Articles by: Michele Sevier  M.Ed, DNM, 
              Education Director,  
              Nutrition House 
February 2017 Newsletter top image
What's Keeping You Awake?
LEARN
Can I tell you something? I am so relieved to have found a solution to my wife's sleep issues. For the past year, she has had difficulty falling asleep. - which in turn, negatively impacted my sleep. She would toss and turn for hours, keeping me awake. When we both eventually fell asleep, I would wake a couple of hours later and find her up and about. She would be wandering around the house or I would hear the murmur of the TV late into the night.

This soon became a real issue in our relationship, increasing our stress levels and increasing her anxiety. The long-term effects were beginning to take its toll on both of us, affecting our home life, our relationship and the workplace. We recognised the impact of poor sleeping habits on our long-term love and health. We needed real solutions. We began to research which changes could turn our lives around.

Stress Affects Both Body and Mind
Sleep deprivation is a major issue. Modern life frequently offers little recuperation time between periods of stress. Chronic stress takes a mental and physical toll.
Dr. Bruce S. McEwen of Rockefeller University explains, "Hyperactivity of the stress response results in changes over time in the circuitry of the brain." "If you're sleep deprived" McEwen explains, "blood pressure and cortisol don't go down at night like they should." People are "more likely to become obese and to have diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression."
We learned not everyone deals with stress the same way. Brain cells bombarded by stress signals have little recovery time. They eventually start to shrink and cut connections to other brain cells. The network that coordinates our thoughts, emotions and reactions thus starts to rearrange. Over time, entire regions of the brain can shrink. That may explain why studies have linked higher levels of stress hormones with memory, focus and problem solving. I admit that I was "foggy" most days - probably due to the concern and stress that I was experiencing.

My wife and I talked to a natural health advisor to find some answers. The advisor highlighted how the use of a few natural health supplements was very safe, easy and effective in resolving our sleep, stress and anxiety issues.  They were backed by scientific studies.

So, what worked for us?
L-theanine - offers many similar effects as meditation and biofeedback. It increased mental alertness, but soothed the mind and improved sleep. It even calmed the "jitters" I felt after a cup of coffee.

Passionflower - Studies on people experiencing generalized anxiety showed that passionflower is as effective as the drug oxazepam for treating symptoms. (University of Maryland Medical Centre), without the related dizziness, headache, and memory impairment. It's my wife's personal "zen" supplement.

Melatonin -  is a natural hormone made by your body. Around 9 pm, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert and sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin has been shown to work as a natural sleep aid, adjusting the body's sleep-wake cycle.

There were a few other supplements suggested, but we found these 3 - L-theanine, Passionflower and Melatonin were right for us. We are finally able to obtain our much-needed rest, we are happier and experience much higher energy levels. My wife has even given up the late-night movie channel in favour of sleep!

EAT
Calm Chamomile Banana Smoothie image
Calm Chamomile 
Banana Smoothie

A delicious smoothie that can be used for breakfast, or a healthy snack. Chamomile is well-known for its calming properties and can help ease symptoms of stress. The protein (whey, soy or plant-based) can help regulate blood sugars and avoid the associated mood swings.  

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup steeped chamomile tea
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond, soy, dairy)
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 scoop plant based, whey or soy protein
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 6 ounces vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
Directions

1. Steep chamomile tea for at least 2-5 minutes and cool for 10 minutes. 
    (or pre-make a pot and refrigerate).
2. Add all ingredients to blender. 
3. Blend until smooth.

ASK

Have a Natural Health Question?
Q
I am totally stressed out and have been for the last 2 years, which has resulted in an additional 30lbs of weight! I was told by my doctor that I have Metabolic Syndrome. I heard these factors are related, but I don't understand how.  
A
Stress can a negative impact on weight. Often chronic stress causes cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods (think cookies, chips and other refined foods). The stress-driven appetite for these foods leads to weight gain, primarily around the waist. Almost two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, much of which is due to stress-related food cravings. High stress increases the release of cortisol, which encourages your body to store fat. Over twenty percent of overweight/obese individuals may suffer from "metabolic syndrome." It is a cluster of conditions characterized by a "beer belly", high blood pressure, poor cholesterol readings and high blood sugar which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Reducing stress levels will be important to start the weight loss process and your cardiovascular health.

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