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Can’t Sleep? Simple Carbs May Be to Blame

If you’ve ever spent hours tossing and turning without being able to fall asleep, you know how frustrating it can be. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), about one in three people have at least mild insomnia, and about 70 percent of American adults report not sleeping enough at night. So, what’s keeping so many people up at night?

There are hundreds of answers to that question, from common behaviors like drinking coffee too late in the day to unusual sleeping disorders like somnambulism. And now, a recent study has added another factor to the list: refined carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients in food that provide fuel for the body to function properly. The other two are protein and fat. During digestion, all three are broken down into the elements the body can use for energy: Protein is reduced to amino acids and fat is reduced to fatty acids, both of which are then stored for future use.  Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are broken down into glucose (sugar) which get processed in the liver before entering the bloodstream and is immediately available to be used by cells for energy. This is why eating carbs can affect blood sugar levels so quickly and dramatically.

What is the difference between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates?

There are two types of carbohydrates with each impacting blood glucose levels differently.   Simple carbs are like quick-burning fuels. They break down fast into sugar in your system.  It takes your body longer to break down complex carbs into sugar.  Simple carbs are found in everything from table sugar (sucrose) to fruit. Complex carbs, or starches, occur in foods such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash. Other good sources of complex carbs are beans. Kidney, white, black, pinto, or garbanzo beans also have lots of fiber.

Carbohydrates and Sleep Study
A study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, looked at the relationships between the glycemic index (GI) of different types of carbohydrates and insomnia. Data from the food diaries of more than 50,000 post-menopausal women were gathered to determine if women who ate foods with higher GIs were more likely to develop insomnia.

The glycemic index of a food is a measure that assigns a value to carbohydrates based on how fast or slow they raise your blood sugar levels. Generally speaking, “complex ccarbohydrates” have a low GI value, and are digested, absorbed, and metabolized slower, making your body release glucose in a slow, controlled way.

Simple carbohydrates are high GI foods, that are digested quickly, causing a rapid spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels right after you eat. Eating foods with high GI values has been liked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, overeating, and now, insomnia.

The results of the study showed that, after a three-year follow-up, women who regularly ate higher GI foods – especially those who ate lots of added sugars and processed grains like white bread – were more likely to experience insomnia. In contrast, participants who ate a more balanced diet with lower GI foods (like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) had less trouble sleeping at night.

Because the study only looked at data of women between the ages of 50 and 79, more research is needed to determine if these findings hold true in the general population. If that’s the case, the authors of the study believe that “(…) dietary intervention[s] focused on increasing the consumption of whole foods and complex carbohydrates could be used to prevent and treat insomnia.”

Sleep Aide – Small Complex Carb Snack Before Bedtime
Many people who wake during the night do so because they experience a drop in blood sugar.  If you have trouble sleeping through the night, trying eating a small amount of  slow burning “COMPLEX CARBS” like a couple spoonfuls of beans (pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black beans etc.) or whole grain crackers.  This may help you avoid waking from a drop in blood sugar.

If you need extra help, don’t forget Akeso’s comprehensive natural sleep aide, “SLEEP ALL NIGHT” formulated to reestablish healthy sleep patterns or download our Free Sleep-Ebook & Insomnia White Paper 


Obesity is Changing the World We Live In!

I’m trying to bite my tongue and not say what I truly feel about the executives who run most of our countries fast food chains.

Shareholders and eyes fixed on bottom line profits are determining the quality and size of meals that we are being offered, certainly NOT health considerations and our long-term wellness.

It’s sort of ironic that in the 1950’s the size of our cars was huge and our restaurant food portions, as you will see, were much smaller.  Now, our cars are smaller and our restaurant food portions are insanely, larger.

As you will learn in the following article, the alarming rate at which American waistlines are expanding, is affecting us in ways that we may not be aware of  (and few, if any of them, are good).

Overweight is the new normal

Products adapt to accommodate the super-sized generation

Sun Sentinel June 12, 2011

Overweight has become the new normal, and society is straining to accommodate our ever-expanding waistlines. We plant plush bottoms on wider seats in theaters and toilet stalls, drape ourselves in plus-sized clothing, even go to our eternal rest in broader coffins.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and a third, some 72 million people, are considered obese. From 1980 to 2008, obesity rates doubled for adults and tripled for children, with 17 percent, or 9 million children over 6, classified as obese.

The average American is 23 pounds heavier than the ideal body weight. Experts blame the usual bugaboos: lack of exercise and side-splitting food consumption.

“There’s definitely a new norm,” said Dr. Robert Kushner, clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity at Northwestern University in Illinois. “It’s a norm that, ‘My entire family and my community is overweight, and that’s what I am.’ ”

Businesses, eyes on the bottom line, are adapting to the physical requirements of the heftier among us.

Revolving doors, for example, have widened from 10 feet to 12 feet in recent years. Scales, which seldom went over 300 pounds, now go up to 400 or 500 pounds.

Here are a few other areas in which the super-sized generation is changing our culture.

Feeding frenzy

Food portions, ever bigger, continue to grow to meet yawning appetites. New York nutritionist Lisa R. Young estimates fast-food servings are two to five times what they were in the 1950s. When it debuted 40 years ago, the Big Mac was but a wee patty of 3-ounce meat. Today, fast-food chains serve up 12-ounce burgers loaded with 1,000 calories.
When it first opened, a McDonald’s soda was 7 ounces. Now a small soft drink is 16 ounces, and convenience stores pitch a 64-ounce bucket of soda — a full half-gallon. The result: In the 1970s, an American gulped down an average of 27 gallons of soda a year. Today that figure is 44 gallons.

And sweets? Cookies today, Young says, are 700 percent larger than USDA standards. A brownie recipe from the 1960s called for 30 servings. The same recipe today calls for 16.

Garbing the girth

Clothing outlets have expanded plus-sized inventories. Bulky clothes are available for children as young as 3, and Target and Forever 21 offer plus-sized fashions for teens. Quadruple-extra-large shirts are on the rack for men with 60-inch waists.

“Vanity sizing,” in which manufacturers adjust apparel size downward so it’s more palatable for women, is spreading. A size 4 today was, 20 years ago, a size 8. Some 62 percent of American women wear a size 14 or larger.

But full-size fashion has its price: Plus-sized clothing, which uses more material, costs 10 to 15 percent more than regular apparel.

High-volume cargo

Federal officials have increased the average passenger weight for buses and commercial boats, from 150 pounds to 175 pounds for bus passengers and from 160 pounds to 185 pounds for boat passengers. Buses must be stronger and bigger to handle folks of amplitude, and boats must trim their passenger lists.

Government regulations for car seat belts, set in the 1960s, require them to fit a 215-pound man with a hip circumference of 47 inches. In 2003, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that more than 38 million people, or 19 percent of Americans, were too large for their seat belts. To accommodate heftier drivers, some car manufacturers include seat belts that are 18 to 20 inches longer, or offer seat belt extenders.