The binge eating is over, the alcohol detox has begun, and you’re wondering how you can make it up to your body after all the end-of-year ritualistic late-night excesses. You’re even playing around with the idea of a New Year’s resolution or two. So here are some ideas for a healthier 2021.
Apparently, we humans have a complex system of clocks controlling our body. Not just one, but thousands (even millions) of individual clocks that direct and synchronise the functioning of our tissues and organs, from the heart to the lungs to the liver.
Keep regular eating times
Recent research has discovered that different parts of our body are ‘tuned’ to work at their best at certain times of the day. So what?, you may ask. Well, one practical take-home conclusion for our bodies in 2021 is that there are real benefits to eating regularly.
In one experiment, mice that had their eating patterns disturbed were more likely to gain weight and develop fatty liver disease. In the same way that mice are affected, other supporting research suggests that, if we eat at an unusual time, this confuses our internal clocks and means our relevant organs aren’t in the optimum state of readiness to process our food. Adults who eat their meals at irregular times have an increased risk of heart problems and diabetes. So, it’s not just about what we eat and how much we eat – it is also about the times of day when we eat our food.
One way to avoid this risk to our system may involve sticking to the same weekday and weekend mealtimes (at least as far as possible).
Another study of 400 obese people who were placed on a diet showed that eating times could influence weight loss: “We found that people who habitually ate their main meal earlier (before 3 pm) lost around 25 per cent more of their body mass than those who ate later”.
When healthy women who were not overweight were made to eat later in the day than usual, their bodies were less able to control blood sugar levels – a potential precursor to diabetes. “It was amazing because in only one week these young women of normal weight had metabolic alterations similar to those previously found in obese women”, says Professor Marta Garaulet, a researcher at the University of Murcia in Spain, and head of several weight-loss clinics. This isn’t good news for those of us who eat our main meal late!
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