In earlier times humans had to hunt and gather for food and seldom had a platter delivered right in front of them. That sort of energy expenditure is no longer necessary today. In earlier times there was no fast food or harsh ingredients added to our food. Today fast food is everywhere, and harsh ingredients are added to almost everything. These kinds of changes in food and lifestyle has led to an obesity epidemic – an epidemic greatly contributing to almost every illness out there. What many people may not know is that obesity has a severe negative impact on our biological clocks.
From the beginning of time humans and animals have been programmed to physiologically respond to day and night based on the planets 24 hour rotation. As the sun rises and while it lights up the sky, mind cues are sparked telling us to eat and pursue activities. Once night creeps in, the body knows it is time for rest, sleep, and recuperation.
Circadian Rhythms and Obesity
It is extremely common for an overweight individual to eat too much, eat at the wrong times such as at night, and experience problems with sleeping. What may be surprising is that much of the reason for these things occurring could be biological. In obese people, the circadian rhythms are disrupted, causing them to eat at irregular times and especially late at night. The disrupted circadian rhythms causes a disruption in sleep rhythm, often causing sleep apnea. It isn’t uncommon for people who work night shift to be obese due to the physiological requirements being backwards. Similarly, those who work a week on day shift followed by a week on night shift are also predisposed to obesity thanks to physiological cues swinging back and forth, disrupting their biological clock.
Researchers at the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta found that obesity also disrupts the master clock gene within us that regulates the cardiovascular system. After the researchers conducted a study on animals which involved two phases, they found that obesity impairs the clock machinery of the vasculature system. The ultimate result is that the cardiovascular genes become at a loss of the circadian rhythm.