Intermittent fasting is very popular: how effective it really is - ForumDaily
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Intermittent fasting is very popular: how effective it really is

Researchers have found that synchronizing calorie intake synchronizes circadian rhythms in many organ systems in mice. Does it work on humans as well? Scitech Daily.

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Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of time-restricted food intake, including increased lifespan in laboratory studies.

This has made practices like intermittent fasting a hot topic in the wellness industry. However, exactly how this affects the body at the molecular level and how these changes interact in many organ systems is still not well understood.

Now scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Research are showing in mice how time-restricted eating affects gene expression in more than 22 areas of the body and brain.

Gene expression is the process by which genes are activated and react to their environment to create proteins.

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The findings, published in the journal Cell Metabolism on Jan. 3, 2023, have implications for a wide range of diseases in which time-restricted eating has shown potential benefit, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer.

“We found that time-restricted feeding in mice has system-wide molecular effects,” explained Professor Satchidananda Panda. “Our findings open the door to taking a closer look at how this nutritional intervention activates genes involved in certain diseases, such as cancer.”

For the study, two groups of mice were given the same high-calorie diet. One group had free access to food, the other was limited to eating for nine hours a day. After seven weeks, tissue samples were collected from 22 groups of organs and brains at different times of the day and night and analyzed for genetic changes. The samples included tissue from the liver, stomach, lungs, heart, adrenal glands, hypothalamus, various parts of the kidneys and intestines, and various areas of the brain.

The authors found that 70% of mouse genes respond to time-restricted feeding.

“By changing meal times, we were able to change gene expression not only in the gut or liver, but in thousands of genes in the brain,” Panda said.

Almost 40% of genes in the adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pancreas were affected by time-restricted eating. These organs are important for hormonal regulation. Hormones coordinate functions in different parts of the body and brain, and hormonal imbalances are associated with many diseases, from diabetes to stress disorders. The results provide insight into how time-restricted eating may help manage these diseases.

Interestingly, not all parts of the digestive tract were equally affected. While genes involved in the two upper small intestines (duodenum and jejunum) were activated by time-restricted food intake, the ileum in the lower small intestine was not activated.

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This discovery could start a new line of research to explore how shift work, which disrupts our 24-hour body clock (called circadian rhythms), affects digestive tract disease and cancer. Previous research by Panda's team found that time-restricted meals improved the health of firefighters who typically work in shifts.

Researchers have found, among other things, that time-restricted eating evens out the circadian rhythms of many organs in the body.

“Circadian rhythms are everywhere, in every cell,” says Panda. “We found that time-restricted eating synchronizes circadian rhythms to form two main waves: one during fasting and the other immediately after eating. We suspect this allows the body to coordinate different processes."

Next, Panda's team will take a closer look at the impact of time-restricted food intake on certain conditions or systems involved in the study, such as atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that is often a precursor to heart disease and stroke, and chronic kidney disease.

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