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!


Shift Work Diet. When Was The Last Time You Listened To Your Stomach?

Attractive Hispanic woman with tin can telephoneAs a shift worker who eats 24/7, when was the last time you really listened to your stomach and ate only when you felt hungry?

Let me put it this way, when was the last time you experienced hunger pains?  Last week?  Last month?  Or perhaps you can’t even remember at all.

You see every time you eat when you’re NOT hungry, you are causing havoc on your digestive system.  It’s not ready for food.  It doesn’t want food.

Of course the trouble with working shift work or any other type of irregular hours, you tend to eat whenever you can otherwise you may not get a chance to eat at all.

A hard cycle to break away from.

So let’s take a look at an early shift.  You may start work at 0400 and not get a break until 0900 (if you’re lucky).  That’s 5 hours into your shift (plus commuting time to work) where your body has received no sustenance to function.

Your fuel tank is quite literally running on empty!

Fortunately for you, your body can still function but it’s certainly doing it tough with little energy.  In fact if you skip breakfast you are prone to compulsive snacking and over-eating later in the day.

And we all know where over-eating leads to.  Weight gain – which is synonymous amongst the shift working community!

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  Just because you have to eat at erratic hours doesn’t mean you have to gain weight.  Yes it’s true!  You don’t have to be subjected to years of weight gain just from working irregular hours.

And the solution is not about going on another “you can’t have this and you can’t have that” crazy diet.

It’s about listening to your body and eating only when you’re hungry … whenever you can.  So if you’re at work and you sit down to your designated meal break and you’re not hungry, then don’t stuff yourself silly.  Your body is telling you I don’t need a whole lot of food right now – so listen to what it’s telling you.

If you are full, then you are full.  It’s as simple as that.  You don’t have to eat everything on your plate (despite what your mother may have told you as a child) – just put down your knife and fork and stop eating.

There’s a growing phenomenon in Western societies around the world today where a lot of us are over-weight and suffering from malnutrition.  That’s right – malnutrition.  Not because we don’t have enough food to eat, but because we’re eating all of the wrong types of food.

Eating lots of small nutritious meals when you are hungry, (AKA lots of fresh fruits and vegetables which have not been fried, battered or nuked to death in the microwave) will not only help you to maintain and/or lose weight, but they will give you more energy to go about your day-to-day activities. Brilliant news if your life is constantly plagued with fatigue.

So the key to maintaining a healthy diet around the rigours of some pretty ruthless hours is to (whenever you can) listen to your body and only eat when it tells you it wants food.  It really is nature’s way of keeping us healthy and trim.

Shift Work Diet: Why Your New Year's Resolution Should Be To Change It In 2011.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to change your shift work diet, then now is certainly as good a time as any.

Because if you’re like me, then you’ve probably spent much of the festive season eating way too much food and doing very little exercise, all at the same time.

In fact as I ate that last bite of Christmas trifle, raspberry jelly and creamy vanilla ice cream, you could almost here the sigh of relief amongst the members of our household.

Firstly because we were finally able to create some much needed space in the refrigerator, and secondly because we could now return to a much healthier and more regular eating plan.

Now don’t get me wrong.

As a shift worker, my diet over the years has certainly been far from perfect. But if you’ve noticed that your pants have slowly become much tighter and that you’re struggling to do up the buttons in your jacket or vest, then 2011 might be the year for you to change.

You see whenever you overeat, it disrupts your sleeping patterns. Basically the more you eat, the more sleep you require which is not good news if you’re a sleep deprived shift worker.

So the next time you go to bed on a stomach full of rich Christmas goodies (and dare I say delicious), just remember that you’re more likely to experience difficulty falling and staying asleep, because your body has no idea how to break down this type of food.

So as we say goodbye to Christmas and turn the corner towards 2011, I would like you to get out your notebook and start writing down those New Year Resolutions.

And if one of those resolutions is to lose weight – then congratulations for making that decision and taking the first step.

Of course it’s important to point out that if you’re serious about wanting to shed those unwanted kilograms, then you’re going to have to start doing things differently than what you’ve been doing over the past year.

Quite simply, if you want things to change, then you are going to have to do something different than what you’ve done before.

But it all starts my making a decision. Making that New Year’s Resolution commitment that your shift work diet can and will improve for the better in 2011. After all, nothing is as important as your good health.

Happy New Year!