How Can A Raw Food Diet Help Me Sleep?
Melatonin and serotonin are hormones in the body derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Melatonin and serotonin enhance sleep and regulate our sleep/wake cycles. Melatonin is primarily made in the pineal gland, while 95% of serotonin is made in the gut1. If our gut is damaged from the foods we are eating, so is our ability to make serotonin. Eating a mainly raw food diet is especially helpful because of the foods that are NOT eaten. Many of the foods in a regular diet are known sleep dysregulators which include:
- Nervous system stimulants: coffee, caffeinated soda, energy drinks
- Foods that spike our blood sugar: refined sugar and processed foods.
- Digestive system dysregulators: meat, allergens and toxins.
- Meat: There is evidence showing that meat in the gut undergoes fermentation. Epidemiological studies have shown that eating meat is associated with a prevalence of colorectal cancer, in part, due to protein fermentation.2
- Food allergies: wheat, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, and GMOs
- Free radical damage: cooked oils, heated foods especially bbq and deep frying are pro-oxidant to the digestive system because of toxic compounds created through the heating process: acrolein, acrylamide, furans, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, benzopyrene and HNE. For more information on how to avoid cooked food see my article “What is Raw Food?”.
Circadian Rhythm Disruption And Blood Sugar
Sunlight, hormone levels, time change and blood sugar can disrupt circadian rhythms. Having balanced blood sugar is closely linked with the biological clock.4 Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels can prevent the afternoon energy slump most people feel between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. Avoiding processed foods and increasing raw food intake is a great way to stabilize blood sugar.
What Should I Do To Improve My Sleep?
- Cutting out the foods listed above that disrupt the sleep cycle is the best place to start. Making sure we are eating food that supports health is fundamental.
- Incorporate more raw foods into your diet! Starting the morning off with a glass of water and raw food smoothie is a great way to begin the day. See the recipe below!
- Make your sleep space sacred. Using electronics in bed is linked to “delayed circadian rhythm”, later bedtimes, decreased sleep and decreased school performance.3 Devoting your bedroom to sleeping and sex can improve your sleep through proper sleep hygiene.
- Sleep hygiene is the process of establishing and soothing, pre-sleep routine. Sleep hygiene begins with slowing down and preparing for bed 1 hour before sleep time: turning off electronics, dimming the lights, going to bed before midnight, getting between 7 and 9 hours, making sure your bed sheets are clean and comfortable! Taking a bath is a relaxing way to slow down and calm down at the end of the day. Consider adding 4 drops of Lavender essential oil to promote relaxation, tranquility and a good mood.
Recipe Breakfast Smoothie- “Beautifully Balanced Bliss”
- 1 cup- coconut milk (or other dairy alternative of your choice)
- ½ banana (small)
- 1 tbs almond butter (or other raw nut butter of your choice)
- ½ cup of your favorite greens (kale, spinach)
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1-2 tbs chia
- 1 tbs raw cacao nibs
- 1-2 dash pure vanilla extract
- 4 shakes cinnamon powder
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until desired consistency.
All ingredients should be organic to limit the intake of toxins via pesticides. Cinnamon, maca, coconut and chia are well known blood sugar stabilizers. Cacao is a natural and mild stimulant as well as a super food and antioxidant. Chia is also a super food containing omega 3’s, protein, glycoprotein, antioxidants and fiber. Nut butters provide fat and protein needed to sustain energy levels until your next meal. Green foods contain minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals as well as fiber. Fiber binds toxin in the gut and improves transit time for the elimination of toxins.
Start your day off with a well balanced, raw food, power smoothie! Get in touch with me if you have any questions and would like to know more about a raw food meal plan.
- Carpenter, Siri. “That Gut Feeling.” Http://www.apa.org. American Psychological Association, 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
- Windey, K., V. De Preter, and K. Verbeke. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
- Digitale, Erin. “Body’s Circadian Rhythm Tightly Entwined with Blood Sugar Control.” News Center. Stanford Medicine New Center, 05 Oct. 2009. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
- Graven, Andreas. “Use Your Bedroom for Sleep and Sex Only.” Sciencenordic.com. ScienceNordic, 14 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
Dr. Ariel Jones is a native of Vancouver BC and a graduate of BINM (2013). Her practice emphasizes removing the physical, mental and spiritual obstacles to cure while implementing a toxin-free lifestyle for raw, radiant health. Ariel has enjoyed living in Victoria, BC during her BSc. in biology and psychology, Calgary AB and Hilo Hawaii for a post-graduate residency focused on raw food diet, detoxification, addictions and cancer therapies.