The Chillaxing Smoothie

I’m calling this the “chillaxing smoothie” because it’s filled with relaxing and health enhancing minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and gut-friendly fibre.

Perfect for a tired and weary … and somewhat frazzled shift worker ⏰ 😴!

Bananas 🍌, celery and beetroot all contain potassium – a mineral which helps to lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease by maintaining fluid balance by way of enhancing urinary excretion of sodium.

We want to avoid too much sodium (found hidden in the majority of processed foods), as it draws water into the bloodstream, raising blood volume and thereby blood pressure.

Whole, real foods really are our medicine!

1/4 – 1/2 beetroot
1 x banana
1 x celery stick
250ml of milk of choice
3 x spoons yoghurt

Enjoy!

Audra x

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.

(more…)

How Healthy Is Your Shift Work Heart?

cardiac diseaseSo I’ve been doing a bit of research on heart health this week thanks to a subject I’m studying at University at the moment called Clinical Examination.  My poor hubby has had to be a bit of a guinea pig for me as I hone my blood pressure taking skills in order to complete this subject (amongst other things), so lucky for me he has a big heart and loves me to bits!

However did you know studies have shown shift work is associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction (a fancy word for a heart attack), ischaemic stroke (a stroke caused from a blood clot), and other coronary or cardiac events (British Medical Journal 2012).

Not great news if you work 24/7.

In fact according to a particular systemic review* (a document which answers a question by reviewing research) and meta-analysis (a document which combines these findings into a statistical format) – all shift schedules with the exception of evening shifts were associated with a statistically higher risk of heart-related events.

So whilst shift work is known for disrupting our circadian rhythm or natural sleep cycle, taking care of your heart has never been more important when working irregular hours.

In fact according to Lo (et al. 2010~), even a single night shift is enough to increase blood pressure and impair the variation in time between heart beats, whilst insomnia has shown to be an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction (Laugsand et al. 2011+).

I don’t suppose your employer pointed out any of these conditions when you signed up to work 24/7.

But that’s OK – because that’s where I come in.

My passion for education and training (in conjunction with shift work health) is what steered me down a path to begin studying a science degree, majoring in Nutritional Medicine.

You see despite what many “experts” tell you – I really do believe that food is medicine, particularly when it comes to the health of our heart.

5 Foods To Support A Healthy Shift Worker Heart:

  1. FISH – such as salmon, mackerel or tuna which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and known to have an anti-clotting effect to help maintain blood flow, together with reducing triglycerides – a type of fat that can lead to heart disease.
  2. OATMEAL – a cup of oatmeal for breakfast will do wonders for your heart health because it contains beta-glucan, a fibre known to help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the blood (the nasty type of cholesterol).
  3. RED GRAPES – a handful of these will help to keep platelets in your blood from sticking together thanks to a type of antioxidant called resveratrol.
  4. RASPBERRIES – contain soluble fibre and vitamin C which are known to lower risk of stroke, as well as a type of antioxidant called polyphenol which helps to remove free radicals which cause oxidative damage to your body.
  5. WALNUTS – contain a certain amount of healthy monounsaturated fats which can help to reduce your nasty LDL cholesterol whilst also raising your “good” HDL cholesterol.

So make sure you take extra good care of your heart whilst working 24/7 and always seek medical advice from a qualified health provider with any specific questions you may have regarding any medical condition.  At the end of the day, prevention will always be better than cure – particularly when it comes to the manifestation of diseases such as cardiac or coronary heart disease.

* Manav V et al. 2012, ‘Shift work and vascular events: systemic review and meta-anaylsis’, British Medical Journal.

~ Lo et al. 2010, ‘Working the night shift causes increased vascular stress and delayed recovery in young women’, Chronobiology International.

+ Laugsand et al. 2011, ‘Insomnia and the risk of acute myocardial infarction’, Circulation.

15 Heart Healthy Foods To Work Into Your Diet