Food Can Affect Your Internal Clock

   |  Updated: July 17, 2014 10:43 IST

Food Can Affect Your Internal Clock
What we eat significantly affects our body, physical prowess and mental efficiency. Not only is food important for nourishing the body but also for the proper functioning of the internal clock. It has often been seen that the lack of a balanced diet leads to an altered internal clock which triggers sleep disturbances and various other complications. Our internal biological clock regulates the daily rhythm of our physical behaviour and biology.

Researchers believe that adjusting the clock through dietary manipulation may help patients with various conditions. An internal biological or 'circadian' clock plays an important role in preferred sleep time, times of peak alertness and the timing of certain physiological processes. The clock enables maximum expression of genes at appropriate times of the day, allowing organisms to adapt to the Earth's rotation.

"Chronic de-synchronisation between physiological and environmental rhythms not only decreases physiological performance but also carries a significant risk of diverse disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disorders, and cancer," said Dr Makoto Akashi, of Yamaguchi University, Japan.

The circadian clock involves two major pathways. The first, which responds to light and has been well characterized. The second, which responds to food, is less understood. Through experiments in cells and mice, Akashi and his colleagues found that insulin may be involved in resetting the circadian clock.
"Insulin-mediated phase adjustment of the clock in feeding-relevant tissues may enable the synchronization between mealtime and tissue function, leading to effective digestion and absorption," he said.

"In short, insulin may help the stomach clock synchronise with mealtime," he added.

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The findings provide valuable information on the circadian clock that can be adjusted through dietary manipulation. "For example, in case of a jet lag, one should have a dinner enriched with ingredients promoting insulin secretion, which might lead to a phase advance of the circadian clock, whereas breakfast should be the opposite," said Akashi.

The study was published in the Cell Press journal Cell.

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