New Research Shows Eating at Certain Times May Decrease Heart Disease Risk

19 May

Everyone knows what they eat has a huge impact on both their energy levels and their overall wellbeing.  Because countless studies have demonstrated the effect nutrition has on many aspects of health, some experts even say that the majority of health problems can be avoided through proper diet (in addition to regular exercise).

In Other Words, You Are What You Eat. But what if there was a way you could be healthier without changing what you eat, even if you are already eating perfectly?  If that sounds interesting, then you are really going to like this… A new study conducted by scientists at San Diego State University found you are not only WHAT you eat but WHEN you eat.  The research, published in the prestigious journal Science, found that, “by limiting the time span during which fruit flies could eat, they could prevent aging – and diet-related heart problems.  The researchers also discovered that genes responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm are integral to this process, but they’re not yet sure how. “Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier.”

But this study was done on fruit flies, what does that have to do with humans?  Well, fruit flies have been long been used as a starting point to help identify the genetic basis of many ailments, including heart disease.

Some interesting details about the experiment:  The fruit flies were split into two groups.  One group was allowed to eat unrestricted all day and the other was only allowed to eat during a twelve-hour period.  Researches kept track of the sleep patterns and amount of food eaten by each group.

Results:  “Flies on the 12-hour time-restricted feeding schedule slept better, didn’t gain as much weight, and had far healthier hearts than their ‘eat anytime’ counterparts, even though they ate similar amounts of food.”   The researchers observed the same results after five weeks. According to researcher Dr. Shubhroz Gill, “In very early experiments, when we compared 5-week-old flies that were fed for either 24 hours or 12 hours, the hearts of the latter were in such good shape that we thought perhaps we had mistaken some young 3-week-old fruit flies [from a different part of the experiment]… We had to repeat the experiments several times to become convinced that this improvement was truly due to the time-restricted feeding.”

More Good News:  The benefits of time-restricted diets were not restricted to young flies.  When the researchers introduced the time restrictions to older flies, their hearts became healthier too.

What Is the “Take Home Message?”  Of course, more research must be done before the results can be extrapolated to real people, like you and me.  There are several factors to take into consideration with humans, like the fact that humans do not eat the same thing every day and lifestyle often affects when someone can or cannot eat.  Dr. Girish Melkani, a Biologist at San Diego State University writes, “Time-restricted feeding would not require people to drastically change their lifestyles, just the times of day they eat.  The take-home message then would be to cut down on the late-night snacks.”

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