Improving the health of night shift workers with the use of probiotics is the focus of a new Griffith study.

Probiotics have long been understood to improve the balance of gut bacteria in those that take them but now Dr Nic West from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland is aiming to see if they could potentially combat the impacts on health of working irregular hours.

“It’s already well documented that people who work night shifts can suffer from higher rates of cancer and metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, as well as experience increased mental health issues such as anxiety and depression,” says Rebecca Ramsey, the Clinical Trial Coordinator.

“Furthermore, eating and sleeping patterns are known to often suffer when someone works night shifts.

“Many of the problems associated with night shift work are driven by immune irregularities which can cause inflammation within the body.

“If the gut microbiome is assisted to be operating at an optimal level via the consumption of probiotic supplements, then immune health could be dramatically improved and inflammation reduced.

Association with metabolic disease

“How shift work contributes to metabolic disease is not yet fully understood, however disrupted sleep is associated with metabolic disease and shift workers typically have shortersleepduration and lower quality sleep.

“Sleep disruption has been shown to elicit a physiological stress response, and both physiological and psychological stress disrupt the healthy functioning of the intestinal gutmicrobiota.”

The study at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, will include around 90 night shift workers aged from 30-65, from a range of professions including emergency services, medical personnel, security officers and truck drivers. They will be asked to take a probiotic supplement over a 28 day period during which they will have their microbiome analysed along with immune and cardiovascular health to see whether the probiotic can reduce the effects of night shift.

The study is expected to show that the probiotic supplement can modify gut bacteria and enhance immune and gut health. Participants will have their gut bacteria profiled along with a health check that includes cardiovascular health measures, diet screening and activity tracking.

For information on becoming involved in the Griffith University study, phone 0422 381424 or email: [email protected]. Participants can be aged 30-65 and be a night shift worker in any profession.