Food consumption linked to changes in 'biological clock' through insulin mechanism

The foods we eat may influence, and even 'reset', our inner biological clock through an insulin-related mechanism, say researchers.

Altering the foods you eat could have a profound effect on the body's internal biological clock, which regulates much of our biology and behaviours, say researchers.

The study, published in Cell Reports, suggests the foods that we eat can have a significant impact on our circadian rhythms and provides new insights into how adjusting our biological clock through dietary manipulation could help people with a variety of illnesses and conditions.

Led by Dr Makoto Akashi of Yamaguchi University, Japan, the research notes that the clock involves two major pathways. The first, which responds to light, has been well characterized. The second, which responds to food, is less understood.

However, through experiments in cells tissue and mice, Akashi and his colleagues have demonstrated that insulin released in response to feeding may be involved in resetting the circadian clock.

"Insulin-mediated phase adjustment of the clock in feeding-relevant tissues may enable the synchronization between mealtime and tissue function, leading to effective digestion and absorption," he said. "In short, insulin may help the stomach clock synchronize with mealtime."

The team said their finding provides valuable information on how to adjust the circadian clock through dietary manipulation.

"For example, for jet lag, dinner should be enriched with ingredients promoting insulin secretion, which might lead to a phase advance of the circadian clock, whereas breakfast would be the opposite," suggested Akashi.

He added that the study also suggests that clock adjustments through feeding might not work well in individuals with insulin resistance, a characteristic of patients with type 2 diabetes and that that there may be side effects related to circadian rhythm interference when treating patients with insulin.

Source: Cell Reports
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.06.015
"The Role of the Endocrine System in Feeding-Induced Tissue-Specific Circadian Entrainment"
Authors: Miho Sato, Mariko Murakami, Koichi Node, Ritsuko Matsumura, Makoto Akashi

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