Fatty Foods Disrupt Internal Biological Clock

Monday, January 19, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: biological clock, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) A luxuriously decadent cheesecake, a thick slab of marbled ham and a whipped cream-topped milkshake have something in common that might not be obvious. Sure, they are all loaded with fat. But new research concludes eating these and other high-fat foods can do more than add pounds. They may also seriously disrupt your internal biological "clock" that mimics the 24-hour cycle of the turning of the Earth. The result could be health problems ranging from insomnia and obesity to cancer.

The biological clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates the expression and/or activity of hormones and enzymes involved in sleep and metabolism. Although light is the strongest factor affecting the internal biological clock, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers say they`ve discovered that fat laden diets can also disturb circadian rhythms and trigger hormone imbalances, obesity, psychological problems, sleep disorders and even cancer. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a growing body of evidence from both animal and human studies indicates that disruption of circadian rhythms can spur cancer in a variety of ways, including the rate at which some malignancies develop.

Dr. Oren Froy and his colleagues of the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Hebrew University`s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot, Israel, demonstrated a cause-and-effect relation between diet and biological clock imbalance in experiments with laboratory mice. Dr. Froy, Ph.D. student Maayan Barnea and Zecharia Madar, the Karl Bach Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry at Hebrew University, tested the impact of both fasting and a high-fat diet on circadian rhythms. First, the scientists fed mice either a low-fat or a high-fat diet, followed by a fasting day. Then they measured components of the adiponectin metabolic pathway. Adiponectin is a protein hormone produced and secreted by fat cells ( adipocytes) that regulates the metabolism of glucose and fats. It also influences how the body responds to insulin. Low levels of adiponectin are found in people who are obese and high levels are found in people at low risk for heart disease.

In the Hebrew University study, which will be published in the upcoming edition of the journal Endocrinology, the researchers found high-fat diets induced changes in the animals` internal biological clocks and, in turn, the adiponectin signaling pathways. This suggests that eating a lot of fat could contribute to obesity, not only because fat has a calorie count, but also because high-fat diets disrupt the phases and daily rhythm of clock genes. What`s more, the researchers contend also that eating a high-fat diet may cause havoc in other circadian rhythm-controlled systems associated with metabolic disorders. In a statement to the media, the researchers said their findings could also explain why people who eat high-fat diets often have problems with blood pressure and insomnia.

For more information: see "High-Fat Diet Delays and Fasting Advances the Circadian Expression of Adiponectin Signaling Components in Mouse Liver", http://endo.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abs...

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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