Saukerkraut, kimchi – and sleep!

  • posted by jjlothin
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    I’ve been eating sauerkraut or kimchi daily for the past fortnight – and for roughly the same period of time I’ve been waking up too early, unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes that happens, so it took me a while to make a link, but I’ve finally got round to doing a quick Google (for example, https://www.alternet.org/story/149722/5_unexpected_foods_that_prevent_insomnia_and_5_foods_that_promote_it), and it seems that sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir (I see someone else has posted about kefir) contain an amino acid called tyramine – which inhibits sleep.

    So much as though I like the effect they’ve been having on my guts, I think I’m going to have to try knocking them on the head, to confirm if the link is genuine.

    Thought it might be useful to post on this, just in case anyone else has been having similar problems …

  • posted by Glennith
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    Interesting! I started tablets a month ago to help with chronic nerve pain, one of the side effects is insomnia. I started on sauerkraut 10 days ago to help with the other side effect, constipation. The sauerkraut seems to be helping with the constipation but I did think I was sleeping even more poorly than before. It may be coincidence. I’m due to stop the medication next week, I’ll continue with the sauerkraut and see what happens.

  • posted by jjlothin
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    I’ll be very interested to see what you find!

  • posted by Ancient Weaver
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    I’ve had insomnia almost every night my whole life, so long that I thought it was normal until relatively recently. Also because it was so prevalent, I never noticed any correlation with food consumed until recently, when, for only vaguely related reasons, I simplified my diet pretty drastically, and noticed that as well as my sleep improving generally, I also started to spot correlations between things I ate and how I sleep.
    One of the things I have found to help is parsley, and for yesterday’s evening meal I experimented with adding a load to some braised leek and onions. Flavourwise it was good, but I was horrified to see that, on waking for the second time, it was only 1.45a.m. Wide awake, I gave up on sleep and started mooching on the ‘net, and for obvious reasons this thread title caught my eye.
    By a fluke, I think tyramine probably explains tonight’s shocking level of insomnia, possibly made worse by consumption of refined carbs, but I had the same carbs the evening before and tonight’s insomnia is much worse.
    Also for supper, I had a big chunk of blue cheese, normally I have no problems with blue cheese, but this piece had quite a whiff of ammonia, i.e. it had fermented . . .

    How badly something like this affects you depends on a whole lot of factors, including your own enzyme system, what other foods you have eaten, or drugs you are taking, as well as your gut flora. They all affect each other to a greater or lesser extent.

  • posted by Ancient Weaver
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    hmm, can’t seem to post this one last try:
    I’ve had insomnia almost every night my whole life, so long that I thought it was normal until relatively recently. Also because it was so prevalent, I never noticed any correlation with food consumed until recently, when, for only vaguely related reasons, I simplified my diet pretty drastically, and noticed that as well as my sleep improving generally, I also started to spot correlations between things I ate and how I sleep.
    One of the things I have found to help is parsley, and for yesterday’s evening meal I experimented with adding a load to some braised leek and onions. Flavourwise it was good, but I was horrified to see that, on waking for the second time, it was only 1.45a.m. Wide awake, I gave up on sleep and started mooching on the ‘net, and for obvious reasons this thread title caught my eye.
    By a fluke, I think tyramine probably explains tonight’s shocking level of insomnia, possibly made worse by consumption of refined carbs, but I had the same carbs the evening before and tonight’s insomnia is much worse.
    Also for supper, I had a big chunk of blue cheese, normally I have no problems with blue cheese, but this piece had quite a whiff of ammonia, i.e. it had fermented . . .

    How badly something like this affects you depends on a whole lot of factors, including your own enzyme system, what other foods you have eaten, or drugs you are taking, as well as your gut flora. They all affect each other to a greater or lesser extent.

  • posted by Ancient Weaver
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    More insomniac musings: Nearly two hours wide awake, I wonder if it would keep me from excessive daytime sleepiness!
    Tyramine is generally considered a bad, even dangerous thing, to be avoided at all costs, but I feel fine, no headache, migraine or raised BP, so despite low to non existent levels of one important enzyme for the breakdown of tyramine, I am inclined to further experimentation. I have stopped caring about how much sleep I get at night, as sleeping well at night does not noticeably help with EDS, so maybe the answer is actually, to simply eat whatever keeps me awake and alert in the daytime, and forget about night-time sleep!
    Sadly I have no more of the over-ripe cheese, and can’t get any more either, so I guess it’s time I looked into making old school pickles.

  • posted by Firefox7275
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    Are you guys maintaining a detailed food and symptom diary (p.187)? Are you following all of the recommendations for Clever Guts phase 1 or phase 2?

    Are you guys eating (or working up to) a really wide variety of probiotic and prebiotic wholefoods ? Dr Mosley recommends 7 portions fruit and veg a day, 20 to 30 varieties a week (p.191).

    Dr Mosley advises to “start slowly if you haven’t eaten these sorts of [fermented] foods before” (p.143) To me this means small servings.

  • posted by jjlothin
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    I’m not following the Dr Moseley diet as such, but I can tell you that, once I started to think about it, there was a very clear correlation between eating saukerkraut/kimchi and sleep.

    I generally eat a lot of fruit and veg, and I certainly was trying to build up to it – started with a small forkful per day.

    Once we get towards Christmas and it’s not so crucial what time I get up, I may experiment again, perhaps trying sauerkraut/kimchi every other day …

  • posted by Glennith
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    I’ve been making my own yoghurt for some time and have eaten sauerkraut on and off, along with lots of veg. I’m 99% gluten free as well (just for the record!). However, since this post, I’m adding the sauerkraut with my midday meal instead of evening, it’s too early to tell if it’s a coincidence or not but I have slept slightly better the past few nights. Medication remains the same until next week.
    Ancient Weaver, I love blue cheese, especially with a crisp apple. It’s never bothered me either.

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