I have to say, the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit of a bookworm. (What else is new?)
Next month, I’ll be heading off for more training with the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) to learn even more about the intricate details of the gut microbiome and gastrointestinal health! Sounds fun, right?
Between listening to preconference webinars and reading course materials, I’ve been enjoying incorporating the latest research on this subject. As providence would have my back, I ran into an article that provided a connection between our circadian clock and (you guessed it) the gut that I wanted to share with you.
Tying into my sleep hack blog last week, I mentioned different ways to maximize the benefits of sleep, it turns out the balancing the healthy microbes in your gut may a missing piece!
News FLASH: Jet Lag and Obesity- A Link To the Microbiome
You’ve probably either experienced the “flab effect” from traveling for yourself or heard about it from the complaints about waist-line expansion of your friends. I’ve seen these with some of my clients who have been flustered that they’ve followed an organic, gluten-free diet while traveling and still came back with a few extra pounds around their middle.
For the love of science and helping humanity, researchers decided to measure the microbiome ratios in mice and human poop to discover if it was correlated to the circadian clock. (Our circadian clock assists in synchronizing biological activities to the time of day). They found that disruption in our daily schedules and time zone changes alters the composition and rhythm of the microbial residents in our gut.
This was an interesting study that is worthy of explaining for a variety of implications.
First, the scientists mimicked the patterns of jet lag or shift work in humans by altering mice’s light-dark cycle every 3 days for 4 weeks. Although food intake wasn’t significantly different between control and jet lagged mice, time of food intake and patterns were altered. According to the research article in Cell:
When mice were exposed to changing light-dark schedules and abnormal 24 hr feeding habits, the microbial community lost its rhythmic fluctuations and changed in composition. Moreover, a high-fat diet caused these jet-lagged mice to gain weight and develop metabolic problems associated with diabetes. Similarly, jet lag in two humans who had traveled from the United States to Israel changed the composition of gut microbes, favoring the growth of bacteria that have been linked to obesity and metabolic disease.
Furthermore, after 6 weeks, “time-shifted mice exhibited enhanced weight gain and exacerbated glucose intolerance as compared to mice maintained on normal circadian rhythmicity (Figures 5A–5C).” Also, higher body fat and weight persisted after 4 months, regardless of dietary composition.
A second interesting thing to mention about this study was the weird brilliance of manipulation of variables in this experiment.
In the two human subjects, a comparison of pre and post circadian alterations showed similar patterns. In this “Freaky Friday” like poo-switch-er-roo, researchers actually transplanted microbiota samples from human to mice to see if the differing composition of bugs would alter mice’s microbiome and metabolism from the gut-bug transfer. Sure enough it did!:
Microbiota samples obtained during jet lag showed a higher relative representation of Firmicutes, which was reversed upon recovery from jet lag. Interestingly, Firmicutes have been associated with a higher propensity for obesity and metabolic disease in multiple human studies (Ley et al., 2006, Ridaura et al., 2013). To analyze whether the microbiota changes in jet-lagged individuals were associated with increased susceptibility to metabolic disease, we performed fecal transfer experiments into germ-free mice of human samples obtained from individual subjects before jet lag, 24 hr into jet lag, and following recovery from jet lag (Figure 7C).
I found several things compelling in this study:
- We can alter our gut microbiome balance by our sleep-wake cycle.
- The studies on our microbiome may need to account for timing because different bugs are altered according to circadian shifts.
- Our body is amazingly adaptable. It’s trying to survive and deal with stress in the best way it knows how. So if our sleep-wake cycle is altered, it views it as a threat. In order to protect us, our bug communities that are better at “extracting and storing food” take over.
- This study could provide a clue to the link between blood sugar imbalances, obesity, and metabolic issues with lack of sleep. It was just recently that scientists found that the circadian clock, protein REVERB plays a role in the accumulation of inflammatory body fat.
Regardless of the mechanism, getting sleep and honoring the daily wake-sleep cycle helps metabolism. Hacking for better quality sleep could further de-stress our body. So, get your zzzs and eat well, explaining the reasons is complex, but the actions aren’t rocket or mice science. ;-D
For the continuation of this blog, read The “Yogurt Junk Food Scam” and Why You Should Care, click here.
Along with my gut obsession, these past two weeks, I got a little crazy on the chemistry and research of sacred frankincense, be sure to check it!
Cell Press. Jet lag can cause obesity by disrupting the daily rhythms of gut microbes. Sceince Daily. October 16, 2014. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141016123522.htm
Thaiss et al. Trans-kingdom control of microbiota diurnal oscillations promotes metabolic homeostasis. Cell, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.09.048
University of Manchester. Body clock link could aid obesity treatments. September 4, 2014. http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=12689
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