Meal Times Influence Our Circadian Clock

Food plate

Altering our meal times can also alter our circadian clock

Delaying your meal time might have an effect on your circadian clock, a new study says. The research, published in the journal Current Biology, was initially looking at ways to avoid jet lag symptoms, when researchers discovered how postponing eating can affect us.

Meal times are related to the circadian clock

Our body works with the help of a circadian clock, a natural cycle of 24 hours regulated by the brain and other organs, providing balance to our organism. However, if you delay your meal time by five hours, the internal rhythm of your blood sugar will also be delayed by five hours. This suggests that meals regulate the ‘clocks’ of other organs, and preserve the balance of our bodies.

Together with meal times, working in shifts or jet lag can also affect our metabolism. Therefore, the changes which occur in our bodies when traveling or working night shifts are similar to what happens when we change the time when we eat. All these factors can reset our circadian clock.

Altering meal times to regulate blood sugar drug-free

Apart from suggesting that constantly changing meal times is unhealthy, the findings can have other applications as well. Changing a person’s body clock by altering meal times is a way of regulating the levels of blood sugar without using medicine. Jonathan Johnston, one of the author of the study, explained how they can apply this method.

“This will help us design feeding regimes to reduce the risk of developing health problems such as obesity and cardiovascular disease in people with disturbed circadian rhythms.”

Those who were part of the study were healthy young men who had to eat three meals five hours apart from each other for 13 days. The blood sugar clock was affected, but the levels of triglycerides and insulin remained normal. Therefore, each metabolic aspect is controlled by a different body clock.
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