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:

Euphoria, Pleasure, Happiness! Which Nutrient do You Need?

Need a pick me up? Do you feel deflated, demotivated, or depressed? Such pessimistic symptoms can leave one dragging their feet, however, can also be combatted through an intake of dietary nutrients that provide a natural supplementation for enhancement of moods

Foods that Increase Euphoria & Pleasure Release Dopamine

A good reason to consume 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day is that it has the chemical phenylethylamine which releases dopamine.  Dr. Mindy Dopler Nelson of Stanford University,  states that, “The compound is thought to be  responsible for the high you experience after eating chocolate because it releases natural feel-good chemicals called endorphins in your brain.  According to All Chocolate, PEA is released by the brain when people are falling in love, and this might explain why chocolate and Valentines Day are so closely linked.”

Chocolate has a chemical that causes dopamine to be released in the brain, inspiring a sense of euphoria and pleasure.

Dr. Nelson explains, “Chocolate is a stimulant that will release the dopamine that creates that pleasure feeling. It’s in the cocoa. There’s more of it in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate. But there’s something about the fat in the milk that also will make you feel good. Some people associate a comfort food with a high-fat food. There also are antioxidants in the dark chocolate, but watch the dosage! Excess can be harmful for your liver and pile on the pounds. Dopamine has an amphedamine effect, hence the term chocoholic. You also cannot ignore the fact it contains mucho caffeine that will keep you up at night. (And if you don’t get enough sleep it will effect your serotonin level.)

Other food sources of phenylethylamine are: Almonds (can promote migraine headaches if too many are consumed.) and Cheese should be consumed in 1 ounce or 28 grams per day, Red Wine (4-6 ounces or 125-200 ml per day) and Tomatoes.  An apple a day contains tyrosine which also converts to dopamine.

Eat to Improve Mood, Memory, & Sleep: vitamin B6 & Trytophan

If diagnosed with depression, try pursuing some dietary changes before starting medication, or implement in addition to the intake of medication.  Facing depression head on, incorporating walking twice a day along with new nutritional choices and professional help can give you a new perspective on life.  Your daily dietary intake should consist of 2-3 of the following through out the day:

  • Nuts (1 ounce, or 28 grams a day) Cashews or Brazilian Nuts are also linked to reducing coronary, depression, and diabetic symptoms in addition to promoting weight loss.
  • Bananas (1 banana per day)
  • Poultry for protein (tryptophan. 4-6 ounces)
  • Salmon
  • Tofu
  • Milk  (8-16 ounces or 245-490 ml per day)
  • Yogurt (4-6 ounces a day or 125-200 ml day)
  • A plate of Sri Lanken Chicken Cashew has nutrition properties to reduce symptoms of depression.

Cashew nuts are very rich source of minerals. Minerals especially manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium are concentrated in the nuts. A handful of cashew nuts a day in the diet would provide enough of these minerals and prevent deficiency diseases.

 “Vitamin B6 and Tryptophan”.   Foods such as turkey, chicken, quail, banana, and even milk can fight depression symptoms. All contain Vitamin B6 (which helps create serotonin) and have the protein Tryptophan  that can be converted to the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is linked with happiness, or known as a “Mood” enhancer.  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 can be found in a variety of foods to help fight depression, they include: chocolate, bananas, poultry, meat, whole grain pasta, fennel seeds, figs, fish, peanuts, milk and cottage cheese.  A list that many can pick and choose from and find health and comfort.                                                         

Artificial sweeteners are often found in beverages and processed foods; such sweeteners depress pleasure hormones dopamine and interfere with the production of serotonin.

Foods to AVOID.  Any foods or drinks (Diet) with artificial sweetners should be avoided.  Multiple studies have shown this aritficial sweetner to depress serotonin levels. Those with a history of mood disorders or depression have been linked to a severe reaction after consuming aspartamine. Additional weight gain is attributed to aritificial sweetners, as they interfere with an individual’s “internal calorie counter” causing the hormones ghrelin (go eat) and leptin (stop eating) to malfunction. While consuming a diet drink with a meal of 700 calories, the leptin hormone does not respond to the feeling of satiety because the internal calorie counter thinks that only 300 calories have been eaten; that kind of deficit adds up to weight gain and to depression.

Stay on the medication.  Do talk to your doctor about how you can work with them in pursuing necessary dietary changes that will nutritionally benefit you as well.

Nutritional Facts:  Include foods in your diet with B Vitamins. They contain two amino acids: Phenylalanine and Tyrosine, which are precursors to noraepinepherine and tryptophan, which are precursors to the neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Other vitamins which may contribute to mood enhancers are: zinc, selenium, calcium, Vitamin D, iron and magnesium.

By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio

Literature Research

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

Vitamin “H” for Haar and Haut

European spa’s know it and sell it at their Benessere Resorts (well-being)!  The style toted by european women is practiced weekly as they go to local salons and focus on their natural beauty. When referencing the body it’s as simple as name dropping, just say the German words “Haar and Haut” and you have “Hair and Skin”.

Vitamin H derives its name from Haar and Haut (also known as  Biotin/B7) therefore, this vitamin  is critical in the making of:  skin, hair cells, breaking down fats and producing fats metabolized from protein/amino acids as it assists key enzymes (carboxylase) to produce what is necessary for life.

Carefully understanding the word metabolism allows for easier comprehension on how and why we can better do better in improving or maintaining a lean machine.   Metabolize comes from the Greek word Metabole meaning Change.

We count on our metabolism, to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into smaller units; those units are reorganized as tissue building blocks (or as energy sources) and then waste products are eliminated and removed based on what our body cannot use.  In order for a body’s enzyme’s or hormone’s to do all this work, it needs an assistant  (referred to as co-enzymes) like biotin so that principle enzymes can participate in the production and building of healthy bodies.

Foods rich in Biotin

Improving  daily intake of vitamin H  is easy to do by choosing one of the following foods and including it into a well rounded diet.  Best foods for Biotin/Vitamin H/B7  are:  cooked egg yolks and whites, liver, fish, peanuts, peas, cauliflower, corn and grains. Biotin is produced in the intestines through bacteria as well. Vitamin B7 is also found in synthetic form.
Interference of proper uptake of vitamin B7 can happen through consumption of alcohol, which limits or prohibits the co-enzyme to function, as well as eating of raw eggs.  Research shows  that the raw egg white holds the  protein Avidin which can  interfere with Biotin which is found in the egg yolk.  Therefore, it’s advised that if biotin deficiency is determined in an individual, that one should cook the egg so that avidin is denatured upon cooking, while biotin remains intact.  Those who are pregnant, lactating, or athletic may need extra vitamin B7 and should consult their doctors to have their levels of biotin checked.
Biotin/B7 deficiency can be noted by causes of skin rashes (dermatitis), nail and hair (alopecia) loss, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and tingling in extremities.  It may also result in weakness, depression, hallucination, numbness, fatigue, irritation, rashes, loss of appetite.
We can still enjoy the care of “Haar and Haut” at our local hair salons for cuts, pedicures and manicures! However, with accurate dietary information in hand, knowledge and proper care of oneself  can improve lifestyle and attention to what will bring about physical success.
By:  Kim Crocker-Scardicchio
References

Health Benefits of Saffron

Health benefits of Saffron make it amongst the most common, sought after, researched spices.  The red colored spice  (yellow when interacting with food) has shown to be a key ingredient in healing the body,  including  its help in the treatment of a number of medical ailments such as: depression, macular degeneration, weight loss, asthma, menstrual discomfort.

With a botanical name  of Crocus Sativus  and commonly called saffron, this wonder spice is sought after from Europe to the Middle East.  Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffron which has researched saffron’s potential medicinal use specifically on how it reduces depression. The research at the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital in Tehran University of Medical Sciences,  has found saffron to be a safe and effective antidepressant (due to carotenoid alpha-crocin).  Research preformed in Germany has confirmed the results.

While the University of Sydney Australia and  University of L”Aquila Italy have focused on improving the retina as related to macular degeneration through the consumption of Saffron Supplements.  After 3 months of ingesting the saffron the patients had considerable improvement in their vision.

Researchers in France had hypothesized that by improving ones mood through taking a saffron supplement, one could lose weight.  The results showed that in fact by improving ones mood and reducing depression that weight loss could be achieved.

Additional information has confirmed that saffron also totes the ability to ease stomach aches, kidney stones and alleviate bronchial constriction.

Saffron’s medicinal attributes come from minerals and vitamins: copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.  Cartoenoids: α-crocin, zeaxanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes; all  important antioxidants helping to protect a body from oxidant induced stress, cancers and infections. Vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C.

Saffron supplements have been found to be effective in studies, however, caution is advised if encountering any of the following:  nausea, vomiting, appetite loss or drowsiness. Consult a doctor if more serious side effects occur such as persistent vomiting, blood in the urine or stool’s, nosebleed or dizziness. These may all be signs of a saffron overdose. Use of saffron must be avoided by those with liver or kidney disease, allergies and bipolar disorder. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should also check with a doctor before using saffron.

Kim Crocker

Research Studies

http://www.itmonline.org/articles/saffron/saffron.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15341662

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17704979 http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2805356.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=weightloss%20saffron

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/saffron.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15341662

Anti-Aging Foods: Salmon, Berries, Green Tea & More

The secret to feeling and looking younger comes down to fighting inflammatory substances that we ingest. Dr. Nicholas Perricone discusses the many benefits of whole foods and why they are a must in our diet.  It’s important for readers to understand that certain nutrients work more effectively in our body when in the presence of antioxidants.   Listed below are some substances found in foods that are linked to accelerating the body’s aging process:

1. Sucrose, such as corn syrup.

2.  Certain complex carbohydrates such as: white breads, cookies, chips.

3. Trans fats, which is any oil that has been hydrogenated, i.e. shortening. 

The Great News, as noted by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, is that certain foods high in antioxidants, reduce the effect’s of inflammation, associated with anti-aging.  Some nutritional foods to consider are:    Salmon, Blueberry and Green Tea.

Anti-oxidants, when consumed can fight the oxidants (O+) by attaching themselves to the free radicals and in turn reduce inflammation linked to many aspects of the aging process, not limited to, heart disease and even wrinkles.

Salmon contains a wonderful anti-oxidant (astaxanthin), causing Vitamin C and E to work longer, promoting the health of our eyes and skin.  Additionally, salmon is an excellent source of protein, which is needed to make all cells: skin, hair, eyes, muscles and organs.  It also contains a healthy fat found in the Omega 3 which promotes HDL to reduce the negative effects of LDL cholesterol.

Berries contain anthocyanin’s, which helps Vitamin C and E work better in the body. Research performed in Denmark found that Berries are used in the the reduction of inflammation and prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and mood disorders.

Green Tea is a brain-wise healthy drink.  February 14, 2008 it was noted in the “Journal of Nutrition and Biochem”, by Japanese researchers that, “The catechins found in green tea are a source of anitoxidative defence for the brain neurons, preventing cognitive deficits.” Green tea does not stimulate your need for food. However, caffeine found in (north american) coffee, promotes hunger and a cascading process that begins with salivase (enzymes in your mouth) and ends with HCL found in your stomach, which can only be satisfied through food intake.  These foods are not usually associated with fruits and vegetables, but cookies, cakes and pies that are linked with inflammatory substances and weight gain.   

Three strong antioxaditive foods: Salmon, Blueberries and Green Tea, should be included in everyone’s daily meal plan, in order to, maintain ones mental and physical being. Additional fruits and vegetables high in anti-oxidants are: avocado, melon, whole grains, rice, soy, nuts, cruciferous vegetables. Two spices linked to improving th circulatory system are garlic and ginger.  Water is an individual’s best friend, as the human body is composed of 60% water.  

Eat whole foods, drink both water and green tea to give yourself the winning edge in keeping your body healthy and strong, which in the end is a contributing factor to longevity.

By:  Kimberly Crocker

Literature Research

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/IIFET/2000/papers/andersons.pdf

http://www.astafactor.com/in-nature.htm

http://www.blackcurrants.co.nz/english/secret.htm

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):675-83.Zafra-Stone S, Yasmin T, Bagchi M, Chatterjee A, Vinson JA, Bagchi D.  Research and Development Department, InterHealth Research Center, Benicia, CA, USA http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17533652?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

 J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Feb 14  Haque AM, Hashimoto M, Katakura M, Hara Y, Shido O.  Department of Environmental Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, Izumo City, Shimane, 693-8501, Japan.