How tryptophan improves mood and sleep

One of the things often overlooked when people are trying to improve their overall health, have more energy, lose weight and sleep better is the importance of obtaining enough amino acids from different protein foods. Amino acids, including tryptophan, are considered the building blocks of protein. Without a wide enough array of them in your diet, you actually can’t survive, let alone thrive.

 

You must get all the essential amino acids (like tryptophan, histidine, leucine, and lysine) through your diet since you can’t create them on our own. There are nonessential amino acids that also have many critical roles in your body. Essential amino acids help your body produce the kinds that are nonessential, and together they’re important for building and repairing muscle tissue, helping with neurotransmitter functions, supplying your brain with enough energy, and balancing blood sugar levels.

Of these amino acids, tryptophan plays a very important role. So what is tryptophan and why we need it?

 

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found naturally in a range of foods. Amino acids act as building blocks to make proteins. An essential amino acid means that it is something that our bodies cannot produce themselves and so must be sourced from the diet.

 

Tryptophan and Mood/Sleep/Diet

Tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin. Serotonin known as the “mood” hormone  and is associated with happiness and relaxation. Serotonin is used to make melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle and appetite.

 

Some good food sources of tryptophan include:

  • Nuts and seeds – especially pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cashews and almonds
  • Soy foods – organic, non-GMO such as soybeans, tofu and tempeh
  • Oats
  • Beans and legumes such as lentils, kidney beans and white beans
  • Eggs
  • Cheese such as mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan
  • Meats like lamb, beef and pork (grass-fed)
  • Chicken and turkey (organic)
  • Fish – especially salmon, tuna, halibut, snapper and trout (wild caught)

 

Be sure to add some of these tryptophan-containing foods into your meal planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Your Health Needs Enough Sleep and a Quick Tip for Insomnia

Night owls, students, parents, and business owners alike- many of us struggle to get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Did you know that the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep every night? If you’re barely getting 7 hours of undisturbed sleep daily, a slight adjustment to your schedule might be necessary.

1. Sleep equals power. Without enough sleep, your body and brain are in overdrive. You’re not performing at your best, and this can lead to mistakes in your personal and professional life. If you are unable to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep daily, try to take a midday nap. Ideally, your best sleep is continuous and for over 7 hours.

2. Depriving your body of sleep can lead to severe health problems in the short and long term such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. When you sleep, your body is in “healing mode.” Not getting enough sleep shortens the time your body is actively working to repair the blood vessels and replenish its energy.

3. Ever sit through a lecture or work meeting and have no clue what was said 2 minutes before, much less the day before? You might be suffering from sleep deprivation. Gaps in memory or focus are signs that your brain is functioning at a slower rate than it usually would. When you sleep, your brain goes through a process called consolidation. Essentially, while you are sleeping, your brain is processing information that you have been learning that day. The more you sleep, the easier learning new languages, new subjects, or policies will be!

4. Getting enough sleep will aid in your weight loss goals! That’s right! Studies have shown that your metabolism is affected by a lack of sleep. In fact, individuals who got less sleep lost more muscle mass than individuals who got adequate amounts of sleep. More sleep has been proven to aid in fat loss! Who doesn’t want that!

5. Stress reduction is another benefit of getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Long days accompanied by long nights will put a lot of stress not only on your physical body but also your mind. Think of sleep as your recharge. Without sleep, your body isn’t balanced.

These are just a handful of some of the benefits of ensuring you get an adequate amount of sleep every night.

Quick tip: Having trouble falling asleep? Boil 2 organic bananas with the peel on for 15 minutes in a small pot of water. Drink the liquid 1 hour before bed. The magnesium in combination with the potassium will react in a similar way the sleeping pill does, aiding in getting a good night’s sleep. However, banana tea is natural and avoids introducing your body to foreign chemicals such as the ones found in sleeping pills! Give it a try!