4 Surprising Foods That Will Help You Sleep

Natural Solutions For Insomnia Suffers

Are you someone who takes hours to fall asleep? Or perhaps your so stressed from your job and busy life that you can’t shut your brain off? Maybe it’s to much out of your control and you suffer from severe insomnia or jet lag? Why not consider a natural alternative? For example, did you ever think that the foods in your diet could help aid in a better night’s sleep?  This article focuses on four key foods high in melatonin, to help promote a better night’s sleep.

What Is Melatonin?

If you aren’t sure what melatonin is, let me explain. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in our body by the pineal and pituitary glands at the base of the brain (the part that regulates sleep and wake cycles). Melatonin plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system and is great for sleep regulation. It is also a very powerful and unique antioxidant.

The natural production of this hormone is greatly affected by light. Usually, the levels of this hormone begin to rise in the mid-to late evening, remaining high for most of the night, and then decline in the early morning hours.

Can Foods High In Melatonin Help You Sleep?

Our bodies naturally produce melatonin at night when we sleep. In fact, according to the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, approximately 5-25mcg of melatonin circulate in the blood stream of healthy young and middle aged men at night time. If we take an average of 15 mcg (which equals 15000 ng), this number can serve us as a comparison to foods with melatonin.

If our body produces approximately 15 000 ng of melatonin when we sleep, you can see how “tart (sour) cherry juice concentrate” could be very effective at helping us get to sleep (refer to infographic below). In fact, cherry juice concentrate has even more melatonin in it than our bodies produce at night! Therefore, if you want to have a good night’s sleep, you will only need as little as 100g before bed. I added a link to tart cherry juice concentrate below, if interested:

foods to help you sleep - high in melatonin

Melatonin Dosage

Generally, when you go to the store and get a natural supplement of “melatonin”, a single dosage can be way to strong and overbearing for what you actually need. Indeed, most melatonin supplements can be of animal origin (made of ground up pineal glands of cows or sheet) and synthetic (man-made).

Keep in mind the the daily dosages of synthetic melatonin vary greatly depending on the age and medical condition of a person and typically are in the range of 0.25-10 milligrams (the most common doses are 2-5 mg) to be take 20 to 120 minutes before bedtime.

Foods High In Melatonin Versus Supplements

What most people don’t realize is that even the smallest dose of synthetic melatonin is much higher than the amount normally circulating in one’s natural blood stream at night. Human blood contains between ~5-25 mcg of melatonin at night, so even the smallest dosage available synthetically (aka sold to you in the store) is 10-15 TIMES HIGHER than what is normally found in your blood!

It is important to remember that melatonin is a synthetic “hormone” and hormones can be quite scary. Even the smallest doses can offset in your body and result in unwanted implications such as abnormal health rhythms, dizziness, irritability, mood changes, itching, seizures, sleepwalking, stomach problems, vivid dreams, reduced sperm count.

Why not just consume foods high in melatonin? It makes complete sense. Scientific studies even show that higher doses of 10 mg/day (400 times higher than normal) do not produce better results than 0.25mg/day. This means that the most commonly used doses of 2-5 mg/day are then 80-200 times higher than melatonin normally found in the blood. YIKES!

This just shows you, how natural alternatives can sometimes be all you need. TART CHERRY ORGANIC JUICE CONC. is definitely something to consider or Ultra Slender Tea, as it is high in ginger – which contains lots of melatonin.

The High Fructose Corn Syrup Epidemic

Let’s face it, most of us don’t understand half of the ingredients on the side of a food label! It can be so daunting and confusing. However, one main ingredient you should keep an eye out for is “high fructose corn syrup”. Shockingly, American’s consume ~50 pounds of the stuff every year! This is almost as much as sugar itself, which comes in at 63.6 pounds.

High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. As use of high-fructose corn syrup has increased, so have levels of obesity and related health problems, leading some to wonder if there’s a connection.

Why Is “High Fructose Corn Syrup” bad for your health?

It actually can increase your levels of (1) mercury exposure (2) hypertension and elevated blood cholesterol levels (3) long term liver damage (4) increase your risk of type two diabetes and (5) significantly increase your risk of weight gain and diabetes.

Below you will find an infographic on the deception and dangers of HFCS. The infographic also touches on the 6 main ways to avoid high fructose corn syrup.


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Kombucha Recipe

Kombucha Tea

Have you ever heard of kombucha tea? It’s taking storm at the moment and there are hundreds of natural “kombucha recipes” popping up everywhere {note: my favorite recipe is by “deliciously organic” here}. However, if you aren’t into making your own there are a few GREAT STORE-BOUGHT options now – which is quite exciting {the stuff takes 2+ weeks to make at home!}. Natures Emporium offers the most selection I have seen of the drink thus far.

What Is Kombucha?

Made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance), Kombucha didn’t gain prominence in the West until recently.

History of Kombucha

Kombucha has actually been around for more than 2,000 years. It is said to have originated in ancient China and was referred to as the “beverage of immortal health”. Today it’s gaining mainstream success in Montreal largely because of the local brand RISE Kombucha (refer to picture below), which is owned by Crudessence Kombucha Inc.

Popular Kombucha Brands

Since 2009, one brand in particular called RISE has sold more than one million bottles since 2009. The only downside is that it is a bit expensive – a standard 355 mL bottle costs around $3.50 to $4. However, it’s WELL worth it. The drink, which comes in bold flavors like mint chlorophyll and blueberry maple, is gaining a devoted following among health-conscious individuals looking for an alternative to sugary soft drinks.

kombucha recipe

I was also surprised to see that YOGI tea came out with their own Kombucha green tea {although I am not sure how the cultures can remain “live” in teabag form).

Health Benefits of Kombuca Tea

The benefits of kombucha are amazing. Many articles have been written on this topic, so I won’t get into it too much. Just know, it is very good for joint care (rich in glucosamines to prevent and treat arthritis), digestion and gut health (it’s a probiotic beverage), fight harmful yeast overgrowth in the body, reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, improve immune system (antioxidant rich), increase energy and aid in detoxification.

When you dive into the research you will even find that the Russian’s scientifically proved centuries ago the incredible benefits of Kombucha. For example, one study published in the International Journal of Food Research stated:

“Research conducted in Russia at the beginning of the century and testimony indicate that Kombucha can improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote digestive functions, stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammatory problems, and can have many other benefits.”

So if you want an energy boost before the holidays and ensure that you do not get sick, make sure to pick up some Kombucha.

What are your thoughts on Kombucha? Do you like it? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

Are Dried Fruits Healthy?

Many of us think that by eating more fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods we will live a healthier and longer life. However, there are a slew of chemicals that can be added as preservatives to your fruits and vegetables that you should be aware of.

dried mangoss2

One surprising discovery was dried fruit. Say you are a fan of dried mango’s or papaya {like me}, well you may be shocked to learn that they aren’t as healthy as you would have previously thought. The main preservatives are often sulphites and tartrazine! -yuck! {Note: to learn more about tartrazine, I will refer to a previous article).

What Are Sulfites?

Food companies want you to buy their dried fruit but let’s face it, you probably wouldn’t buy it if it lost it’s bright color. Sulphites are often added to help preserve the coloring in these dried fruit products.

Sulphites are regulated food additives that are used as preservatives to maintain food colour and prolong shelf-life, prevent the growth of micro-organisms, and to maintain the potency of certain medications.

Sulphites are also used to bleach food starches (e.g. potato) and are also used in the production of some food packaging materials (e.g. cellophane).

Sulphite Allergy

Many people who consume sulphite-products, experience unpleasant side-effects (i.e. which is why the government is making a law that states all products with sulphites have to say “may contain sulphites”). For example, do you ever get weazy and experience asthmatic like symptoms when you eat dried fruit? You may not even realize this, but it could be the sulphite preservative!

dried fruit

When researchers studied many harmful types of additives (i.e. azo dyes, artificial food coloring) and after comparing all literature from Jan 1966 to Jan 1999, the only causative agents for asthma and anaphylaxis was “sulphites”[i] However, the severity of reactions varies with steroid-dependent asthmatics, as well as for those with marked airway hyper-responsiveness.

Topical, oral or parenteral exposure to sulphites has also been reported to induce a range of adverse clinical effects in sensitive individuals, ranging from dermatitis, urticaria, flushing, hypotension, abdominal pain and diarrhoea to life-threatening anaphylactic and asthmatic reactions.[ii]

Foods With Sulphites

Besides dried fruit there are many other food products that contain sulphites. Here is a list of the most common:

  • Bottled lemon and lime juices and concentrates
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Cereal, cornmeal, cornstarch, crackers and muesli
  • Condiments, for example, coleslaw, horseradish, ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish and sauerkraut
  • Dehydrated, mashed, peeled and pre-cut potatoes, and frozen french fries
  • Dried fruits and vegetables, such as apricots, coconut and raisins, sweet potato
  • Dried herbs, spices and teas
  • Fresh grapes
  • Fruit fillings and syrups, gelatin, jams, jellies, preserves, marmalade, molasses and pectin
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Glazed and glacéed fruits, for example, maraschino cherries
  • Starches, (for example, corn starch, potato starch)
  • Sugar syrups, for example, glucose, glucose solids, syrup dextrose, corn syrup, table syrup
  • Tomato pastes, pulps and purees
  • Vinegar and wine vinegar
  • Baked goods, especially with dried fruits
  • Deli meats, hot dogs and sausages
  • Dressings, gravies, guacamole, sauces, soups and soup mixes
  • Fish, crustaceans and shellfish
  • Granola bars, especially with dried fruit
  • Wine

So next time you shop for dried fruits, make sure to check the label for sulphites and tartrazine. If the product doesn’t contain these preservatives, it’s a healthy option for you to buy!


[i] Vally, H., Misso, N.L.A., Madan, V. Clinical Effects of Sulphite Additives. 2009. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. Vol. 39 (11): 1643-1651

[ii] Ziekenhuis, A., Gronigen, A. Food additives as a cause of medical symptoms: relationship shown between sulfites and astha and anaphylaxis; results of a literature review. 2000.  Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde144(38):1836-1839]

Coconut Oil Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Coconut OilMost people are afraid of eating anything that has a lot of “fat” nowadays, but there is a difference between “good fats” (i.e. saturated) and “bad fats” (i.e. trans fats, hydrogenated fats). Often, these bad fats are produced in food processing and are thus present in many foods that aren’t healthy to begin with, such as processed food. However, we have remember that, as humans, eating “good fats” (i.e. saturated fats found in avocados and coconut oil) are very important for our health and even our brain function.

Coconut oil is an example of an incredible oil that is actually considered a superfood. Coconut oil contains “saturated fat” which is a good fat that constitutes 50% of our cells’ membranes. These saturated fats are necessary in our body to strengthening our cell walls and protecting the inside of each cell.

Coconut oil has many other health benefits because of it’s unique combination of “good fats”. For example, the saturated fats in the oil play a vital role in the health of our bones, protect our liver from alcohol and other toxins, and ensure the proper use of the omega-3 fatty acids.

Virgin coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat (MCFA), and because of this it can actually will speed up weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart attack and improve diabetic conditions. Furthermore, MCFA do not need the liver and gallbladder to digest them, which means instant energy and increased metabolic rate through thermogenesis in your body.

Coconut oil is actually quite beneficial to the immune system because it has antimicrobial and anti fungal properties. It can also target the thyroid and beef up the metabolisms, melting any abdominal fat quickly and is a surprisingly great addition to any weight loss program.