Scientists have long debated over what to eat for optimal health but when we eat is also crucial. We’ve always known that our body has a central circadian clock, but it turns out each organ has it’s own circadian rhythm. Since we are diurnal animals meaning we rise and fall with the sun, our internal clocks are set to eat when it’s light out and rest later in the day. If we are having late night snacks or late dinners, our clocks are out of sync. The body releases melatonin preparing us for sleep but having to digest confuses our system leading to weight gain and diseases. This is why night shift workers are at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, some cancers, and heart disease.
In a study with mice, two groups were given high fat, high sugar diets. One group ate around the clock while the other ate during an 8-hour window. Despite eating the same amount of calories, the group that ate at any time got fat and sick while the other group did not. We see this in several human studies too. Adults who were forced to stay up later and therefore eat later, disrupted their circadian rhythm and saw a raise in blood pressure and impaired insulin/blood sugar control.
So what should you do? Live by the age old proverb of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Make breakfast important, raise with the sun, go to bed early, don’t skip dinner but keep it light, and have your body work in sync. I find it’s tough to be healthy as a night owl. Maybe this is why all of my night owl clients have adjusted to early bedtime. One can’t be healthy if we fight against the circadian rhythm of our body, eat factory-made or corporate-made food, and impose lots of unnecessary stress.
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, eating habits, exercise, cravings, emotional eating, and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at www.HappyFoodHealth.com or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food.
~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA