A regular schedule is critical for your gut, your brain, and your sanity… 🙂

NAUTILUS: Each of us has a circadian clock that uses a roughly 24-hour rhythm that coordinates with the Earth’s light-dark cycle. Light sensitive cells in the eye’s retina send information to the brain’s master clock, which readjusts daily. The master clock regulates systemic cues like body temperature, eating patterns, and even fluctuating hormone levels, which are then used by distant, peripheral cellular clocks throughout the body to fine-tune their respective molecular pathways so as to be in synchrony with the master clock phase. The resulting, cyclical patterns can be seen in everything from our behavior to our blood-sugar levels. And when coordination persistently goes awry, the phase difference between the master and peripheral clocks can manifest as chronic, degenerative diseases.

Disruptions in circadian rhythm muck up our microbiome, bacteria in our gutthat help us digest our food. Beyond diet, they may also be affected by our mealtimes. A disturbed host’s clock disrupts the microbes’ 24-hour rhythm—reflected in their composition and overall function. When disruption is chronic, it can contribute to metabolic imbalances that could ultimately lead to glucose intolerance and obesity.

Our interrupted internal clocks are also being tied to a number of serious mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent studies suggest that the very hallmarks of these conditions, which are caused by the accumulation of certain proteins in the brain, might be the result of a disturbed clock. Poor sleep, of a fragmented or short duration, in older adults can cause a disrupted circadian rhythm that, in turn, leads to increased accumulation of toxic beta-amyloid proteins—a known precursor of Alzheimer’s disease.

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