Time your meals with your body clock for better thyroid health
While what we eat is important, research increasingly suggests when we eat also matters. Eating in sync with your body’s many clocks could help you better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
The digestive system's "clock"
While you may have heard of the circadian rhythm, or primary sleep-wake cycle that governs our daily rhythms, you may be surprised to learn we actually have a variety of clocks for the various organs.
This is because all the organs need downtime to repair and regenerate.
For instance, during the day the pancreas increases production of insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, and then lowers it in the evening.
The gut has a clock that regulates the enzyme levels, nutrient absorption, and waste removal. Even our gut microbiome, or gut bacteria, operates on a daily rhythm.
Our many body clocks manage our health by syncing biological functions with night and day. Disrupting these rhythms by skipping breakfast or eating at midnight can result in weight gain, metabolic syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other inflammatory health disorders. Working with your body’s clocks may be a tool in lowering inflammation from Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Eat breakfast every morning
As many as a third of Americans skip breakfast. However, studies show eating breakfast makes you less prone to obesity, malnourishment, blood sugar imbalances, or diabetes.
Eating breakfast also makes you less likely to have the heart disease risk factors of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Even the American Heart Association recently recommended appropriate meal timing to reduce the risk of heart disease.
It's important to eat a breakfast that contains plenty of protein and healthy fats, and a minimum of sugars. This helps balance blood sugar for proper brain function throughout the day, which is key in managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Make breakfast your largest meal
Studies show eating the largest meal in the morning helps better control weight compared to a large evening meal.
In fact, researchers have found a person who eats the identical meal at different times of day is more likely to deposit more fat after an evening meal than a morning meal.
This is because insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, is most efficient in the morning. Additionally, we burn more calories and digest food more efficiently in the morning than later in the day when people traditionally eat their largest meal.
In fact, one study followed a group of overweight women put on a 1400 calorie-per-day diet. Half consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 200 calories at supper, and the other half reversed that pattern.
Women in both groups lost weight and lowered their blood sugar and appetite hormones, however the large-breakfast group experienced these additional benefits over the big-dinner eaters:
They lost 2.5 times more weight.
Their fasting glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels were significantly lower.
Their satiety (sense of fullness) scores were significantly higher.
They lost more body fat, especially in the belly.
According to the researchers, a high‐calorie breakfast and a reduced calorie dinner might be an important tool in managing obesity and metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes. This can also help you better manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
The body needs to fast for better health
Fasting tells the body to start burning fat for fuel. The average person eats over a 15-hour period during the day, not giving themselves a long enough fasting break.
Researchers tested the theory on a group of prediabetic men. They put the men through two eating cycles: One in which they ate meals within a 12-hour window for five weeks and another in which they ate within a six-hour window starting in the morning.
They ate enough calories to maintain their weight to assess whether time restriction produced benefits outside of weight loss.
The six-hour meal schedule improved insulin sensitivity, lowered inflammation, and lowered blood pressure.
The researchers said that eating breakfast and lunch five to six hours apart and making the overnight fast last 18 to 19 hours could help prevent long-term weight gain.
In another recent study subjects who added snacks to their daily meals tended to gain weight over time, while those who had no snacks lost weight.
Low blood sugar may require a before-bed snack
If you have chronic low blood sugar you may need to eat a small, high-protein, low-sugar snack before bed to maintain your blood sugar throughout the night. As your blood sugar improves over time you may be able to drop this habit.
The the old proverb, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper," appears to be good advice after all.
Ask my office about additional help in managing your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
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