Do you know what chrononutrition is?
An article written by Henry, C.J., Kaur, B. & Quek, R.Y.C., called “Chrononutrition in the management of diabetes” and published on 19 February 2020 in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, talks about the effects of timing on blood sugar, and how timing can lead us to strategies for helping diabetics in everyday life.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles regulated by endogenous molecular oscillators, which form the circadian clock. The effects of diet on the circadian rhythm clearly imply a relationship between factors such as mealtimes and nutrients, and all of these are known as chrononutrition.
Chrononutrition is influenced by the “chronotype” of an individual, and those who have an “evening chronotype” are biologically influenced to eat food later in the day. Research in this area has suggested that daily time influences a meal’s postprandial response to glucose, thus having a major effect on type 2 diabetes. Cross-sectional and experimental studies have shown the benefits of eating earlier in the day.
Changing the composition of macronutrients at night, by increasing the content of protein and fat, has proven to be a simple strategy to improve postprandial blood sugar. Low glycemic index (GI) foods consumed in the morning improve the glycemic response more than when consumed at night. The timing of ingestion of fats and proteins (including amino acids), along with foods that contain carbohydrates, such as bread and rice, can reduce the glycemic response.
The order of presentation of food also has considerable potential in reducing postprandial blood sugar (eating vegetables first, followed by meat and then rice). These practical recommendations could be considered strategies to improve glycemic control, rather than focusing on the nutritional value of a single meal, in order to optimize dietary patterns.
We need to further elucidate this fascinating area of research to understand the circadian system and its implications for nutrition, which may ultimately reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes.
Although chrononutrition is a science still in development, this study shows that it is not only the composition of food that decides the glycemic response. There is still much to be learned in this area. “We hope that this work will stimulate further research, which will allow us to translate how chronobiology can be used effectively in communities around the world facing the growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes,” write the study’s authors.