Research/studies Worker health and wellness Shift work Fire/emergency medical services

‘Time-restricted eating’ boosts health of firefighters and other shift workers: study

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San Diego — Eating within set times while not skipping meals can reduce the cardiovascular health risks of firefighters and other shift workers, results of a recent study show.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, San Diego – in cooperation with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department – analyzed data from 150 firefighters who used an app to track their meals over a three-month period. Half of the participants ate within a 10-hour window (9 a.m.-7 p.m.) while the other half didn’t deviate from their routine, eating within an approximate 14-hour window. They were all encouraged to follow a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil.

The researchers found that participants who ate within the set time frame experienced lower blood pressure, as well as lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. Additionally, following this eating pattern while not skipping meals triggered significantly lower levels of “bad” cholesterol associated with artery blockage, boosted mental health and limited alcohol intake by about three drinks a week.

“We’ve shown that time-restricted eating is a feasible way for shift workers, such as firefighters, to improve their cardiovascular health and well-being,” Pam Taub, corresponding study author, cardiologist and UCSD professor of medicine, said in a press release. “These findings can likely be extended to a wider population, including health care workers like nurses and others who experience abnormal sleep-wake patterns.”

The study was published online in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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