Is Your Waist Circumference Sabotaging Your Immune System?

This week I’m talking about something called Central Adiposity, or the more fancy term being “Belly Fat”.

Why is this important?  

Well, just like high blood pressure, obesity has an inflammatory component which means it can interfere with the immune response and vice versa.

In a review published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2012), researchers stated:

Obesity, like other states of malnutrition, is known to impair the immune function, altering leukocyte counts as well as cell-mediated immune responses. In addition, evidence has arisen that an altered immune function contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. 

When we’re carrying extra weight, especially around the middle, it shifts our biology out of balance because fat cells release pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines.

In other words, fat cells are a living breathing thing. They’re not stagnant that just sit there and do nothing!

They’re actually endocrine cells because of their ability to secrete hormones and influence cells in other parts of the body, that in many cases, can lead to further weight gain.

Sorry, not exactly the rosiest of scenarios but it’s important that I tell it as it is!

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Needing Help With Sugar Cravings?

The other day it was raining ☔️ here in my hometown of Brisbane, so I thought what better way than to experiment in the kitchen!

Now given the majority of shift workers experience “hangry” moments thanks to blood sugar dysregulation as a result of sleep disruption, I wanted to come up with a recipe that would help to keep sugar cravings at bay.

Meet Mr Macadamia Nut Hummus– the perfect sugar craving antidote whether you’re on an early shift, late shift, night shift or heaven forbid a “normal” shift – lol

Macadamia nuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fats to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and are a great source of magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, vitamins B1, B3 & E, phosphorus and zinc.

Chickpeas are packed with gut-friendly fibre which help to stabilise blood sugar levels (and fend off those “hangry” cravings), as well as making them great for insulin-resistant individuals or diabetics. Health conditions which are becoming increasingly common in those who work 24/7.

In addition, chickpeas are a great source of protein and contain minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.

What’s in it?

  • 2/3 cup roasted macadamias
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Handful of parsley

How to make it?

Throw everything into a food processor for 10-15 seconds (I like a chunky consistency), or longer until smooth.

Store in a container to bring into work to have with crackers or veggie sticks and share with workmates (maybe?!) It’s also delicious as a base on sourdough toast topped with eggs, mushrooms and/or roasted tomatoes!

Enjoy,

Audra x

HSW 85: Shift Work and Insulin Resistance

In this podcast episode I go solo and talk about insulin resistance, a condition that has been shown in the research that shift workers are at risk of developing, due to a multitude of factors.

Whilst most of us are aware that the type of food that we eat plays a key role in the regulation of our blood sugar, especially in the development of pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes – as you’re about to learn, sleep disruption and deprivation also play a big role.

Simple French Onion Soup:

A great nourishing snack for night shift.

What’s great about it?

  • Onions are a great source of chromium, which is a trace mineral that helps to stabilise blood sugar by assisting the body to use insulin more effectively.
  • Studies have shown chromium can help to reduce insulin resistance, a condition common in those who experience ongoing sleep deprivation.
  • Soups are a great form of “liquid nutrition” to have during the night as they provide little burden on the digestive tract, thereby reducing the incidence of ‘night shift nausea’ and gut discomfort.
  • Soups are also a great warming and nourishing snack to have whilst on night shift, particularly around  2-4am when experiencing sudden drops in body temperature.

Ingredients

  • 8 brown onions
  • 30g butter
  • 1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups filtered water

How to make it!

Place the onions, butter, oil and thyme in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the mustard, stock and water and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Ladle the soup into bowls, and place the remainder into small containers that can be frozen, and taken into work at a later date.  Batch cooking at it’s best!

Note:  Spelt is a variety of wheat so does contain gluten, however is an ancient whole grain that contains  fewer of the hard-to-digest carbohydrates called fructans.

 

References:

Heshmati, J, Omani-Samani, R, Vesali, S, Maroufizadeh, S, Rezaeinejad, M, Razavi, M & Sepidarkish, M 2018, ‘The effects of supplementation with chromium on insulin resistance indices in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome:  A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials’, Hormone and Metabolic Research, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 193-200.

Jafarpour-Sadegh, F, Montazeri, V, Adili, A, Esfehani, A, Rashidi, M & Pirouzpanah, S 2017, ‘Consumption of fresh yellow onion ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in breast cancer patients during doxorubicin-based chemotherapy:  A randomized controlled clinical trial’, Integrative Cancer Therapies, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 276-289.

Weight Loss: Why It’s Not All About The Food That You Eat.

As we close the door on yet another year (seriously how fast did 2017 go!), and head into a brand spanking new one, it’s only fitting that we become inundated with a never-ending plethora of “diets” that promise to help shed those unwanted kilo’s once and for all in 2018!

But weight loss is not all about the food that we eat – particularly if you work 24/7.

If you’re like most people, you probably won’t even make it past the 8th of January before dropping the ball, and throwing in the towel on yet another diet that didn’t work for you.

Bang!  There goes that New Year’s Resolution “I’m gonna lose the weight this year!”

So why is this?

Well first and foremost, I want to re-iterate that it’s not your fault.

This is because so many diets out there focus entirely on the food that we eat, without taking into consideration anything else that may be going on, which just sets people up for failure before they’ve even begun.

Weight loss (or more importantly, having a healthy body) is not all about counting calories, running yourself ragged on the treadmill and following a restrictive diet after being told you “can’t eat this” and “can’t have that”.

I mean let’s face it – restricting ourselves from certain foods is no fun at all!

In fact, it can actually drive us a little crazy because we become so focussed on what we can and cannot have, that it only elevates our stress and cortisol levels even more, which can contribute to our weight gain.

On the other hand, prioritising your sleep even when working 24/7 can have a huge influence on your weight loss.

This is because lack of sleep leads to:

  • Poor food choices and decision making – when we’re sleep deprived, we tend to crave the naughty stuff, the sweets and greasy chips because sleep deprivation impairs the frontal lobe region of the brain which oversees complex decision making, whilst at the same time, increasing activity in the deeper region of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in reward seeking behaviour.
  • A disruption in our appetite regulating hormones – leptin and ghrelin.  Sleep deprivation is essentially a type of hormone disruptor as it disrupts our finely tuned endocrine or hormonal system, which in turn, can cause havoc on our waistlines.   When working correctly, leptin sends signals to the brain telling us when we’re full, whilst ghrelin let’s us know when we’re feeling hungry.  The trouble for shift workers (and anyone else who may be struggling with insomnia), is these hormones don’t function as they should when we’re running on limited sleep.
  • A greater likelihood of eating bigger portion sizes – due to the disruption of these hunger hormones we’re more likely to overeat, and overeat on all of the bad stuff!  This was illustrated in a study of over 1000 sleep-deprived subjects where disruption to appetite hormones equated to an increase in food consumption equivalent to 350-500 k/cal per day, most notably in the form of snacks made from carbohydrates.

So instead of feeling extra paranoid about what you’re eating in 2018, and boarding the weight loss/weight gain roller coaster ride all over again, why not step outside the box a little and give the following a go:

  1. Make it your absolutely NUMBER 1 priority in 2018 to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.  Whilst quantity can be a little more challenging, particularly if you’ve been blessed with some not-so-friendly rosters, quality is something that each and every one of us can work on improving.  Fundamentally, getting good quality sleep is going to help regulate your appetite and control body weight through healthy food selection, as opposed to rash impulsivity that occurs whenever our sleep tanks are running close to empty.
  2. Include more real, whole foods into your diet.  Upping the intake of your veggies is going to have a profound impact on your gut health, weight AND sleep, as important neurotransmitters necessary to instigate sleep (such as serotonin and melatonin) are found in the gut.
  3. Become a self-care Ninja!  Working shift work is tough, really tough, and so many of us put the care of others before ourselves, even when we’re functioning on depleted batteries thanks to ongoing sleep disruption.  2018 needs to be the year you finally PUT YOURSELF FIRST, because when you do, you will find that you will become so much happier in yourself, and will be in a way better position to take care of others anyway.  This may mean allocating a time (every day) for yourself when you do absolutely n.o.t.h.i.n.g.  Yep!  Whether that’s sitting outside under your favourite tree with a good book, going for a swim or taking a yoga class, your overall health (including your waistline) is going to be much more open to recalibrating itself when you’re feeling way less stressed.

So why not do things differently this year, and NOT go on another diet.

Not only will your workmates be extremely jealous as you proudly share your New Year’s Resolution to “not go on another diet”, just knowing that you’re not locked into some kind of restrictive eating pattern for the next few weeks, months etc. is going to lift an enormous weight off your shoulders and set you up for a much healthy and happier shift working existence in 2018.

Audra x

 

References: 

Broussard, J, Kulkus, J, Delebecque, F, Abraham, V, Day, A, Whitmore, H & Tasali, E 2016, ‘Elevated ghrelin predicts food intake during experimental sleep restriction’, Obesity, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 132-138.

Fung, J 2016, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, Scribe Publications, Brunswick.

Greer, S, Goldstein, A & Walker, M 2013, ‘The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain’, Nature Communications, vol. 4, no. 2259, pp. 1-19.

Harvard School of Public Health 2017, ‘Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar’.

School of Medicine and Public Health 2013, ‘How the tired brain directs junk-food binges’, University of Wisconsin-Madison.