Foods that trigger ocd

Which unhealthy foods should be avoided to minimize obsessions and compulsive behaviors in OCD patients? | Mental Health

Which unhealthy foods should be avoided to minimize obsessions and compulsive behaviors in OCD patients?

Author : Dr. Jakir Hossain Laskar, PhD

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a special form of anxiety disorder which shows irrational and illogical obsessions along with strange baseless thoughts, ideas or sensations, and compulsive behaviors expressed with repetition.

In this type of mental illness, patients urge to do something over and again, such as washing hands, repetitively checking things, etc. which hamper daily activities and social interactions.

Psychiatrists prescribe anti-anxiety medication and clinical psychologists suggest psychotherapy and lifestyle modification for treatment.

But avoiding certain foods, OCD symptoms can be controlled effectively.

  1. Stop eating Pastries, Candy, Soda and Sugary drinks. As these foods cause fluctuating blood sugar level leading to fatigue, mood swing and anxiety neurosis. Fluctuating blood sugar, because of excessive refined carbohydrates, takes the patients into hypoglycemic level causing OCD related severe mental confusion. Excessive sugar consumption also causes cognitive decline leading to baseless thoughts, ideas or sensations.
  2. Avoid eating Pizza, Burger and other processed foods. As these foods cause memory impairment and also impairs higher cognitive functioning leading to anxiety and mental depression. Fast foods lack omega-3-fatty acids, without which we suffer in mental anxiety. Potassium Bromate used in these foods cause thought process impairment and personality deviations. Synthetic food additive Propylene Glycol used in processed foods causes severe neurological symptoms including strange sensations.
  3. Don’t eat dark chocolate coated coffee beans, coffee liqueur, milk chocolate and chocolate cake with frosting. Excessive intake of these caffeinated foods can cause anxiety disorders and manifest other psychotic symptoms.
  4. Avoid canned soups, wheat bread and other Gluten-based foods. As Gluten causes mood swing, anxiety disorder and depressive syndromes. Excessive intake of Gluten-based foods also causes neuro-inflammation leading to brain dysfunction and cognitive impairment because of less serotonin production.

If OCD patients can avoid these foods strictly, their obsessions and compulsive behaviors will be slowed down. So, stop eating Pastries, Candy, Soda and Sugary drinks. Avoid eating Pizza, Burger and other processed foods. Don’t eat dark chocolate, coffee liqueur, milk chocolate. Also, avoid canned soups, wheat bread and other Gluten-based foods.

Do you want Dr. Jakir Hossain Laskar’s consultation for Treatment?

For Neuro-Psychiatry Homeopathy Treatment, Please feel free to Call us : BrainMindia  Homeopathy Neuro-Psychiatry Clinic, Kolkata, India), +91-9831148112 | +91-9836913018. Also visit our Website: www.brainmindiaclinic. com

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By Dr. Jakir Hossain Laskar | November 3, 2020 | Mental Health |

Dr. Jakir Hossain Laskar
Dr. Jakir Hossain Laskar: is an internationally-acclaimed Indian Homoeopath in Neuro-Psychiatry, Memory Doctor and Counseling Psychotherapist. He has been treating all types of Nerve and Mental diseases with the help of Classical Homoeopathy since 2001. Besides, he has been doing Psycho-Counseling and giving Homoeopathic treatment for students with abnormal behaviour, memory and concentration problems, learning disability, etc. Having finished his education in Homoeopathic Medical Science from Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) recognized by the Govt. of India, he did research-work in a special field of Psychology. As a recognition of his scientific research, he earned his PhD degree in Psychological Counseling and Psychotherapy in 2008. He is also trained in several disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry from best British and American Universities through distant mode including Harvard Medical School (USA), King’s College London, Birmingham University (UK), etc. For a long period of time, he had been the Editor-in-Chief of a quarterly Mental Health Journal named ‘Mon Niye’ published from Kolkata. Besides practicing Neuro-Psychiatry in Homoeopathy, he has been attached as a Visiting Lecturer in the Post-Graduate Psycho-Counseling Dept. of a reputed private educational institute.

Foods to Avoid If You Have OCD or Panic Attacks

Processed, sugary foods like coffee cake may destabilize blood sugar resulting in increased anxiety.

Panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, are types of anxiety disorders. These conditions may cause panic attacks, compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts, sometimes resulting in a disabling impact on one's life. These disorders may be treatable with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Avoiding certain foods and following a diet that emphasizes nutrient-rich whole foods may also help control anxiety disorder symptoms.

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Sugary Foods

Soda has a lot of added sugars.

Eating foods that have a lot of added sugars -- such as soda, candy and other sweets -- raises blood glucose levels, resulting in a temporary, mood-elevated high. For some people, the stimulating surge of the sugar high may cause panic attack symptoms. Once blood sugar levels drop, this may cause a "crash," characterized by a depressed or irritable mood state, that can trigger anxiety in some others. Sugary foods may contribute to anxiety especially in people who are very sensitive to the effects of sugar, including individuals with hypoglycemia or other blood glucose disorders. It's important for people with anxiety disorders to keep their blood sugar as stable as possible by eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods including fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains.

Caffeinated Foods

Limit your caffeine intake.

For people with severe anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks and compulsive behaviors, limiting caffeine intake is a must. Caffeine may increase anxiety in some people due to its stimulating effects on the nervous system. You're probably aware that coffee and colas contain caffeine, but it's important to note some less-obvious food sources of caffeine include chocolate, green tea and soft drinks other than colas. Certain medications may also contain caffeine. According to the Edmund J. Bourne's "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" published in 2005, people with anxiety disorders should evaluate all forms of caffeine in their diet and strive to reduce caffeine consumption to 100 mg/day or less. People who are especially sensitive to caffeine may want to avoid it altogether, notes Bourne.


Alcohol is a depressant that may worsen panic attacks.

Unlike caffeine, alcohol is a depressant that produces a sense of relaxation that may temporarily relieve anxiety. However, over time, alcohol -- as well as illegal drugs -- can make anxiety worse and trigger panic attacks or OCD behaviors. In addition to its profound psychological effects, alcohol also destabilizes blood sugar and interferes with sleep, possibly further contributing to anxiety. Alcohol use may also interact with medications used to treat anxiety disorders, rendering them less effective or causing a dangerous sedative effect. Unfortunately, alcohol abuse and illegal drug use are common in people with OCD. In order to properly treat an underlying anxiety disorder, it's crucial to get appropriate treatment for a drug or alcohol problem.

Processed Foods

Processed meats contain lots of salt and preservatives.

"The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" recommends that people with anxiety disorders reduce intake of processed foods that stress the body due to additives like salt and preservatives. In particular, an additive called MSG, a common ingredient in processed foods such as soups, frozen dinners and fast food, may cause nervousness and malaise, according to an article on nutrition and anxiety by Ilyne Sandas, M.A., L.P. and Christine Siegel, M.A., L.P. Anecdotal evidence that processed foods may contribute to mental health problems was supported by a study published in "The British Journal of Psychiatry" in 2009 which concluded that a diet high in processed foods such as refined grains, processed meats and sweetened deserts contributed to depression in middle-aged adults, whereas a diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and fish proved protective for mental health.

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

Edible depressants: what foods are bad for your brain and mood?


Food affects not only your health and waist size, but also the functioning of the brain. Uma Naidu, a psychiatrist, MD and nutrition expert, talks about which foods can contribute to the development of depressive states in the book Restless Brain. Useful guide to reduce anxiety and stress. How to deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and ADHD.

Food can affect mood in a myriad of ways. A 2019 study by Heather M. Française and colleagues found that malnutrition is inextricably linked to depression. If you want to save yourself from the blues or get rid of the depressive symptoms that you suffer from, give up the following foods.


It is often stated in the scientific literature that a person in sadness tends to lean on sweets. This thesis is true and exactly the opposite: the more sugar you eat, the more you drive yourself into depression. In 2002, Arthur Westover and Lauren Marangelll found a significant correlation between people with depression and those who consumed sugar. Statistically speaking, the ideal correlation coefficient is 1. It rarely reaches this mark, because there are always exceptions. But in this particular case, Arthur and Lauren reported that the correlation between sugar consumption and the presence of depression is 0.9.5, which is very close to 1. Moreover, this phenomenon was observed in six countries! In 2019, a meta-analysis of ten previously published observational studies involving a total of 37,131 people with depression found that consumption of sugary drinks increased the risk of developing the condition.

People who drank just over a 350-ml bottle of soda per day (about 45 grams of sugar) had a 5% increased risk of developing the disease, while those who drank two and a half bottles (about 98 grams of sugar), - by 25%. In other words, the more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to become depressed. Always keep an eye on the content of this component in drinks!

Why does sugar provoke depression? The brain is dependent on glucose (a type of sugar) that enters the body through the food we eat. It needs 62 grams of glucose per day to keep up with its work, an example of incredible energy efficiency, given that the brain has at least 100 billion cells. This need is easily met with whole, healthy foods. Consuming unhealthy industrial foods, such as baked goods or sodas that are loaded with artificially added refined sugar (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup), causes the brain to "choke" on glucose. This "sugar flood" causes inflammation in the brain and can eventually lead to depression.

A study in rats has shown that elevated blood glucose levels are associated with reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It is a protein present in the brain, intestines and other tissues, without which the CNS cannot grow and develop normally. It also helps him deal with stress. Not surprisingly, women with depression had low levels of BDNF. In addition to everything else, this protein increases the effectiveness of antidepressants - further evidence that it plays an important role in preventing depression.

High glycemic carbohydrates

Even if high carbohydrate foods (such as bread, pasta, and anything made with refined flour) taste unsweetened, the body still processes them in much the same way as sugar. This means that this kind of food can increase the risk of developing depression. Don't worry, I'm not going to urge you to completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet! We care about their quality.

In 2018, scientists set out to find out exactly which carbohydrates are associated with depression (if any). They asked 15,546 volunteers to complete a questionnaire called "Carbohydrate Quality Index". "Quality" was considered whole grains, foods high in dietary fiber or low glycemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how quickly food is converted into glucose during digestion: the faster this happens, the higher this figure.

Of all study participants, 769 were depressed. As it turned out, people with the highest score on the carbohydrate quality index (meaning they consumed higher quality foods) were 30% less likely to develop depression than those who consumed foods with a high GI. In other words, a high GI diet is a risk factor for depression.

These foods include potatoes, white bread and white rice. Honey, orange juice, and whole grain bread are average. Low GI foods are leafy greens, most fruits, raw carrots, red beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

To minimize the likelihood of depression, I recommend that you review your diet. Avoid high glycemic foods and eat more medium and low GI foods. Give particular preference to whole grains and fiber-rich foods such as brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, chia seeds, and blueberries. Warning: know the measure in everything! Don't eat too many low and medium GI foods. An excess of carbohydrates, regardless of this indicator, puts an excessive glycemic load on the body. In simple terms, this indicator shows how much a food will increase blood sugar levels after consumption. And yet, as scientists have found, a high glycemic load increases the risk of developing depression.

What is the moral? You don't have to cut out carbs completely to relieve or avoid symptoms of depression. All that is required of you is to choose the right food and consume it in reasonable quantities.

Artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame

Saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), and stevia (Truvia) are just a few of the most common artificial sweeteners used by food manufacturers today. Other lesser-known substances include erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. These substitutes are often found in "healthy" foods designed to help you cut down on your calorie intake.

This is worrisome, as scientists have found a link between depression and sweeteners. One study found that people who consume artificial sweeteners, primarily in the form of diet drinks, are more susceptible to the disease than those without the habit. Moreover, scientists have found that sweeteners are toxic to the brain: they change the concentration of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.

Aspartame, the main sweetener in popular diet drinks, including low-sugar Coca-Cola, is especially dangerous. In 2017, a review of studies on aspartame showed that this substance increases the number of compounds in the brain that slow the synthesis and release of "happiness neurotransmitters": dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

And that's not all. Aspartame causes oxidation, which in turn leads to increased levels of harmful free radicals in the brain. We will talk more than once about the destructive effect of oxidative processes. During oxidation, reactive oxygen species are released, including free radicals, unstable molecules that wreak havoc in cells. In low and moderate concentrations, reactive oxygen species are not dangerous for brain cells, but, on the contrary, are useful, as they allow you to maintain an internal chemical balance. However, if their concentration is elevated, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants (which fight them) causes a condition called oxidative stress. It can lead to cell death and brain damage, and it also leads to depression.

Not all sweeteners are harmful to health. However, we are finding more and more evidence that not only aspartame, but also, for example, sucralose, can provoke and exacerbate depression. A 2018 study found that in mice, sucralose caused a change in the gut microbiota. To be more precise, the animals had an increase in the bacteria that scientists have found to be prevalent in the guts of people with depression. Sucralose also enhances the activity of myeloperoxidase, a marker of inflammation. A special study was conducted, during which it was found that in twins who had suffered from depression in the past, the level of this substance was 32% higher than in those who had never experienced the disease. For anyone suffering from depression, my advice is to avoid artificial sweeteners. Since sugar should also be eliminated from the diet, you will have a hard time before you can overcome your sweet tooth, but trust me, the result is worth it.

Fried food

Tempura, empanada, samsa, chicken steak, fish and french fries. What, drooling? Me too. I am a frequent visitor to Cape Cod, where every summer the mouth-watering aroma of grilled pickles and French fries drives me crazy. There's no way I could give up all that fried yummy stuff, even with the health risks involved. Enjoying food is important for quality of life! And yet, if you are experiencing depression, you'd better cut down on fried foods.

In Japan, researchers assessed the levels of depression and hardiness of 715 factory workers. One of the factors taken into account was the amount of fried food consumed. As it turned out, people who ate more of these foods were more prone to developing depressive states. Just like the discoveries made about sugar, this seems paradoxical. When was it that french fries drove you into depression? Never, right? At least, in the process of eating this did not happen. However, I am absolutely sure that a couple of hours after the next feast with an abundance of fried food, you were in trouble. You felt like you were overdoing it. We usually think that this is a simple feeling of guilt caused by overeating, but over time it can develop into serious depression.

If you eat fried food every day, limit it to once a week, and if you eat it every week, then once a month. You don't eat that kind of food at all? So, you are already on the way to a happy life!

"Bad" fats

Fried food lowers mood because it is usually cooked in bad fat. In recent years, we have moved away from the thesis “all fats are evil” and began to distinguish between “harmful” (for example, margarine, confectionery fat and hydrogenated oils), causing cardiovascular disease and other troubles, and “useful” (for example, avocados, almonds and olive oil), which, on the contrary, prevent the development of diseases and improve health.

In 2011, Almudena Sánchez-Villegas and her colleagues published the results of an early study looking for a link between fat and depression. They invited 12,059 Spanish university graduates (none of whom were depressed at the start of the trial) and asked them to complete a questionnaire assessing the frequency of consumption of 136 foods. The scientists wanted to find out how much they ate in cooking fat (olive and butter, seed oil and margarine), and thus estimate the amount of consumption of various fatty acids, namely: saturated, polyunsaturated (PUFA), transunsaturated (trans fat) and monounsaturated (MUFA) . At each visit, participants were asked to report any emerging manifestations of depression. Six years later, 657 cases of the disease were recorded.

The more trans fats in a participant's diet, the more likely they were to develop depression. But those who consumed a lot of PUFAs and MUFAs, the risk was much less. Speaking of cooking fats, it turns out that olive oil, which is very rich in MUFAs, significantly reduces the risk of depression.

Avoid trans fats to prevent or reduce your risk of depression. Despite the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned trans fats in 2018, manufacturers received a reprieve, so trans fats are still found in microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, ready-made dough, fast food, vegetable confectionery fat and some types of margarine.

Your diet should be dominated by MUFAs. In addition to olive oil, these compounds are found in nuts (almonds, walnuts), nut butters (almond and cashews), and avocados.

Although PUFAs are better than trans fats, not all sources of these acids are suitable for people with depression. For example, in moderation, corn, sunflower, and safflower oils are perfectly safe, but in excess, they can cause an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which in turn can negatively affect emotion regulation and provoke depression.

Added nitrates

Nitrates, which are added to prepared meats (bacon, salami, sausages, cold cuts) as preservatives and flavor enhancers, may be associated with depression. Modern scientists have found that these substances are able to change the intestinal microbiota in such a way that a person can develop bipolar disorder. If you cannot imagine life without sausages and frankfurters, choose those that contain buckwheat flour filler. This ingredient is rich in antioxidants, which will balance the harmful effects of meat products.

An excerpt provided for publication by the BOMBORA publishing house.

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What foods are needed for healthy sleep and what foods cause insomnia

Food affects the functioning of the heart, brain and, of course, waist size. But few people think that the diet is directly related to our state of mind and mood. Sauerkraut is known to ease depression, cherries help fight ADHD, turmeric improves memory, and fried cabbage lowers mood. We are publishing a fragment of Uma Naidu's book "The Restless Brain", which tells how to deal with fatigue and insomnia with the help of food.

New hearth

How is it that regular food is as effective as drugs that cost millions of dollars to develop and test? It's all about the bacteria that live in our intestines! They are responsible for the production of many substances necessary for the brain to function, including important neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. All of them are involved in the regulation of mood, memory and attention. This is why gut confusion can cause mental symptoms ranging from depression and anxiety to reduced libido.

Uma Naidu in The Restless Brain. Useful guide to reduce anxiety and stress. How to deal with depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD and ADHD” not only explained the relationship between nutrition and well-being, but also compiled two lists of foods for each disorder - those to avoid and those to include in your menu. At the end of the book are recipes for simple, healthy and delicious dishes to maintain brain health. We are publishing a fragment that tells about the fight against insomnia and fatigue.

EXMO Publishing House

EXMO Publishing House

Insomnia and Fast Fatigue: capsaicin, chamomile and anti-inflammatory diet

40-year-old law enforcement officer named Dumisani turned to me for help due to depression-at least This is what she considered the root of all problems. Recently, she and her husband adopted a child from Kenya, and since her husband worked during the day, she switched to the night shift and almost always returned home at dawn.

When it was time to rest after long hours at work, Dumisani could not sleep. There was no trace of the wild fatigue that the woman felt at work when she curtained the windows and went to bed. And because of stress, she was constantly on edge. The kid was happy when his mother appeared and wanted to play, and then there was no time for rest. As a result, the patient was only able to take a short nap with the baby. When she again went to the night shift, she felt completely overwhelmed, worked through her strength, drank a lot of coffee and so again and again.

All this could not pass without a trace.

Dumisani eventually became depressed and, despite a healthy diet, gained 7 kg. I immediately told the woman that Uma Naidu 220 antidepressants would not solve the problem. Before taking medication, you should try to change your lifestyle. I told her that working the night shift had destroyed her gut microbiota and disrupted her sleep-wake cycles, and suggested how to change her diet to curb this condition.

Dumisani changed her schedule and worked less at night. Her husband also turned to the authorities, and they allowed him to sometimes take the child to the office. The woman strictly adhered to the proposed meal plan and as a result was able to sleep and stay awake when needed. Yes, the couple did not have less worries, but in any case, the changes made allowed them to devote more time to the family. Dumisani sometimes continued to work at night, so there was no talk of a complete normalization of sleep, but even such a minor intervention had a positive effect on her mood. Three months later, she felt much better.

Almost a third of the world's population has trouble falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Poor quality night rest negatively affects all body systems. The brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and general metabolism are affected. In this chapter, you will find answers to the following questions: What to do if sedatives and relaxing music do not help? And how to keep a high level of energy after waking up? The focus will be on products that are useful and harmful for people suffering from insomnia and fatigue.

Sleep and the gut

Maintaining the delicate balance of the gut microbiota is very important for normal sleep. You can probably guess what role the gut-brain connection plays in this story: by interacting with the immune system, hormones, and the vagus nerve, gut bacteria “communicate” with the brain and dictate when to sleep and wake up. As always, this interaction is bidirectional, i.e. the brain does not stand aside and also affects intestinal microorganisms.

You must have heard of the 24-hour circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock that regulates the phases of sleep and wakefulness.

When the cycle is disturbed, this leads to metabolic disorders. In 2014, Sarah Davies of Imperial College London conducted a study in which twenty healthy young men were deprived of sleep. As it turned out, this led to a change in the level of 27 metabolites, including our "favorites": serotonin and tryptophan. If you sleep normally, the level of metabolites rises and falls in accordance with special rhythms. However, against the background of lack of sleep, they are violated, and fluctuations in concentration begin to occur chaotically.

This brings us to another area of ​​medicine called chronodietology. Representatives of this specialty study the influence of the body's internal clock on digestion and metabolism. What's with the intestines? The fact is that natural sleep cycles exist not only in humans. All living beings have them, including microbiota bacteria. Microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract "sleep" and "wake" in accordance with physiological processes. What's more, the circadian rhythms of gut bacteria can influence a person's routine by altering the genes that are responsible for sleep and awakening.

About 40% of Americans have a shift schedule that affects the quality of sleep. As a rule, the internal clocks of microorganisms and humans are synchronized. But if our internal clock suddenly malfunctions - for example, due to night shift work or jet lag - the composition and behavior of intestinal bacteria changes. The resulting mismatch in circadian rhythms can affect food metabolism and increase the risk of obesity.

Animal studies indicate a strong link between gut bacteria and sleep.

For example, in an experiment on mice, sleep disruption led to a change in the microbiota. As a result, holes formed in the intestinal mucosa, through which food particles and other substances began to penetrate outside. They provoked extensive inflammatory processes in the body, which in turn negatively affected insulin sensitivity and provoked overeating. When scientists took the feces of sleep-deprived mice and transplanted them into germ-free rodents, they began to have the same inflammation and metabolic problems. Probiotics have helped reverse these processes.

As far as people are concerned, the negative effect of disturbed sleep is most clearly seen in those who work in shifts or at night, like Dumisani. You probably think that shift work is a rarity, but alas, no. Two out of five people in the United States have such a schedule (by the way, about the same number of Americans are obese). Lack of sleep inevitably leads to an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota. And this happens even if the shift worker eats exactly the same as a person working from nine to five. As a result, he cannot digest food normally and therefore is prone to overweight and obesity.

Eat to sleep

The secret to good sleep lies in proper nutrition. In 2014, a research team led by Ryoko Katagiri found that women who ate a diet high in noodles and sweets and low in vegetables and fish slept worse than those who ate a healthier diet. Also, poor quality of sleep was observed among lovers of energy drinks and sugary drinks and among those who skipped breakfast and ate irregularly. Yes, sugar is bad, but studies show that foods rich in high-glycemic carbohydrates make you fall asleep more quickly—although such sleep is not satisfying.

Scientists have also found that a high-glycemic diet and a diet high in saturated fat and deficient in dietary fiber (fiber) makes sleep less deep and restorative. In particular, a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet leads to a reduction in both non-REM sleep, which helps replenish energy, and REM sleep, which allows memories to be cemented.

There are other studies, but their results raise many questions.

For example, Japanese scientists found that low protein intake (less than 16% of calories) was associated with poor sleep quality and trouble falling asleep, while high protein intake (more than 19% of calories) was associated with difficulty maintaining sleep. Don't worry, I'm not going to urge you to stay strictly within 16-19% of calories, it's better and safer to just consume a moderate amount of protein.

In general, my whole book follows the motto: observe moderation in everything, even in good things, and be conscious about what and how you eat.

Personally, I recommend a diet rich in healthy whole foods, such as the Mediterranean Meal Plan. And be sure to include or, conversely, exclude certain products from it, depending on their effect on the quality of sleep. Scientists have found that people with a poor diet are more likely to sleep poorly, so try to diversify your diet as much as possible. Follow my advice, even if it doesn't help you sleep better. A varied diet is not only a source of a large number of nutrients, but also a real feast for taste buds.

Foods that disturb sleep

Some foods cause sleep problems and make you feel rested. Let's find out what should be excluded from the diet for those who dream of sleeping like a baby.


It's no secret that caffeine keeps us awake at night - after all, we only drink these drinks because they give us energy. But caffeine is very tricky. On the one hand, it invigorates, and on the other hand, it disrupts sleep and thus deprives us of vigor for the next day. Scientists call this the "sandwich effect" when sleep is "sandwiched" between two days of caffeine intake and reduced to a few hours. Unfortunately, more and more people are becoming victims of this phenomenon. About 33% of Americans sleep less than six hours a night.

Caffeine acts on adenosine receptors in the brain, which are associated with sleep, awakening and cognitive abilities. Numerous studies show that the consumption of this substance greatly affects the quality of sleep. In 2013, Christopher Drake and colleagues conducted a study in which they divided participants into three groups: the first was given 400 mg of caffeine (about 4 cups of freshly brewed coffee) immediately before bedtime, the second - three hours before bedtime, and the third - six hours before bedtime. . As a result, participants in all three "caffeine" groups had problems with sleep.

You already know from previous chapters that caffeine is good for you, so you don't have to give it up. According to a number of studies, 3-4 cups of coffee a day prolong life, protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and various neurological, metabolic and liver disorders.

How to be? Consume it wisely and learn to see when it works against you. My recommendations are as follows: drink 3-4 small/medium cups of coffee or caffeinated tea per day and avoid this substance after three in the afternoon. If you are very sensitive to it, then at the end of the day, decaffeinated drinks are also contraindicated for you - in fact, 500 ml of Starbucks decaffeinated coffee can contain up to 13.9mg caffeine.


18-year-old student Aidan came to me for help with depression. He studied worse and worse, and before each control he could not find a place for himself from anxiety and fear. According to the guy, he got drunk on weekends if he knew that the next day it would be possible to sleep, and if he had to get up early, he tried not to take a drop of alcohol in his mouth. The fact that students indulge in alcohol is well known to everyone, and this approach seemed quite logical. After a heavy drink, a person feels overwhelmed, and he needs to sleep well, right?

But things are not so simple. On one of his "sober" days, Aidan underwent a sleep study, and this revealed serious problems. In particular, he had a disturbed REM sleep phase, which negatively affected the ability to remember information and caused pre-exam anxiety. Aidan did not want to take medication, so I advised him to stop drinking for a month. Yes, it was not easy, but the guy did it and immediately felt the difference. Anxiety has noticeably decreased, and academic performance has increased. Alas, he did not give up alcohol completely, but began to drink much less often, realizing how much this addiction affects the quality of sleep.

Alcohol is sedative, so in theory you should fall asleep quickly.

However, after you fall asleep, the sleep cycles fail. If you look at Aidan's brain waves on the night after a drunken revel, you can see the lengthening of the non-REM sleep phase. Non-REM sleep is very deep, and under normal conditions, the body takes time to sink into it. Alcohol accelerates immersion in it, as a result, the second half of the night you sleep badly and feel overwhelmed in the morning.

Also, alcohol reduces REM sleep, which leads to cognitive impairment - which is why Aidan began to study worse. Among other things, this affects your ability to respond in dangerous situations. Alcohol provokes changes in the intestinal microbiota. Alcohol consumption impairs the cognitive functions of the brain, as it reduces the REM phase, which leads to an increase in the level of inflammation in the intestine and brain and reduces the protective calming effect of the vagus nerve. And during intoxication and withdrawal syndrome, the amygdala is activated and, as a result, anxiety increases.

Alcohol abusers have trouble sleeping even when sober. That's why weekend drinkers like Aidan feel tired during the ensuing "sober" week. If you use alcohol as a sleeping pill - including the seemingly harmless 1-2 glasses of red wine before bed - know that in the end it will do more harm than good. If you're not sleeping well, try cutting out alcohol completely for a month or so and see how it affects the quality of your sleep.

Foods that promote good sleep

36-year-old food blogger Melanie spent her days testing recipes, making videos, posting pretty pictures on social media, and answering questions from her followers. From morning until evening, she did not have a minute of free time. But when the woman, tired, went to bed, she could not sleep. Sometimes she did not close her eyes for several hours, and then fell into darkness somewhere, and then not for long. Melanie usually went to bed at eleven o'clock and got up at six, but due to problems with falling asleep, it took her not seven hours to sleep, but only four, so she felt overwhelmed.

When she first came to see me, she looked exhausted. Melanie tried to turn off the TV, put her mobile phone away from the bed, avoided caffeine, counted sheep, but all in vain. Then I began to ask her about nutrition. First, I found out what foods were missing in her diet. It turned out that the woman consumed very little oily fish, so I advised her to eat salmon, fresh tuna and sardines. I also suggested that she add blueberries to her morning cereal, and brew chamomile and drink cherry juice before going to bed.

These simple strategies made it easier for Melanie to fall asleep and wake up less often during the night.

And now let's talk in more detail about products that help normalize sleep.

Omega-3 fatty acids

It's time to add one more item to the list of useful properties of these substances. Numerous animal studies show that omega-3 fatty acids improve sleep and reduce inflammation and prevent memory impairment in sleep-deprived mice. A lot of data has also been accumulated that confirms the positive effect of omega-3s on human sleep. For example, in 2018, scientists led by Leila Jahangard conducted a study involving fifty people who were in a state of depression. Compared to the placebo group, subjects who took omega-3s experienced a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. They began to control their emotions better, and after some more time their sleep improved.

Omega-3 fats have direct and indirect effects on the factors that underlie good sleep. For example, some fatty acids are "precursors" of prostaglandins, brain chemicals that induce sleep. Others contribute to the formation of the "hormone Insomnia and sleep fatigue" melatonin. They also increase the efficiency of night rest and lengthen the phase of REM sleep.


Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that regulates circadian rhythms. Scientists have found that it promotes falling asleep and is effective for jet lag, in which the work of the body's internal clock is disturbed. And if you have fallen victim to seasonal depression, this substance will normalize sleep cycles and help you cope with blues.

In addition to supplements, melatonin can be found in some foods. For example, it is found in eggs, fish, milk, rice and other grains (barley and oatmeal), fruits (grapes, pomegranates), nuts (especially pistachios and walnuts), seeds (sunflower, mustard, flax) and vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli and cucumbers).


As we discussed in Chapter 3, the common belief that turkey meat causes drowsiness is just a myth, as it is difficult for tryptophan to reach the brain from food. But if we talk about this substance in general, then it really affects the brain in such a way that you begin to feel sleepy. The amino acid increases the levels of serotonin and melatonin in the blood and brain, both hormones that make it easier to fall asleep.

Tryptophan can be used to treat sleep disorders. This is usually "interval therapy", in which a person takes the drug for several weeks, then a break is taken, and then the treatment is resumed. Once again, I want to draw your attention to the fact that nutritional supplements, including tryptophan, should only be taken under medical supervision. Despite the fact that in the United States this substance is considered a dietary supplement, in Canada it is classified as a medication.

If you don't want to take supplements, try to get as much of the amino acid as possible from your food. But don't forget what we said earlier: tryptophan from food is poorly absorbed into the brain, so it's best to combine it with carbohydrates, for example, you can serve turkey and mashed potatoes on the table. Or it could be cereal with milk (healthy, low-sugar whole grains), peanut butter on whole grain toast, or cheese and whole wheat crackers. Here's a great "sleeping" snack for you.

Tryptophan is also found in pumpkin seeds, baked soybeans, cooked shoulder of lamb and canned tuna. Not all of these foods are suitable for an evening snack, but if you have trouble sleeping, you may well cook them for dinner (along with carbohydrates).


As you already know, there are nine essential amino acids that are not synthesized in the body, and therefore we must get them from food. Just like tryptophan, L-ornithine is an essential amino acid and improves sleep quality in the face of fatigue. For the formation of this substance, it is necessary to consume foods with L-arginine. The easiest way to get it is to include whole protein in your diet. It contains all nine essential amino acids. This includes red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soybeans and quinoa.


As we discussed in Chapter 3, chamomile helps relieve anxiety, but it's most often used to improve sleep. You have probably heard that tea from it makes it easier to fall asleep, and indeed chamomile is one of the most ancient plants, and its positive effect is confirmed by science. In 2017, Mohsen Adib-Hajbageri and colleagues conducted a sleep study involving people over the age of sixty.

They divided the volunteers into two groups: daily for 28 days, some received capsules with 200 mg of chamomile extract, and others received a placebo. As a result, it turned out that the plant significantly increased the quality of sleep. This effect was confirmed by a 2019 meta-analysis.year, which covered all the studies ever conducted on the effect of chamomile tea on sleep. The sedative effect of chamomile is primarily due to the presence of a flavonoid called apigenin in its composition.

It is best to brew chamomile tea (in fact, it is more correct to say “infusion”, because there is no tea as such in the drink).

Different species contain different amounts of chamomile, and it is generally difficult to determine how much of this plant is in a particular cup. However, I recommend drinking 1-3 cups (250 ml) of chamomile tea per day.

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