Dumaguing: Night life

To Your Health

INTRIGUING title? Nope, actually and more correctly, night shifts and its effects on the person’s well-being particularly health issues. During the heyday of your columnist- called baby-boomers, proud to be one, not gadget-obsessed-we danced - whether in a swanky discotheque or in a barangay hall- to the groovy tune of “I love the night life, I love to boogie” and it was fun, fun, fun; and we remained energetic and healthy the next day.

Reality says otherwise these days. A lot of people have been working on night shifts since the beginning of industrialization and this phenomenon was magnified by leaps and bounds during the globalization period.

Whether it be for BPO (business process outsourcing) like call centers or factory production companies, healthcare services, police force and security agencies, toiling and working at night and sleeping during the day is now commonplace experience for many employees. Admittedly, this employment boom and financial bonanza brought in more jobs, more money but they also came with risks, with obvious repercussions on health.

Epidemiologists join the medical community in issuing a stern warning that there has been a significant rise in the incidence of cardiovascular disease, with statistics showing that heart attacks and strokes have become the leading causes of death and disability all over the world.

There has been many studies made already to address the issue, and fingers are pointed to a “malnutrition” as probable cause of illnesses of night shift workers. Many experts in food and nutrition say that it is easy for night owls to rely on easy food choices without giving much thought to the health benefits of what they are munching. Thus the person either gains excess pounds due to improper eating habits and food choices- mostly carbs and sugar-loaded stuff- or loses weight due to lack of sleep, stress or skipped meals. Other scenario would be night shift workers over-eating due to boredom or just to keep awake. And another sad reality is, food choices during the night are very few.

A dietitian friend has this advice. To gain the necessary energy to last a night shift, start with a breakfast of rice/cereals/toasted bread, fruit juice and for protein- egg, dried fish, and few slices of ham or bacon strips. Eat five small meals per day with an interval of three or four hours; snacks are allowed with fruits, vegetable sticks like celery or carrots, crackers and low-salt pretzels. While carbohydrates and sugars are energy-boosting foods, to help the person stay active and alert, the human metabolism may crash immediately after and fatigue sets in., thus minimize or avoid them before and during the night shift schedule.

Coffee, with its natural ingredient caffeine has been with humans since it was discovered by a shepherd that his goats were bubbly, active and happily dancing after munching on the leaves of an herb. Called by several names, depending on where it is grown and consumed, indeed, coffee gives every man and woman the necessary energy to kick off a day full of fruitful and meaningful activity.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant especially the brain, hence it helps the drinker ward off sleepiness. However, it may also race your heart to worrisome palpitations, a possible increase in blood pressure. Others even complain of a fine hand tremor especially intake of more than three cups per day.

Endocrinologists have found out that too much coffee could lead to osteoporosis-like brittleness of the bones especially post-menopausal women. Your columnist would also like to add that coffee makes one urinate frequently, thus, the proverbial 8-10 glasses of water per day should be taken seriously by the night shift worker. Besides, the walk to the restroom is also beneficial to the muscles.


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