Chrononutrition: “When you eat is as important as what you eat” | Health and wellness

How you eat is critical to health and disease. But not only what and how much we eat affects, but also when. In recent years, science has focused on unraveling the phenomenon of chrononutrition, which explains the relationship between temporal eating patterns, circadian rhythms, and metabolic health. Some research has already shed light on the importance for the body of well-synchronizing meal times with our circadian rhythms, which are the 24-hour body clock that regulates internal physiological functions. Scientists have found that skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of obesity, for example, and eating a late dinner is also associated with weight gain.

Humans have a sort of central clock that sets time for the body. At first glance, it is just a one-millimeter-sized ball located in the hypothalamus, but these tiny molecular devices are capable of communicating time to the rest of the body and, together with small tissue-independent chronometers, anticipating and preparing time. cells to what needs to happen, such as eating at noon or sleeping at night. “Our bodies have schedules, and these central clocks are not isolated, but are synchronized with the outside world, mainly through light and darkness, but also with changes between eating and fasting or between moments of activity and rest,” explains Marta Garole, professor of physiology in the University. University of Murcia and expert in the field of chrononutrition.

Respecting circadian rhythms and all those biological changes that follow the 24-hour cycle is essential to health. So much so that disruption of these biorhythms can alter basic vital functions, the scientist notes: “We are diurnal animals, we are forced to sleep at night, and we do not eat while we sleep. We are designed to eat and move throughout the day. So, if your body senses that it’s glowing at night or that you’re eating, it’s getting conflicting information.”

Through the central clock, peripheral chronometers (which are located in organs and tissues), lifestyle, behavior and environment, internal biorhythms are regulated. “A person who has everything in order with his chronobiology is one who has all his clocks in sync and corresponds to the changes of light and dark,” explains Garolet. Synchronization failures in the central clock, peripherals, or behavior may now occur; and this can lead to chronodestruction, which in the long term, according to the scientist, “is associated with diseases such as obesity, cancer, depression or metabolic changes. This is clearly seen in shift workers or night workers, who are examples of people whose behavior does not correspond to their internal clock.”

Lunch, synchronizer

“The timing of eating, like light, is a clear modulator of the internal clock,” says Garolet. “Meal timing is a synchronizer of the peripheral clocks of nutrition-related organs such as the liver and pancreas. If you eat at the wrong time, all the organs that prepare for eating react poorly: because eating is an impressive impact on the body, and it must prepare,” says the specialist, who talks about this in more detail. explanation: “It’s like they’re coming. 100 people come to your house to eat and they don’t let you know. Waiting for the food to get into the body helps it respond well, and when that doesn’t happen, a change occurs at the metabolic level.”

The body is programmed in a certain way and the organs function accordingly. That is, differently during the 24 hours of the day: they do not react the same way if they have to work at times not planned for them. The pancreas, for example, is lazier at night and more active during the day. “Eating a late dinner has a very clear effect: it coincides with the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that prepares you for sleep, and insulin, the hormone that helps distribute food. But in the presence of melatonin, insulin secretion decreases and tolerance to sugar and carbohydrates worsens,” says the chronobiologist. Ten years ago, she and her team discovered that eating late can affect your ability to lose weight when you’re dieting.

Lidia Daimiel, a researcher at the Madrid Institute for Advanced Study (IMDEA food) and the Network Research Center for Obesity and Nutrition (Ciberobn), insists that “the body is not equally prepared at any time of the day to manage food intake.” Therefore, when you eat is a determining factor in human chronobiology, he explains: “When you eat is as important as what you eat. If what you eat is healthy and healthy, but the timing is wrong, you won’t get the same benefits that the food could have given you.”

Quality sleep and fasting

In practice, health impacts can be global. “Once the timing is set, it can affect everything,” concludes Garolet. Editorial in Power limits Several months ago, it was found that chronically destructive eating behavior is “implicated in many health disorders, including sleep disturbances, cardiometabolic risk, imbalanced energy mobilization, dysregulation of body temperature, weight gain and psychosocial discomfort.”

Another 2020 scientific review noted that “experimental and clinical studies consistently show that alterations in circadian rhythms may contribute to the development and progression of digestive pathologies such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.” Likewise, a study on mice published in 2023 in the journal The science noted that synchronizing feeding with the circadian clock mitigated obesity: animals that ate during the active phases of their circadian cycle burned more calories and reduced the risk of developing this disease.

Disruption of natural meal times also affects sleep. “Sleep is an external clock, like meal times, and it sets your clock; But at the same time, it is also a consequence of your internal clock, and there may be changes such as eating late, which can affect sleep because you cannot digest food properly,” adds Garole.

In the context of chrononutrition, there is also the figure of fasting and its effect on the modulation of the internal clock. “Time-restricted eating, that is, reducing the number of hours of eating, is being studied. What we do know is that when fasting is done early, it works better than if we move it to midday and delay breakfast,” explains Daimiel. The scientist claims that fasting helps “reset” the body and “helps trigger epigenetic mechanisms that help control nutrient metabolism.”

But there are many doubts to be resolved, he says, and the scientific community is unclear, for example, whether fasting (limiting the amount of time you eat) is better than calorie restriction (reducing the number of calories you eat).” Additionally, he adds, because there are many different fasting protocols, “it is unknown which one is best because it is unknown how each affects circadian rhythms.”

No magic recipes

Scientists warn that there are no magic recipes or reliable recommendations regarding the appropriate time to eat. Garole assures that there are more than 300 identified genes that determine the predisposition of each individual to be more morning or evening: “There are people who, if they have dinner at 12 o’clock at night, because their biological night begins at one in the morning, Well, it does not concern him . “Each person has a different biological night, and the time they eat will affect them depending on their internal chronotype.” For this reason, Daimiel emphasizes that “it is very difficult to give global advice. But there are two general pieces of advice: don’t eat late and don’t eat dinner too close to bedtime,” says Daimiel.

However, chrononutrition is an evolving science, and there are still problems to be solved. For example, Garole notes, “It is unclear and there is no research to support that changing intake hours improves the prognosis of obesity.” Daimiel, for his part, points out another key mystery to be solved: “There is a lot of knowledge about how the circadian rhythm is controlled, but the challenge now is learning how to modulate it for our metabolic convenience. The challenge is to see how nutrition aligns the clock: what dietary protocols can be applied to reset our clocks.”

You can follow EL PAIS Health and Wellness V Facebook, X And instagram.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button