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Foods that can help fight insomnia in the elderly
Aging is a slow and constant change that occurs in our body and is irreversible. During the process of aging, our body undergoes a transformation at various levels, both physical and psychological. The way you eat, walk, sleep, it all changes as the body ages, which is why many people complain of disturbed sleep or short sleeping hours as their age progresses.
What is insomnia
Insomnia is typically a condition in which the person finds it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and not feel well-rested. Lack of sleep or disturbed sleeping pattern can affect our concentration, memory, immunity, and can lead to serious health problems as well. Though this condition is quite prevalent in the elderly, it can be easily treated with the support of lifestyle changes, medication, and, most importantly, diet.
Certain foods have been found beneficial in improving insomnia patterns
This oval-shaped fruit, of both green and golden variety, is an excellent source of various vital nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and folate are the most notable nutrients of this fruit. Multiple studies have found consuming two kiwis an hour before bedtime to improve the quality of sleep, helps to sleep faster, and increases the duration of sleep. Its high antioxidant and serotonin concentration is credited to assist in the sleep-inducing action actively.
Tart cherries have a sour taste than the regular cherries. These cherries, if consumed as such or in the juice form, help to increase sleep time and improve sleep efficiency. According to a study, people who drank a cup of tart cherry juice every day have been found to benefit from its action. High melatonin and antioxidant content in tart cherries is the potential reason for improved sleep.
Milk and other dairy products are a great source of tryptophan, which has been studied to benefit in sleep in older adults, especially when coupled with light exercise. If consumed at night, as such, or if combined with the malted beverage powder, is found to be beneficial in improving the quality of sleep. Malted milk powder has been studied to result in an uninterrupted sleep pattern. However, this action can also be credited to the high melatonin content of milk.
According to research, fatty fish such as salmon, if consumed three times a week, can improve overall sleep and better daytime functioning. High vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid content of fatty fish can benefit the regulation of serotonin and hence improve sleep.
Consuming healthy nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts are rich in melatonin and other essential minerals, including magnesium and zinc. This group of nutrients can collectively improve insomnia and help to sleep better. Additionally, these wholesome nuts are also a great source of heart-friendly antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, preventing diabetes and heart problems in the old age.
Rice consumption has been studied to result in better sleep than the people who ate noodles or bread for dinner. However, high carbohydrate foods such as sugary beverages have been found to worsen the sleep
This healthy meat is rich in tryptophan that reduces anxiety and is also beneficial in the production of melatonin. Some studies support the consumption of a moderate amount of protein before sleep time to improve the quality of sleep. You can enjoy the benefits of tryptophan from other poultry products as well, including chicken and duck!
Chamomile tea is a popular beverage rich in flavones, a class of antioxidants that reduces anxiety and depression, which improves the quality of sleep. This tea also contains apigenin that promotes sleepiness and relieves insomnia.
Lavender is a purple-colored flower with a soothing fragrance and can treat insomnia if consumed by adding to the tea. You can also use lavender supplements or essential oils to enjoy the benefits of this sleep-inducing product.
This is yet another herbal tea traditionally to heal our bodies. It is rich in flavonoids that boost immunity, reduces inflammation, and prevents heart problems. On top of that, apigenin is another antioxidant present in it that reduces anxiety and helps to calm our brain. Regular consumption of passionflower tea also increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) production, which promotes sleepiness.
It is high in carbohydrates and has a decent amount of fiber. That, coupled with its melatonin content, is beneficial to induce drowsiness, mainly when you consume them before sleeping.
This herb is native to the continents of Asia and Europe. You can also use it as a natural alternative to treat depression and anxiety, promoting sleeping habits. This herbal supplement works on sleep quality and subsides the symptoms of a sleep disorder. However, you should monitor the amount you eat for the short-term.
This juicy fruit is rich in melatonin, which has been studied to promote good quality sleep and relieve anxiety. In fact, you can also enjoy the same benefits from grape juice and grape vinegar, in case you can’t find fresh and good quality grapes at your nearby grocery store or farmer’s market.
It is rich in tryptophan and potassium, which helps to improve the quality of sleep. Apart from that, it also contains the mineral magnesium that helps to regulate the sleep cycle and trigger the feeling of sleepiness.
This protein-rich food also contains vitamin B6 that helps in the production of serotonin to give you a feeling of happiness but also triggers melatonin production. Its high carbohydrate content also helps in the secretion of insulin that assists in the movement of tryptophan into the brain, raising the serotonin levels in the body.
A great handy trick for the elderly would be to prepare one-pot meal type of dishes that require minimum efforts, are nutritionally excellent, and tastes brilliant too. They should pick a crock-pot to enjoy amazing slow-cooked preparations that can save them cooking time, efforts, and yet meet their nutritional requirements. Check this article to find great options and reviews for this appliance.
Ligia loves experiencing new cultures through foods and travels. Her hobby is experimenting with different cuisines. Read more of her recipes at The Daring Kitchen.