Diet

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Chrononutrition: Consistent Eating Patterns, Caffeine, and Principles for Better Health (Part 3 with Podcast)

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we set the stage for this post by exploring some important roles of diet in circadian system function and metabolic health. We focused in particular on diet timing.

In this final installment, I’ll first touch briefly on the importance of consuming foods and drinks at consistent times from one day to the next. Next, we’ll consider some commonly consumed dietary compounds that influence the circadian system. Then, I’ll leave you with some key takeaways that you can immediately put to practice in your pursuit of better health.

Finally – if you would like to learn even more about the topics addressed here – Dan, Jeff Rothschild, and I did a podcast together discussing aspects of chrononutrition, which you will find at the end of this article. 


Chrononutrition: Shortened Eating Windows, Breakfast-skipping, Eating Late, and More (Part 2)

In the first part of this series, we looked at how the circadian system times our daily patterns of behavior and physiology, and how the circadian system is synchronized with the 24 hour day. We discussed how the foods we eat, and the types and amounts of nutrients available, are key to synchronizing the ‘clocks’ in many of our bodies’ tissues.

Today, we will delve deeper into this subject, exploring the many ways that when we eat influences our metabolic health. Click to learn more!



3 FOODS THAT MAY HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER

We know that people who get less sleep (or reduced sleep quality) are more likely to overeat. They are also more likely to favor energy-rich foods, high in fat or refined carbs.

However, there is considerably less research out there that investigates the other side of the equation: how the food choices that we make today affect the sleep we get tonight.

In a previous article, we discussed how certain macronutrients (carbs, fat) may affect sleep architecture. Now, in this week’s post, we will look at whether there are specific foods that can affect how you sleep.


Why tart cherries are awesome and can keep you healthy

Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) don’t get quite as much love as their sweet counterparts – other than in baked goods like cherry pie and black forest cake.

But they might deserve a little more attention from you, because science has revealed that there are surprising health benefits associated with the fruit. Tart cherries are a rich source of phenolic compounds. These chemicals have been shown to exert amazing physiological effects when consumed, including reducing inflammation, improving sleep, and even speeding up exercise recovery.

Additionally, we know from prior research that some of these compounds can modulate vascular cells in vitro – which has caused scientists to wonder if adding fruit like tart cherries to the diet could lower blood pressure through its effects on vasculature. High blood pressure is a pervasive health issue, affecting as many as 1 in 3 adults in the US, so there’s a lot of interest in finding ways to address it via lifestyle.

But as we all know, applying chemicals to cells in a petri dish does not necessarily translate to real life. Researchers from Northumbria University designed a trial to put it to the test. Click here to find out what the researchers discovered.



Which Parts of a Meal Can Make You Sleepy? (Keith Murphy Interview)

Everyone knows what it’s like to feel sleepy after a big meal. Think of what happens after Thanksgiving dinner, or after getting a huge lunch at an Indian buffet. If you’re like me, you’re ready to crash.

But why does this happen? Is it the tryptophan in the turkey? Is it from too many carbs? What you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat it all play a role. Consequently, there has been some doubt as to whether the “food coma” is even a real thing.

But recently, some clever researchers identified a good model organism for studying this phenomenon – the fruit fly. And through studying the behavior of Drosophila, we now better understand what causes a food coma, and perhaps why it occurs.

In the latest episode of humanOS Radio, I interview Keith Murphy of the Scripps Research Institute. He and his colleagues have been researching the so-called food coma, and have found some substantive evidence for this phenomenon. Listen here to find out more about his study – and some reasons why the food coma might be happening.


Social Norms – Mysterious Forces That Shape Eating

You are fully in control over your food choices, right? Well, we know that a wide range of rules govern how we act, and even our beliefs, when we are with different groups of people. Social psychologists characterize this influence as ‘social norms,’ and guess what? This influence affects eating, too.

In this latest episode of humanOS radio, I interview Emma Templeton from Thalia Wheatley’s lab at Dartmouth and Michael Stanton, Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing & Health Sciences, California State University, East Bay. Recently, they published a study in the journal, PLoS ONE, that elegantly tests the influence of social norms on the perceived healthfulness of food and also eating behavior. Listen here to listen.


Why Are We Fatter Than Our Ancestors? Interview with Dr. Stephan Guyenet

Why do so many of us overeat – even when we know it’s bad for us?

Like many questions in biology, much of the answer to this question lies in evolution. We know that animals have generally evolved to seek and consume convenient, energy-dense foods. All living things require energy to survive and reproduce, and it makes intuitive sense that genes associated with finding and eating lots of easy calories might be favored by natural selection. This instinct is also evident in humans in natural environments. Hunter-gatherers, who live in conditions similar to that of our evolutionary ancestors, gravitate to delicious high-calorie fare, although they don’t find a great deal of it. When they do get something extra tasty and high in energy – like ripe fruit, fresh meat, and honey – they will gorge on it.

Not unlike us. Modern humans are subject to these impulses as well. So what’s different? Our environment has dramatically changed. Rather than getting rare seasonal opportunities to gorge on rich foods, we are now constantly surrounded by such delicacies. We did not evolve with any need to resist these kinds of tasty treats – so perhaps it is unsurprising that we so often fail despite our best intentions.

Guest

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I talk once again with Dr. Stephan Guyenet, this time about his new book, The Hungry Brain, which was just released this week.

In his book, Stephan addresses the fundamental question of why we overeat. It’s not necessarily for a lack of education on nutrition. Rather, it is due to evolutionarily-conserved circuitry in the brain, which drives us to overeat for short-term pleasure – even when we know it’s at the expense of our health and well-being. In the show, he explains how these circuits work to regulate energy intake and body fatness.

Much of this is based on physiology and genetic predispositions – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. We also discuss things you can do to manage these primal impulses in a fattening world, and make sure that your daily behaviors are in alignment with your health and weight goals.


Is High Protein Actually Bad During Weight Loss? (Interview with Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D.)

Protein is really important for dieting success, right? Anyone who has interested in the science of dieting knows this, but recent research from Bettina Mittendorfer, Research Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis’s School of Medicine, and colleagues published in Cell Reports has raised doubts that protein is indeed a wholly-helpful solution. To shed light on this study and its findings, I invited Dr. Stephan Guyenet to join humanOS Radio for a conversation. Perhaps no other person has done more in the last few years to help the general public, and even health professionals, understand the true meaning of new research dealing with energy regulation and weight control.