You’ve met your quota of plenty of vegetables for the week, sunk to get vitamin D, and sweated it out at the gym. Still, you are falling behind your health goals and weight goals. Despite eating the food according to the diet, your monthly health report still shows deficiencies?
Is there a factor that changes the way you digest food and take in nutrients? This is called a circadian rhythm.
what is circadian rhythm
The word circadian is derived from the Latin phrase ‘circa diem’ which means ‘about a day’. The circadian rhythm or body clock is an internal process by which the wake-wake cycle, endocrine, and metabolic processes are determined by the external environment. It maintains homeostatic balance in the body.
It is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), located in the hypothalamus in the brain, explains Swedel Trinidad, senior dietitian at PD Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Center.
The energy we get from the food we eat is used to synthesize proteins, DNA, cell membrane components, polysaccharides, etc. Our body clock knows the timing of food, digestion, sleep and other functions. Prolonged work contrary to normal patterns can disrupt circadian rhythms and hinder digestion. It can also affect overall health in the long run.
Is there a connection between circadian rhythms and nutrient absorption? Anura Kurpad, professor in the department of physiology and nutrition at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, said a clear link has been established in rats.
He added, “There is a literature based on rats on the effect of circadian rhythms in the absorption of nutrients. This may be due to patterns in enzyme secretion by the stomach and pancreas, or due to the actual absorption of digested molecules, such as sugar, into the cells of the intestines. Circadian variability for glucose, fructose and dipeptides- has been optimally demonstrated in rats. Obviously this is difficult for humans to do. This change may be regulated by a gene called the clock gene, or even by a nerve or hormone, a ‘high command’ in the hypothalamus of the brain.”
The reason this happens is because animals have a sleep-wake cycle, and it is understandable that gut work is at its peak when food is in motion, the professor said. We get used to having food on time. Some studies in humans suggest that changing meal timing patterns can alter the blood glucose cycle. In animals that have a change in the clock gene, glucose absorption is reduced due to the circadian rhythm. For this reason, shift workers and people who travel a lot in time zones are more prone to obesity.
brain clock and heart activity
Physiotherapist and dietitian Dr. Rebecca Pinto says there is also a link between circadian rhythm and heart activity. For years, doctors and researchers have observed that certain times of the day are more likely to cause heart problems such as fatal arrhythmias. Taking blood pressure medication in the evening improves its effectiveness because it works with the body’s circadian rhythm. Recently the reason for this has also become clear. A genetic factor present in the brain clock also controls the electrical activity of the heart.
Similarly, the time at which you eat your food affects the way you lose weight. “When your body gets used to exercising regularly, it gets used to losing or gaining fat at different times of the day. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time can ruin your efforts in the gym.
Lack of sleep and vitamin deficiencies
Parafit founder and certified nutritionist Paraj Primlani says that people who sleep less than seven hours on average are usually deficient in vitamins A, D and B1, as well as magnesium, niacin, calcium, zinc and phosphorus. The body clock is responsible for more than just sleeping and waking up. Appetite, mental alertness, heart regulation, and immunity also work on a daily rhythm. Many diseases arise when the body’s natural body clock is disturbed.
circadian rhythm and digestion
Dietician Mac Singh, co-founder of the Fitelo app, says that our ancestors used to have their dinner before sunset, and modern research supports this. Our digestive system is at its full capacity during the day. Most of the enzymes and digestive juices are secreted during the day and this helps in better absorption of nutrients. As we approach the sunset, our digestive system becomes weak. There is always an increase in digestive problems like constipation and bloating. One of the major reasons for this is eating food at the wrong time.
Mack adds that in addition to digestion, we have seen a steady increase in sleep disorders and anxiety. All of these concerns are directly related to our circadian rhythms. Today, we hardly go out in the sun and this affects our body clock. In addition, artificial lighting everywhere confuses the body clock. A disturbed body clock confuses the digestive system about the secretion of digestive enzymes.
how to fix circadian rhythm
- Get a full eight hours of sleep together.
- Don’t eat breakfast right away when you wake up.
- Eat food at your regular time during the day.
- Get 30 minutes of sunlight every day and try to be active during that time
- Keep a gap of at least two hours between your last meal and your bedtime
FIRST PUBLISHED : July 06, 2022, 15:27 IST