Reducing High Blood Pressure to Support the Immune System.

Last week I chatted briefly about a condition called metabolic syndrome (MetS), and how it’s inflammatory effects can alter the normal functioning of lymphatic tissues involved in the immune response.

Now there are 5 risk factors that fall under the banner of metabolic syndrome, but in today’s post, I’m going to concentrate on High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension.

First and foremost, something to keep in mind is that high blood pressure is an inflammatory disease that impairs immune function.  That being said, a compromised immune system also leads to inflammation, so it works both ways.

When the immune response becomes dysregulated, it causes the sympathetic nervous system (a fancy way to describe our ‘fight or flight’ stress response), to go into overdrive. This raises our heart rate and blood pressure (which is fine in the short term), but over the long-term, can lead to oxidative damage causing arterial stiffening and hardening of the arteries.

Picture a rusty pipe and this is pretty much what oxidative damage does to our inner piping, so definitely something we want to avoid!

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How Fast Are You Eating?

Have you ever thought about how fast you might be eating?  

Seem like a strange question?!!

Well, the reason I ask is because according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (2018), eating speed was shown to affect obesity, BMI and weight circumference of subjects.

This is because eating quickly is associated with impaired glucose and insulin resistance, a known risk factor for diabetes – which is a condition prevalent in many who work 24/7.

Eating quickly can also lead to an increase in BMI and obesity because fast eaters may continue to eat despite having consumed sufficient amounts of calories.

When we’re running on reduced sleep (like most shift workers!!) we also don’t always receive a signal telling us that we’re feeling full because sleep deprivation suppresses an appetite regulating hormone called leptin.

So whilst we often have to inhale our food at a rate of knots thanks to time restraints around our meal breaks, being mindful of the speed at which you are eating can be a simple (and free) strategy for minimising weight gain whilst working irregular shift rotations.

Audra x

References:

Hurst, Y & Fukuda, H 2018, ‘Effects of changes in eating speed on obesity in patients with diabetes: a secondary analysis of longitudinal health check-up data’, British Medical Journal, vol. 8, no. 1.

Paz-Graniel, I, Babio, N, Mendez, I & Salas-Salvado, J 2019, ‘Association between eating speed and classical cardiovascular risk factors: A cross-sectional study’, Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 1-10.

What This Corona Virus Is Really Teaching Us.

Things are certainly changing day by day (if not hour by hour) since the outbreak of this coronavirus, but I’d like to just pause for a moment, and ask ourselves what can we learn from this?

In other words, what is this corona virus really teaching us?

Because I think its been the biggest wake-up call in our history, to remind us of how critically important (and fragile) our health is.

For far too many of us, we continue to neglect our bodies with poor dietary and lifestyle choices – taking our health for granted which over the long-term, is going to lead to poor health outcomes.

Unlike a virus, however, poor dietary and lifestyle choices don’t have an immediate impact.  

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Do You Really Understand The Consequences of Poor Sleep?

Yesterday I was talking to a potential client, who was bit unsure and hesitant about working with me, so I decided to ask her a few questions regarding her current lifestyle habits.

Because let’s face it, our diet and lifestyle habits are often one of the firsts thing to turn pear- shaped when we begin working 24/7!

But I also I asked her this question:

“Do you really understand some of the consequences of poor sleep?  Like really understand some of the consequences?”

Like many shift workers – she didn’t.

I mean she’d certainly heard about them, but had chosen to either ignore them or had gone into “oh, that won’t happen to me mode” – like so many people who work 24/7 do.

So let’s share some of the consequences of poor and/or insufficient sleep – and how it raises your risk of developing certain health conditions:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Depleted Immune system
  • Strained Relationships … to name a few!

Not to mention, we’re more likely to become reliant on sleep medications – many of which are not designed for long term use, and can come with some nasty side-effects.

Worse still, when we haven’t had sufficient quality sleep – we’re prone to making mistakes and/or being involved in an accident when we’re tired.

Multiple studies have shown that even moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication.   After 17 to 19 hours without sleep, performance is equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent.  This effectively makes you a drunk driver – without having a single drop of alcohol.

So please keep this in mind the next time you decide to sign up for a double shift!

Quite simply, there isn’t one area of your life that IS NOT affected by lack of sleep.

Now if you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that your health is important to me.  Gosh, I even walked away from a career that I loved, in order to go back to “school” and learn all that I could about shift work health, so that I could then go on, and help as many people as I could.

Right now, I’m looking for a handful of people who are committed to taking care of their sleep (and health), and are prepared to do whatever it takes NOT TO become one of the “sleep deprived statistics” that I’ve shared above.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about raising your risks of developing cardiovascular disease, gaining weight, developing Type 2 Diabetes and/or having a depleted immune system – at least do it for the sake of your relationships and/or family.  I’m sure they don’t want you to become one of those statistics – even if you don’t!

And now for the good news.

I’ve just opened up limited spots for the beta launch of my ‘7 Day Better Sleep Kickstart Program’ to take people through a step-by-step process to improve their sleep – despite working 24/7.

So if you care about your health, then let’s talk.

Book your Better Sleep Strategy session with me today (it’s Free!) by Clicking Right Here – and let’s get your sleep (and health) sorted once and for all!

Audra x

P.S:  If you don’t believe me when I say that sleep affects us in this way, feel free to read the research article below as it goes into great detail of some of the short-term and long-term health consequences of poor sleep.  The reality is, we can no longer afford to ignore the importance of sleep, and how it affects our overall health and wellbeing.  If we do, it’s only a matter of time before our health begins to suffer.

 

Reference:

Medic, G, Wille, M & Hemels, M 2017, ‘Short and long-term health consequences  of sleep disruption’, Nature and Science of Sleep, vol. 9, pp. 151-161.

Cardiovascular Disease and Shift Work:

Is There A Connection And If So, What Can You Do About It?

It’s certainly no secret that shift work is taxiing on our health in more ways than one.  In fact I’m sure you can appreciate first hand just how challenging it is to work irregular hours day after day after day … or should I say night?

But what about cardiovascular disease?

Does working shift work enhance our risks of developing cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and coronary heart disease?

The simple answer is ‘yes’.

And whilst the mechanisms for doing so vary, the fundamental driver behind this, is unhealthy sleep patterns – which I’m sure every single shift worker on the planet can relate too.

But exactly how does lack of sleep raise our risks of developing cardiovascular disease?

Well it essentially comes down to an overactive sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight’ stress response arm of the nervous system which instigates a lot of physiological responses within the body including the release of stress chemicals that raise blood pressure and heart rate.  One of which includes cortisol.

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