Quality Eats Lead to Quality Zzzs

By Bethany Soderlund, dietetic intern, Festival Foods

Sleep is a key lifestyle factor that can positively or negatively affect our health. When it comes to sleep, the quantity and quality of those resting hours make all the difference. Whether you struggle to fall asleep every once in a while or it seems to be a chronic issue, finding a solution will greatly benefit your mood and ability to function throughout the day. Did you know food and nutrition can play a key role in the quality of your sleep?

The quantity, quality, and timing of meals can positively or negatively impact your sleep. First let’s look at how food can disrupt our sleep. Large meals, high fat or high protein meals, and spicy foods during the day, and especially before bed, may cause gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which is a potential sleep disrupter. Many foods also contain substances that act as stimulants to the brain including alcohol, caffeine, and tyramine.

Alcohol before bed can cause frequent sleep disruptions, headaches, and less restful sleep, so it is best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. For many Americans, caffeine is the life-sustaining liquid that flows through their veins. Whether a cup of coffee, energy drink, or soda, the high levels of caffeine consumed during the day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. For optimal sleep, avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Another potentially problematic component is tyramine. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the amino acid tyrosine that causes a brain-stimulating effect. Some of the tyramine-containing foods to minimize or avoid before bed include bacon, ham, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, and red wine.

Fortunately, not all foods are sleep disrupters. In fact, some foods can actually be sleep promoters. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts to increase the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep. Meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey are some of the sources of tryptophan. Carbohydrate foods help increase tryptophan’s access to the brain. What does this mean for your meal plan? In general, eating a balanced diet containing protein at each meal during the day and a small snack one to four hours before bed will promote this normal body physiology to increase the stages of deep sleep. Example bedtime snacks include yogurt and crackers, wheat toast and cheese, and cereal and milk. Just remember to keep your portion sizes small to help avoid sleep disturbances.

Sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle that can affect mood and productivity during the day. Our food choices and the timing of those food choices can be the difference between counting sheep and a deep restful night’s sleep. Whether you opt for two cups of coffee instead of three or switch your bedtime snack from hot wings to a glass of milk, small changes each day can get you on the right track to waking up energized and rejuvenated.

Bethany Soderlund is a dietetic intern with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and is currently working with the Mealtime Mentors at Festival Foods. Learn more about Festival’s registered dietitian team and their many resources and recipes at FestFoods.com/Mealtime.

Resolve to Eat More Plants this New Year!

It’s the start of the New Year and many of us are resolving to take better care of ourselves by eating healthier and exercising more. With the endless amounts of nutrition information out there, it may seem like a challenging task to find the right approach. Luckily, many strategies to eating healthier have one key component in common – eat more plants … or rather, plant-based foods!

Plant-based foods include lots of delicious and nutritious options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Filling our plates with these types of foods is commonly referred to as plant-based or plant-forward eating. And, plant-based eating serves as the basis for several different popular lifestyle approaches including Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. Although each lifestyle approach is varied and may be appropriate for different individuals, there is a common theme between each – plates are filled with mostly plant-based foods.
Filling our plates with a variety of mostly fruits and vegetables, but also whole grains, nuts or seeds can help promote health and prevent serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In fact, followers of the Mediterranean diet, a plant-based approach, have some of the lowest rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in the world. Enjoying a variety of nutrient dense, plant-based foods can help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight, while promoting long-term health.
Not only do plant-based foods provide a lot of quality nutrients, but plant-based foods also promote sustainability. According to the United States Geological Survey, it takes roughly 2600 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat compared to the 110-250 gallons needed to produce one pound of wheat. With staggering figures like this combined with the knowledge of our steadily growing world population, eating a plant-based diet may promote sustainability.
Resolving to eat more plants this year is the easy part. The “doing” is often a little more challenging. So, here are some ideas to help you make this 2017 resolution easier:

• Remember that all forms matter – meaning that fruits and vegetables, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned or dried or 100% juice, are all important and count toward your daily intake.
• Discover the world of herbs and spices! Add flavor to vegetables, whole grains or beans without adding calories or sodium.
• Experiment with global flavors! Many traditional cuisines from around the world consider plant-based foods staples.
• Magical meat extender! Substitute cooked beans or lentils for half of the meat in some of your favorite recipes for soups, casseroles, meatballs and more
• Sneak in plants! Blend beans into brownies, zucchini into cake or butternut squash into macaroni and cheese for extra nutrition.
• Join Festival’s #halfplateplants campaign for a little support and accountability by sharing pictures of your plates filled with mostly plants on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Looking for even more plant-based or healthy food ideas this New Year? Visit FestFoods.com/health for additional nutrition information, product recommendations, tips and meal ideas.
Emily Schwartz is a nationally accredited, registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) serving the Eau Claire and La Crosse communities as Festival Foods’ Western Wisconsin Regional Dietitian.

A Healthy Heart Starts with a Heathy Gut

By Heidi Toy, NTP

Do you have a heart disease or a family history of heart disease? Do you want to actually heal or avoid heart disease without having to take pharmaceutical-grade drugs? Then finding the real issue is the answer.

he real causes of heart disease are: poor nutrition, environmental toxins, lack of or poor sleep, stress, physical inactivity, and vertebral subluxations. All of these contribute to what is called leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Heart disease is not the lack of a pharmaceutical-grade drug like a statin or high blood pressure medication. It is the health of your gut, and the answer is healing your gut.

The body produces a protein molecule called zonulin. Zonulin opens up the spaces between the cells in the intestinal lining so that nutrients and other molecules can exit the intestines [1]. When leaky gut syndrome is present, these spaces open up too much, allowing too large of foods particles, protein molecules, and bacterium to pass into the bloodstream. When this happens, an immunologic reaction occurs and the body is now primed to react to these foods and bacterium every time they appear. Two of the primary triggers that swing the zonulin door wide open are gluten and anaerobic gut bacteria. This happens to those people who have celiac disease and to those who do not. In short everyone is affected,and therefore everyone, even none celiac people are susceptible to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut means inflammation,and inflammation is the root of all disease, including cardiac and vascular disease. So we now know that gluten can contribute to leaky gut, and interestingly enough there are other foods and substances that also contribute to leaky gut syndrome, which are wheat, barley, rye, and [2] alcohol [3].

Another contributor to leaky gut is decreased melatonin production [4]. However, this is not a melatonin problem; it is actually a sunshine problem. Forget the myth that the sun is bad. Sunshine is the giver of life and the creator of melatonin. When sunshine hits the retina of the eye, melatonin is produced. It is stored in the pineal gland in the brain and released at night when we are in total darkness. Get out in the sun and when it is time to go to sleep, sleep in a room that is completely dark—no lights, no cell phones, and no alarm clock (put it in a drawer).

Stress is another major contributor to leaky gut [5], and healing the adrenal glands is crucial to managing stress, healing the gut, and ending diseases that are linked to poor gut health. Testing for adrenal fatigue is easy, and healing the adrenals is effective in many chronic health issues including leaky gut, heart disease, autoimmune issues, female hormone health, chronic fatigue, weight issues, and many more.

In my practice, one of the primary goals for all of my clients is gut integrity because without gut health, we do not have health. There are several tests that can be used to test for leaky gut. One is simply looking at a person’s blood chemistry according to functional medicine lab values (these are not the ranges printed on the lab chemistry result page). Another is via an exceptional test called the wheat zoomer test. Once we have the data needed to determine if the gut is permeable, we heal it via proper diet, supplementation, and lifestyle modification.When this happens, we see heart conditions subside and the need for drugs go away.

What you can start doing today is avoid all processed foods including gluten/wheat products. Adopt a healthy diet by eating green vegetables at every meal, eating quality proteins from pastured animals, consuming healthy fats, and staying hydrated via a pure water source. Move more. Find ways to destress and receive regular chiropractic adjustments.

 

 

Exhausted? Eat These

Don’t accept fatigue as the price of a full life, says Holly Phillips, medical contributor to CBS News and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough (Rodale, 2015). Her solution: Aim to eat two of these edible energizers daily.

► Oats (1 cup cooked): High in fiber and protein, oats eaten for breakfast help stabilize blood sugar all day.

► Salmon (3 oz.): This fish’s hefty dose of protein speeds metabolism, which increases energy.

► Almonds (1/3 cup): They’re packed with magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. Protein and fiber provide sustained energy without a crash.

► Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked): Protein and amino acids in this gluten-free grain aid in muscle repair and post-workout recovery.

► Avocado (1/2 avocado): The fatty acids lower inflammation linked to fatigue-causing conditions.

► Lentils (1/2 cup cooked): High in fibe, lentils help regulate blood sugar levels, while their selenium enhances mood.

► Turkey (3 oz.): B vitamins help metabolize food into energy, while the amino acid tyrosine can keep you more alert.

► Blueberries (1/2 cup): Potent antioxidants combat free radicals that can injure cells and lead to fatigue. Healthy carbs rev energy without adding too much sugar.

► Goji Berries (1/4 cup): They may help improve blood flow and alertness

► Kale (1 cup): Yep, its superfood status extends to energy. Credit protein, fiber, and crazy levels of antioxidants.

Your Body On A Juice Cleanse

Your Body on a Juice Cleanse Spoiler alert: With only a few fleeting benefits* —and nothing that will lower your disease risk—the liquid lifestyle is looking pretty lackluster. Some crazy things happen when you drastically cut calories, fat, and protein.

◘ Mood Swings: Without the carbohydrates, fat, and protein your body needs to make the neurotransmitters that keep you even-keeled, anticipate some irritability.

◘ Muscle Shrinkage: Your body doesn’t know it’s missing out on protein and will metabolize it as normal—by taking it from your muscles. A week long cleanse can cause significant muscle loss

◘ Weight Loss: You can expect to lose several pounds of water weight. You’ll gain it right back post-cleanse.

◘ Energy Drain: You’ve drastically cut back on calories, but your body doesn’t stop burning them, so you may feel weak.

◘ *Potential Heart Perks: Fasting for a few days may lower blood sugar, improve insulin function, and reduce blood pressure, but results last a few weeks at most.

◘ Tummy Trouble: Fruit-heavy fluids can pack a ton of sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that pulls water into your intestine, causing a laxative effect, dehydrating you and giving you diarrhea.