Even though night work shifts cause great health risks, the latest study shows how daytime meals can help to evade them. As per the study, while giving importance to daytime meals,
Night shift workers also need to avoid nighttime eating to skirt around related health risks.
Study Finds Daytime Meals Alleviate Night Shift Health Risks
The study has appeared in Science Advances which is clinically verified by a group of experts. The study has confirmed the risk of cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and other conditions related to shift work. However, these risks can be potentially mitigated through practicing eating at different times.
To conduct the study, researchers chose 19 healthy young men and women who were randomly assigned for a 14-day long trial. The study introduced a special protocol to the volunteers that recreated night work conditions. As the participants were divided into two groups, the first group was instructed to have meals during the evening just like the typical meal schedule for overnight shift workers. Whereas, the second group of volunteers ate during the daytime only.
While analyzing the outputs, researchers have found that the latter group showed better and regulated glucose levels, when compared to the other group who ate at night. Researchers suggest that it indicates the risk of nighttime eating among workers to have an impaired circadian rhythm. As a result, it can significantly affect metabolic rate. The researchers further said that night shifts can already create disruptions in circadian rhythm, and the timing of meals in shift workers can only make it even worse.
According to the study lead, Frank A. J. L. Scheer, director of the medical chronobiology program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, the main conclusion they reached through their study is that people can use meal timing to tackle the negative effects of disrupted circadian rhythm, and impaired glucose tolerance as well.
Despite the study including a very small number of volunteers, Dr. Scheer stated that these positive effects of the study are quite promising. Whereas, conducting the study on a large scale of volunteers or shift workers would lead to greater recommendations.
Shift work usually involves working more than regular working hours, or exceeding work beyond the standard daylight hours between 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Besides, working overnight is also considered shift work.
Just like each work culture is connected to the nature of jobs, work shifts are determined by this too. According to the reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 15.5 million Americans are shift workers. These include police officers, firefighters, healthcare providers, and truck drivers. At the same time, people who work in warehouses or other industrial jobs also have shifted schedules.
As per the report, the major health risks that are associated with shift work need to be resolved. These are threats of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, ulcers, anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, and other mood disorders. The basic cause for all these is the decline in mental health due to lack of sleep, rest, and appropriate diet.
A study in NPJ Digital Medicine also suggested that people who have variations in their sleep patterns are more likely to have symptoms of depression and daily mood ratings. However, Arne Lowden, from the Stress Research Institute at the University of Stockholm in Sweden suggested that irregular eating schedules have greater connections with shift work risks,