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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 15, 2017

When You Eat Matters

If you knew that timing your meals would reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac diseases, you would certainly want to adjust your eating schedule, wouldn't you? I know I would.

A New Report from the American Heart Association
Published in the journal Circulation, a new report from the American Heart Association says that late night snacking or eating meals late at night is simply not good for people's health. In fact, the report found that when and how often people eat are factors that seem to directly affect risk factors for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac diseases.

The links between the timing of meals and heart disease factors
A review of the latest scientific evidence, the report examined "the health effects of skipping breakfast, intermittent fasting, meal frequency (how many times a day a person eats), and the timing of meals".

Our organs "got" rhythm
The researchers found that each of our various body organs has its own internal clock, based on its nutrient supply. This ebb and flow of nutrients may affect how we metabolize our meals at different times of the day. Interestingly, studies indicate that compared to those who skip breakfast, those who eat breakfast within two hours of waking have lower heart disease risk factors, like high cholesterol and blood pressure. People who skipped breakfast and didn't eat until lunch have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Eating earlier gives the body an advantage in processing glucose
Most of us are aware that eating earlier in the evening give the body more opportunity to digest the food. Eating later in the evening makes it "harder for the body to process glucose [sugar], compared with earlier in the day" ---in total alignment with what most of us learned years ago. Moreover, "a prolonged fast at night, when metabolism slows, is better than a long fast during the day when metabolism is at its highest".

A few guidelines to reduce heart disease risk factors and type 2 diabetes
Though researchers warned that studies on the timing of meals are merely "observational", they did offer some guidelines:

  • Eat most of your calories earlier in the day rather than later and spread out your calories during a part of the day.
  • Avoid eating late at night; aim for consistent overnight fasts.
  • Stick to a set schedule of eating at planned intervals. An inconsistent eating schedule makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Plan your meals and snacks during the day to manage hunger and control portions, and to avoid relying on low-nutrient, high-calorie convenience foods.

    Only the beginning
    As computers give us the opportunity to review larger and larger data sets, we expect to see more breakthroughs in these kinds of low-tech, yet very important breakthroughs in human health. Stay tuned. More is being discovered every year!

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