Health Tips: Better carbs equal better sleep

Last October, the Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked unconscious by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas. It was a scary moment when Rudolph was face down on the field and not moving, but he eventually came to and was able to walk off under his own power. 

But there are better ways to catch some shut-eye. If you’re having problems with your sleep cycle, try reducing the glycemic load of the carbs you’re eating. 

According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating refined grains and sweetened, starchy carbs with a high glycemic load delivers a sugar bomb to your bloodstream that can trigger transient and chronic insomnia, making it difficult to fall asleep or waking you up in the middle of the night. But, say the researchers who collected data from 50,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, the good news is you can eat your way to better sleep!

They found that if you stick with high-fiber carbs from veggies, non-juice fruits, and 100% whole grains, it’s much easier to sleep soundly on a regular basis. Why does it make such a difference? One theory is that the spike and precipitous fall in blood sugar that can accompany eating refined carbs causes the body to secrete stress hormones that signal fight-or-flight, not goodnight. 

So, check out the list of the top 10 high- and low-glycemic index foods at doctoroz.com. Then you can create a diet plan that delivers sweet dreams.

Don’t let dining out be a recipe for disaster

“Kitchen Confidential” is a behind-the-scenes examination of the restaurant industry by the late Anthony Bourdain that reveals how patrons are unknowingly duped into dropping piles of money for gussied-up, low-quality food. 

Clearly, a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition wouldn’t have surprised him. It finds less than 0.1% of meals served at fast-food and full-service restaurants are of ideal nutritional quality. And around 70% of fast food and 50% of full-service restaurant food is poor quality, meaning it’s lacking healthy fats, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, and it’s over the top for saturated fat, sodium and added sugar. 

Those empty calories fuel weight gain and diabetes, and empty your wallet. The researchers say on average you’re spending up to $4,000 annually on restaurant food, dishing up more than 20% of your total calorie intake.

Upgrading your restaurant menu takes some sleuthing, but the rewards are less weight gain, a healthier heart and a younger RealAge. So, go to the restaurant’s menu online to see what nutritional info is available in food descriptions and data. Then, say “yes” to salads with vinaigrette dressing on the side; broiled, grilled or steamed fish (especially salmon and ocean trout), skinless chicken and veggies; dodge fried foods; and choose sauces that are not dairy-based or laced with added sugar. Remember, at a restaurant, you’re the one paying; if asked, they’ll let you have it your way. Make your meal healthy so you don’t pay for it twice. Then you can be Kitchen Confident.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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