Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 Supplements for a Good Night's Rest

Posted: 19 Dec 2013 02:22 PM PST

When you're caught up in the daily whirlwind called life, it can be hard to fully unwind at day's end, which in turn makes a good night's sleep elusive. By some estimates, 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, and it's no wonder. We all can name countless stress culprits: work-related pressures, relationship issues, and simply not being able to keep up with the to-do list. So you toss and turn at night, wake up tired, and then fuel your systems with caffeine, which not only puts you on edge but further interferes with getting solid shut-eye.

What's a modern-day worker bee to do? It's essential to learn to mindfully manage stress and create evening rituals that help you unwind, but a number of supplements can also help dial down body and brain after a hectic day.

Buffer stress. For decades, B-complex vitamins have been recognized as stress busters, in part because they provide some of the building blocks for calm-inspiring neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. Large amounts of vitamin B6 in the afternoon or evening can cause vivid, sleep-disrupting dreams, so take in the morning. In addition, omega-3 fish oils lessen anxiety, and a new study found that they can ease feelings of stress, as well.

Dose: High-potency B-complex containing 25–50 mg each of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, once daily; plus 1–2 grams omega-3s daily.

Calm down.
Simply sipping a warm cup of any decaffeinated tea can relax you, but make it a cup of chamomile tea and the benefits grow. Prefer a concentrated approach? Two recent studies found that chamomile extracts reduced anxiety along with depression. (Don't take chamomile if you have ragweed allergies.) If you need something stronger, try L-theanine, a green tea extract that boosts the activity of brain waves linked to calmer feelings and relaxation. Another option is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid and calming neurotransmitter that helps the brain filter out distractions.  Some formulas combine both L-theanine and GABA; they're safe to take together.

Dose: Follow label directions for chamomile supplements. For L-theanine, try 50–100 mg up to three times daily. For GABA, take 500 mg one to three times daily, at least one hour apart from food.

Drift off to sleep. Melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm, normally increases in the evening and decreases by morning. It's a safe sleep aid, but the effective dose varies from person to person. L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), two forms of the same nutrient, are precursors to both serotonin and melatonin. The herb valerian works well when combined with hops to help you sleep—both are mild sedatives.  Don't take all of these supplements together. If you feel sluggish the next morning, you've probably taken too high a dose.

Dose: Take melatonin about an hour before bedtime, and start at a low dose, such as 250–500 mcg. Most people don't need more than 3 mg (3,000 mcg) nightly, but a few might need 5–10 mg. For L-tryptophan, take 500–1,000 mg before bed; for 5-HTP, try 50–100 mg before bed. For valerian and hops, follow label directions for use.

Supplements to try:

Jarrow Formulas L-Tryptophan provides 500 mg of this amino acid; take on an empty stomach 30 minutes before bed.

Nature's Way Chamomile Flowers capsules contain 350 mg of dried chamomile buds. NutriCology ZenMind recommends two capsules daily between meals, which provide 550 mg GABA and 200 mg L-theanine per dose.

Solgar 10 mg Liquid Melatonin
comes with an eyedropper so you can easily take 5–10 mg (or less) before bed.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare Kale

Posted: 19 Dec 2013 02:21 PM PST

It's no secret that kale is one of nature's super foods, and getting it into your diet is worth the effort.

10 Ways to Prepare Kale

Kale Chips – This simple preparation of kale will have you begging for more. A crispy salty treat that is better than popcorn or potato chips.

Kale Pesto – More flavorful than basil pesto, this is a great addition to pizza, pasta, or in an omelet.

Sauteed Kale – For a hearty side dish, this is a classic preparation. I saute onions and garlic before I add the kale, and add a couple dashes of hot sauce for an added kick.

Kale Quiche – You can substitute any spinach quiche with kale and it offers the same great taste with the added health benefits.

Kale Soup – A classic kale soup is made with white beans and ham or sausage, however I like this recipe of using acorn squash and kale to create a sweet and savory winter favorite.

Kale Lasagna – The perfect "make ahead" recipe for a hearty dinner is a dish the whole family can enjoy.

Kale Juice – If you own a juicer, kale is quite possibly the healthiest thing to juice. Mix it with apples, carrot and a little lemon for a drink that is better for you than liquid gold.

Kale Slaw – You can substitute raw kale for raw cabbage in this recipe.

Kale Pasta – One of my favorite ingredients to add to pasta. Goes with just about anything from spaghetti to sausage pasta to baked macaroni and cheese.

Kale Pizza – One of the joys I've found with eating seasonally is changing up my grilled pizza toppings. One of my favorite combinations is sauteed kale, caramelized onions, strong white cheeses, and some crispy bacon.

Overall, kale is a delicious and hearty green. Treat it like spinach and you can substitute it in just about any recipe. Experiment and enjoy!

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