If you're one who frequently travels across nations and have recently found the weighing scale tipping onto the wrong side, this could be the reason. Keeping aside the fact that you've been binging on all things fun and fattening, it has been found that changing your time zones frequently impacts the functions of the digestive system which may lead to unnecessary weight gain. According to scientists from Israel, disruption of the internal body clock (circadian clock) alters the rhythms and composition of the microbial community in the gut which are responsible for smooth digestion. This may lead to obesity and metabolic problems. The study was published in the journal Cell. "The findings suggest that people with chronically disturbed day-night cycles due to repetitive jet lag or shift work have a tendency to develop obesity and other metabolic complications," said senior study author Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.During the study, Elinav and his team examined mice that were made to stay awake during the day (since they are nocturnal) in order to put them in a state that was equivalent of jet lag from an 8-hour time difference in humans. When mice were exposed to changing light-dark schedules and abnormal 24 hour feeding habits, the microbial bugs lost its rhythmic fluctuations and changed in composition. In fact, they became inefficient in carrying out tasks like cell growth, detoxification and DNA repair. Moreover, a high-fat diet caused these jet-lagged mice to gain weight and develop metabolic problems associated with diabetes. Simply put, jet lag can not only leave you restless but also make you pile on pounds. Interestingly, they also examined two people who travelled from the United States to Israel and discovered that their composition of gut microbes had changed, favouring the growth of bacteria that have been linked to obesity and metabolic disease. The good part is that the gut microbes of these travellers resumed their normal functions withing two weeks. "Targeting the harmful changes in the microbiota in these large human population with probiotic or antimicrobial therapies may reduce or even prevent their risk of developing obesity and its complications," Elinav concluded.The findings highlight a new therapeutic target that should be exploited in future studies to normalize the microbiota in people whose lifestyle involves frequent alterations in sleep patterns, such as shift workers and very frequent fliers.With inputs from IANS
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