Circadian rhythm optimization can improve metabolic health and support longevity. Learn ways to match lifestyle interventions with your circadian clock.
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Kramer, A., Lange, T., Spies, C., Finger, A.-M., Berg, D., & Oster, H. (2022). Foundations of circadian medicine. PLOS Biology, 20(3), e3001567.
Why Circadian Medicine is the Future:
Now is the time for circadian biology to be fully appreciated in the practice of medicine and disease prevention, researchers in Germany write in a new PLOS Biology paper. Despite the fact that circadian clocks were discovered in the 1960s and are now widely recognized by the scientific community to be instrumental in orchestrating virtually all biologic processes from hormone release to heart rate, blood pressure and glucose metabolism, they’re rarely considered in disease prevention interventions.
Episode Time Stamps:
02:10 A dysregulated circadian clock system causes disease and dysfunction at the cellular level.
02:30 20%-50% of your protein synthesizing genes oscillate on a diurnal rhythm.
03:40 Disease alters the circadian clock system.
04:40 Blood sugar management supplements and pharmaceuticals would be best taken in the afternoon or evening, when blood sugar levels are most erratic.
05:03 Blood lipid level management supplements and pharmaceuticals would be best taken in the evening, when lipid synthesis occurs.
05:54 Decrease inflammatory tone before you go to sleep by doing some light yoga, breath work, take probiotics or curcuminoids.
07:30 Sleep perturbations cause dysbiosis in gut bacteria.
09:40 The intensity of your circadian rhythm is reduced as you age.
11:10 Circadian chronotypes influence the timing of cancer interventions.
12:00 N-acetylcysteine and other antioxidants are best taken in the evening or before bed.
12:40 Results of studies may be inaccurate due to timing.
15:20 Shift workers have a higher incidence of cancer, metabolic disease, and obesity.
14:50 Cold, food, heat, meal timing and exercise influence your circadian clock system.
17:20 Menopause challenges the circadian clock system, reducing the amplitude of the rhythms.
18:40 Young people/children’s circadian rhythm is more light sensitive. Artificial light can be more problematic.
23:00 Fasting and feeding influence your circadian clock system. Break your fast between 11 and 1 pm when your digestive system is primed.
24:45 DHEA antagonizes cortisol’s synthesis and expression.
28:05 Darkness is a circadian cue. Exercise light hygiene.
31:25 Morning cold exposure and evening heat exposure enhances circadian amplitude.
Many diseases and their symptoms occur at predictable times of the day, suggesting a strong circadian rhythm involvement in disease progression. Heart attacks and strokes are more common in the morning, for example. While symptoms linked with neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s) and glucose tolerance in diabetes often worsen in the afternoon and evenings. Due to overnight increases in inflammatory cytokine levels, patients with autoimmune disease often have more symptoms (e.g., achy joints) in the morning hours.
But there’s more: the circadian clock’s regulation of basic biology appears to be negatively impacted by the underlying dis-ease. For example, sleep disturbances and shifts in melatonin levels are observed in Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia and more.
Considering the above, you might assume doctors of all types would seek to balance, and, in some cases, even exploit circadian rhythms to better help patients reclaim their health. For example, timing of lipid-lowering medications could be administered at night when lipid synthesis increases. Likewise, blood sugar-supporting interventions like Berberine HCl or myo-inositol ought to be dosed in the late afternoon and evening, the time when blood sugar levels are most erratic.
The future of medicine should also recognize that food, exercise and light exposure influence circadian clock timing and control. Patients who struggle with conditions classically linked with circadian rhythm dysfunction (sleep issues, obesity) should be prescribed circadian-aligned feeding/fasting meal protocols and therapeutic light exposure, not just sleep-promoting medications or appetite suppressants.
Since the amplitude (strength) of the circadian clock system loses some horsepower with age, factors that support the biological rhythms mentioned above (e.g., light, meal timing, exercise, etc.) are all the more important after middle age. Although, it’s also worth noting that children are more susceptible to evening light’s suppressive effects on melatonin.
In conclusion, overwhelming research suggests the circadian clock system impacts health, and the timing of nutrition intake as well as lifestyle interventions like fasting should be considered through the lens of the circadian clock system.
This really resonates with me. I’ve struggled with my daily routine and hope to build in the consistency that I’ve been lacking. How do you manage both eating and working out within the 11am – 1pm window? Do you eat before you exercise? After? Thank you!