Have you ever felt not quite right, but couldn’t pinpoint the cause? Chances are your nutrition could be to blame. Imbalances in your diet can impact everything from sleep to digestion and even energy levels. If you are tired, bloated, or struggling to sleep, this could be a sign your body needs a nutrition reset. Here’s how to do it.
What is a Nutrition Reset?
Forget buzz words like “detox” and “cleanse.” You don’t need a juice fast, detox tea, or any other gimmick to improve your health. Your body has multiple systems in place that naturally detox and cleanse your body through organs like the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
But your body does rely on balanced nutrition to perform at its best each day. If you fall short in providing your body with the nutrition it needs, these imbalances can result in symptoms such as fatigue, bloat, and even disrupted sleep. When this occurs, it’s time to take a hard look at how you are fueling your body and reset your nutrition strategy to make sure you are meeting all of your daily needs. When your nutrition is improved, your whole body benefits.
Signs that you may need a nutrition reset
Unless you are a dietitian, it may be hard to know exactly what nutrients—and how much of each—you need each day. But luckily, your body can often send you subtle signs when your nutrition falls short. By being in tune with these signs, you can work to quickly correct these nutrient imbalances so you can feel your best each day. Here are some of the biggest signs you may be in need of a nutrition reset:
You are always tired. Do you feel tired all of the time, even if you sleep well? It could be a sign that your nutrition is lacking. A variety of nutrients support your body’s ability to convert food into energy and to perform daily functions. If you fall short of one or more of these nutrients, you can start to notice a direct impact on overall energy levels.
“Our bodies are actually very well designed and often can give us clues as to what is missing from our diets. Low energy levels may be your body trying to tell you you’re deficient in certain nutrients such as magnesium,” explains Reno-based dietitian Bridget Wood, RDN, LD, CDCES.
With as much as 75 percent of Americans falling short in meeting their magnesium needs each day, it’s possible a lack of this nutrient may be impacting your energy. To help increase your intake, Wood offers a delicious solution: eat more chocolate! “While you can add more whole grains, nuts, or dark leafy greens to your diet, you can also keep it exciting by adding dark chocolate to your daily routine. Dark chocolate has about 15 percent of the daily value of your magnesium in only a one ounce serving—so add a square to your evening meal or even to your oats at breakfast,” she says.
A lack of magnesium is not the only cause of fatigue. “Being fatigued may be a sign of dehydration,” explains Stacy Davis RD, LDN. Even a slight decrease in fluid intake can start to impact your energy levels, but if you struggle to drink water each day, don’t panic. There are many ways to increase your hydration outside of just plain water. You can try flavoring your water with a splash of juice or infusing fruits and vegetables, but you can also add liquid to your diet in other ways. “Soups, smoothies, milk, fruits and juice can be counted as fluids,” adds Davis.
The key to staying hydrated though is consistency. If you have difficulty remembering to drink throughout the day, Davis offers a practical solution. “Set a timer on your phone to remind you to drink,” she suggests. You should be aiming to drink at least 8 to 10 cups of water per day, with more on hot and/or active days.
You feel bloated often. Anyone who has ever struggled with bloat knows how uncomfortable it can be. Thankfully, there are ways you can adjust your diet to help reduce bloat and improve digestion, but you first need to do a little detective work to determine the underlying cause. Since bloat can be caused by many different reasons, dietitian Charlotte Caperton-Kilburn, MS, RDN, LDN, and director of sports nutrition at the College of Charleston, recommends asking yourself a few key questions, like “Has there been a significant change in fiber intake or hydration?” Based on your answers, you can help pinpoint what area to focus on to reduce bloat.
If you have recently increased your fiber intake, you want to be sure your hydration level has increased as well. Increasing fiber without enough fluid can increase the risk of constipation and bloat. An easy solution is to choose fiber-rich foods that also contain fluid. “Switch to fibrous fruits and vegetables that are high in water content such as strawberries, watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, and bell peppers,” shares Caperton-Kilburn.
Also watch out for sudden changes in fiber intake. If you rapidly increase your fiber intake, this can lead to bloat and gas as your body adjusts. Instead, focus on increasing fiber by three to five grams every few days along with slowly increasing your fluid intake. This gradual increase can allow you to enjoy the benefits of a higher fiber diet without the gastrointestinal discomfort.
Your sleep quality is declining. Poor sleep can be attributed to a number of things: stress, sleep environment, medical conditions like sleep apnea, and nutrition. If your stress is under control and you have a relaxing sleep environment in place, it may be time to take a look at your nutrition to see if that may be holding you back from achieving a quality night’s sleep.
How you eat and what you eat can have a direct impact on sleep, with caffeine playing a key role. It can be easy to reach for that extra cup of coffee when you feel tired, but having caffeine too close to bedtime can make it a challenge to fall asleep and stay asleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it may keep you awake if taken too close to bedtime. To prevent this, space your caffeine intake out so your last caffeinated beverage is at least eight hours or more before your bedtime.
Also keep a tally on how much caffeine you have during the day. High levels of caffeine may reduce serotonin production in the brain, which in turn may increase the risk of insomnia. To prevent this, aim to consume less than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. To put that in perspective, a typical 8-ounce coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine.
Your diet can also impact melatonin production, the hormone that helps to regulate your sleep cycle. Nutrients such as the amino acid tryptophan help the body to produce melatonin and are found in foods like poultry, nuts, milk, and eggs. Adding a good source of tryptophan to your evening meal may help you achieve a better night’s rest. And for even better results, try pairing your evening meal or snack with foods that already contain a natural source of melatonin such as tart cherries and olives.
Stay in tune with your body’s subtle signals that your nutrition may not be fully meeting your needs. When you notice slight symptoms of nutrition imbalance, take action and focus on resetting your nutrition so you can feel at your best every day.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.