Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Blog

Circadian Rhythm Affects Sleep; Lack of Sleep Linked to Chronic Disease; Diet Affects Circadian Rhythm

It's sad, but the Standard American Diet has been labeled the SAD diet because of its unhealthy nature. A recent study confirmed that the SAD diet can cause leaky gut, but also, that it affects circadian rhythm. Imbalances in the circadian rhythm have been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, and excessive intake of refined processed foods.

A 2014 study has shown that the SAD diet can skew the normal circadian clock, which can then affect gut microbiota and create gut bacteria imbalances. A Chicago based researcher developed a study to see if the SAD diet could disrupt the circadian clock and if that would cause gut bacteria imbalances.

"They gave mice the diet that many Americans eat every day: a high sugar, high-fat diet (29 percent and 35 percent, respectively). To be sure that it was the diet that induced disruption of the circadian clock, thus causing the gut bacteria imbalances, the scientists first used artificial light to skew the animals' circadian clocks. Although the research team sufficiently pivoted the clock out of alignment, no changes in the gut bacteria were observed.

However, after eating a SAD diet for 12 weeks, DNA microbial analysis showed drastic shifts in the microbes in these animals. Specifically, there was an increase in bacteria belonging to the "fat" phyla (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria) and a reduction in bacteria belonging to the skinny phyla (Bacteroidetes). Such shifts were not found in the control group (standard rodent chow diet). Additionally, the research team reported an increase in the abundance of proinflammatory Ruminococcus bacteria.

Interestingly, the animals fed the SAD diet also began eating at different times than the control group due to their circadian clock being reset and imbalanced.

Bottom line, what does this mean for us?  Both circadian clock disruption and gut microbial imbalances have independently been linked with inflammation and metabolic disorders like obesity, cardiovascular disease, blood sugar control issues and more. This study reveals how a standard American diet can indeed cause both, first skewing the circadian clock and then resulting in imbalances in the gut bacteria which affects the barrier function of the lining of the gut (Leaky Gut).

"With a majority of Americans sleeping less than seven hours per night and simultaneously eating a diet rich in processed sugars and fats, it's not shocking that over 68 percent of American adults are overweight and/or obese. Aim for eating a diet rich in colored vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and wild-caught fish and game. Avoid packaged and processed foods. Aim to be in bed by 10 pm with the lights off and strive for 8 hours of sleep per night."

At Optimal Health Solutions, we understand the Power of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine. We can help you get back on track to a lifestyle that will create health rather than hurt it. Get more life out of your years and give a us call today!

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