October 17, 2018

Overcoming Insomnia Through Better Gut Health, by Sasha's Fine Foods

As our CLEAN & LEAN CHALLENGE 22 approaches, there’s no better chance to learn how to detox sugars and refined carbs, turning to clean, healthy, delicious food that will help you shed unwanted fat and be in the best shape of your life!

We’re therefore proud to announce our partnership with Sasha’s Fine Foods, who share our philosophy and passion for delicious and nutritious clean food.

Not only have they launched these exclusive ‘Clean & Lean Challenge Meat & Seafood Boxes’ for participants, but by taking part in Challenge 22 you’ll also be in with a chance to win some of these delicious Sasha’s Fine Foods Boxes as prizes too!

Clean eating your way to a healthier you!

Led by Sasha herself, an ethos of carefully sourcing food from across Singapore, Asia and the world from only those suppliers she trusts has helped Sasha’s Fine Foods become Singapore's leading home delivery service. Sasha even personally visits every farm and supplier before selling their products, so you can trust you are eating produce of the highest quality.

Furthermore, all of their ingredients and produce is antibiotic, hormone and additive free so, as you’d expect, Sasha is also a font of knowledge when it comes to clean living and how our food affects our mood, health and wellbeing.

As you’ll know, this is close to our hearts here at UFIT, so we wanted to share Sasha’s own experience of kicking insomnia and ‘foggy brain’ into touch by improving gut health, which is a fascinating insight into how, if you want to fix your health, you must first fix your gut.


The best part? Small changes can have some immediate benefits and you won’t need any costly specialists. It just takes a little understanding and building simple habits, but don’t worry as Sasha has done all the hard work for you so read on and here’s to your new, healthier gut!



My Experience in Kicking Insomnia Through My Gut, By Sasha Conlan of Sasha’s Fine Foods


I sat up and started paying attention to the subject of gut health when I was trying to understand my ongoing insomnia and foggy brain. Like unwelcome houseguests, they'd been visiting me with increasing regularity and I'd begun to just accept these as normal byproducts of stress-peppered modern life.


A nutritionist friend mentioned my gut health as a possible source of the problem, but I couldn't fathom how my guts had anything to do with sleep or energy. I proudly told her that I eat healthily, I exercise, I try to avoid processed/sugary foods, I limit alcohol intake ... so where on earth is my sleep and energy? 

But like unravelling a thread from a fallen hem, once I started reading about the underestimated digestive empire, I had to read more. 18 months on, I get it, completely, but the path to understanding hasn't been easy. What I now know is that the gut is most definitely the lynchpin of my own health, my energy levels and finally, that good night's sleep. I'm happy to share my "layman's" experience in deciphering the hype from the facts, which I hope will shorten your own journey if this is a topic you're keen to know more about.  

 One of the first wow moments for me was watching the pioneer scientist Dr. Rob Knight, co-founder of The American Gut Project (the largest crowd-sourced science project in the world) in his hugely informative and engaging Ted Talk.   

Dr. Knight painted the canvas for me in grasping the scale of what happens in our digestive systems in which billions of bacteria known as the microbiome live. His talk laid out clearly this massive, internal world which influences countless body and mind functions via a dizzying number of sensory cells. But what I hadn't grasped at this beginners' stage was the connection to my own problems. How was this in any way relevant to sleep, clearing the fog and getting a pep back in my step? As I then discovered, Dr. Knight's work was just a taster of what I went on to learn.

I started to read about the "gut-brain axis" which became my next port of call. Fortunately, the task was made infinitely easier in discovering this brilliant talk, Food for Thought - How Your Belly Controls Your Brain by neuroscientist, microbiologist and nutritionist Dr. Ruairí Robertson. His video was so helpful in tying my learning together, by which point I was well over the hurdle of my own hesitance in accepting the facts about my shrivelling energy and early waking - it was, in fact, my gut and not my brain I needed to address.

Sleep, mood/emotional equilibrium, mental health,  stress,  depression, autism, dementia are some of the countless physical and mental health problems being connected to gut health, or what's also called the second brain.

In parallel to my personal search, I was being contacted on a weekly basis by customers with chronic health problems, and they too were looking into gut health. In many cases it was hormonal imbalances, joint inflammation or digestive problems that no medicine was curing. Oftentimes it was a mum trying to clean up her kid's diet to see if this would alleviate behavioural challenges.  

The collective research wisdom of countless microbiologists, neuroscientists, toxicologists and leading medical experts were all agreed - if you wanted to fix your health, you must first fix your gut. For me, for friends and many customers, the microbiome genie was now out of the bottle, and it was time for action.

Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Specialist Dr. J. Breus's essay in Huffington Post helped me understand what drives insomnia, and how this intersects with fatigue and foggy brain. He explained that chronic disruption to the circadian rhythm has a profoundly negative impact on the microbiome - if your sleep is out of whack, the gut's ability to do its complex job is severely compromised. But it's a two-way street; a busted microbiome impairs the body's ability to generate the magic ingredients to sleep - the hormones serotonin and melatonin. 

I was fascinated to learn that over 90% of the serotonin our bodies produce is, in fact, produced in the gut. In addition, serotonin is the building block of melatonin, the sleep hormone that was going into hiding for me most nights. However, the big eye-opener was reading Dr. Ron Marriotti explain that we have 400 times more melatonin in our gut than in the brain's pineal gland where I'd thought it was exclusively produced. 

With this new understanding of the relationship between my body's northern and southern hemispheres, that loose hem thread I mentioned above was now unraveling rapidly. Armed with this new learning, I could see the best way to sleep better and regain my energy was to improve the health of my microbiome. And that's exactly what I started to do. 


Now it was time to park the books and get down to business and this actually proved to be much easier than I'd expected.

Dr. Christiane Northrup explains that we can change our gut microbiome pretty quickly. "The average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is 20 minutes, so you have the opportunity every time you eat to begin to change the population of your gut." I didn't need to sign up to any special diet - I could begin redecorating my microbiome immediately, one meal at a time.

The process of making this shift was actually very straightforward. First of all, I reduced my sugar intake (bye-bye Cedele carrot cake) and any processed food or refined carbs (bye-bye crusty baguette). I also focused on getting as many carbs as possible from leafy veg and low-sugar fruits, adding turmeric wherever I could. I cut down on what was a fairly limited intake of red meat, replacing it instead with lots of salmon and other white fish. I have a deep understanding of the salmon industry and I have known the team at Mount Cook Alpine Salmon in New Zealand for six years now - I'm unwavering in my support for their products. 

Then I began adding lots of fermented foods to my diet. I found the highest quality organic sauerkraut  and kimchi on a family trip to Australia last year, and subsequently added it to the shelves at Sasha's Fine Foods. Having met the Foley family a number of times and seen their operation first hand, I really believe it's the best on the market. I've recently added Foley's Gut Shots  (basically, a drinkable organic sauerkraut), which is handy on days when I'm in a hurry. I should also mention I got into the habit of replacing mugs of coffee with soothing Kitchen On The Cape bone broth(often described as liquid gold for concentrated healing), which I can almost feel doing its wonderful job.

I'm making time for exercise most days - walking, pilates and some fun exercise classes with my daughter when I can. As well as my precious family time, I also do my best to carve out time to connect with friends, which most definitely boosts my mood. 

Am I sleeping better? YES!  Within a couple of weeks, sleep really began to settle to the point where an interrupted night is the exception. Energy? Fog? Both have lifted significantly, with lots of other bonus improvements too. Relapses? Yes! I don't beat myself up if I have the occasional wedge of chocolate cake or a dip in the crisp bowl. Probiotics? No. A nutritionist I really trust was so impressed with Foley's she advised against adding any probiotics, saying that a spoon of Foley's a day was better than any probiotic I could buy. Budget impact? I'm saving money! A tablespoon of sauerkraut is a fraction of the cost of a high-quality probiotic.  

I'll close by saying I'm relieved, enlightened and somewhat in awe to find I could initiate these changes in my body without the need for costly specialists. I found brilliant resources in bookshops and online from the best of scientific sources to guide me, some of which I've shared in this blog. I am very fortunate not to have a debilitating illness or chronic medical condition, so in many ways, my case was pretty simple. Change boiled down to need and willingness to try, some self discipline and a lot of common sense.

I'm grateful to have access to high-quality ingredients that are free of hormones, antibiotics and additives ,which has made this experience all the more easy. Sourcing food I could personally trust was the very reason I started Sasha's Fine Foods, and perhaps this recent personal experience is an extension of my work. I certainly have a deeper appreciation for the very products I work with every day, and the story of where they've all come from. Nothing beats eating as close to nature as we can.


I hope some of what I've shared will be useful to you as you focus on the start of the upcoming UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge and become a new, leaner you!


Good luck from us all at Sasha’s Fine Foods!

Sasha & the team

Click here for some of our Gut Health products at sashasfinefoods.com


Sasha’s Fine Foods X UFIT Clean & Lean Challenge

Sasha’s Fine Foods is totally committed to sourcing and selling the best quality, cleanest and greenest foods available.

Led by Sasha herself, an ethos of carefully sourcing food and drink from across Asia and the world from only those suppliers she trusts and has personally visited has helped them become Singapore's leading home delivery service, supplying you with antibiotic, hormone and additive free ingredients and produce. 

Visit www.sashasfinefoods.com to find out more about their fabulous food and drink! 


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