Do you tend to eat the same type of meals over and over again? Maybe you’ve got a close relationship going on with your breakfast cereal?!!
Well I’d like to inspire you to live on the edge a little … and add some colour and variety to your plate (or bowl!)
When we eat a more diversified diet, particularly one that is rich in plant-based foods, it helps to feed the trillions of microscopic bugs in the digestive tract.
Now these microscopic bugs (which comprise of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – yes you read that correctly, even viruses), they don’t just hang out in your belly, doing nothing.
They are responsible for producing important neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, for short. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which helps to calm the nervous system, needed to facilitate sleep.
They also produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is the pre-cursor to the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin.
Does your job involve sitting inside all day (and maybe night?) Have you spent years on a weight gain-weight-loss-weight-gain roller coaster?
Could lack of sunlight be a contributing factor? My simple answer to that is “yes, most definitely”.
Without sufficient vitamin D, AKA vitamin “daylight”, your body thinks you are hibernating.
It thinks winter is coming.
So what does it instinctively do as a response?
It slows down the metabolism, encouraging you to eat more, and store lots of fat to help you to “see through the winter”.
Even when it’s not winter!
Back in my Uni days of studying to become a nutritionist, I remember overhearing a discussion between a lecturer and student about what would be the ideal meal option for someone who work’s the night shift.
The lecturer’s reply was:
“Just get them to flip their meals around. As in have their big meal around midnight and 1am”.
The thing is, that never really sat right with me.
Given the functionality of our circadian rhythm varies enormously between that of the day versus the night, I instinctively knew that nocturnal food intake, especially in large quantities, was bound to cause havoc on our digestive system. Not ideal, given most shift workers are plagued by gastrointestinal complaints at the best of times!
However, it doesn’t stop at the digestive system.
It can affect our cognition, amongst other things, which if your work involves making complex decisions, operating machinery or performing surgery, can be extremely important.
I was speaking at a conference on the weekend, and I asked the attendees the following question:
“Do you have a lollie jar stashed in a drawer at work? There were quite a few nods in the room, and one guy even said they have a Lollie Locker!
Whooska. Well, at least he was honest.
The thing is, they’re pretty much in every shift working workplace on the planet.
Incredibly, (but not surprisingly), they line the drawers of most hospital wards … but don’t get me started about the food in the hospitals. I’m going to save that for an entirely different email!!
Anyway, I digress.
Getting back to the lollie jar. Does your workplace also have those “fundraising choccies” that make several appearances throughout the year??
It’s for a good cause, right?
Well … yes, I’m not going to disagree with that, but at what cost to those who are consuming these sugar-laden treats?
You see, when we’re constantly sleep-deprived our bodies are essentially in a state of ‘fight or flight’ which leads us to crave sugar.
Did you know the simple act of earthing, otherwise known as grounding can help to improve sleep?
Sound a bit strange – or to good to be true?
Earthing works because when direct skin comes into contact with the ground, it helps to rectify an electron deficiency. Essentially the body becomes charged with negative electrons that are abundant on the surface of the earth.
Think of it as topping up your vitamin G – as in G for ground.
This in turn helps to reduce inflammation, reduce pain and lower stress hormones such as cortisol, which in most cases helps to improve sleep.