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June 2018

Tips for a More Enjoyable Night Shift

Night shift is always a challenge and can have a dramatic effect on your overall health. Most people are extremely sleep deprived. They also do not know how to adjust to this new shift and survive and thrive during while working this shift. There are definitely challenges and the need for support from those you live with. There are a few tricks to help you get started.

    • Sunglasses are your friends. Light exposure as you are driving home will stimulate your brain that it is time to stay awake so invest in a good pair of dark sunglasses so you do not get too much light exposure.
    • A daylight simulation light that is at least 10,000 luxe will help your brain to say it is time to be awake. One to two hours of light exposure when you wake up works wonders for your alertness. You use it while getting ready; just keep the light in your peripheral vision.
    • I always kept a sign next to my doorbell warning that I was a night shift worker and to not wake me unless it was an emergency and that worked well.
    • Eating is your friend and your worst enemy. When you are sleep deprived it is difficult to make correct decisions about what to eat. You will crave more high carbohydrate foods because it will increase your sugar levels. The jolt is what you are craving. If instead you realize and plan for these cravings by having some fruit or oatmeal you will avoid the weight gain that is usually associated the change to night shift.
    • You will be cold at around 3am so plan ahead and have a sweater or sweatshirt. This is part of the body’s circadian rhythm and will just be part of the experience.
    • Do not sit in a dark room during the night. You may find that you get headaches from sitting in a room with light but if you are in the dark room your body will say it is time to sleep and release Melatonin. Light is your friend while working at night.

Movement is also your friend. Walk around, move around, do jumping jacks or squats. Anything that causes you to take deep breathes and raise your heart rate will help your concentration.

As you are adjusting to this new shift you will find that there are tricks for creating routines, working during the shift and how to work with your family and friends to be enjoy your life.

 

Is Cholesterol Healthy or Unhealthy?

‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol and ‘good’ HDL cholesterol – the former kills while the latter is beneficial to health. Some people are extremely fit and lead healthy lifestyles, yet have high levels of LDL and very low HDL levels. What is going on?

The truth is that no one knows everything about the workings of cholesterol in the body.

Cholesterol is an insoluble lipid – a fat. That means this compound must travel in the blood by binding to and being carried by protein molecules.

Combinations of fat and protein are unsurprisingly called lipoproteins. There are two types: low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). The former is ‘bad’ because it is a risk factor for atherosclerosis – furring up of the arteries, which can cause heart attack or stroke.

However, there are many other factors involved with atherosclerosis that add to the confusion, such as immune responses and inflammation.

Cholesterol levels are affected by how much dietary fat is absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut, and how the liver makes ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

There are also genetic factors involved with an individual’s cholesterol levels. These are linked to levels in parents and siblings. They might be perfectly healthy, but have elevated levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

While high levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol are known to be protective, there is no evidence that low levels of HDL are in any way harmful. All the blame for atherosclerosis therefore appears to lie with ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

The advice from medical practitioners is to do all we can to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels to below 3 mmol per litre, and for total cholesterol levels to 5 mmol per litre or less.

In order to do this they suggest having a diet based on plants, fruit and vegetables. They suggest minimizing animal fat intake, and obtaining proteins and fats as much as possible from oily fish. In addition they suggest to lose weight if overweight, and not to smoke.

However, in the light of the new health idea to reverse obesity and heart disease by severely cutting down on sugar, and increasing healthy saturated fats in the diet, these recommendations now seem rather simplistic.

Could it be that today’s widespread sugar-filled, carbohydrate-rich diets that are clearly the root cause of obesity might have something to do with high levels of bad cholesterol?

Perhaps excessive sugar consumption interferes with cholesterol metabolism?

That there is a global obesity crisis, and concern over the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in many people, it seems that there may be a link between these two diseases.

Or perhaps is it because too much polyunsaturated man-made vegetable oils are consumed? The current recommendations are to ‘avoid’ natural fats in foods such as butter, whole fat milk, and cheese. Perhaps this ‘abnormal’ way of being told what to eat is actually causing high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol?

The results of studies on these ideas should be rather interesting.

How Lack of Sleep Can Affect Your Diet

There are a number of facts about sleep deprivation and eating disorders that are linked to gaining of weight due to a lack of sleep. There has been a lot of research carried out and now we have evidence that has been discovered to support the theory that sleep can hugely affect your diet. Here is a detailed overview.

Studies Show That a Lack of Sleep can Trigger Weight Gain:

Although sleeplessness doesn’t make you feel hungry, it does lead to more cravings for an energy boost so you are more tempted to reach for caffeine or a high-carb snack. The reason is you will need more energy when you feel sleepy at work, and to fulfill that you may find a sugary snack or a cup of coffee very helpful in the short term. Similarly, you may feel to skip cooking and opt for a takeout when you want to get back in your bed soon because of a lack of sleep the night before. In short, sleep deprivation can eventually sabotage your health and weight by adding pounds.

Sleep Deprivation is Connected to Food and Energy Drink Cravings:

Based on clinical studies by Mayo Clinic, it has been found out that the eating habits of people with insomnia are quite different from those who sleep adequately. Sleep deprivation often triggers their craving hormone and they end up eating more than 500 extra calories each day. If the habit persists, people with such sleep pattern and eating habits can gain more than a pound per week continuously. Such overeating response can make a person’s body leptin resistant with more production of ghrelin.

People Eat More Comfort Food Due to Lack Of Sleep:

Most of the people accept the fact they rarely love eating healthy when late night hunger strikes. The truth is most of us really desire for high-sugar and high-fat foods when we crave food late at night. Study reports on sleep and eating disorders released from the University of Pennsylvania revealed that poor sleep increases a person’s craving for greasy and high-calorie food because their body feels the energy deprivation. Whatever we consume will then remain in our system with the body unable to digest the food properly while we do sleep.

A Better Way To Control Your Carbohydrates And Still Lose Weight

What Are Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are starches that turn food into energy. If you’re not active, then the carbs you take in turns into sugar causing your blood sugar to elevate. These foods contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that burn fuel in our bodies.

What Kinds of Foods Have Carbohydrates

Starchy foods are found in potatoes, bread, rice, and whole grains. When eating foods high in carbohydrates, you want to eat less of them and eat more meat, poultry, fish, small pieces of fruit and vegetables. We need 50 grams of starches per day. If you exercise, then you can eat more, but don’t go overboard.

How Carbohydrates Work

Starches provide energy for our central nervous system, helps maintain muscle function, prevents the protein from breaking down and enables fat metabolism in our bodies. Also, starches help with brain function such as memory and mood swings.

Added Carbohydrates in Processed Food

Processed foods such as candy, soda, processed sugar, white bread, white rice, cereals, ice cream to name a few, are foods to avoid. These foods offer no nutritional value and, later on in life, it can lead to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and hardening of the arteries. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables helps to maintain a healthy weight overall.

How Carbohydrates Breakdown in the GI Tract

Depending on your metabolism (how your body burns fat), some people burn calories faster, so starches don’t stay in the digestive tract, which causes the body’s sugar level to go down. With other people, starches break down in the digestive system longer causing blood sugar to elevate. Starches that digest slower in the body can contribute to weight gain along with blood sugar spikes.

Nutritional Labels on Food Packages

When shopping at your local grocery store, look for labels in the subcategories: sugar, sugar alcohol, and fiber. Also, check for a number of carbohydrates. When figuring out carbohydrates, take the total amount of carbs and subtract them from the total grams of fiber, that is your total amount of carbs on the package. For example, a package of bread has 25 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber, you subtract (25 grams of carbohydrates from 5 grams of fiber, which gives you 20 grams of carbohydrates in the package of bread).

Controlling Portions When Eating Starchy Food

When eating foods high in carbohydrates, you want to eat them in smaller amounts. Instead, eat more fresh vegetables, cooked or steamed. For example, when eating spaghetti, you might want to measure the noodles to one-fourth on your plate instead of filling the whole plate. Also, avoid having a roll or breadstick with the pasta, but instead have a plate full of steamed or cooked vegetables.

Results of a Low Carb Diet

When going on a low carb diet, you may want to let your doctor know. Cutting back on carbohydrates can have positive effects that can lead to weight loss and lower blood sugar, but it can also have bad results, such as fatigue, low blood sugar, which can lead to hypoglycemia in diabetics, weakness, and lower energy. So it might be a good idea to cut back on your starches instead of cutting them out of your diet.

Hidden Sugar in Foods

If you are fighting diabetes you know how important it is to reduce your sugar intake. Many people say, “but I don’t eat sugar” meaning that they don’t actually pour sugar on their food. However, today 77% of the foods we buy have hidden sugars. Even many fruit juices like Apple and grape juice which are way too sweet already, have added sugars. Many breakfast cereals aimed at children are over half sugar.

Kids love the taste, but it’s no wonder one out of three children today is expected to become diabetic. Food manufactures know what we want and how to disguise packaging to look healthy. Michael Pollan says if it says healthy on the box put it back on the shelf. Sticking with the produce aisle seems to be the safest, But even some fruits will spike our insulin if too much is eaten. Try to lose your taste for sweet things.

I hope moms take care not to get their kids hooked on sweets by giving them as a reward when they do well. There are a lot of great documentaries about sugar on YouTube showing the food industry is an evil Empire like the cigarette industry.

One of the largest studies of its kind found that drinking just two diet drinks a day can increase your risk of an early death from heart disease by 50 percent. Shocking!

Previous research looking at aspartame toxicity also found a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia.

Despite being promoted for weight loss, foods and beverages with artificial sweeteners have never been proven to help weight loss. Studies that look at this actually find artificial sweeteners promote weight gain. I’ve fought sugar for over 40 years have used stevia for over 20, since it seems to be the only natural sweetener that doesn’t cause problems.

A great book by Michael Moss is Salt, Sugar, Fat in which he explains how the food industry gets us hooked and keeps us there. These companies spend millions of dollars every year hiring top scientists to analyze what tastes and textures we like and food. Other scientists manipulate food with chemicals to reach what they call the “bliss point.” to the food manufacturer this is the perfect food because we can’t get enough of it and will eat the whole container.

Of course this behavior is driving the obesity and diabetes epidemic. The only way we can avoid being caught up in the is to learn what the food industry is doing and train ourselves to eat real food.