Thursday, October 14, 2021

Barley Grass as Promoter of Good Sleep

Sleep is a vital segment of life, and a healthy body is always blessed with good sleep. Improper and disturbed sleep is a potent indicator of mental and/or physical stress. Many ancient medicine system like Ayurveda, have insisted that insomnia, a general sleep disorder can be controlled with functional foods in diet.

Various researches into insomnia have revealed that chemicals/biochemicals such as tryptophan, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), calcium, potassium, magnesium, melatonin, pyridoxine, L-ornithine and hexadecanoic acid promote healthy sleep; whereas neurochemical factors include serotonin, noradrenalin, acetylcholine, histamine, orexin etc keeps the person awake. So, for a good sleep functional foods rich in sleep promoters play an important part.

Foods rich in sugar, caffeine, green tea, etc can contribute to insomnia. Sleep duration is inversely associated with higher intake of sugar, protein and carbohydrate in the diet. Short sleep duration is associated with increased energy consumption; hence poor sleep quality is closely related with pre-diabetes, obesity, hypertension etc. than long sleep duration. Excessive caffeine consumption (i.e >500 mg per day) can cause negative health consequences such as insomnia, headache, uncontrollable motor-actions and gastrointestinal complaints. Smoking too causes insomnia.

Insomnia qualifies to be the world’s most common sleep disorder affecting nearly 2.5 billions, which accounts for 30% of the population of the world. Insomnia is reported to be hereditary in humans but we also acquire it through our life-style.

Sleep cycle is a complex process that is governed by many chemical/biochemical constituents. The mechanisms of diet promoting sleep are unclear and are still the focus of research. But, it is commonly accepted that the loss of GABA and other sleep related nutrition (esp potassium, magnesium and calcium) from whole grains to polished grain foods are key factors that cause insomnia. Others factors involve hectic life-style, mental tensions, sickness, etc. Insomnia is now being talked as a possible reason for dementia.

Barley grass powder promotes sleep due to the presence of GABA, calcium, magnesium as well as vitamin-Bs. It is being recommended that an ideal food to improve sleep for modern people can be rice or wheat flour (polished or un-polished) fortified with barley grass powder as well as its other products.

Some other alternatives to good sleep inducing foods are warm milk, walnuts, cherry fruits, kiwi-fruits, asparagus powder, etc. Adding these to diet or switiching to a “healthy diet” full of vegetables and fruits will further help in good sleep.

1. Chaput, J.-P. Sleep patterns, diet quality and energy balance. Physiol Behav. 2014 Jul;134:86-91. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.09.006.
2. Zeng, Y.; Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Curr Signal Transduct Ther. 2014 Dec; 9(3): 148–155. doi: 10.2174/1574362410666150205165504

Peaceful sleep is good health.

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