Stress, anxiety and insomnia are conditions that feed on themselves in a spiral that leaves very little room for recovery. But, as always, nature offers a powerful ally, capable of reducing stress and improving the quality of sleep, and it is an ally that cannot be found in pharmacies, but that can be easily purchased at the supermarket, the kiwifruit! This emerges from a very recent research published in the journal Nutrients by an Irish team (Doherti et al, Nutrients, Apr 2023).
A very stressful life
Travel, jet lag, anxiety, worries and an unbalanced diet are the consequence of a life full of commitments and stimuli but also very stressful. Everyone experiences periods of this type, more or less long. However, the consequences are immediately felt. We are more tired and stressed, unable to recover energy and sleep is disturbed, with difficulty falling asleep and continuous night awakenings. The trend of recent years is to look for simple and everyday remedies in nature, which are effective and free of side effects. The study we are talking about today analyzed the action of the kiwifruit.
Kiwifruit, an exceptional fruit
Kiwirfruit is a fruit that contains melatonin, which is essential in regulating the sleep-wake rhythm. In particular, melatonin, if present in the right quantities, ensures restful and continuous sleep, without interruptions and, if you happen to wake up during the night, it becomes easier to go back to sleep. Kiwifruit also provides serotonin, which improves sleep quality and mood and reduces anxiety. Finally, kiwifruit is a precious source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances, including vitamin C, and folate. A folate deficiency has been shown to be associated with insomnia and restless legs syndrome. What has been said leads us to consider the kiwifruit as a precious ally in the event of periods of great stress, anxiety and insomnia. In fact, previous studies have shown that kiwifruit can improve sleep quality, but the research only focused on people diagnosed with insomnia. Instead, the study we're talking about today measures the effects of kiwifruit in people who simply experience a very stressful period characterized by anxiety and difficulty sleeping well, as can happen to anyone.
The kiwifruit counteracts stress and insomnia, the study
The study is small and involved 15 professional athletes, people who, due to their work, are subjected to great pressure and stress and have to travel, thus not always being able to guarantee regular timetables for rest and meals. The study participants were subjected to questionnaires before and after the experiment that, through specific questions, were aimed at scoring the level of perceived stress, the ability to recover from stress and the quality of sleep. Before starting the study, almost all of the athletes had problems with insomnia, were stressed and were unable to recover adequately. During the one-month experiment, volunteers were asked to consume two medium-sized kiwifruits one hour before going to sleep. Timing in this case is very important as it coincides with the release of melatonin in the body. What emerged from the study is that the intake of kiwifruits allowed, in four weeks, to improve the quality of sleep. In particular, the length of time spent asleep in bed was greater, going from a number of hours considered inadequate, less than 7, to 7-8 hours, the number of hours recommended by the guidelines. Not only that, sleep had fewer interruptions and had become more restorative, with athletes reporting less fatigue in the morning. In addition to this, stress decreased while the body's ability to recover from anxiety and stress increased.
The study is small and also has other limitations, including the lack of objective measures regarding sleep duration and nocturnal awakenings, as the data were all reported by the volunteers themselves. However, the findings are noteworthy and have important practical applications for improving our daily lives. In fact, the volunteers weren't people with a diagnosis of insomnia but people subjected to pressures, anxieties and continuous schedule changes, just as can happen to anyone. Research has therefore been able to demonstrate that in these cases, taking two kiwifruits an hour before going to sleep can bring significant benefits, with a reduction in stress, daytime fatigue and an increase in the restorative capacity of sleep. As always, nature comes to our aid.