During times of high stress, one of the first casualties is deep, restorative sleep. You toss and turn. Even if you do get some shuteye, it’s usually poor quality—leaving you run-down and weary the following day.
Some people pass the time by reporting directly to the fridge. But instead of pouring a glass of milk, grab a bag of peas.
According to researchers at the University of Colorado, foods rich in prebiotics may help you manage stress and get better sleep.
You’ve heard of probiotics, the live bacteria that improves digestion and boosts the immune system. But less is known about its cousin, prebiotics. These are non-digestible fibers found primarily in plant sources like legumes, garlic, onions, asparagus, and oatmeal that, when consumed, feed the probiotics.
Think of them as fertilizer for the friendly probiotic bacteria that flourishes in your digestive system.
What do they have to do with sleep? The stomach is often referred to as a second brain. If the mind is whirling after a stressful event, the gut is likely in turmoil too. Hence, you feel butterflies when you’re nervous or you’re sick to your stomach when dealing with something dreadful.
The Colorado researchers wondered if the inverse was true: Could keeping your stomach relaxed alleviate tension in your mind and ease symptoms of stress, such as poor sleep? The answer: Yes.
By feeding the good bacteria, the researchers say, prebiotics fast-track the absorption of essential nutrients and enhance your immune function.
So, next time you find yourself staring at the ceiling, head to the kitchen and grab a clove of garlic. Or not. The research was done on rats; the next step is trying to replicate the effects in humans.
But, as lead study author Monika Fleshner said, “It can’t hurt and it might help.”
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