I recently attended the Institute for Functional Medicine's annual conference. Dr. Jeffrey Bland gave a fascinating overview of the most recent research on clock genes. These are a variety of genes in our bodies (and in most living things) that regulate life functions. You may have heard of biorhythms or circadian rhythms; both terms refer to the action of clock genes, a hot new area of research. These genes also respond to natural environmental rhythms: sunlight and moonlight, tides, sunspots, gravitational pull, atmospheric pressure, temperature, and solar radiation.
Clock genes at work:
- 4:30 am Your lowest body temperature. You might awaken at that time because you are cold (or your partner has stolen the covers because he or she is cold).
Other ways that clock genes affect the body:
- Causing morning joint stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
If you want to help balance your clock genes, here are some tips:
1) Get morning exercise to set your parasympathetic system. This system, known as rest and digest, oversees sexual arousal, salivation, tear formation, urination, digestion and defecation.
2) Evening exercise resets your sympathetic nervous system, the one that stimulates your fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system is constantly active to maintain homeostasis (systems balance) in your body, so resetting it with exercise is extremely helpful.
Researchers are also studying the effects of nutrition and eating habits on health. Here's what they recommend:
- Try to fast from dinner to breakfast for 12 hours. If you normally eat breakfast at 7 am, then no food after 7 pm. Avoid eating calorie-dense foods at night.
Learning more about how our amazing bodies function, and how we can support our optimal health, continues to inspire me.
Dr. Jeffrey Bland is the founder and President of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute.
Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC is a writer, health coach , and food blogger offering migraine-friendly recipes every week. Her book The Migraine Relief Plan will be published on February 7, 2017 by Agate Publishing; her online class is available now. Join her mailing list and follow her on Twitter and Facebook to learn more.