Setting our (intestinal) alarm clock

Over the past few days, I believe I’ve listened to Dr. Satchin Panda’s podcast at least five times.  Each time I find a few more snippets of information that intrigue me, and I wonder if I or any of you can begin to put these ideas into practice.


The idea that our gut, liver and all of our DNA has its own circadian rhythm, absolutely stuns me.  Similarly, the thought that our various organs take time to decide which fat molecule or amino acid or glucose molecule goes where, and in what quantity, makes everything I thought I knew more confusing.  I thought we ate, the food was broken down and then each molecule went its merry way—-randomly.  The idea that the intestine will be working slower or faster, breaking food particles down and sending them to the liver for distribution, or the blood stream, at various speeds depending on the time of day makes the old hypothesis of simple calories in, calories out, seem ridiculous.


As I sit here typing, I’m wondering if I can actually tell my intestine, ‘it’s time to rest’; just as if I was going to bed and turning out the light.  Dr. Panda’s work suggests we need to do this early enough in the evening to turn off the signaling to the liver, no matter what we eat.  Most of us, I know, are at least aware, if not actually putting into practice, the idea that we must turn out the lights and try to get ourselves to bed early enough to try to achieve 7 or 8 hours of sleep.  Inherently we know it’s good for our general health, even if we struggle to achieve this.


Our intestines and liver work the same way.  They need to rest.  They are on a circadian cycle also, but we continue to mess with that cycle by snacking in the evening.  We wake up the intestinal surface and hormones such as insulin and leptin are stimulated. We set up insulin and leptin insensitivity. After a while, the brain gives up and will no longer tell us if we are actually hungry or full.


Rather than struggling with what to eat, let’s see if we can work on when to eat.  Look at your digestive tract as equal to your brain.  It needs rest.  As it rests, other enzymes will ‘turn on’ and search for your fat as fuel.


If presently you snack in the evening, even if you think it’s healthy, because it ‘only’ has 100 calories; you’ve turned on the intestinal switch and insulin and leptin will store, and metabolism will go down.  Dr. Panda’s study would suggest that if we could stop eating at 6pm, and then not eat till about 2 or 3 hours after we wake, this would promote fat loss independent of calories.


This means we will need to have a strong ‘heart to heart’ talk with our intestines.  They are our second brain.  It’s not easy, but we all are trying to search for ways to optimize our health; this may be a start.  Keep reading, keep trying new things; our bodies are terribly complicated.  Unfortunately over the past 40 years, society has over simplified weight into ‘eat less, exercise more’, and it is not anywhere close to being that simple.


Time restricted eating may be the avenue you find the most effective.  The end of the rainbow here, is that Dr. Panda’s studies seem to show that after a while, our ‘brains’ stop seeking food; hunger signals return to where they should be.


You can do it; find what works for you and stick to it.  Don’t let anybody pretend to know what might work best for you.  Only you have that answer.



Dr. B

2018-06-29T10:20:46+00:00June 29th, 2018|Motivational Letters|

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