As a Clinical Nutritionist specialising in shift work nutrition, one of the things I’ve noticed in my research (and in clinical practice) is the growing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in those who work 24/7.
The reasons for this can be quite multifactorial, but a lifestyle comprising of ongoing, and relentless sleep-deprivation certainly doesn’t do wonders for our motivation or mojo to cook. Sitting down to take-away or pre-packaged foods can often be way more appealing then spending hours in the kitchen cooking from scratch – particularly if you’ve just finished a stretch of early or night shifts!
I mean I get it – I really do.
Whilst I may be a nutritionist now, I was a shift worker first, so know how incredibly hard it is to eat well when working 24/7.
However, the problem with a diet high in refined and processed carbohydrates, is that it equates to a diet high in sugar, because that’s what carbohydrates essentially are, a type of sugar.
When we’re tired, we tend to reach for simple carbohydrate foods because instinctively our body knows they’re going to provide us with a quick energy source. However when we eat too much sugar, it places an extra load on the pancreas, the organ responsible for secreting the hormone insulin, which helps to keep our blood sugar levels in balance.
The more processed and highly refined a carbohydrate, the faster it is going to be broken down by the body into sugar which leads to spikes in our blood glucose levels, followed by subsequent drops. It’s this bouncing up and down of blood sugar which can damage our pancreas, and lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
So what can we do about it?
Well first and foremost, one of the best ways to help stabilise our blood glucose levels (and avoid the onset of T2DM later in life), is to reduce our intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar in the first place. I’m going to be blunt here, but if we continue down a path of eating processed, out-of-a-box foods day in and day out, type 2 diabetes is going to be inevitable.
On the other hand, when we combine protein and healthy fats with every meal, this helps to slow down the absorption of the glucose or carbohydrate that you might be eating.
In other words, its going to dampen down the blood glucose spike, along with the subsequent drop.
In addition to these dietary changes, another way to help keep our blood sugar levels stable, is by taking several teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV), which is made my fermenting the sugars from apples, prior to meals.
One particular study, found taking two teaspoons of vinegar with a high-carbohydrate meal, lowered blood sugar and insulin by as much as 34 per cent. In another study involving type 2 diabetic patients, drinking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water at bedtime reduced their fasting morning blood sugars.
So apple cider vinegar’s potential to keep our blood sugar levels in check is definitely a positive one!
Ideally, its best to use an organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like those found in the brand – Bragg’s) as it contains the “mother,” which are strands of protein, enzymes and friendly bacteria used to make the vinegar, and give it a murky, cobweb-like appearance.
Now if drinking ACV straight or diluted in water doesn’t sound very appealing, you can always add it to your salad dressings to reap the benefits as well.
Big shift working hugs,
Fung, J 2016, The Obesity Code: Unlocking The Secrets Of Weight Loss, Scribe Publications, London.
Johnston C, Steplewska I, Long C, Harris L & Ryals R 2010, ‘Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults’, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 56, no. 1, pp. 74-79.
White, A & Johnston C 2007, ‘Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes’, Diabetes Care, vol. 30, no. 11, pp. 2814-2815.