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Sourdough For Good Sleep

About ten years ago I learned about the myth of the low-carb diet being a healthy way to eat and switched to a whole food high-fat diet. (see my post “Disease-Preventing Diet”).

The more I avoided carbs, especially foods made with wheat, corn and other grains, the better I felt. Instead of grains and starches, I had butter, eggs, cream, and avocados with my meals. I noticed major improvements in my energy level, memory, immunity, and my sinuses did not feel tense and bothersome anymore. It was and is a wonderful way to eat for me. I still ate fruits and dairy products in moderation.

However, there was a negative side effect that began shortly after and continued until recently.

What was that negative side effect?

It came on gradually.

Initially, it was once or twice a week and eventually became every night. I was waking up in the middle of the night and had to rush to the bathroom to empty my bladder. Sometimes, I woke up to go three or four times a night. It was becoming extremely difficult to get a night of uninterrupted restful sleep. When I asked my doctor, he said, “This is quite common as people age and something you just have to accept to live with.” This sounded like when I asked my doctor why my back pain was not going away and he told me it was common and I had to learn to live with it.

I did not have an enlarged prostate and was not diabetic. So, it had to be something else.

Because it came on gradually, I did not make the connection to my diet. I searched for reasons why this was happening. I tried all the usual approaches. I avoided drinking liquids two hours before sleep. I avoided vegetables, like celery, that are diuretic. I applied my own Nine-Step Rapid Recovery Plan and relaxation techniques. Sometimes by coincidence, I noticed temporary relief, like when I tried high-intensity exercise or fasting. However, nothing brought permanent relief.

Eight years into this journey I learned that my symptom could be due to adrenal fatigue. It was the fight or flight response. It was too much cortisol and high sympathetic nerves system activity and not enough parasympathetic nervous system activity. So, I focused on relaxing more, taking long walks after dinner, and taking supplements that support my adrenal glands. This approach helped for a short time but the symptoms return. Then I learned that taking complex carbohydrates at night can help calm the adrenal glands. So, I had sweet potatoes or lentils with my dinner or had oatmeal close to bedtime. I did not notice much improvement.

Eventually, my prayers were answered a few weeks ago.

I was feeling a little hungry before sleep and my wife had bought organic sourdough bread from Costco, which she rarely did. I decided to have a little, which I never did. One small piece of sourdough bread with butter (so yummy!) led to another and before I knew it I had about two big slices. I felt sleepy shortly after and slept all night. Could this be my long-awaited cure?

I tried it again. It worked and it has been working for almost two months.

How does sourdough bread calm the adrenal glands?

A diet low in carbohydrates leads to depletion of carbohydrate reserves in the liver. Once that happens gluconeogenesis occurs in the liver and kidneys to restore blood sugar. Gluconeogenesis refers to making new glucose from noncarbohydrate sources, such as glycerol, lactate, propionate, and certain amino acids. Gluconeogenesis is stimulated by hormones from adrenal glands, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenal glands can become fatigued managing blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. Those on a low-carb diet or ketogenic diet need to keep this in mind. If you are having sleep issues, it could be a lack of sufficient carbohydrates in your diet. Eating low glycemic sourdough bread with butter provides a steady source of carbohydrates that keeps adrenals from overworking to manage blood sugar.

In my case, for my metabolism a very low carbohydrate diet causes undue stress. So I eat two slices of sourdough with butter about 30 minutes before sleep for a night of uninterrupted restful sleep. Hope this will work for you too!

Bon appetite,

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