Can your internal clock tell you the best time to eat and drink?


“In reality, a cell is a biological mini-me compared to the human body. A cell has every biological system that you have.” – Bruce Lipton


Your cells control your body just like the heart and lungs. And your biological system controls your lives. And every cell in our body has its own internal clock, without gears embedded in it. These clocks control many aspects of your life and they are doing it every microsecond of the day. You may not even be aware of their existence. The also govern several biological processes such as when you eat and when to go to sleep, digestion, hormone production, body temperature and other biochemical and metabolic processes [1,2]. The internal clocks send a signal when it's time to eat, or when it is time to go to sleep. So, how do these clocks work and can they tell you when it is the best time to eat? This article examines these questions and explains the latest science to help you understand the answers.


The biological clock

Your internal or biological clock is a mechanism that keeps track of time within the cell and falls into an approximate 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm aligns with your sleep and wake cycle so that you feel more awake in the day and sleepy at night. Even your immune system operates on a 24-hour schedule, guided by the circadian rhythm.


The clock in the cell stays in rhythm with each other because they are coordinated by a central clock located in the brain, which uses sunlight to synchronize the entire body’s circadian rhythm. The central clock is able to adapt to time-specific food intake which has shown to have profound consequences on your body’s physical and mental health. For example, scientist have found that if rodents are given “time-restricted feeding” (a limited but predictable time of day), they will learn to become active and seek out food at these times [3]. Also, a 2019 study showed that participants who reported skipped or delayed breakfasts were more likely to experience a mood disorder compared to those with a regular schedule of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.[4]


Genetics

Internal clocks are also controlled by our genes. However, the rhythms of the body may potentially be different between people within a population due to genetic variations in various “clock” genes. According to researchers, these genes define your own personal circadian pattern that tells the time of day you are naturally inclined to wake up and sleep, rest and even are most alert throughout the day. This behavior is defined as your chronotype, which can be one of the following categories: morning type, evening type or neither. An individual who is classified as “evening type” have a tendency to consume foods later in the day. You can determine your chronotype here.


Chrononutrition

The effects of diet on the circadian rhythm also involves the interaction between your body's daily internal clock and timing of meals and nutrients, known as chrononutrition. New research is emerging that shows the internal clock can interact with nutrients to influence physiological processes [5]. Skipping breakfast and eating meals later in the day can affect glucose metabolism (or regulation of blood glucose levels). A recent study showed that when participants with type 2 diabetes were given 6 meals per day, or 3 meals per day that included a high carbohydrate breakfast, those that followed the 3-meal diet showed: weight loss, lower glucose level and increased expression of some genes [6].


Summary

Your internal clock is crucial to coordinating your body’s physiology. So, it is possible that your internal clock can tell you when the best time is to eat. Chrononutrition cannot cure diseases, but it can be used as a tool for stabilizing blood sugar levels and decreasing your risk of type 2 diabetes. It is possible to synchronize these important biological clocks with your food which can potentially help to you to perhaps delay obesity and other metabolic disorders.


It is not just what you eat that matters, but when you eat. Gooden Healthy Nutrition can help you learn more about how to eat healthy for life. https://www.goodenhealthynutrition.com/


References

  1. https://www.sleep.theclinics.com/article/S1556-407X(15)00112-5/fulltext

  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19878279

  3. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/10/1/30/5209973

  4. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(15)00302-5

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078443/

  6. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/12/2171


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