Nutrition for IBS, Reflux and Bloated Stomach Relief

Constipation, anxiety and restless sleep

November 7th, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition), Nutritionist in Cork and Co Waterford, discusses how poor quality sleep, low mood, anxiety and constipation could be linked to low magnesium levels. 

Earlier this year a study suggested that less than six hours of sleep a night over a week has significant negative effects the immune system and consequently is linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, such as low mood and poor concentration. More recently, a research team at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre discovered that getting just one extra hour’s sleep a night (switching from six-and-a-half hours to seven-and-a-half hours) reduces this effect.

As a nutritionist, I look at diet and nutrient status. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Caffeine intake
  • Drinking alcohol late at night reduces your REM (deep, reparative) sleep
  • Constipation, low mood and poor quality sleep may be linked to low serotonin levels. Serotonin levels may be assessed through a blood test or a more functional method may be to monitor the urinary levels of 5-hydroxyindolic acetic acid (a derivative of serotonin) using the Organic Acids Test. 
  • Difficulty going to sleep, restless sleep, racing thoughts or unexplained anxiety may be linked to low levels of magnesium. Also, if you get cramps regularly, find that fluids pass through you easily, have cold hands and feet, experience tightness in the neck and shoulders or notice twitches in small muscles (the eyelid, for example), you may have low magnesium levels. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy vegetables like watercress, kale, broccoli, spinach, brown rice, mackerel, beans and lentils, sunflower seeds, dried figs and dark chocolate. If your diet does not include these foods on a daily basis, consider a blood test to assess your magnesium levels. 

Be aware that people with digestive issues, such as low stomach acid production or coeliac disease as less likely to efficiently absorb minerals, such as magnesium, and may benefit from magnesium body spray or improving their digestive health.