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Too much sugar impairs Orexin production, leading to a disruption of your circadian rhythm, causing you to feel drowsy during the day and awake at night.
As the sun slowly peeked above the horizon, its red and orange hues bathed the landscape in an ethereal light illuminating the mountains. LJ sat down quietly next to a meditating Annie. As he watched the sun climb higher, its rays drove away the last traces of night, beckoning the birds to herald a new day. Flocks flew overhead, singing their sweet songs, and the coyotes gave one last yip as the sun’s warmth radiated out, signaling it was time to stop hunting and rest. The sky sparkled with one orange, pink, and purple streak after another until, finally, it erupted in a blaze of luminescence. It was a truly mesmerizing sight.
Annie sighed and opened her eyes. “Thanks for being so quiet, sweetheart. I didn’t realize you were next to me until I started ascending from meditation.”
“You’re welcome. I woke up when you walked out the patio door at about 4:00 am. Are you still having trouble sleeping?”
“Yes, I’ve been reviewing my habits before I sleep; our bedroom is cool and dark, and there’s no television. I eat about five hours before bed and no alcohol. Listening to a sleep story on my calm app helps me fall asleep, but I can’t seem to stay asleep.”
LJ put his arm around her and pulled her close. Let’s discuss how much sugar you consume during the day.”
“Well, I thought it didn’t matter as long as I wasn’t eating sweets or anything with sugar hours before bedtime.”
“That’s mostly true, but sugar is in everything; there are three types. Fructose is in wine, fruit, honey, and many root veggies. Sucrose is table sugar, and we don’t eat that, but it’s also found in many fruits, grains, veggies, cookies, ice cream, and other processed foods. There’s also glucose our body gets from the food we eat.
Sugar can cause a disruption in the production of a neurotransmitter called Orexin produced in the brain that promotes wakefulness, alertness, and appetite. Orexin is released during the day to promote wakefulness and concentration. It is suppressed at night so you can sleep. It helps regulate the circadian rhythm, your body’s “internal clock” that coordinates with the sun’s rising and setting.
Orexin impacts hunger and fullness as it communicates to the regions of the brain that control these things. When there is an absence of Orexin, the body will crave food even when you’re not hungry.”
“That explains so much. Sometimes I realize I’m not hungry but will search for something to eat, anyway. So, what’s the answer? How can I maintain healthy levels of Orexin to get good quality sleep?”
“Evidence suggests that if glucose levels are too high, it will limit the output of Orexin. You already have good sleep hygiene habits, but we may need to add some foods that support Orexin. Fermented foods have lactic acid, which aids its production. The lactic acid in these foods also helps reduce cholesterol and boosts nutrient absorption, enhancing gut health and aiding digestion.
Other foods high in lactic acid and help with orexin production include kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, natto, kimchi, and kombucha. Eating fermented foods also benefits digestion, gut health, and overall immunity, all necessary for producing Orexin.”
“Okay, to summarize,
Orexin is a neurotransmitter that promotes wakefulness and regulates sleep/wake cycles.
Orexin regulates energy levels and influences appetite and satiety.
Foods containing lactic acids, such as fermented foods, dairy, eggs, grains, beef, and legumes, can stimulate the release of Orexin.
Eating healthy nutrition daily appears to help increase Orexin activity.
Too much sugar can interfere with the production and release of Orexin, leading to an increased appetite and cravings for sugary foods.
Abnormal Orexin production disrupts your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle)
Consuming food with sugar, like wine, ice cream, cookies, and food that converts to sugar, hinders Orexin production and the body’s ability to get restful sleep.
“Correct,” said LJ as he helped her stand up. How about we make some kombucha tea today?”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
The Food-as-Medicine philosophy is based on the belief that whole food is a traditional remedy with the therapeutic power to improve and maintain one’s health. The philosophy has been around for hundreds of years.Read More