DEC 08, 2021 4:00 PM PST

Nighttime eating and circadian misalignment leads to glucose intolerance

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

It might be best to think twice before reaching for that midnight snack. A recent research report published in Science Advances found that nighttime eating damages the body’s circadian rhythms and leads to impaired glucose tolerance. 

Circadian rhythms refer to the biological timing of physical and behavioral processes that follow a 24-hour cycle. In other words, circadian rhythms are internal manifestations of the solar day and generally follow the light-dark cycle (i.e. sunrise and sunset) of the earth. Some examples include the sleep-wake cycle, the body-temperature cycle where our body temperatures decrease at night and increase in the day, and the daily rise and fall of specific hormones. Circadian rhythms can be disrupted in several diseases, and in commonplace activities such as when experiencing jet lag or when working night shifts. 

Two factors of interest for the researchers, were the circadian rhythms of food intake and glucose tolerance. Night shift workers often eat their meals during the nighttime, as they are awake during those hours. How this impacts glucose tolerance is unknown. Glucose tolerance refers to the body’s ability to properly dispose of glucose, or sugar. Glucose tolerance is often impaired in some health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. In the current study, the researchers were interested in how circadian disruptions in night work leads to changes in eating times and how this impacts glucose tolerance. Specifically, they asked whether appropriate circadian alignment of eating (e.g. eating breakfast in the morning, eating dinner in the early evening) could prevent glucose intolerance. 

To study this, they recruited healthy young participants to undergo a 14-day controlled circadian lab protocol. A group of participants underwent a “circadian misalignment” protocol that simulated night work. In these participants, a subset ate meals at night and another subset at meals during the day. The researchers found that when participants underwent simulated night work and ate meals at night, they showed impaired glucose tolerance. However, in individuals who were subjected to simulated night work but ate meals during the day at the appropriate time, there was a significant reduction in glucose intolerance.  

Exposure to circadian misalignments, such as during night work, may impair glucose tolerance, which may explain some of the increased risks for obesity and diabetes in night shift workers. As others have proposed,circadian rhythm-based lifestyle changes and therapeutic strategies may be an important gateway to improving human health. 

 

Sources: ScienceMayo Clinicnature

About the Author
PhD in Neuroscience
Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
You May Also Like
MAR 04, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
A New Indicator of Disease Severity for Muscular Dystrophy
MAR 04, 2022
A New Indicator of Disease Severity for Muscular Dystrophy
Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD), a genetic disorder causing loss of muscular function, primarily impacts t ...
MAR 16, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Pathogen and Drug Work Together to Fight Yeast Infection
MAR 16, 2022
Pathogen and Drug Work Together to Fight Yeast Infection
A pathogen common among people with cystic fibrosis combined with an antifungal drug can clear otherwise difficult-to-tr ...
MAR 18, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
In drug development studies, sleep is an important and overlooked vital sign
MAR 18, 2022
In drug development studies, sleep is an important and overlooked vital sign
Today is World Sleep Day, a celebration of sleep that aims to bring awareness to the importance of sleep as a found ...
MAR 21, 2022
Cancer
New Combination Therapy Effective in Hormone Sensitive Prostate Cancer
MAR 21, 2022
New Combination Therapy Effective in Hormone Sensitive Prostate Cancer
Like all cancers, prostate cancer has many classifications and subtypes. One such type is metastatic, hormone-sensitive ...
APR 22, 2022
Health & Medicine
Differences in the Impact of Acute and Chronic Cannabis Use on Stress Response Regulation
APR 22, 2022
Differences in the Impact of Acute and Chronic Cannabis Use on Stress Response Regulation
A new study published in Frontiers examined the influence of acute and chronic cannabis use on stress regulation. Althou ...
MAY 11, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Gene Therapy Shows Promise for Neuropathic Pain
MAY 11, 2022
Gene Therapy Shows Promise for Neuropathic Pain
A gene therapy has been able to inhibit neuropathic pain with no detectable side effects in mice with spinal cord and pe ...
Loading Comments...