Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’

Go Bananas!

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am a firm believer in local, seasonal eating.  But, I do have some exceptions, one of which is bananas.  I could never give up bananas and they certainly don’t grow in New England!  I start everyday with a nutrition-packed smoothie and banana is the mainstay ingredient.

Bananas are actually a super food in their own right!  Here’s how………

bananas

bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Bananas’ natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – combined with fiber are a sustained energy boost; they are the number one fruit with leading athletes.  The potassium-packed fruit can also help boost brainpower and keep students alert.

Bananas contain tryptophan, a natural protein that the body converts to serotonin, the feel good hormone, and helps people suffering from depression, PMS, stress or SAD (seasonal affect disorder). The tryptophan also helps with insomnia, so have a banana before bed for the perfect bedtime snack.

Bananas are high in potassium, which reduces the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure.   The fact that they are also low in salt makes it the perfect food to lower blood pressure.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a regular diet of bananas can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

No need for a laxative when bananas are a part of your diet.  The fiber in bananas can help overcome constipation and restore normal bowel function.  They also have a natural antacid effect in the body and offer relief from heartburn and intestinal disorders.  Bananas keep blood sugar levels up and snacking on them helps pregnant women avoid morning sickness.

For those rare occasions when you over imbibe, a milkshake made with bananas and honey calms the stomach, builds up depleted blood sugar levels and rehydrates the body.

I tried this remedy yesterday.  I rubbed the affected area from a mosquito bite with the inside of the banana skin to reduce swelling and irritation.  I’m so allergic to bites that I’ll try anything and happily the bite is better today!  Banana skins can also help kill off warts!

These are just a few of the many benefits of this exotic fruit.  While eating locally is the best way, nutrition-packed bananas are an important exception to the rule.   Make them apart of your daily diet.

An aside:  There is slightly more nutrition with riper bananas!

Information compiled from a physiological psychology lecture at CCNY and FDA.com.

 

Food, Glorious Food!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

Unfortunately the typical American diet – factory farmed meats, saturated fats, too much sugar, processed foods, hidden GMOs, artificial preservatives and pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables – is hardly thy medicine.  An organic, whole foods diet however, can be.  Below are two common and often interrelated conditions, which with the right foods can be helped.

Insomnia:

“They” say that sleep is the new water; experts are talking about the negative effects on our bodies from lack of sleep and are recommending we get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night for optimal health.  Many Americans are chronically sleep deprived however.  Consuming the right food is part of the answer. Eating a small snack – not a heavy meal – at least an hour before bedtime can help you fall asleep.  Tryptophan and carbohydrates, often found in comfort foods, maximize the release of serotonin, the feel good hormone, which helps you sleep.  Foods containing these two things are sleep inducing.  For example, bananas contain tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep and wake cycles; oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate; yogurt, warm milk, and other dairy products contain tryptophan; humus, turkey (You know how tired you feel after Thanksgiving dinner!) nuts and seeds, honey, and eggs also contain tryptophan. Try it and see if it works – don’t you like having permission for (a not too) late night snack?

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress:

In today’s complex, fast-faced, high-tech, and often-uncertain world, we all fall prey to stress from time to time.  A certain amount of adrenalin and cortisol, the stress hormones, are motivating, but too much is a problem and actually can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.  Avoiding or minimizing your intake of certain foods like caffeine, alcohol and sugar, which produce highs and lows, is key.  Incorporating foods high in folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, anti-oxidants and omega 3 into your diet on regular basis will stabilize your mood and fight free radicals associated with stress.  Good examples are asparagus, blueberries, avocados, oranges, papayas, red peppers, cottage cheese, milk, almonds, salmon, spinach, whole grain cereals and breads, and black tea.  Crunching raw vegetables is not only nutritious, but helps release your clenched jaw and curb tension.  Of course alleviating stress also helps with sleep.

Another benefit of healthy eating?  The same foods prevent and treat a variety of ailments, as well as ward off premature aging.  It’s kind of like one stop shopping.  Now that’s a powerful medicine!

Information compiled from: http://www.webmd.com/, www.oprah.com/oprahradio, www.thedailymeal.com, http://www.sheknows.com/