Most of us have some knowledge of how what we eat and drink affects our bodies. For example, If you have pancakes with syrup for brunch, you’ll likely anticipate taking a nap afterward. Or, if you have too many cruciferous vegetables for lunch, well, you’ll likely avoid being alone in an elevator with your coworkers.
Now, new research finds that there’s another factor you might want to keep in mind: Eating foods that are high in fat, in addition to not following a consistent sleep schedule, may hinder the production of healthy fat cells in your body. As a result, this makes it much harder for your body to function the way it should.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, looked at how different behaviors affected the healthy fat cells of mice. Keep in mind our bodies need healthy fats to boost our energy levels, foster cell growth, and keep our organs safe. The researchers found, however, that introducing the mice to a high-fat diet as well as changing their sleep schedules prevented their healthy fat cells from proliferating properly.
The link between diet and sleep is a two-way street. If you want to keep your circadian rhythms regular—which on its own can help your healthy fats multiply as they need to—you can consider modifying your diet to support a healthy sleep schedule.
“It’s often the case that children and adults with sleep issues see improvements when they make some simple changes to their eating habits throughout the day, and at bedtime,” Nicole Beurkens, PhD, CNS, a nutritional psychologist, tells Eat This, Not That! “A well-balanced health-supportive diet during the day allows for a healthy sleep-wake cycle, and restful rejuvenating sleep at night.”
It can also be helpful to make your morning meals larger than your evening meals and to focus on easy-to-digest foods. As Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian at Abbey’s Kitchen, tells us, “we do know that focusing the bulk of your caloric intake earlier on the day seems to align better with circadian rhythms and have a slight metabolic advantage.”
“We know that higher fat foods are generally harder on the digestive system to digest, which can disrupt good quality sleep,” she adds.
Granted, the research is still in its early phases, so don’t make any changes that would dramatically alter your life based on this study alone. That said, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and refraining from eating a lot of processed foods certainly can’t hurt.
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