What is chrononutrition and how does it help improve metabolism and health?


Obesity and diabetes became the two global pandemics of the 21st century. Treating them – and eradicating them – depends on issues such as willpower, genetics, professional help, change of habits, among others. But now it was learned that, moreover, it has to do with knowing what chrononutrition is about.
In the framework of the 21st International Congress of Nutrition that took place in Buenos Aires, Dr. Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Carolina Escobar, Faculty of Medicine of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Dr. Diego Golombek, Department of Science and Technology of the National University of Quilmes where they gave to know the advances in the study of chrononutrition and its importance to combat, among other things, epidemic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
There is a high prevalence of metabolic diseases in countries where circadian behaviors are altered
In addition, the impact that food intake schedules have on the alteration of circadian cycles and its implication in the development of metabolic diseases was addressed.
In this sense, the specialists explained that there is a high prevalence of metabolic diseases in countries where circadian behaviors are altered, including unhealthy habits such as skipping breakfast, eating at odd hours, quickly and in a disorderly manner.
“Metabolic diseases, such as obesity or diabetes, are beginning to be considered chronobiological diseases, where chrononutrition could be an important tool to improve the health of the population,” Escobar said.
But what is chrononutrition? Human beings have a circadian clock system that establishes times throughout the day for different physiological processes based on daily environmental changes. In this way the internal clock indicates by its hormones and metabolism, when it is time to eat, sleep, etc.
Metabolic diseases, such as obesity or diabetes, are beginning to be considered chronobiological diseases
Also in function of the food intake the internal clock establishes rhythms for the basic functions of the organism, such as the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Thus, chrononutrition is an emerging discipline that is based on the relationship between the human metabolism and the internal circadian clock, using its study for the benefit of health to reverse or prevent diseases.
An excessive diet, disorderly or prolonged periods of fasting, as well as nocturnal meals after hours can alter the circadian rhythms and lead, with the passage of time, to metabolic disorders. Also certain nutrients can affect the functioning of the biological clock, such as a diet high in fat, high glycemic index carbohydrates, excess salt and caffeine, the main components that can modify them. Likewise, night work that goes in reverse of what the internal clock indicates, can affect the metabolism and alter the hormones of hunger and satiety that tempt you to eat more and worse.
Sleeping between six and eight hours is another of the tips for a correct chrononutrition (Getty Images)
Sleeping between six and eight hours is another of the tips for a correct chrononutrition (Getty Images)
“Chrononutrition is the science that concludes that the alteration of our circadian rhythms can affect our nutritional status and lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome mainly.In the same way, basing our habits on the internal clock could be helpful to lose weight and take care of health, “Escobar said.
Respect for the body’s internal clocks entails, among other things, learning to distinguish between hunger and appetite. Knowing when you are hungry will actually cause you to eat according to the internal clock, only when you really need nutrients and energy.
It is also very helpful to maintain regular meal times, so that the body synchronizes watches with intakes as well as going to sleep relatively at the same time. Avoiding long periods of fasting and eating more in the early hours of the day are also tips for applying chrononutrition to daily life. Another key aspect is getting enough sleep, between six and eight hours. Having a balanced and healthy diet with good nutrients and without excesses is essential so that the internal clock is not altered by excessive consumption of sugars or hydrates easily absorbed for example.

To take care of health together with the functioning of the metabolism, it is essential to respect the internal clocks whenever possible.

A disordered diet can alter circadian rhythms and lead, over time, to metabolic disorders
“The time of day we eat is as important as what we eat?” Escobar asked. To which he replied: “Yes, all the organs of our body change their functions depending on whether it is day or night.If the time of the meal is not adequate, it can give rise to a higher level of triglycerides, glucose and insulin , thus favoring overweight.The modern lifestyle that includes light at night, habitual sleeplessness, food at night, electronic devices, night work, schedule changes by trip among others, can modify the quantity and quality of sleep, generating consequences in weight control “.

He concluded: “The recommendation is that the most abundant food of the day be made before three o’clock in the evening, the light at night alters the circadian rhythms and may give rise to the development of overweight and metabolic syndrome. factors such as light at night, activity hour and feeding time can give rise to obesity “.


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