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Gut Health: A Diverse Gut Microbiome Improves Sleep

Recent research suggests that the more diverse your gut microbiome the more likely your sleep will be uninterrupted. This makes sense, as a more diverse gut microbiome also more positively affects your digestion, emotional and mental states, and immunity systems.

But can foods can cause nightmares? Here’s some food for thought.

  • Spicy foods and foods high in sugar (including bread and pasta) are often linked to nightmares because they require more effort for the body to digest. (Sugars must be converted to glucose.)

And can foods stop you from getting a good deep sleep?

  • Foods high in saturated fats (watch out when you eat too many saturated fats during the day)
  • Coffee including chocolate and cocoa… the caffeine will stimulate your brain
  • Alcohol, yes… no surprises there
  • Any type of foods that may give you heartburn

Do hunger pangs keep you awake at night?

  • Try eating a few bites of lean chicken or lean ground beef with banana, or cheese and crackers, or a few spoons of rice as these help with sleep. But not too much as eating a lot before bed increases your risk of nightmares.

So, what can you do to improve the diversity of your gut microbiome? 

  • Set your goal to eat two to three cups of veggies a day. Apart from all their vitamins and nutrients, veggies have a whole heap of fibre which your body needs to stay regular. Include foods high in Chlorophyll e.g., lettuce or mesclun
  • Aim for foods high in protein and fibre
  • Eat more fermented foods. Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics which may help discourage gut inflammation. So add a spoonful or two of sauerkraut with your dinner, or drizzle miso over oven-roasted vegetables… yum... or grab a good-quality kombucha from the supermarket
  • Eat prebiotic foods to encourage beneficial bacteria to grow in your gut. Grab a banana, or throw some asparagus or onion in your salad.
  • Rethink your relationship with refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. Foods high in natural sugars (e.g., fruit) often come with added benefits, such as fibre and nutrients, which are beneficial to the gut microbiome. In place of sugar, use monk fruit, coconut sugar, dates, honey or erythritol (found at FreshChoice or Fill Good, both in Cambridge) or stevia
  • Drink lots LOTS LOTS of water. Up your intake. If you don’t like water straight out of the tap (which in Cambridge is perfectly healthy) then try adding citrus juice (think of the added vitamins). As we move into summer, try placing a jug full of water with mint and cucumber in the fridge. Your water will have a fresh taste and you’ll be consuming all those added nutrients. Not sure how much water your body needs? Try dividing your weight (in kgs) by 30. This will tell you how many litres of water you need per day
  • Exercise regularly and keep moving when you can. If you don’t normally exercise then challenge yourself to start getting 15 minutes of exercise a day
  • Keep track of what you’re eating, what you’re doing and how you’re feeling; some people - and we recommend - using a journal to help keep track of their daily intakes and how they're doing