Your circadian clock — the biological triggers related to night and day that govern how your body operates physically and mentally on a 24/7 schedule — is so very critical to all parts of your health.
Apart from the obvious things like sleep/wake cycles, those rhythms from your circadian clock regulate an array of functions behind the scenes, including the release of hormones, your body temperature and the ways you digest food.
Think about what happens to your body when you throw your circadian clock off a little bit. Maybe, it’s the jet lag you experienced when traveling across one or more time zones on a plane ride or the biannual changes from standard to daylight savings time.
Then, imagine those shifts in your circadian clock persisting for an extended time in longer work schedules, changes in meal times or shift work.
Over time, your body may become more vulnerable to serious health problems like metabolic syndrome, the cluster of symptoms leading to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Your shifting circadian clock
The health of the human gut is also affected by these shifts in the body’s circadian clock, particularly when we eat and sleep, according to a review of studies appearing in the journal, Microorganisms.
The human gut has basic rhythms of its own that release specific bacteria based on eating/fasting cycles throughout the 24-hour day.
Researchers from New Zealand and the Netherlands were focused on how those specific eating/fasting cycles modulate our gut health.
For example, fasting at night helps your gut process soluble fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids, specifically butyrate, that protect your body from Salmonella, E. coli and other harmful bacteria.
Also, eating protein-rich foods like eggs, turkey or chicken that are loaded with tryptophan are converted by the gut into serotonin. This popular chemical not only regulates motility in the gut but has more recently been connected to the creation of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
The big concern from researchers here is how these disruptions in sleep/wake cycles affect our eating patterns and the kinds of foods we consume, leading to harmful bacterial imbalances in our gut.
For example, working late at the office could lead to a steady Western diet of high-fat fast food, and a drop in the good bugs in your gut that protect your body from a greater risk of colon cancer or intestinal inflammation.
However, there are three things you can do to protect your gut health and keep your circadian rhythms on schedule.
- Eating foods rich in dietary fiber is simple, especially if you like beans, apples, strawberries and whole grains.
- Are you following good sleep hygiene? These tips from the Mayo Clinic encompass a variety of ways you can get more restorative rest.
- Take a daily probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and a sleep-friendly prebiotic that feeds the good bugs in your gut.