Getting good sleep is incredibly important for your overall health.

It may reduce your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses, keep your brain and digestion healthy and boost your immune system.

It’s generally recommended to get between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, though many people struggle to get enough.

There are many strategies you can use to promote good sleep, including making changes to your diet, as some foods have sleep-promoting properties.

Here are the 9 best foods you can eat before bed to enhance your sleep quality.

1. Almonds
Woman Holding Almonds in Palm of Hand

Almonds are a type of tree nut with many health benefits.

They are an excellent source of many nutrients, as one ounce contains 14% of your daily needs for phosphorus, 32% for manganese and 17% for riboflavin.

Also, eating almonds regularly has been associated with lower risks of a few chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is attributed to their content of healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber and antioxidants.

It has been claimed that almonds may also help boost sleep quality.

This is because almonds, along with several other types of nuts, are a source of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.

Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium, providing 19% of your daily needs in only 1 ounce. Consuming adequate amounts of magnesium may help improve sleep quality, especially for those who have insomnia.

Magnesium’s role in promoting sleep is thought to be due to its ability to reduce inflammation. Additionally, it may help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep.

Yet despite this, research on almonds and sleep is sparse.

One study examined the effects of feeding rats 400 mg of almond extract. It found that the rats slept longer and more deeply than they did without consuming almond extract.

The potential sleep-promoting effects of almonds are promising, but more extensive human studies are needed.

If you want to eat almonds before bed to determine if they impact your sleep quality, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, or about a handful, should be adequate.

2. Turkey

Turkey is delicious and nutritious.

It is high in protein, providing 4 grams per ounce (28 grams). Protein is important for keeping your muscles strong and regulating your appetite.

Additionally, turkey is a good source of a few vitamins and minerals. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 5% of your daily needs for riboflavin, 5% for phosphorus and 9% for selenium.

Many people claim turkey is a great food to eat before bed due to its ability to promote sleepiness, although no studies have examined its role in sleep, specifically.

However, turkey does have a few properties that explain why some people may become tired after eating it. Most notably, it contains the amino acid tryptophan, which increases the production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.

The protein in turkey may also contribute to its ability to promote tiredness. There is evidence that consuming moderate amounts of protein before bed is associated with better sleep quality, including less waking up throughout the night.

More research is necessary to confirm turkey’s potential role in improving sleep.

However, eating some turkey before bed may be worth trying, especially if you have trouble falling asleep.

3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that may offer a variety of health benefits.

It is well known for its content of flavones, a class of antioxidants that reduce inflammation that often leads to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

There is also some evidence that drinking chamomile tea may boost your immune system, reduce anxiety and depression and improve skin health. In addition, chamomile tea has some unique properties that may improve sleep quality.

Specifically, chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

One study in 34 adults found those who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days fell asleep 15 minutes faster and experienced less nighttime wakening, compared to those who did not consume the extract.

Another study found that women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported improved sleep quality, compared to non-tea drinkers.

Those who drank chamomile tea also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is commonly associated with sleep problems.

Drinking chamomile tea before going to bed is certainly worth trying if you want to improve the quality of your sleep.

4. Kiwi

Kiwis are a low-calorie and very nutritious fruit.

One medium kiwi contains only 50 calories and a significant amount of nutrients, including 117% of your daily needs for vitamin C and 38% for vitamin K.

It also contains a decent amount of folate and potassium, as well as several trace minerals.

Furthermore, eating kiwis may benefit your digestive health, reduce inflammation and lower your cholesterol. These effects are due to the high amount of fiber and carotenoid antioxidants that they provide.

According to studies on their potential to improve sleep quality, kiwis may also be one of the best foods to eat before bed.

In a four-week study, 24 adults consumed two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed each night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn’t eat anything before bedtime.

Additionally, their ability to sleep through the night without waking improved by 5%, while their total sleep time increased by 13%

The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis are thought to be due to their content of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle.

It has also been suggested that the antioxidants in kiwis, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, may be partly responsible for their sleep-promoting effects. This is thought to be due to their role in reducing inflammation.

More scientific evidence is needed to determine the effects that kiwis may have in improving sleep. Nevertheless, eating 1–2 medium kiwis before bed may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

5. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice has some impressive health benefits.

First, it’s high in a few important nutrients. An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 62% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 40% for vitamin C and 14% for manganese.

Additionally, it is a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonols. Antioxidants may protect your cells from harmful inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Tart cherry juice is also known to promote sleepiness, and it has even been studied for its role in relieving insomnia. For these reasons, drinking tart cherry juice before bed may improve your sleep quality.

The sleep-promoting effects of tart cherry juice are due to its high content of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep.

In two studies, adults with insomnia who drank 8 ounces (237 ml) of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks slept about an hour and a half longer and reported better sleep quality, compared to when they did not drink the juice.

Although these results are promising, more extensive research is necessary to confirm the role tart cherry juice has in improving sleep and preventing insomnia.

Nevertheless, drinking some tart cherry juice before bed is certainly worth a try if you struggle with falling or staying asleep at night.

6. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel, are incredibly healthy.

What makes them unique is their exceptional vitamin D content. For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains 525–990 IU of vitamin D, which is over 50% of your daily needs.

Additionally, fatty fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, both of which are known for reducing inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against heart disease and boost brain health.

The combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fatty fish have the potential to enhance sleep quality, as both have been shown to increase the production of serotonin, a sleep-promoting brain chemical.

In one study, men who ate 300 grams of Atlantic salmon three times a week for six months fell asleep about 10 minutes faster than men who ate chicken, beef or pork.

This effect was thought to be due to the vitamin D content of the salmon. Those in the fish group had higher levels of vitamin D, which was linked to a significant improvement in sleep quality.

Eating a few ounces of fatty fish before bed may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, but more studies are needed to make a definite conclusion about the ability of fatty fish to improve sleep.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are a popular type of tree nut.

They are abundant in many nutrients, providing over 19 vitamins and minerals, in addition to 2 grams of fiber, in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. Walnuts are particularly rich in magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Additionally, walnuts are a great source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid. They also provide 4 grams of protein per ounce, which may be beneficial for reducing appetite.

Walnuts may also boost heart health. They have been studied for their ability to reduce high cholesterol levels, which are a major risk factor for heart disease.

What’s more, eating walnuts has been claimed to improve sleep quality, as they are one of the best food sources of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.

The fatty acid makeup of walnuts may also contribute to better sleep. They provide ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s converted to DHA in the body. DHA may increase production of serotonin, a sleep-enhancing brain chemical.

Unfortunately, the claims about walnuts improving sleep are not supported by much evidence. In fact, there have not been any studies that focus specifically on walnut’s role in promoting sleep.

Regardless, if you struggle with sleep, eating some walnuts before bed may help. About a handful of walnuts is an adequate portion.

8. Passionflower Tea

Passionflower tea is another herbal tea that has been used traditionally for many years to treat a number of health ailments.

It is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, which are known for their role in reducing inflammation, boosting immune health and reducing heart disease risk.

Additionally, passionflower tea has been studied for its potential to reduce anxiety.

This is attributed to its content of apigenin, an antioxidant that produces a calming effect by binding to certain receptors in your brain.

There is also some evidence that drinking passionflower tea increases the production of GABA, a brain chemical that works to inhibit other brain chemicals that induce stress, such as glutamate.

The calming properties of passionflower tea may promote sleepiness, so it may be beneficial to drink it before going to bed.

In a seven-day study, 41 adults drank a cup of passionflower tea before bed. They rated their sleep quality significantly better when they drank the tea, compared to when they did not drink the tea.

More research is needed to determine the ability of passionflower tea to promote sleep, but it is certainly worth trying if you want to improve your sleep quality.

9. White Rice

White rice is a grain that is widely consumed as a staple food in many countries.

The major difference between white and brown rice is that white rice has had its bran and germ removed, which makes it lower in fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.

Nevertheless, white rice still contains a decent amount of a few vitamins and minerals. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of white rice provides 14% of your daily needs for folate, 11% for thiamin and 24% for manganese.

Also, white rice is high in carbs, providing 28 grams in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. Its carb content and lack of fiber contribute to its high glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar.

It has been suggested that eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as white rice, a few hours before bed may help improve sleep quality.

In one study, the sleep habits of 1,848 people were compared based on their intake of white rice, bread or noodles. Higher rice intake was associated with better sleep, including longer sleep duration.

It has also been reported that white rice may be most effective at improving sleep if it is consumed at least one hour before bedtime.

Despite the potential role that eating white rice may have in promoting sleep, it is best consumed in moderation due to its lack of fiber and nutrients.

Other Foods That May Promote Sleep

Several other foods have sleep-promoting properties, but they have not been studied specifically for their effects on sleep.

  • Milk: Another known source of tryptophan, milk has been shown to improve sleep in the elderly, especially when taken along with melatonin and paired with exercise.
  • Bananas: Bananas contain tryptophan and are a good source of magnesium. Both of these properties may help you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Oatmeal: Similar to rice, oatmeal is high in carbs and has been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed. Additionally, oats are a known source of melatonin.
  • Cottage cheese: Contains a significant amount of casein, which is a milk protein that is well known to sustain overnight muscle repair and growth when consumed before bed.
The Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is very important for your health.

Fortunately, several foods may help, thanks to their content of sleep-regulating hormones and brain chemicals, including melatonin and serotonin.

Additionally, some foods contain high amounts of specific antioxidants and nutrients, such as magnesium, that are known to enhance sleep by helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer.

To reap the benefits of sleep-enhancing foods, it may be best to consume them 2–3 hours before bed. This is because eating immediately before going to sleep may cause digestive issues, such as acid reflux.

Overall, more research is necessary to conclude the specific role that foods have in promoting sleep, but their known effects are very promising.

Source: Healthline 

Immune system boosters

Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong.

If you’re looking for ways to prevent colds, the flu, and other infections, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 15 powerful immune system boosters.

1. Citrus fruits

Most people turn straight to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system.

Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.

Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Popular citrus fruits include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • clementines
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes

Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:

  • 75 mg for women
  • 90 mg for men

If you opt for supplements, avoid taking more than 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day.

Also keep in mind that while vitamin C might help you recover from a cold quicker, there’s no evidence yet that it’s effective against the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

2. Red bell peppers
14 red bell peppers on top of a dark wood table

If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C (127 mg) as a Florida orange (45 mg). They’re also a rich source of beta carotene.

Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

3. Broccoli
hands holding up a bowl full of broccoli

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate.

The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all. Research has shown that steaming is the best way to keep more nutrients in the food.

4. Garlic
Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health.

Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. Garlic may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and there’s weak evidence that it helps lower blood pressure.

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

5. Ginger
slices of ginger on a dark wood table table

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may help with nausea as well.

While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin.

Ginger may also decrease chronic pain and might even possess cholesterol-lowering properties.

6. Spinach
spinach leaves in a silver pot with a handle

Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C — it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may both increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.

Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking makes it easier to absorb the vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid, an antinutrient. Check out some spinach recipes here.

7. Yogurt
yogurt topped with seeds and granola and placed in a small white and blue floral bowl

Look for yogurts that have the phrase “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases.

Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kind that are flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.

Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.

Clinical trials are even in the works to study its possible effects on COVID-19.

8. Almonds
unroasted almonds in a dark-colored bowl on top of beige fabric

When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, this powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system.

It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.

Adults only need about 15 mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides around 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.

9. Sunflower seeds
sunflower seeds in a clear jar on top of a turquoise table

Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E.

Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.

Sunflower seeds are also incredibly high in selenium. Just 1 ounce contains nearly half the selenium that the average adult needs daily. A variety of studies, mostly performed on animals, have looked at its potential to combat viral infections such as swine flu (H1N1).

10. Turmeric
turmeric powder, turmeric roots, and turmeric supplements on top of a turquoise and white plate

You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. Curcumin has promise as an immune booster (based on findings from animal studies) and an antiviral. More research is needed.

11. Green tea
loose leaf green tea in a white mug on a wrought iron table

Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another powerful antioxidant.

In studies, EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.

Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells.

12. Papaya
two large papaya halves on a dark wood table

Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. You can find double the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single medium fruit. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.

Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.

13. Kiwi
whole kiwi fruits and two kiwi halves in a metal basket with handles

Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.

14. Poultry
uncooked whole chicken on a metal pan surrounded by salt flakes and a white and blue plaid rag

When you’re sick and you reach for chicken soup, it’s more than just the placebo effect that makes you feel better. The soup may help lower inflammation, which could improve symptoms of a cold.

Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B-6.

Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.

Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.

15. Shellfish
fresh crab and half of a lemon on a white plate placed on a table

Shellfish isn’t what jumps to mind for many who are trying to boost their immune system, but some types of shellfish are packed with zinc.

Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.

Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include:

  • oysters
  • crab
  • lobster
  • mussels

Keep in mind that you don’t want to have more than the daily recommended amount of zinc in your diet:

  • 11 mg for adult men
  • 8 mg for most adult women

Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.

More ways to prevent infections

Variety is the key to proper nutrition. Eating just one of these foods won’t be enough to help fight off the flu or other infections, even if you eat it constantly. Pay attention to serving sizes and recommended daily intake so that you don’t get too much of a single vitamin and too little of others.

Eating right is a great start, and there are other things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu, cold, and other illnesses.

Start with these flu prevention basics and then read these 7 tips for flu-proofing your home. Perhaps most importantly, get your annual flu vaccine to protect yourself and others.

Source: Healthline

It’s easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren’t.

You generally want to avoid certain foods if you want to lose weight and prevent chronic illnesses.

In this article, healthy alternatives are mentioned whenever possible.

Here are 20 foods that are generally unhealthy — although most people can eat them in moderation on special occasions without any permanent damage to their health.

1. Sugary drinks

Added sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet.

However, some sources of sugar are worse than others, and sugary drinks are particularly harmful.

When you drink liquid calories, your brain doesn’t appear to register them as food. Thus, you may end up drastically increasing your total calorie intake.

When consumed in large amounts, sugar can drive insulin resistance and is strongly linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s also associated with various serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Some people believe that sugary drinks are the most fattening aspect of the modern diet — and drinking them in large amounts can drive fat gain and obesity.

Alternatives  – Drink water, soda water, coffee, or tea instead. Adding a slice of lemon to water or soda water can provide a burst of flavor.
2. Most pizzas

Pizza is one of the world’s most popular junk foods.

Most commercial pizzas are made with unhealthy ingredients, including highly refined dough and heavily processed meat. Pizza also tends to be extremely high in calories.

Alternatives – Some restaurants offer healthier ingredients. Homemade pizzas can also be very healthy, as long as you choose wholesome ingredients.
3. White bread

Most commercial breads are unhealthy if eaten in large amounts, as they’re made from refined wheat, which is low in fiber and essential nutrients and may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar.

Alternatives – For people who can tolerate gluten, Ezekiel bread is an excellent choice. Whole-grain bread is also healthier than white bread.
4. Most fruit juices

Fruit juice is often assumed to be healthy.

While juice contains some antioxidants and vitamin C, it also packs high amounts of liquid sugar.

In fact, fruit juice harbors just as much sugar as sugary drinks like Coke or Pepsi — and sometimes even more.

Alternatives – Some fruit juices have been shown to have health benefits despite their sugar content, such as pomegranate and blueberry juices. However, these should be considered occasional supplements, not an everyday part of your diet.
5. Sweetened breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals are processed cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn.

They’re especially popular among children and frequently eaten with milk.

To make them more palatable, the grains are roasted, shredded, pulped, rolled, or flaked. They’re generally high in added sugar.

The main downside of most breakfast cereals is their high added sugar content. Some are so sweet that they could even be compared to candy.

Alternatives – Choose breakfast cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugar. Even better, make your own oat porridge from scratch.
6. Fried, grilled, or broiled food

Frying, grilling, and broiling are among the unhealthiest cooking methods.

Foods cooked in these ways are often highly palatable and calorie-dense. Several types of unhealthy chemical compounds also form when food is cooked under high heat.

These include acrylamides, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, oxysterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Many chemicals formed during high-heat cooking have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

Alternatives – To improve your health, choose milder and healthier cooking methods, such as boiling, stewing, blanching, and steaming.
7. Pastries, cookies, and cakes

Most pastries, cookies, and cakes are unhealthy if eaten in excess.

Packaged versions are generally made with refined sugar, refined wheat flour, and added fats. Shortening, which may be high in unhealthy trans fats, is sometimes added.

These treats might be tasty, but they have almost no essential nutrients, copious calories, and many preservatives.

Alternatives – If you can’t stay away from dessert, spring for Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate.
8. French fries and potato chips

Whole, white potatoes are very healthy.

However, the same cannot be said of French fries and potato chips.

These foods are very high in calories, and it’s easy to eat excessive amounts. Several studies link French fries and potato chips to weight gain.

These foods may also contain large amounts of acrylamides, which are carcinogenic substances that form when potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted.

Alternatives – Potatoes are best consumed boiled, not fried. If you need something crunchy to replace potato chips, try baby carrots or nuts.
9. Gluten-free junk foods

About one-third of the U.S. population actively tries to avoid gluten.

Yet, people often replace healthy, gluten-containing foods with processed junk foods that happen to be gluten-free.

These gluten-free replacement products are often high in sugar and refined grains like corn starch or tapioca starch. These ingredients may trigger rapid spikes in blood sugar and are low in essential nutrients.

Alternatives – Choose foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as unprocessed plant and animal foods.
10. Agave nectar

Agave nectar is a sweetener that’s often marketed as healthy.

However, it’s highly refined and extremely high in fructose. High amounts of fructose from added sweeteners can be absolutely disastrous for health.

In fact, agave nectar is even higher in fructose than many other sweeteners.

Whereas table sugar is 50% fructose and high-fructose corn syrup around 55%, agave nectar is 85% fructose.

Alternatives – Stevia and erythritol are healthy, natural, and calorie-free alternatives.
11. Low-fat yogurt

Yogurt can be incredibly healthy.

Nonetheless, most yogurts found in the grocery store are bad for you.

They’re often low in fat but loaded with sugar to compensate for the flavor that fat provides. Put simply, most yogurt has had its healthy, natural fats replaced with an unhealthy ingredient.

Additionally, many yogurts don’t provide probiotic bacteria as generally believed. They’re often pasteurized, which kills most of their bacteria.

Alternatives – Choose regular, full-fat yogurt that contains live or active cultures (probiotics). If possible, buy varieties from grass-fed cows.
12. Low-carb junk foods

Low-carb diets are very popular.

While you can eat plenty of whole foods on such a diet, you should watch out for processed low-carb replacement products. These include low-carb candy bars and meal replacements.

These foods are often highly processed and packed with additives.

Alternatives – If you’re on a low-carb diet, aim for foods that are naturally low in carbs, which include eggs, seafood, and leafy greens.
13. Ice cream

Ice cream may be delicious, but it’s loaded with sugar.

This dairy product is also high in calories and easy to overeat. If you eat it as a dessert, you’re usually piling it on top of your normal calorie intake.

Alternatives – It’s possible to opt for healthier brands or make your own ice cream using fresh fruit and less sugar.
14. Candy bars

Candy bars are incredibly unhealthy.

They’re high in sugar, refined wheat flour, and processed fats while also very low in essential nutrients.

What’s more, these treats will leave you hungry because of the way that your body metabolizes these sugar bombs.

Alternatives – Eat fruit or a piece of quality dark chocolate instead.
15. Processed meat

Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is not true for processed meats.

Studies show that people who eat processed meats have a higher risk of many serious ailments, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Most of these studies are observational in nature, meaning that they can’t prove that processed meat is to blame. However, the statistical link is strong and consistent between studies.

Alternatives – If you want to eat bacon, sausages, or pepperoni, try to buy from local butchers who don’t add many unhealthy ingredients.
16. Processed cheese

Cheese is healthy in moderation.

It’s loaded with nutrients, and a single slice packs all the nutrients as a glass of milk.

Still, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. They’re mostly made with filler ingredients that are engineered to have a cheese-like appearance and texture.

Make sure to read labels to confirm that your cheese contains dairy and few artificial ingredients.

Alternatives – Eat real cheese instead. Healthy types include feta, mozzarella, and cottage cheeses. Many vegan cheese alternatives can also be good choices.
17. Most fast food meals

Generally speaking, fast-food chains serve junk food.

Most of their offerings are mass-produced and low in nutrients.

Despite their low prices, fast foods may contribute to disease risk and harm your general wellness. You should especially watch out for fried items.

Alternatives – As a result of mounting pressure, many fast-food chains have started offering healthy options.
18. High-calorie coffee drinks

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and offers many benefits.

Notably, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s.

At the same time, the creamers, syrups, additives, and sugars that are frequently added to coffee are highly unhealthy.

These products are just as harmful as any other sugar-sweetened beverage.

Alternatives – Drink plain coffee instead. You can add small amounts of heavy cream or full-fat milk if you desire.
19. Anything with added sugar or refined grains

It’s important to avoid — or at least limit — foods that contain added sugar, refined grains, and artificial trans fats.

These are some of the unhealthiest but most common ingredients in the modern diet. Thus, the importance of reading labels cannot be overstated.

This even applies to so-called health foods.

Alternatives – Aim for nutrient-dense, whole foods, such as fresh fruits and whole grains.
20. Most highly processed foods

The simplest way to eat healthy and lose weight is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Processed goods are often packaged and loaded with excess salt or sugar.

Alternatives – When you’re shopping, make sure to read food labels. Try to load up your cart with plenty of veggies and other whole foods.
The bottom line

Though the Western diet packs plenty of junk food, you can maintain a healthy diet if you steer clear of the processed, high-sugar items mentioned above.

If you focus on whole foods, you’ll be well on your way to feeling better and reclaiming your health.

Plus, practicing mindfulness when you eat by listening to your body’s cues and paying attention to flavors and textures can help you be more aware of how much and what you eat, allowing you to achieve a better relationship with food.

Source: Healthline 

It came over me most often at night, after my little girl was in bed. It came after my computer was shut down, after my work was put away, and the lights were turned out.

That’s when the suffocating waves of grief and loneliness hit hardest, coming at me again and again, threatening to pull me under and drown me in my own tears.

I’d dealt with depression before. But in my adult life, this was surely the most relentless bout I had experienced.

Of course, I knew why I was depressed. Life had gotten hard, confusing, and scary. A friend had taken his life, and everything else spiraled downward from there.

My relationships all seemed to be breaking apart. Old wounds with my family were coming to the surface. Someone I believed would never leave me just disappeared. And all of it piled on top of me like this weight I couldn’t bear to carry anymore.

If it hadn’t been for my daughter, standing on land before me as the waves kept threatening to pull me down, I’m honestly not sure I would have survived it.

Not surviving wasn’t an option, though. As a single mother, I didn’t have the luxury of falling apart. I didn’t have the option of breaking.

I pushed through depression for my daughter

I know that’s why depression hit me most at night.

During the day, I had someone relying on me completely. There was no other parent waiting in the wings to take over as I worked through my grief. There was no one else to tag in if I was having a bad day.

There was just this little girl, whom I love more than anything or anyone else in this world, counting on me to keep it together.

So I did my best. Every day was a battle. I had limited energy for anyone else. But for her, I pushed every ounce of strength I had to the surface.

I don’t believe I was the best mom in those months. I was certainly not the mom she deserved. But I forced myself out of bed day after day.

I got on the floor and played with her. I took us out on mommy-daughter adventures. I fought through the fog to show up, again and again. I did all of that for her.

In some ways, I think being a single mom might have saved me from the darkness.

Her little light was shining brighter and brighter every day, reminding me of why it was so important to fight through the hurt I was feeling.

Each day, it was a fight. Let there be no doubt: there was a fight.

There was forcing myself back into regular therapy, even when finding the hours to do so felt impossible. There was a daily battle with myself to get on the treadmill, the one thing forever capable of clearing my mind — even when all I wanted to do was hide beneath my sheets. There was the grueling task of reaching out to friends, admitting how far I had fallen, and slowly rebuilding the support system I had inadvertently demolished in my haze.

This is strength

There were baby steps, and it was hard. In so many ways it was harder because I was a mom.

Time for self-care seemed even more limited than it had been before. But there was also that voice whispering in my head, reminding me that this little girl I am so blessed to call my own was counting on me.

That voice wasn’t always kind. There were moments when my face was soaked in tears and I looked in the mirror only to hear that voice say, “This isn’t strength. This isn’t the woman you want your daughter to see.”

Logically, I knew that voice was wrong. I knew that even the best mothers fall apart sometimes, and that it’s OK for our kids to see us struggle.

In my heart, however, I just wanted to be better.

I wanted to be better for my daughter, because single moms don’t have the luxury of breaking. That voice in my head was always quick to remind me how deeply I was failing in my role each time I allowed those tears to fall. To be clear: I did spend a fair amount of time in therapy talking just about that voice.

Bottom line

Life is hard. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you I had it all figured out. I would have told you that the pieces of my life had come together like the pieces of a puzzle, and that everything was as idyllic as I could have possibly imagined.

But I’m not perfect. I never will be. I’ve experienced anxiety and depression. I fall apart when things get hard.

Luckily, I also have the ability to pull myself out of those traps. I’ve done it before. I know that if I’m dragged under again, I’ll do it again, too.

I’ll pull myself up for my daughter — for both of us. I’ll do it for our family. Bottom line: I’m a single mom, and I don’t have the luxury of breaking.

Source: Healthline 

A good night’s sleep is paramount for the health of your brain and body.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, sowing anxiety and worry along with it, getting a healthy amount of quality sleep probably isn’t as easy as it used to be.

And getting good sleep is more important now than ever.

“We know that sleep is directly related to immunity in terms of the physiological response in our body: If we’re not sleeping we can reduce our immune system, we can increase inflammation in the body, which we know can then lead to being more vulnerable to various viruses or whatever might be in our environment,” Brittany LeMonda, PhD, a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told Healthline.

In other words, your quality of sleep plays a direct role in your body’s ability to keep you safe from the novel coronavirus.

So, in addition to all the recommended hygiene behaviors to ward off the disease, like handwashing and social distancing, consider your own sleep health as another way to stay protected.

Here are a few helpful tips to help wind down and get a good night’s rest, even during these stressful and uncertain times.

1. Maintain a regular routine

Many people have had their daily lives totally upended as a direct result of this pandemic. Some have been laid off. Some are adjusting to working from home. Others are now juggling work and family as they look after children who are now out of school for the remainder of the school year.

No matter how your life has been affected, it’s of the utmost importance to keep a regular routine in order to get good sleep.

“This is actually a time when we need to remember and be mindful of how we are living our lives in this very different way. So, we need to keep our lives as close to our routine as possible,” Navya Singh, PysD, a psychologist and research scientist at the Columbia University department of psychiatry, told Healthline

“If you’re working from home, get up at the same time and get dressed. You might just be going to the next room or working from your bedroom, but just have that same sense of routine and normalcy, which will help you feel less disrupted,” she said.

2. Don’t nap excessively

If you’ve found yourself in a self-quarantine or work-from-home situation due to the pandemic, the bedroom or couch might end up calling — a little too frequently.

Adding to the importance of establishing a routine for yourself, make sure you’re not napping excessively, as this can even make you sleepier during the day, potentially altering or disrupting a regular sleep routine.

Having a normal sleep routine should help to “anchor your entire day,” said LeMonda. Instead of napping, use that healthy routine to get up early and start getting things done

3. Get some exercise (just not before bed)

Yes, your gym is probably closed, but exercise should still be part of your daily life. Daily exercise is still just as important, especially for sleep.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders may have you feeling that your options are more limited, but there are a number of ways you can effectively exercise without leaving your home.

“Getting exercise during the day is really important,” said LeMonda, “We know that that’s tied to improved sleep for pathophysiological reasons: We will feel more tired if we’ve exerted ourselves. We will also feel more accomplished that day as well, so there will be a sense of achievement before bed.”

Just don’t exercise within a few hours of bedtime because the stimulation of physical exertion can make it harder to get to sleep.

4. Structure your news intake

It’s nearly impossible to escape the constant distressing flow of COVID-19 news and information that permeates daily life right now. And yes, constantly consuming a 24/7 pandemic news cycle is likely to ratchet up your anxiety and affect your sleep.

“Whenever we go to the news, it’s always about the novel coronavirus and it’s quite upsetting. It’s reality, but it’s also something that can increase our anxiety. I would say schedule and structure the times when you check your phone for news updates,” said Singh.

Be diligent in limiting how many times per day you check your phone, and for how long, to read news related to the pandemic. Singh also recommends treating the news similar to how you might caffeine: don’t consume it before bed.

5. Limit blue light exposure near bedtime

The internet has proved to be an invaluable tool for communication and entertainment during a time in which people across the world have been mandated to self-quarantine or shelter in place.

However, staring at a screen all day is not helpful when you’re trying to fall asleep.

“We do recommend that within the hour prior to sleep that the person tries to unplug and not really be watching TV, not being on their phone, and certainly not watching anything that could be anxiety-provoking,” said LeMonda.

Instead, she recommends activities like reading a book or listening to music as means of entertainment before bed.

6. Avoid drinking excessive alcohol

“We might feel like if we drink we’ll feel better in the moment and feel like we’re passing out, we actually don’t get good, restful sleep,” said LeMonda. “It’s not going to be that restful sleep where you wake up and feel like you can take on the day.”

Alcohol also isn’t a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with stress and anxiety either. The one-two punch of alcohol and poor sleep can have a real effect on diminishing the immune system.

Source: Healthline

Bloating is when your belly feels swollen or enlarged after eating.

It is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues.

Although bloating may be a symptom of a serious medical condition, it is usually caused by something in the diet.

Here are 13 foods that can cause bloating, along with suggestions on what to eat instead.

1. Beans

Beans are a type of legume.

They contain high amounts of protein and healthy carbs. Beans are also very rich in fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals.

However, most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs.

FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process.

For healthy people, FODMAPs simply provide fuel for the beneficial digestive bacteria and should not cause any problems.

However, for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, another type of gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhea.

Soaking and sprouting the beans is a good way to reduce the FODMAPs in beans. Changing the soaking water several times can also help.

What to eat instead: Some beans are easier on the digestive system. Pinto beans and black beans may be more digestible, especially after soaking.

You can also replace beans with grains, meat or quinoa.

2. Lentils

Lentils are also legumes. They contain high amounts of protein, fiber and healthy carbs, as well as minerals such as iron, copper and manganese.

Because of their high fiber content, they can cause bloating in sensitive individuals. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.

Like beans, lentils also contain FODMAPs. These sugars may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating.

However, soaking or spouting the lentils before you eat them can make them much easier on the digestive system.

What to eat instead: Light colored lentils are generally lower in fiber than darker ones, and may therefore cause less bloating.

3. Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks are another very common cause of bloating.

These drinks contain high amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas.

When you drink one of these beverages, you end up swallowing large amounts of this gas.

Some of the gas gets trapped in the digestive system, which can cause uncomfortable bloating and even cramping.

What to drink instead: Plain water is always best. Other healthy alternatives include coffee, tea and fruit-flavored still water.

4. Wheat

Wheat has been highly controversial in the past few years, mainly because it contains a protein called gluten.

Despite the controversy, wheat is still very widely consumed. It is an ingredient in most breads, pastas, tortillas and pizzas, as well as baked goods like cakes, biscuits, pancakes and waffles.

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, wheat causes major digestive problems. This includes bloating, gas, diarrhea and stomach pain.

Wheat is also a major source of FODMAPs, which can cause digestive problems in many people.

What to eat instead: There are many gluten-free alternatives to wheat, such as pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour and coconut flour.

5. Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and several others.

These are very healthy, containing many essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium.

However, they also contain FODMAPs, so they may cause bloating in some people.

Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest.

What to eat instead: There are many possible alternatives, including spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

6. Onions

Onions are underground bulb vegetables with a unique, powerful taste. They are rarely eaten whole, but are popular in cooked meals, side dishes and salads.

Even though they’re usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans. These are soluble fibers that can cause bloating.

Additionally, some people are sensitive or intolerant to other compounds in onions, especially raw onions.

Therefore, onions are a known cause of bloating and other digestive discomforts. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects.

What to eat instead: Try using fresh herbs or spices as an alternative to onions.

7. Barley

Barley is a commonly consumed cereal grain.

It is very nutritious, since it is rich in fiber and contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals like molybdenum, manganese and selenium.

Because of its high fiber content, whole grain barley may cause bloating in individuals who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.

Furthermore, barley contains gluten. This may cause problems for people who are intolerant to gluten.

What to eat instead: Refined barley, like pearl or scotch barley, may be tolerated better. Barley can also be replaced with other grains or pseudocereals like oats, brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.

8. Rye

Rye is a cereal grain that is related to wheat.

It is very nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper and B-vitamins.

However, rye also contains gluten, a protein that many people are sensitive or intolerant to.

Because of its high fiber and gluten content, rye may be a major cause of bloating in sensitive individuals.

What to eat instead: Other grains or pseudocereals, including oats, brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.

9. Dairy Products

Dairy is highly nutritious, as well as an excellent source of protein and calcium.

There are many dairy products available, including milk, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and butter.

However, about 75% of the world’s population can’t break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance.

If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: People who are lactose intolerant can sometimes handle cream and butter, or fermented dairy like yogurt.

Lactose-free milk products are also available. Other alternatives to regular milk include coconut, almond, soy or rice milk.

10. Apples

Apples are among the most popular fruits in the world.

They are high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, and have been linked with a range of health benefits.

However, apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people.

The culprits are fructose (which is a FODMAP) and the high fiber content. Fructose and fiber can both be fermented in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating.

Cooked apples may be easier to digest than fresh ones.

What to eat instead: Other fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, mandarins, oranges or strawberries.

11. Garlic

Garlic is incredibly popular, both for flavoring and as a health remedy.

Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause bloating.

Allergy or intolerance to other compounds found in garlic is also fairly common, with symptoms such as bloating, belching and gas.

However, cooking the garlic may reduce these effects.

What to eat instead: Try using other herbs and spices in your cooking, such as thyme, parsley, chives or basil.

12. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.

Common types include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol.

Sugar alcohols are also FODMAPs. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them.

Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, but it is easier on digestion than the ones mentioned above. Stevia is also a healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols.

13. Beer

Everyone has probably heard the term “beer belly” used before.

It refers not only to increased belly fat, but also to the bloating caused by drinking beer.

Beer is a carbonated beverage made from sources of fermentable carbs like barley, maize, wheat and rice, along with some yeast and water.

Therefore, it contains both gas (carbon dioxide) and fermentable carbs, two well-known causes of bloating. The grains used to brew the beer also often contain gluten.

What to drink instead: Water is always the best beverage, but if you are looking for alcoholic alternatives then red wine, white wine or spirits may cause less bloating.

Other Ways to Reduce Bloating

Bloating is a very common problem, but can often be resolved with relatively simple changes.

If you have persistent digestive problems, then you may want to consider a low-FODMAP diet. It can be incredibly effective, not just for bloating but for other digestive issues as well.

However, make sure to also see a doctor to rule out a potentially serious medical condition.

Take Home Message

If you have problems with bloating, then chances are that a food on this list is the culprit.

That being said, there is no reason to avoid all of these foods, only the ones that cause you problems personally.

If you find that a certain food consistently makes you bloated, then simply avoid it. No food is worth suffering for.

Source: Healthline 

Whether you’re at home or out and about, endless tasty food options and the wide availability of quick snacks make it easy to overeat.

If you’re unaware of portion sizes, overeating can easily spiral out of control and lead to various negative health consequences.

One way to get this habit under control is to first understand how overeating affects your body.

Here are 7 harmful effects of overeating.

1. May promote excess body fat

Your daily calorie balance is determined by how many calories you consume versus how many you burn.

When you eat more than you expend, this is known as a calorie surplus. Your body may store these additional calories as fat.

Overeating may be especially problematic for developing excess body fat or obesity because you may be consuming far more calories than you need.

That said, overconsuming protein doesn’t likely increase body fat due to the way it’s metabolized. Excess calories from carbs and fats are much more prone to boost body fat.

To prevent excess fat gain, try filling up on lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables before eating higher carb and higher fat foods.

2. May disrupt hunger regulation

Two major hormones affect hunger regulation — ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and leptin, which suppresses appetite.

When you haven’t eaten for a while, ghrelin levels increase. Then, after you’ve eaten, leptin levels tell your body that it’s full.

However, overeating may disrupt this balance.

Eating foods high in fat, salt, or sugar releases feel-good hormones like dopamine, which activate pleasure centers in your brain.

Over time, your body may associate these pleasure sensations with certain foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories. This process may eventually override hunger regulation, encouraging you to eat for pleasure rather than hunger.

Disruption of these hormones may trigger a perpetual cycle of overeating.

You can counteract this effect by portioning out certain feel-good foods and eating them at a slower pace to allow your body to register its fullness.

3. May increase disease risk

While occasional overeating likely doesn’t affect long-term health, chronic overeating can lead to obesity. In turn, this condition has consistently been shown to increase disease risk.

Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, is one of the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome. This cluster of conditions raises your chances of heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

Indicators of metabolic syndrome include high levels of fat in your blood, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

Insulin resistance itself is closely linked to chronic overeating. It develops when excess sugar in your blood reduces the ability of the hormone insulin to store blood sugar in your cells.

If left uncontrolled, insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes.

You can reduce your risk of these conditions by avoiding high calorie, processed foods, eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, and moderating portions sizes of carbs.

4. May impair brain function

Over time, overeating may harm brain function.

Several studies tie continual overeating and obesity to mental decline in older adults, compared with those who do not overeat.

One study in older adults found that being overweight negatively affected memory, compared with normal weight individuals.

That said, more studies are needed to identify the extent and mechanisms of mental decline related to overeating and obesity.

Given that your brain comprises approximately 60% fat, eating healthy fats like avocados, nut butters, fatty fish, and olive oil may help prevent mental decline.

5. May make you nauseous

Overeating on a regular basis can cause uncomfortable feelings of nausea and indigestion.

The adult stomach is approximately the size of a clenched fist and can hold about 2.5 ounces (75 mL) when empty, though it can expand to hold around 1 quart (950 mL).

Note that these numbers vary based on your size and how much you regularly eat.

When you eat a big meal and start to reach the upper limit of your stomach’s capacity, you may experience nausea or indigestion. In severe cases, this nausea may trigger vomiting, which is your body’s way of relieving acute stomach pressure.

While numerous over-the-counter medications may treat these conditions, the best approach is to regulate your portion sizes and eat slower to prevent these symptoms in the first place.

6. May cause excessive gas and bloating

Eating large amounts of food may strain your digestive system, triggering gas and bloating.

The gas-producing items that people tend to overeat are spicy and fatty foods, as well as carbonated drinks like soda. Beans, certain veggies, and whole grains may also produce gas, though these aren’t overeaten as often.

Furthermore, eating too fast may promote gas and bloating due to large amounts of food rapidly entering your stomach.

You can avoid excess gas and bloating by eating slowly, waiting until after meals to drink fluids, and reducing your portion sizes of gassy foods.

7. May make you sleepy

After overeating, many people become sluggish or tired.

This may be due to a phenomenon called reactive hypoglycemia, in which your blood sugars drop shortly after eating a big meal.

Low blood sugar is commonly associated with symptoms like sleepiness, sluggishness, rapid heart rate, and headaches.

While not fully understood, the cause is thought to be related to excess insulin production.

Though most common in people with diabetes who administer too much insulin, reactive hypoglycemia may occur in some individuals as a result of overeating.

The bottom line

It’s easy to overeat if you don’t pay attention to how much you eat or how full you feel.

Indeed, this common habit may lead to bloating, gas, nausea, excess body fat, and a higher risk of several illnesses.

Therefore, you should work to prevent overeating by reducing your portion sizes, eating fewer processed foods, and orienting your diet around whole foods.

If you desire, you can consult a dietitian to help you create an eating plan that promotes long-term health.

Source: Healthline

A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function.

It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children.

In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier.

Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.

If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.

Here are 17 evidence-based tips to sleep better at night.

1. Increase bright light exposure during the day

Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm.

It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep.

Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.

In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%.

A similar study in older adults found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.

While most research involves people with severe sleep issues, daily light exposure will most likely help you even if you experience average sleep.

Try getting daily sunlight exposure or — if this is not practical — invest in an artificial bright light device or bulbs.

2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening

Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect.

Again, this is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.

Blue light — which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts — is the worst in this regard.

There are several popular methods you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure. These include:

  • Wear glasses that block blue light
  • Download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
  • Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone. These are available for both iPhones and Android models.
  • Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day

Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the U.S. population.

A single dose can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance.

However, when consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.

In one study, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.

Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.

If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.

4. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps

While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep.

Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night.

In fact, in one study, participants ended up being sleepier during the day after taking daytime naps.

Another study noted that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can harm health and sleep quality.

However, some studies demonstrate that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps don’t experience poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep at night.

If you take regular daytime naps and sleep well, you shouldn’t worry. The effects of napping depend on the individual.

5. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times

Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset.

Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality.

One study noted that participants who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep.

Other studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep.

If you struggle with sleep, try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.

6. Take a melatonin supplement

Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed.

Melatonin supplements are an extremely popular sleep aid.

Often used to treat insomnia, melatonin may be one of the easiest ways to fall asleep faster.

In one study, taking 2 mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day and helped people fall asleep faster.

In another study, half of the group fell asleep faster and had a 15% improvement in sleep quality.

Additionally, no withdrawal effects were reported in either of the above studies.

Melatonin is also useful when traveling and adjusting to a new time zone, as it helps your body’s circadian rhythm return to normal.

In some countries, you need a prescription for melatonin. In others, melatonin is widely available in stores or online. Take around 1–5 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.

Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it’s advised that you check with a healthcare provider before use.

You should also speak with them if you’re thinking about using melatonin as a sleep aid for your child, as long-term use of this supplement in children has not been well studied.

7. Consider these other supplements

Several supplements can induce relaxation and help you sleep, including:

  • Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited. Take 250 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.
  • Glycine: A few studies show that taking 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality.
  • Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
  • Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
  • L-theanine: An amino acid, L-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before bed.
  • Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool.

Make sure to only try these supplements one at a time. While they’re not a magic bullet for sleep issues, they can be useful when combined with other natural sleeping strategies.

8. Don’t drink alcohol

Having a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones.

Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.

It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.

Another study found that alcohol consumption at night decreased the natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a role in your circadian rhythm and has many other key functions.

9. Optimize your bedroom environment

Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep.

These factors include temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement.

Numerous studies point out that external noise, often from traffic, can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues.

In one study on the bedroom environment of women, around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light diminished.

To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean, and enjoyable place.

10. Set your bedroom temperature

Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly affect sleep quality.

As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good night’s sleep when it’s too warm.

One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise.

Other studies reveal that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness.

Around 70°F (20°C) seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it depends on your preferences and habits.

11. Don’t eat late in the evening

Eating late at night may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin.

That said, the quality and type of your late-night snack may play a role as well.

Interestingly, one study discovered that a low carb diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs aren’t always necessary, especially if you’re used to a low carb diet.

12. Relax and clear your mind in the evening

Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.

Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia.

In one study, a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in people who were ill.

Strategies include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing, and visualization.

Try out different methods and find what works best for you.

13. Take a relaxing bath or shower

A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better.

Studies indicate that they can help improve overall sleep quality and help people — especially older adults — fall asleep faster.

In one study, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply bathing your feet in hot water can help you relax and improve sleep.

14. Rule out a sleep disorder

An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems.

One common issue is sleep apnea, which causes inconsistent and interrupted breathing. People with this disorder stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping.

This condition may be more common than you think. One review claimed that 24% of men and 9% of women have sleep apnea.

Other common medically diagnosed issues include sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders, which are common in shift workers.

If you’ve always struggled with sleep, it may be wise to consult your healthcare provider.

15. Get a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow

Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel.

Apart from the relaxing environment, bed quality can also affect sleep.

One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress for 28 days, revealing that it reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improved sleep quality by 60%.

Other studies point out that new bedding can enhance sleep. Additionally, poor quality bedding can lead to increased lower back pain.

The best mattress and bedding are extremely subjective. If you’re upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preference.

It’s recommended that you upgrade your bedding at least every 5–8 years.

If you haven’t replaced your mattress or bedding for several years, this can be a very quick — although possibly expensive — fix.

16. Exercise regularly — but not before bed

Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health.

It can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia.

One study in older adults determined that exercise nearly halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep and provided 41 more minutes of sleep at night.

In people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.

Although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, performing it too late in the day may cause sleep problems.

This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.

However, some studies show no negative effects, so it clearly depends on the individual.

17. Don’t drink any liquids before bed

Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. It affects sleep quality and daytime energy.

Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others.

Although hydration is vital for your health, it’s wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening.

Try to not drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed.

You should also use the bathroom right before going to bed, as this may decrease your chances of waking in the night.

The bottom line

Sleep plays a key role in your health.

One large review linked insufficient sleep to an increased risk of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.

Other studies conclude that getting less than 7–8 hours per night increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re interested in optimal health and well-being, it’s recommended that you make sleep a top priority and incorporate some of the tips above.

Source: Healthline 

Fresh meat spoils quickly, and freezing it is a common preservation method.

Freezing meat not only helps preserve it, but storing meat at temperatures below 0°F (-18°C) for several days might even help minimize the risk of some foodborne illnesses like toxoplasmosis.

Still, you may wonder whether meat can be frozen more than once.

This article reviews whether it’s safe to refreeze meat.

Is refreezing meat safe?

There might come a time when you thaw frozen meat and then decide not to cook some or any of it.

In this case, it’s safe to refreeze the meat until a later date as long as the meat was thawed and stored properly in the refrigerator the first time it was removed from the freezer.

Although refrigerator thawing is not the only way to thaw meat, it’s the safest way to do so if you think that you might want to refreeze some or all of the meat.

As a general rule of thumb, meat can be refrozen as long as it:

  • was stored properly in the refrigerator while it thawed
  • was refrozen within 3–4 days
  • was not left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours
  • did not spend more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F (32°C)
The effects of thawing and refreezing meat

Refreezing meat can be done safely, but the quality of the meat may be affected.

For example, freezing and thawing meat more than one time might cause color and odor changes, moisture loss, and increased oxidation of its fat and protein.

Oxidation is a process in which electrons are transferred from one atom to another. When this occurs in meats, it can lead to a significant deterioration in quality.

Any changes to a meat’s ability to retain moisture might also significantly affect the tenderness and juiciness of the meat.

Interestingly, in some cases, chilled storage and freezing meat more than once may have positive effects on these factors.

However, it appears that the type of meat in question, as well as the exact number of freeze-thaw cycles that the meat undergoes, all influence how the meat will respond to being refrozen multiple times.

Beef

For example, one study observed how various freeze-thaw combinations affected beef steak cuts. Researchers found that a combination of freezing, thawing, and aging the steaks increased tenderness, compared with fresh steaks that had been aged but not frozen.

In addition, a literature review of research on the effects of cool and frozen storage on red meat found that freezing meats for a shorter period of time might help prevent some of the negative effects that freezing can have on the quality of red meat.

Lamb

A study of Australian-raised lamb ribs compared how freezing and storing the ribs at various temperatures affected quality markers like juiciness, texture, and shrinkage.

The researchers found that lamb stored at deep-freeze temperatures between -58°F (-50°C) and -112°F (-80°C) remained more tender once thawed, compared with lamb stored at normal freezing temperatures -0.4°F (-18°C).

Pork

Pork loin is a commonly eaten cut of meat that comes from the rib cage of a pig.

Two recent studies have examined the effects of freezing and thawing on pork loin specifically.

The first study compared three freezing-thawing sequences on pork loin quality.

Each sequence caused increased discoloration of the meat, but researchers found that aging the pork prior to freezing it could be an effective way to maintain the tenderness of the meat.

A second study suggests that freezing and then thawing pork loin does not significantly affect the tenderness of the meat. On the other hand, the juiciness of the meat might decrease after freezing and thawing it.

Poultry

A study including 384 supermarket shoppers in Turkey found that the most commonly used thawing techniques for frozen chicken included using the refrigerator, microwave, warm water, tap water, and countertop.

Researchers determined that none of the thawing techniques had a significant effect on the color or texture of the chicken.

However, thawing in the refrigerator or microwave resulted in approximately 18% less shrinkage than the other thawing methods.

Yet, additional research has found that the more times a chicken breast is frozen and thawed, the more likely you are to notice changes in its color and juiciness.

How to thaw meat safely

For best results after refreezing meat, you’ll want to fully thaw the meat prior to cooking it.

Here are three different methods you can use to thaw meat safely:

  1. Refrigerator thawing. Thawing could take anywhere from 1–7 days depending on the size. Once thawed, meats should be cooked within 3 days.
  2. Cold water thawing. This is a quick thawing method that entails placing the meat in a plastic bag under cool running water. Meats thawed this way should be cooked right away.
  3. Microwave thawing. Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked right away, as the thawing process might significantly raise the temperature of certain portions of the meat.

Remember, if there’s even a slight chance that you might want to refreeze some or all of the meat before cooking it, make sure to employ refrigerator thawing.

Alternatively, meat thawed under cold water or in the microwave should be cooked right away to ensure safety.

The bottom line

Meat is often frozen to preserve and keep the product safe when it’s not going to be eaten right away.

As long as the meat has been stored properly and thawed slowly in the refrigerator, it can be refrozen safely multiple times.

If done correctly, refreezing meat does not pose any health risks.

Although, depending on the type of meat and how many times it’s refrozen, the quality of the meat could be negatively affected.

Use an approved thawing method, such as thawing in the refrigerator, if you believe that you might want to refreeze all or some of the meat you have thawed.

Source: Healthline 

To help maintaining the active routine of parents, students and carers the Notts School Games Organiser Network and Active Notts created a weekly programme full of activities. The recommended dose of daily exercise is 60 minutes of average intensity workouts from which this weekly resource gives fun ideas for 30 minutes.

The activities are on daily cards, where there is a suggested order and time interval for each exercise. Among the exercises there are tips of how to create a golf course around your home or how to play tunnel ball or even how to keep distance from others. It is ideal and advised to do these exercises every day but the most important is to have fun and keep your body moving! The Schools organise virtual competitions each Friday, more details can be found on the schedule page and on the Friday activity card.

Check out the activities below

Week 1 

Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-golf-activities

 

Exercises for Secondary School students :
secondary-schools-virtual-golf-activities
Week 2
Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-football-activities
Exercises for Secondary School students:
secondary-schools-virtual-football-activities
Week 3
Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-netball-activities

 

Exercises for Secondary School students:
secondary-schools-virtual-netball-activities

Source: Active Notts