Part I: A Nutritional Label Packed with Alarming Statistics For Fire and EMS by Fitch and Associates

Professions in the public safety realm are rigorous and tiring, and the unforeseen matters such as a person’s daily diet can greatly influence performance and outcomes according to a new study. Public safety professionals can not control the amount of calls in the daily field mines of spontaneity to the job, but they can control the awareness of a growing problem to the modern diet provided by a group of 7 seven individuals in the following order: Jamie Pospisil, Christine Gonzales, Carolyn Knowles, Thomas Krokoski, Robert McClintock, James Simmons and Christina Sockwell. According to a nationwide EMS Wellness Questionnaire sent out by the team-led study, 78% of the 457 participating applicants rated their dietary well- being at average or below with 84% revealing to consuming prepackaged or fast food on a regular basis. How does this diet affect the ability to give patients the best care possible? Knowledge is power, and with that power, this group of leaders was able to discover through their report provocative finds by the Ambulance Service Manager Program (ASM) of Fitch & Associates.  Jamie Pospisil, Captain of Lincoln Fire and Rescue, showcases details of how the modern diet affects three core areas such as sleep, the brain, and function of the human body.

It is no medical mystery that humans need a good night’s sleep in order to be fully prepared for the following day. EMS and fire professionals have an alarming inadequacy of sleep as well as sleeping patterns. According to the study, 91% of EMS and fire personnel receive less than 8 hours of sleep per day while 95% get interrupted sleep. The deprivation of sleep on a regular schedule can have harmful effects on the human mind and body. According to the report, Pospisil says, “When this circadian rhythm breaks down, recent research has shown we are at increased risk for illness such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia (Finkel, 2018).” Prolonged lack of sleep not only hinders daily performance due to fatigue, but it has serious health risks for EMS and fire professionals.

While lack of sleep can affect the brain, the modern diet can affect the brain as well for EMS and fire professionals. Pospisil says, “The state of mental health amongst this population is concerning and suicide has plagued our workforce. Recent research shows how the food you eat can affect your thoughts, mood, and overall brain function.” According to the poll, 52% of respondents rated their overall happiness at or below average. The alarming statistic is extremely concerning, and food consumption can greatly influence this factor while hindering the immune system due to inflammation caused by the modern diet. Also, according to the report, a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease is the chronic state of elevated blood sugars from sugar content of the modern diet (Lugavere, 2018). The lack of or abundance of nutrients has a direct affect on the human mind.  Improper eating habits have a detrimental affect on our daily mood, overall happiness and long-term brain function.

Unhealthy eating patterns of the modern diet can affect a person’s weight, but Pospisil and her associates discovered hidden risks that the modern diet can cause on the physical function of the body. According to the survey, 84% of respondents consume prepackaged and fast food while 36% consume it four or more times a week. Additionally, 88% of respondents consume caffeinated beverages, while 26% of EMS and fire professionals consume energy drinks on a daily basis. The lack of nutrients combined with excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar can lead to low bone density and muscle health. Pospisil says in the report, “ Cashman 2007 reports that some dietary contributing factors to low bone density include nutrient deficiencies (especially calcium and vitamin D), excess alcohol, excess caffeine, excess sodium, and excessive or insufficient protein.” Due to the modern diet consumption, the problem for low bone density rises while muscle health deteriorates because of the lack of protein. The modern diet is packed with sugar, and large amounts of sugar consumption can lead to cellular inflammation and blocked muscle recovery in Pospisil’s findings.

The statistics are alarming, and you can find the full podcast and additional info by following the hyperlinks below in our #SavvikSays blog post. The team-led study strives to bring awareness to the growing problems of the modern diet as it pertains to EMS and Fire Professionals. Public safety professionals face extreme challenges every day, and those challenges can affect three core areas such as sleep, the brain and function of the human body. Stay tuned for Part II: Saving Your Life From the Modern Diet.

MedicToMedic Podcast Hyperlinks (Episode 176):

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Apple Podcast

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Find the full report and works cited here:

Does Diet Impact Fire/EMS Performance and Outcomes?

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