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Eating At Night Linked To Glucose Intolerance & Increased Blood Pressure

Image by Dejan Ristovski / Stocksy
December 3, 2021

Glucose intolerance is one of the primary risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, which affects an estimated 462 million people globally1. In a new study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers discovered there's one lifestyle factor that can lead to glucose intolerance—here's what they found.

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Studying the effects of eating during the day vs. at night.

For this study, researchers wanted to look at how eating at night versus eating during the day affected participants' blood sugar levels and circadian rhythms.

To do this, they had 19 healthy, young participants take part in a 14-day study, which involved simulating night-shift work and following a specific eating schedule. One group ate during the nighttime, as most night-shift workers do, and the other group ate during daylight hours.

After the 14 days, all the participants followed the exact same 40-hour protocol so researchers could figure out the impact their eating schedules had on their health—primarily regarding blood sugar and circadian rhythm.

What they found.

Based on the findings, this study suggests that eating at night can lead to increased blood sugar and glucose intolerance, while exclusively eating during the day has the opposite effect, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

Additionally, eating at night was found to cause a disruption between the body's central and peripheral circadian clocks. Interestingly, for those eating during the day, those same rhythms stayed aligned, even though they were awake during the night.

As co-corresponding author of the study Frank AJL Scheer, Ph.D., notes in a news release, "These results indicate that meal timing was primarily responsible for the reported effects on glucose tolerance and beta-cell function, possibly due to the misalignment of central and peripheral 'clocks' throughout the body."

Scheer adds that the participants who saw the biggest disruption to their circadian rhythms also experienced the worst effects on their glucose tolerance.

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The takeaway.

The bottom line is, whether you're a night-shift worker or just find yourself eating at night a lot, you might want to reconsider your mealtimes. Based on this research, even if you can't avoid being awake at night, eating during the day appears to be much better for you, your circadian rhythm, and your glucose tolerance.

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