Huffpost Healthy Living

How To Eat For Better Sleep

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By Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D. for YouBeauty.com

Americans are getting sicker. Seventy percent of the diseases we are acquiring as a nation are caused by behavior, and food choices top the list.

In the past two decades alone, we have observed the overwhelming impact that poor food choices has on our waistlines. It's not just about our pant size either -- these choices have additional repercussions such as increased disease and even dull skin, hair and nails.

Often overlooked are the additional mechanisms in the human body that are affected by the types of foods we are choosing to put into our mouths at each meal. Several studies have uncovered a strong correlation between diet and poor sleep quality.

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Getting too few z's has detrimental effects on our bodies, and our appearance! Simply put, lack of sleep is not pretty! Too few hours in the sack has been shown to increase triglyceride levels, alter hunger hormones and compromise energy levels. Worse yet, it leads to graying, less vibrant skin.

As if that weren't enough, our lack of sleep causes a vicious cycle of eating more, gaining weight and sleeping less. Could we be more beautiful if, before reaching into the refrigerator, we contemplated which foods would not only satisfy our appetites but improve our nighttime sleep quality as well?

Based on recent evidence, the answer is yes!

The results of many recent studies identify poor diet as an underlying factor of sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness. Approximately 2 to 4 percent of the adult population is affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, a medically diagnosed disorder that causes frequent breathing disturbances during sleep, consequentially upsetting normal sleep patterns. The incidence of sleep apnea is exponentially greater in obese people, demonstrating a direct association between weight and quality of sleep.

A recent study in the European Respiratory Journal found that adherence to a Mediterranean based diet* paired with regular physical activity for six months improved sleep parameters in forty obese adults with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

All were advised to follow a low-calorie diet; twenty of which were instructed to consume a prudent based diet (that's a diet of raw vegetables, fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and dairy products) while the rest followed a Mediterranean based diet.

The Mediterranean-based diet group was encouraged to consume three times more fruits, vegetables, legumes, non-refined cereals and fish compared to the prudent-based group. Although both diets were low calorie, the participants complying with the Mediterranean diet demonstrated a greater decrease in waist circumference, waist to height ratio and waist-to-hip ratio compared with the prudent group.

So what does this mean for you, and your skin? It means that keeping in the good (fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes and lean fish) and keeping out the bad (added sugars, saturated fats and refined grains) can help you get not only your eight hours but great skin and hair as well.

This year, make it your resolution to be pretty inside and out. You can start by waking up to a healthy meal, exercising during the day and going to sleep with plenty of hours allotted for "beauty rest."

Your body, as well as your overall attractiveness will thrive!

 
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