It’s not getting any easier.
More than a year into the pandemic, Americans say they are more stressed out than at any time since the coronavirus crisis began.
A recent nationwide poll found that 84% of those surveyed reported at least one episode of prolonged stress in the previous two weeks.
Many people are turning to pharmaceutical medications for relief. Prescription tranquilizer sales have spiked since the pandemic began. But that’s trading one problem for another.
Anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and anti-insomnia drugs come with a whole host of side effects, including addiction.
The fact is, there’s a better, healthier way to feel calmer and get better sleep….
For years, researchers have told us about the importance of probiotics. “Good” bacteria have been shown to aid digestion, fight depression, and improve immunity.
Now, a new study has found that prebiotics—the so-called “fertilizer” for probiotics—have their own unique set of health benefits that may help us get through the pandemic.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that nourish probiotic bacteria. Researchers at the University of Colorado say they’ve discovered strong evidence that prebiotics ease stress and insomnia.
The Natural Way to Get Deeper, More Restful Sleep
Scientists split 52 male rats into two groups. One was fed standard rat food. The other ate food fortified with prebiotics.
At the end of the three weeks, the researchers introduced a stressor to both groups. They shocked the animals’ tails at irregular intervals.
Normally, after stressful events, animals and humans suffer loss of good gut bacteria. And the rats in the study not eating prebiotics did see a drop. But the prebiotic group had no reduction of healthy stomach microbes.
What’s more, the prebiotic rats did not experience other stress markers, such as abnormalities in body temperature.
The researchers then tested sleep patterns in both groups using brain scans. They found that animals fed prebiotics had much deeper sleep.
They spent more time in non-REM sleep. This is the kind of sleep that is restorative and makes you feel energized afterward.
Researchers concluded: “These data are the first to show that a diet rich in prebiotics can modulate the sleep-wake cycle both before and after stress.”
Robert Thompson is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Colorado. He was lead author of the study.
“We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event,” he said. The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
A Healthy Alternative to Sleeping Pills
The study has major implications for the 40 million Americans who suffer serious sleep disorders. Stress is often the cause of their insomnia.
As we mentioned earlier, sleeping pills cause a multitude of side effects. Besides addiction, common ones include balance issues, daytime drowsiness, headaches, attention and memory problems, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
A 2012 study in the journal BMJ Open even linked sleep drugs to cancer and a quadrupled risk of death from any cause.[7
During the coronavirus crisis, lung health is crucial. These drugs also can interfere with your ability to breathe. Particularly if you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Prebiotics offer a safer, better way to get the rest you need.
Top 10 Prebiotic Foods
These foods are among the highest in prebiotics. When you feel stressed or have trouble sleeping, add more of them to your diet.
These days, many of us feel more anxiety than ever. Nature provides better solutions than anything that comes in a prescription bottle.
Editor’s Note: Have you put on weight during the pandemic? You’re not alone. 76% of American adults have added unwanted pounds during the coronavirus crisis.
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