Gut Healing Stewed Apple Puddings with Kefir:

The Perfect Treat for Night Shift!

Gastrointestinal complaints are certainly a common ailment amongst those who work 24/7, in particular those who work the dreaded “night shift”.  This is because a lot of gastrointestinal functions decrease at night, and when we work (and eat) out of sync to our natural circadian rhythms or biological clock, it can cause havoc on our digestive system.

It’s important to remember that as human beings we are diurnal creatures, meaning we’re meant to be awake during the day, and asleep during the night – which also applies to our food intake.

However this is not always the case if you’re a shift worker.

As you know, we are awake and asleep at all different times of the day and/or night, but we need to keep in mind that nocturnal digestion is less efficient because our body is not designed for night-time calorie intake.

Some of these decreased functions of the gastrointestinal tract include:

  • A decrease in gastric acid secretion, which is needed to break down proteins.
  • A decline in digestive enzyme production including protease, lipase and amylase which are all needed to break down foods into smaller particles.
  • The pancreas secretes less insulin, which is needed to assist with the uptake of glucose into the cells.
  • Gastric motility slows right down – in other words, we’re less likely to poop during the night!

Essentially foods aren’t broken down and digested as well as if it was the daytime, which can lead to tummy upsets.  Things like abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea are just a few of these symptoms – some of which you’ve probably experienced at some point in time throughout your shift working career.

So given our digestive systems are essentially “sleeping” whilst we’re on night shift, foods which require minimal digestion, along with those which are going to help nourish our sensitive tummies make the perfect choice for night shift nutrition.

One of these types of foods include stewed apples, which are super healing on the digestive tract.

Pectin, which is found in apples, is a type of soluble fibre which has a mild laxative effect, so can help to relieve constipation, along with reducing that uncomfortable feeling of bloating.  It can also help to firm stools and reduce inflammation associated with diarrhoea, along with helping to maintain the delicate balance of beneficial micro-organisms in the gut.

In other words, they’re a pretty good gut-healing food for shift workers given we’re prone to various types of gastrointestinal complaints.

So here’s my Gut Healing Stewed Apple Pudding which can be taken into night shift for those times when you’re feeling like something sweet to eat, but is actually good for you too!

• 6 organic apples
• 1/2 cup filtered water
• 1/2 cup sultanas (for added sweetness and fibre)
• 2 tsp. cinnamon (helps with blood sugar regulation)

Peel and core the apples and chop them into small evenly sized pieces.  Put all the ingredients in a covered pan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  Cook until the pieces are soft and the colour turns light brown from the cinnamon.

Pop small batches of the pudding into small containers (the equivalent of about 1 apple each), which can be transported into work, and then left in the fridge until ready to eat.

Hope these make your night shifts a little more appealing!

Audra x

P.S:  for an added gut-healing effect, drizzle with goat’s milk kefir which is considered a more powerful version of yoghurt (with a thinner consistency), and is made from cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which are high in nutrients and probiotics.



Jiang, T, Gao, X, Wu, C, Tian, F, Lei, Q, Bi, J, Xie, B, Wang, H, Chen, S & Wang X 2016, ‘Apple-derived pectin modulates gut microbiota, improves gut barrier function, and attenuates metabolic endotoxemia in rats with diet-induced obesity’, Nutrients, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 1-20.

Koutsos, A, Tuohy, K & Lovegrove, J 2015, ‘Apples and cardiovascular health – Is the gut microbiota a core consideration?’ Nutrients, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 3959-3998.

Shift Work and Our Immune Systems:

Why A Healthy Gastrointestinal and Lymphatic System Is So Important.


As shift workers we often push our bodies to the absolute limit, and unfortunately our immune systems get knocked around as a result.

Considering 80% of our immune system is found in the gut, it’s important that we support and nurture our gastrointestinal system because it acts as important barrier against pathogens – those nasty little micro-organisms which can cause disease.  In other words, it helps to protect our body from the outside world.

Unfortunately, continual disruption to our sleep-wake cycle as a result of haphazard rosters, actually weakens the lining of the gut, impairing our ability to fight off infections.  It also reduces important immunity cells in our body called T-cells, together with increasing inflammatory cells called cytokines.

Probably something your employer forgot to mention at your job interview – lol!

And not only are we running on limited sleep, but its often disjointed as a result of that nasty alarm clock which wakes us up at the most ungodly of hour!  This prevents the body from completing the recommended 4-5 full sleep cycles which allow it to rest, restore and rejuvenate.

So how can we strengthen our immune system, despite working 24/7?

There are many ways to do this, but these are my Top 2:

  1. Focus on Nurturing A Healthy Gut – As Hippocates, the founding father of modern medicine, so famously said:  “All health and disease begins in the gut” which is why it’s imperative that we support and nurture our gastrointestinal system.  This includes ensuring there is a healthy amount of gut bacteria or gut flora, which can help in the regulation of an immune response.  One of the best ways to do this is by ensuring your diet contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables containing dietary fibre, also known as prebiotics, which is essentially the food for our gut microbes.  In addition to plenty of dietary fibre and for an added boost, you can also alternate taking a broad-spectrum probiotic, which is a high strength multi-strain formula designed to provide beneficial bacteria to the entire digestive tract.
  2. Provide Support to Your Lymphatic System – the lymphatic system is our waste disposal system and is made up of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus and tonsils.  This system aids the immune system by removing and destroying waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, and other toxic substances by moving it along in the lymph fluid into your glands.  This explains why our glands become enlarged when we are sick.  Rebounding on a mini-trampoline is a great way to improve the flow of lymph through the lymphatic tissues, together with ensuring you’re drinking enough water because dehydration prevents the flow of lymph fluid.

Of course, it’s important to remember that it’s OK that our bodies have to fight an infection every now and then.

It’s what it’s designed to do, which is why taking antibiotics continually is not a good thing because not only does it wipe out our good gut bacteria (goodbye immune system!), it’s not allowing our body to do what it’s supposed to do.

Whilst we don’t want to get sick, we do want to ensure our body is as resilient as humanly possible, in order for it to be able to fight an infection when it does come up, as opposed to being reliant on drugs and medication, which often come with nasty side-effects.

Audra x



Scrivens, D 2012, ‘Rebounding:  Good for the Lymph System’, Wellbeing Journal, vol. 17, no. 3

Wu, H & Wu, E 2012, ‘The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity’, Gut Microbes, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 4-14.

Our Gut Clock:

Why Circadian Misalignment Is A Shift Worker's Nemesis!

gutclock2As someone who works rotating shifts 24/7, have you ever noticed or wondered why you’re particularly susceptible to digestive issues and gastrointestinal complaints?

Well just to put your mind at rest – you’re not imagining things!

It’s called circadian rhythm misalignment, and it’s a nemesis for many shift workers around the world.

Circadian misalignment is when our endogenous or internal body clock is not consistent with our current environment or behaviour.  For example, a shift worker is often up when the sun is down, or eating during the night when everyone else is tucked into bed and sound asleep.

In other words – we’re doing everything backwards.

Our circadian rhythms operate in 24 hour cycles under the masterful instruction of our core master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the brain, just below the hypothalamus*.

Besides being very hard to pronounce, this nucleus is responsible for coordinating all of our internal rhythms or clocks in a synchronized way, and talks to other tissues within the body which have their own internal clock oscillators such as the gastrointestinal tract or GIT.

And here lies the problem for shift workers. (more…)