, peeled mango and put it in a blender. Add a handful of ice, a small scoop of plain Greek yogurt (go with full-fat dairy for all its health benefits) and a splash of water or milk. Add a dash of stevia for extra sweetness if desired.

Don’t like mangoes? Substitute frozen berries or watermelon.

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
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Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

High-fiber garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding garbanzo beans to salads, soups, and stews when you need sleep.

Chamomile Tea
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Chamomile Tea

This herbal drink lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and it has a calming effect on the body. Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you feel cozy and ready to hit the sheets.

Related: How to Practice Mindfulness with Tea

Honey
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Honey

A rise in blood sugar can reduce the production of orexin in the brain. Orexin is a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s been linked to wakefulness. Try drizzling a small amount of honey in your chamomile tea for a touch of sweet without a full-down sugar rush.

Dried Tart Cherries
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Dried Tart Cherries

A handful of dried cherries not only provides the requisite serotonin-boosting carbs, but it’s also one of the few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag. Plus, tart cherries are packed with antioxidants.

Turkey
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Turkey

The reason behind your epic post-Thanksgiving feast nap is also the secret to helping you sleep better. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is known to help calm you down and naturally get you to sleep.

Not feeling a deli turkey sandwich? Try roasted pumpkin seeds, which also contain tryptophan.

Banana  Soft Serve
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Banana “Soft Serve”

Frozen bananas make the perfect base for healthy, vegan “nice cream”. and the potassium in them will not only help you fall asleep faster but can prevent those awful cramps (AKA Charlie horses) that wake you up. All you need is the proper blending technique. The trick is to keep blending for several minutes. At first, they’ll just look slimy, but then air works its magic and before you know it frozen bananas morph into a creamy, light treat. Add a handful of chopped nuts for a sweet and salty treat.

Kale Chips
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Kale Chips

Don’t knock these roasted green “chips” until you’ve tried them. The hefty dose of vitamin K helps repair and build muscles while you sleep. Simply chop up a bunch of kale, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and spread out and bake at 350 degrees until crispy.

Scientists Link Specific Gut Bacteria to Depression

See Psych Central Article Here
By Traci Pederson

New Belgian research reveals a link between specific types of gut bacteria and depression. The findings, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, also provide evidence showing that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.

Researchers called it the first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health, aggregating data from hundreds of people rather than studying animals or clinical trial subjects.

For the study, researchers from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB-KU Leuven) in Belgium compared fecal microbiome data with general practitioner diagnoses of depression from 1,054 individuals enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project.

Through this analysis, they were able to pinpoint specific groups of microorganisms that positively or negatively correlated with mental health. They discovered that two bacterial genera, Coprococcus and Dialister, were consistently depleted in people with depression, regardless of antidepressant treatment.

The findings were confirmed in an independent group of 1,063 individuals from the Dutch LifeLinesDEEP study, as well as by looking a group of clinically depressed patients at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.

“The relationship between gut microbial metabolism and mental health is a controversial topic in microbiome research,” said study leader Professor Jeroen Raes from VIB-KU Leuven.

“The notion that microbial metabolites can interact with our brain — and thus behavior and feelings — is intriguing, but gut microbiome-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind. In our population-level study we identified several groups of bacteria that co-varied with human depression and quality of life across populations.”

In previous research, the team had identified a microbial community constellation or enterotype, characterized by low microbial count and biodiversity, that was observed to be more prevalent among Crohn’s disease patients. In the new study, they surprisingly discovered a similar community type to be linked to depression and reduced quality of life.

“This finding adds more evidence pointing to the potentially dysbiotic nature of the Bacteroides2 enterotype we identified earlier. Apparently, microbial communities that can be linked to intestinal inflammation and reduced well-being share a set of common features,” said Raes.

The research team also developed a computational technique allowing the identification of gut bacteria that could potentially interact with the human nervous system.

They studied the genomes of more than 500 bacteria isolated from the human gastrointestinal tract and their ability to produce a set of neuroactive compounds, essentially creating the first catalog of neuroactivity of gut species. Some bacteria were found to carry a broad range of these functions.

“Many neuroactive compounds are produced in the human gut. We wanted to see which gut microbes could participate in producing, degrading, or modifying these molecules,” said researcher and first author Mireia Valles-Colomer, a doctoral student in Raes’ lab.

“Our toolbox not only allows to identify the different bacteria that could play a role in mental health conditions, but also the mechanisms potentially involved in this interaction with the host,” she said.

“For example, we found that the ability of microorganisms to produce DOPAC, a metabolite of the human neurotransmitter dopamine, was associated with better mental quality of life.”

The findings resulted from bioinformatics analyses and will need to be confirmed experimentally. However, the results will help direct and accelerate future human microbiome-brain research.

The hope is that by understanding how human’s stomach bacteria impact mood, future treatments can target or include changes in diet or adding supplements to help improve a person’s mood, or even clinical depression.

Source: VIB