Resetting Your Internal Clock with Diet
Our internal biological clock (or circadian clock) plays an important role in regulating the daily rhythms of human behavior and biology. The human circadian clock enables maximum expression of genes at appropriate times of day to help the body adapt to the earth’s rotation. Desynchronization of the clock with the environment can affect physiological performance as well as increase risk of certain disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disorders, and cancer.
The circadian clock involves two major pathways that work together to keep our bodies in sync with our environment. The first pathway responds to light and has been well characterized. The second pathway responds to food, and is only beginning to be understood. Research from Yamaguchi University in Japan is providing new insights into this second less-known circadian pathway, and how adjusting one’s clock through dietary manipulation shows that insulin is a major contributing factor.
Based on experiments in cells and mice, researchers found that insulin, a pancreatic hormone, might be involved in resetting the circadian clock through adjustment of food types and mealtimes. Using insulin to adjust one’s internal clock could help synchronize mealtime and optimal tissue function, which in turn helps effective digestion and absorption. These findings could also provide valuable information on how to adjust one’s clock using diet, such as to combat jet lag.