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Which Came First? Lack of Sleep or Nutritient Shortfalls?

How are you taking care of yourself? Taking care of yourself directly impacts your ability to care for others. Think – are you getting the sleep you need, managing stress in a positive way, meeting your nutritional needs, getting in physical exercise? 

 

Which came first? Are nutrient shortfalls secondary to lack of sleep or lack of sleep secondary to nutrient shortfalls?

The answer – either one can cause an impact on the other. There are some common nutritional deficiencies that may prevent us from getting adequate sleep and/or caused by lack of sleep. Ideally, we should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night.  However, less than 1% of the population falls into the “exception” category of needing less or more than this. If you are not meeting this guideline, you are likely putting yourself at risk for nutrient deficiencies and causing your sleep to be worse. 

 

Adults with less than 7 hours of sleep at night have been found to have nutrient shortfalls in vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, potassium and omega 3s. 

  • Did you know 96% of Americans don’t eat enough vitamin D?
    • Vitamin D plays an important role in lung health, insulin secretion, bone health, brain health, heart health, inflammation, muscle health, and our immune system. 
  • Did you know 55% of Americans don’t eat enough magnesium?
    • Magnesium plays an important role in our bones/teeth, regulation of heartbeat, muscles, nervous system, metabolism, and cellular energy. 
  • Did you know 95% of Americans don’t eat enough omega 3s?
    • Omega 3s play an important role in eye health, maintaining healthy triglycerides, healthy blood pressure, brain health, heart health, and inflammation. 

Having a balanced diet with a variety of produce and protein sources can help prevent nutritional deficiencies. Nutrient-dense food sources include:

  • Vitamin D: Egg yolk, mushroom, fatty fish, cod liver oil, fortified foods/beverages (cereal/orange juice/milk)
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, avocado, fatty fish, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, butternut squash, olive oil, kiwi
  • Vitamin C: Kale, broccoli, green chili pepper, bell pepper, coriander, kiwi, strawberry, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, papaya, tomato
  • Vitamin A: Liver, cod liver oil, spinach, butternut squash, mustard greens, tomato, fatty fish, carrot, sweet potato, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, parsley
  • Vitamin K: Kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, asparagus, kiwi, avocado, cheese, eggs, chicken, butter
  • Magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, quinoa, beans, dark chocolate, peanuts, edamame, cashews, cacao powder, oatmeal, avocado, broccoli, banana
  • Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, fish, spinach, kale, collard greens, beans, lentils, walnuts, edamame, fortified drinks (almond milk/orange juice), chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli, tofu
  • Potassium: Pistachios, beet greens, salmon, white beans, potatoes, milk, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, peanuts, almonds, banana, acorn squash, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, watermelon
  • Omega 3s: Fatty fish (anchovies, sardines, herring, trout, salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna), basil, chia seeds, flax seeds, spinach, walnuts, edamame, brussels sprouts, avocado

Whether lack of sleep causes nutrient abnormalities or nutrient abnormalities causes a lack of sleep, it is important to make both a priority to help the body function properly. They both play a key role in overall health. Speak with your Dietitian about ways you can improve stress, sleep, and nutrition. LN

Strong Immune System Against COVID-19

In the current state of the world, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  Our health is directly dependent on the essential role of our immune system. It relies on complex interworkings of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues to recognize and neutralize harmful viruses, bacteria, cell changes, and other organisms that cause disease.

Our immune system is such an elaborate system of many interconnected parts that requires balance and harmony. Our desire is to live a healthy lifestyle that builds a strong immune system in order to fight off the coronavirus or other harmful substances should we come in contact with them.

Our immune system also operates better when bolstered by healthy lifestyle choices.

Healthy ways to reinforce a strong immune system to prevent or fight COVID-19 include:

A Healthy Diet

Our diet is key to a strong immune system. Be certain to eat at least 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Micronutrients

Numerous nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are required to support the normal functioning of your immune system Some micronutrients that play a role in maintaining your immune system include:

  • Vitamin B6 –found in chickpeas, chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna, bananas, green vegetables, potatoes (with skin)
  • Vitamin C – found in oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwi pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, red peppers, Brussel sprouts
  • Vitamin E – found in almonds, sunflower and safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts peanut butter, spinach, asparagus, red bell pepper, avocado, trout, mango
  • Zinc – found in foods including oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork chop, chicken, baked beans, beans, nuts, yogurt, Swiss cheese. Some evidence indicates zinc may have a beneficial role in the immune response
  • Vitamin D – found in fortified foods such as dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. A maintenance dose of vitamin D is vital during the winter months as well as for those with low vitamin D levels.

Exercise

One way exercise may improve the immune system is by boosting your overall circulation making it easier for immune cells to travel more easily throughout your body. Studies have shown 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily helps stimulate your immune system.

Water

Water is a necessary component of your lymph system which carries infection-fighting immune cells around your body.

Sleep

Important infection-fighting molecules are created while you sleep. Inadequate sleep leaves you more prone to getting sick.

Minimize Stress

Chronic long term stress over an extended period is certainly bad for our health. The uncertainty we are now experiencing with COVID-19 can trigger a stress response. The secretion of cortisol suppresses your immune system, thus increasing your chance of infection or illness. Given that stress has a direct negative impact on your health it is important to know how to identify your stress and have treatment options that work for you.

In addition, continue to minimize trips outside your home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. If you do come in contact with the virus, you’ve already taken proactive steps to have a strong and healthy immune system that can strengthen your defense against this harmful disease.

CB