When you eat healthy snacks and meals every three to four hours, you prevent drops in energy, cravings and mood swings. But according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions annual meeting, if you want to stay healthy, you should avoid eating late at night.
Lead author Nour Makarem, a postdoctoral fellow in cardiology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, claims that late-night eating is associated with increased risk of heart disease.
Her study examined over 12,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 76. Makarem and her team found that 50 percent of the study’s participants ate 30 percent of their calories after 6 p.m. These people had higher levels of fasting blood sugar—a sign of prediabetes, higher levels of insulin, higher blood pressure and higher levels of HOMA-IR, a marker that indicates resistance to insulin, in comparison with those who ate fewer calories after 6 p.m.
The study’s results, according to Shared online, also give us a better understanding of how our body clocks work with external factors.
There is a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which tells the body when it’s time to sleep, wake up, and eat. When we change our eating schedules, our body’s clocks are affected and this can lead to issues with metabolism.
“These clocks are regulated by bright-light exposure, but also by behaviors, particularly food signals,” Makarem says.
Previous research by Canadian psychologists showed that eating at night affected sleep patterns, and included weird dreams in 18% of the participants. Experts have also discovered that eating before hitting the sack can contribute to acid reflux.
Another study from the University of California showed a negative effect on long-term memory by late night eating.
Because cardiac issues, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are on the rise, experts are wondering if our “delayed lifestyle”—eating later and going to bed later-- than previous generations, may be a factor in these skyrocketing health conditions.