Spotlight on nutrition for shift workers

Shift work undoubtedly takes a toll on the body, especially over a prolonged period of time. It impacts sleep, exercise, relationships, stress levels and eating patterns.

Research tells us that shift workers experience an increased risk of diabetes, weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression and some cancers.

This is primarily due to the disruption it causes to the natural biological clock in the body – also known as our circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle).

This disruption leads to:

Less melatonin production (our sleep hormone). Melatonin is promoted by darkness however many shift workers are trying to go to sleep in day light

This consequently impacts hunger signals:

? leptin (our ‘feeling full’ hormone) decreases.

? ghrelin (our ‘hunger hormone’) increases.

This can trick us into thinking we are hungry, leading to poorer food choices, and ultimately unwanted weight gain.

More cortisol (stress hormone) is produced and thyroid function can suffer as a result. Night shift workers have a higher risk of thyroid disease.

Digestion and metabolism are effected. The body produces less saliva and stomach acid at night compared to the day time. This means we are less efficient at breaking down our food which can cause bloating, food intolerances and unwanted inflammation in the body.

If you are looking for nutritional guidance and help with your meal planning, get in touch. It’s important to look at things like:

  • your caffeine intake
  • across how many hours of the day you are actually eating
  • what is the quality of your diet (e.g. ‘are you getting enough protein?’, ‘are you eating foods that help you maintain stable blood sugar levels?’, and ‘are you staying hydrated?

I would love to help you work out a comprehensive treatment plan specifically for you and your shift work schedule. Make a booking today

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