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“You are When You Eat: Link between Blood Sugar Regulation and Internal Clock Explored”

April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

HMS DSM researchers led by Frank A.J.L. Scheer and Christopher Morris found that the timing of meals greatly influences blood sugar regulation. In a highly controlled study, the research team measured the influences of behavioral factors (such as mealtime, sleep/wake cycle and more), the body’s internal clock and the misalignment between these two components on an individual’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

These findings, published April 13th in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help explain why blood sugar control is worse in the evening than morning and why shift workers are at increased risk of diabetes. The team found that glucose levels after identical meals were 17 percent higher (i.e., lower glucose tolerance) in the evening than in the morning, independent of when a participant had slept or had their meals, indicating a dominating role of the body clock in the well-known daily rhythm in glucose tolerance. They also found that simulated night work (sleeping during the day, having breakfast at 8 p.m., etc.), lowered glucose tolerance throughout multiple days. This phenomenon of mistiming of the behavioral cycle relative to the timing of the body clock, which the researchers refer to as “circadian misalignment” may have important implications for shift workers. “Because night work will never disappear, we’re investigating whether it’s possible to schedule food intake to occur at more advantageous times,” said Scheer in a press release by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Scheer and Morris coauthored the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with Jessica N. Yang, Joanna I. Garcia, Samantha Myers, Isadora Bozzi, Wei Wang, Orfeu M. Buxton, and Steven A. Shea

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