5 Health Hacks for Shift Workers
I have been a shift worker most of my adult life. At 17 I was working early mornings at a breakfast restaurant, then from 19 on serving the late night shifts at a bar. At 20 I started working in the airline industry and at that point I said goodbye to any type of normal eating or sleeping schedule. As a shift worker I have researched and been warned about the long-term effects it will have on my health; Including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mood disorders, digestive issues and the list goes on. So what do we do? Quit our jobs? For lots of shift workers they love what they do, and changing career paths is not an option. Today I wanted to talk about 5 easy hacks to start improving your health today.
If your work schedule is working against you,
here are 5 health hacks to have your body start working for you!
#1 Start your day with lemon water When you first wake up it’s important to leave the coffee aside for 30 minutes and drink a glass of water with the juice from ½ lemon. (Or for an alternative option check out my morning electrolyte elixir) The lemon water helps to gently cleanse your liver and spark your digestive juices for the day. Lemon water can increase the natural occurring hydrochloric (HCL) acid in your stomach. Age, shift work, high stress lifestyle, and poor sleep all contribute to a decrease in HCL, which leads to poor absorption of nutrients and poor digestion. This is one of the most common issues with most of my clients and especially with the shift workers. Another benefit is it increases production of bile, which helps keep you regular. If your someone who gets easily constipated toxins can build up in your body, so having more bile and efficient digestion leads to a happy healthier you. Drinking lemon water also aids in detoxification by stimulating the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes.
#2 Start consuming bone broth Bone broth AKA ‘liquid gold’ has been used for centuries as a cure for stomach ailments. When I say start consuming bone broth I’m not talking about the ‘chicken stock’ you buy at grocery stores, I’m talking about ideally making your own broth at home in your slow cooker from good quality bones. (Beginners tip: To get started you can also buy high quality, pre-made bone broth at your local health food store) Click here for my easy Chicken Bone Broth Recipe.
*I really want to emphasize when making your own broth please only use high quality bones from healthy happy animals. Like with any food you consume its good to know where it came from to make sure your getting the nutrients and full health benefits
Shift workers are already working against their natural circadian rhythm for sleep and digestion, and on top of that some shift workers have high stress jobs. Stress, poor sleep and inflammation can lead to what’s called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome is when the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, this causes holes that allow undigested food particles, toxic waste and bacteria to leak through the intestines and into the bloodstream. So how does bone broth help repair your intestines? Bone broth has high levels of Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to heal your gut lining and make it more impermeable. Healing your gut lining will happen over time and you will start to notice improvements in your digestion, mood, and immune system (Taking fewer sick days). Bone broth is also high in Glycine which is another important amino acid. Our body needs glycine to manufacture bile, and bile helps our bodies digest fats. Glycine also helps stabilize blood sugars, which leads to lasting energy throughout the day as well as less sugar cravings.
#3 Start consuming fermented foods Research suggests our bodies are 90% bacteria. The good bacteria in our gut is responsible for digestion, assimilating vitamins, reducing inflammation, and educating our immune system. Sometimes our bodies don’t have enough of the good bacteria, and this imbalance can cause inflammation as well as issues with our digestion. When we eat sugar and processed foods we are feeding the bad bacteria. Overtime there can be an imbalance of bad vs. good bacteria in our gut. So by adding fermented foods into your diet you can help feed the good bacteria. Some fermented foods I would recommend are kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt. *please only buy unsweetened yogurt that has “active bacterial cultures” Once you have built up the good bacteria in your gut you will see an improvement in digestion, energy, and even your mood. Have you ever heard that our gut is our second brain? Thats why its important to feed your ‘second brain’ the proper bacteria for optimal health.
#4 Make a plan A lot of shift workers end up eating convenient ‘fast foods’ and buy their meals on the go. It’s important to have a plan before your shift so you have access to healthy foods. If you want to buy your meal it’s a good idea to research restaurant options around you, that way you can find menu’s that have healthier options. Most Fast food is really non-food, and as a shift worker you really want to be consuming foods that are high in nutrients. Fast food slows our digestion and can cause inflammation leading to low energy and lethargy for the rest of your shift. Diabetes is a health risk for shift workers, so planning healthy meal options ahead of time will help you keep your blood sugars balanced. When your blood sugars are balanced it will prevent that sugar crash halfway thru your shift, as well as keep you from gaining weight. Another way to keep your blood sugar from spiking is by keeping healthy snacks on hand. A few snacks I would suggest are raw veggies with hummus, nuts and seed mix, or maca energy bites I know when working shifts its hard to plan ahead but try it out a few times per week and see how you feel. I guarantee planning ahead will make you feel better, keep your energy high throughout your shift, and improve your overall health and digestion.
#5 Carry a water bottle and stay HYDRATED I can’t stress this point enough. Our bodies depend on water for over 10 billion biochemical reactions per second. To find out how much water you should be drinking per day take your body weight in kg and multiply it by .033 (Kg x 0.033=Litres of water intake per day) Make sure you are sipping your water in between meals and not chugging it all at once while eating. A tip I give my clients is to put a pinch of himalayan pink salt in each litre of water. The salt contains minerals and works with your bodies sodium/potassium pump to make sure you are absorbing the water. It’s also important to have good quality water. While I’m at work I use a Santevia Water Stick, it helps to reduce chlorine, add minerals, alkalize, and improve the taste of the water. Staying hydrated helps your body eliminate toxins, aids in digestion, helps maintain healthy skin, hair, and organs, also helps your body absorb essential minerals and vitamins.
So that’s it!! Even if you only try one or two of my hacks I know you will start to feel better and see improvements in your health. Remember it’s not ‘all or none’ and making even one small change will start to improve your energy and health over time.