The Sleep Consultant

Healthy Foods Slowing Down

You have probably heard that foods that contain gluten and dairy aren’t good for you (as well as processed foods and high sugar). But did you know there are more hidden inflammatory foods that while considered “healthy”, can actually be causing inflammation in your body and mind – leading to poor sleep and low energy, focus, mood, resilience, and overall performance?    

We’ll dive into each one, but first, why are they so negative? 

Some people can eat certain foods and feel fine. Others who eat certain foods can cause an inflammatory response in their body causing their immune system to go into “heightened alert”. When on heightened alert, your body has to tap into its “back-up reserves” to try to get back into a normal state. Unfortunately, this is costing you excessive precious resources that your body could be using to perform at its peak state.

When we eat foods that trigger an immune response, it will cause many systems in the body to go into overdrive, sucking up the resources even more. If you’re someone who’s reliant on caffeine to get “in the zone”, gets food cravings, experiences brain fog, or never feeling 100%,  this could be you. 

There are 2 ways to find the foods we’re sensitive to:

1) Get an IGG blood allergy testing (not traditional IgE that tests for immediate allergic responses to foods like peanuts or shellfish).  

2) Eliminate the food(s) for 4-5 weeks, reintroduce it, then see how you feel.  

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I prefer eliminating the food and seeing how you feel. It’s easier and more efficient.

Back to hidden inflammatory foods.   

These biggest ones are grains, lectins, nightshades, and FODMAP foods. Let’s break down each one. 

Grains: the harvested seed of grasses such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn. 

Grains can include: 

  • Wheat (gluten)  
  • Oats (gluten and gluten-free) 
  • Barley (gluten) 
  • Rye (gluten) 
  • Corn (gluten-free)
  • Millet (gluten-free)
  • Amaranth (gluten-free)
  • Buckwheat (gluten-free)
  • Quinoa (gluten-free)*
  • Brown rice (gluten-free)*

Brown rice, oats (or granola), and quinoa are the biggest culprits within hidden ones (even if they are considered gluten-free). Especially for those with auto-immunity issues, these can create even deeper inflammation.

Lectins: proteins that bind to carbohydrates. They act as an “anti-nutrient”, with the same features that help defend plants in nature that can cause problems for the digestive system (as they resist being broken down).  

Foods that are highest in lectins are: 

  • Beans 
  • Peanuts 
  • Wheat
  • Tomatoes 
  • Potatoes

Nightshades: a family of flowering plants. While they can contain a lot of nutrients, they can trigger inflammation and immune dysfunction.

These include: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes 
  • Eggplants 
  • Peppers

FODMAPS: short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine can absorb poorly and trigger inflammation.  

Foods high in FODMAPS can include: 

  • Vegetables
    • Artichoke
    • Asparagus
    • Cabbage
    • Garlic
    • Leeks
    • Okra
    • Onions
    • Shallot
    • Snow
    • Peas
    • Sugar snap peas
    • Raddichio
    • Tomato sauces & paste
  • Fruits
    • Apples
    • Apricots
    • Cherries
    • Dried fruits
    • Fruits juices
    • Grapes
    • Mangos
    • Nectarine
    • Peach
    • Pears
    • Persimmon
    • Plum
    • Watermelon
  • Nuts
    • Pistachios 
    • Almonds
    • Hazelnuts

I know – it all seems like a lot of foods to restrict, but it doesn’t have to be all of them at once. By starting with one food group, you can achieve a great start, and the benefits only accumulate. In my opinion, grains seem to be the biggest culprit of their hidden inflammation leading to brain fog, low energy, resilience, and overall performance.  

If you dedicate the next couple of weeks as an “acute phase” to optimizing your health, you could experience new levels of vitality, productivity, and flow for the rest of your life (especially if you’re a high performer). 

Here’s the idea: when you reduce the “hidden stressors” in your body, it can now use that extra bandwidth to start healing (not constantly trying to put the inflammation fires out).  

Even within a couple of weeks, I’ve seen drastic transformations in how my clients think, feel, and act (up to 70% increases in well-being and overall performance). 

If you have any questions about how to navigate these foods for your situation, don’t hesitate to send me a message.  

To your success, 

-Riley

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