The Mysterious World of Clocks
A recent article in JAMA reminds me of the mysterious world of clocks.
Our metabolism is greatly influenced by our internal clocks. One clock, the SCN in the brain, responds to the light and dark perceived by our eyes. Another set of biological clocks, located in cells all over the body and especially in the liver, pancreas, and gut, responds to the timing of our meals.
In multiple studies, disrupting these clocks has been shown to aggravate diabetes and obesity.
Studies in humans have demonstrated weight loss and improved blood sugar when these clocks are allowed to work normally. We can respect our clocks by sleeping in the dark and waking in the light. In one experiment people who limited their eating to a period of ten to twelve hours each day lost an average of seven pounds. They also reported sleeping better, snacking less, and becoming less tolerant to very sweet foods. When food is timed to coincide with the light-dark cycle – as it would have been throughout our evolution – the central clock and the peripheral clocks work together to promote healthy metabolism.
-Christine Blakeney, D.O.
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