I recently read an article in the New York Times about a study in San Diego that researchers conducted on mice. In the study, they restricted some mice to certain eating times; some mice were fed within a five hour window, some an eight hour window and some a twelve hour window. Others were allowed to feed at all times in a twenty four hour period. The mice whose feeding times were restricted had a healthier metabolism than those who could eat any time. Many of the mice who ate at all times of the day began to develop illness and degenerative diseases. Furthermore, when the sickly mice were restricted to regulated eating windows, some of their symptoms actually began to disappear, and their health began to improve. The study concluded that to maintain overall health and weight, eating all daily food within a certain time frame lowered the risks of disease. Results were consistent even if the food was not the healthiest.
This article is an example of how both experience and observation make scientific inquiry more meaningful for our lives. Furthermore, there are studies currently being conducted that validate what many have always known. Yet, the article did not mention another very important practice that regulates metabolism, and that is the times of the day in which we take our meals. Mealtimes have more effect on our circadian rhythms than dark and light cycles. In fact, mealtimes actually regulate our sleeping and rising times. Most people recognize that eating and drinking before going to sleep interferes with our sleep and our ability to wake up refreshed and clear in the morning. Even if you don’t want to change the content of your food, simply eating regularly at certain times has a substantial health benefit.
Because our digestion is most active at certain times of the day, we can optimize our metabolism by eating during these times. I’d like to invite you to conduct a similar study on yourself. Try to observe how eating at certain times of the day impacts the way you feel, the energy you have, and your ability to fall asleep. To get the full benefits, try to minimize snacking between meals. Most people will start to notice changes after the third day, so if you’re casually interested, try for three days. If you’re more serious, give this a try for two or three weeks.
-Jumpstart your metabolism each day by having breakfast by 8.30 a.m.
-Start eating lunch before 1 p.m.
-Observe the differences between sitting down to lunch before 1 p.m., and sitting down to lunch before 2 or 3 p.m.
-One day have dinner between 5 and 6 p.m., one day between 7 and 8 p.m. and one day after 9 p.m.
Think of an older, vital, and active person in your life, and ask about their mealtimes. Our digestion is more active earlier in the evening. The longer we wait to have dinner, the longer it takes for the food to digest. This article was evidence to me of how scientists are beginning to verify human experience and common sense about health. I would like to emphasize that we can regulate our metabolism through mealtimes, and there is a major benefit to eating meals at consistent times. Many common issues including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity can actually be reversed through dietary and lifestyle practices. For more details and guidance, check out this interview in Philadelphia Weekly.