If you’ve ever taken an intercontinental flight – or heck, jetted from coast to coast – chances are you’re probably no stranger to jet lag. Now, new research from Harvard University suggests that simply changing your meal times can help speed your adjustment to a new time zone.
When we discuss jet lag, what we’re really discussing is an interruption in the body’s circadian rhythm, that is, the internal master clock that governs our sleeping patterns as well as the precise timing of certain hormone secretions, brain wave patterns, and cellular repair and regeneration. Disruptions to this critical clock – either through frequent travel or shift work – can result in sleep disturbances and reductions in mental acuity in its mildest form, but is also thought to contribute to depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
We just can’t help it. This epigenetics stuff really floats our boat. The last few weeks we’ve brought you a Dear Mark primer on gene expression as well as news on recent studies examining the role of lifestyle/environment on genetic expression. Diabetes, heart disease, even lung function are impacted by external factors like nutrition, exercise, and pollution exposure. But mental health is part of the epigenetic picture as well: chronic stress and even early emotional experiences, it turns out, may be significant enough to alter our genes’ expression.
Much like was discussed in Fat Loss 101, building muscle is basically a hormonal event. Hormones such as testosterone, insulin, growth hormone and cortisol are giving the body signals on whether to build muscle, or break it down. While exercise is necessary to create a stimulus for certain hormones to be activated, it is also just a small part of the equation. This is why you will see so many people putting in hard effort at the gym day after day, and never really getting any results. So throw away all those books, stop spending $400/month on supplements, cancel your magazine subscription to Muscle Weekly (or one of the other 75+ fitness magazines out there), and master the basics. This is where you get 90%+ of your results from.
Here at Mark’s Daily Apple, we advocate the Primal Blueprint Lifestyle, that is, a health philosophy that in large part acts to mimic the diet and physical activity of our pre-agricultural ancestors.
And, while we’ve explained in the past what it means to “Get Primal,” we figured what’s not to love about a bulleted list that reminds us how to incorporate these methods into our everyday lives.
Sleeping too little – or too much – can increase your risk for future weight gain, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep.
For the study, researchers from the Laval University in Quebec, Canada evaluated the sleep habits and body composition of 276 adults between the ages of 21 and 64.
After adjusting for age, gender and baseline body mass index (BMI) the researchers determined that across the six year study period, those who slept for five to six hours per night gained 1.98 kg (4.36 lbs) more than “average duration” sleepers who slept between seven and eight hours per night. Those who slept between nine and 10 hours per night, meanwhile, gained 1.58 kg (3.48 lbs) more than average duration sleepers. In addition, the researchers report that the risk of becoming obese was elevated for both short and long duration sleepers, with short duration sleepers experiencing a 27% increased obesity risk and long duration sleepers experiencing a 21% increased risk compared to average duration sleepers.
A study published in the April edition of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology suggests that frequent disruptions in the sleep cycle (also known as circadian rhythm) can increase the risk of kidney and heart disease. (The study is not yet available online.)
Conducted by researchers from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, the study altered the internal biological clocks of rodent (hamster) models using external regulators (such as reversing light and dark periods) and found that the changes resulted in cardiomyopathy (damage and enlargement of the heart) and scarring of the kidney tubules.
Based on findings from this and several other previous studies, the researchers concluded that renewal of organ tissues likely occurs during sleep, suggesting that sleep disruption prevents this process from happening and results in damage to the organs.