Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Building a Circadian Rhythm Template Through Food, Light and Sleep

One of the most interesting chapters in the book "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul Jiminet was the chapter on Circadian Rhythm.  Circadian Rhythm (CR) is the bodies natural tendencies and hormonal fluctuations.  Every cell in your body has an internal clock.  The more we learn about health and fitness the more importance the roll of maintaing a healthy CR becomes.

The body is an incredible adapter.  It can adapt to anything, almost.  You can get it to run faster, jump higher and lift small cars if need be.  You can train it to run across deserts and climb mountains without oxygen.  It can thrive (not just survive) on vary diverse diets, from Inuit protein and fat to some almost pure plant based diets.  One thing we can't adapt to and probably never will, is lack of sleep and sleeping in the day time.

 Sorry 3rd shifters, but that is not normal and you are messing up your CR big time.  There are a lot of health risks involved with this.  Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, getting sunlight in the right time and eating at the correct period are probably the biggest steps in keeping your CR healthy.

Here are some highlights from the PHD chapter to be used as guidelines for setting up your proper Circadian Rhythm.

Get sunlight on your eyes early in the morning.  Sunlight not only kick starts the CR but also we absorb Vit D more in the morning.  Sunlight has tremendous amount of blue spectrum light.  Great in the morning and day.  (not at night) Cataracts block blue light and this is one reason elderly have messed up CR.

Avoid blue light in the evening.  Just as blue light in the morning is helpful, blue light in the evening is harmful.  It will block the hormone Melatonin from being produced as much.  (almost 50% less)  Melatonin is highly important for health.  There are now filters that can be put on computer screens and ipads ect to block the blue light.

Sleep as much as you can.  There are so many studies about sleep and they all say the same thing, go long enough with limited sleep and you are going to have some health issues.  Some pretty serious.  This is something we as humans have not been able to adapt to.  Sure there are people out there that thrive on "4 hours of sleep" day in and day out, but chance are you are not them.  There are amazing outliers in everything.

This brings us to food.  Food can have a powerful influence on the CR.  Generally speaking, eat during the daylight.  Create an eight hour window to eat.  Stop about 2 hours before you go to bed.  Carbs have a powerful effect as they promote night rhythm and sleep. Carbs influence the hormone leptin, fat does not.

The hormone leptin follows a circadian rhythm.  Low in the morning and rise as the day goes on, peaking at night.  Eating carbs increases leptin levels 4-9 hours post consumption.  So to time carbs influence on leptin and your natural leptin levels, most carbs should be eaten around sunset.  So dinner.  This goes against most of the dietary advice out there.  (so it's probably right....this also has strong agreement with the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler)

A few supplements that may help are Vit D in the morning, Magnesium at night and Melatonin at night.  All will have strong influence on creating optimal CR.  Light physical activity with your initial sun exposure in the morning can also be highly beneficial.

A healthy circadian rhythm is a template to allow you to do the things that are important to you.  If you are looking for a faster 5k, lose 15 pounds of fat, total elite in powerlifting or just have the energy to enjoy your grand kids, setting your Circadian Rhythm is the foundation to the person you are building.

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