This episode is a long-anticipated one for me personally because I’m here with a researcher whose work I have admired for a very long time. I’m here with Dr. Satchin Panda and if you’re not already familiar with him, he is someone who I follow very closely and immediately read any new data he publishes. He’s a professor at the Salk Institute in California and his lab studies how circadian rhythm and metabolism are an integral part of metabolic health and longevity.
In his preclinical animal models, he discovered that consuming all calories within a consistent shortened window, which is called time-restricted feeding, can sustain daily rhythms and anabolic and catabolic metabolism. And the reason that’s important is that that regulation of metabolism can prevent or even reverse chronic diseases, and increase lifespan without reduction in actual calories, just a reduction in the eating window.
He goes through some key takeaways as far as how levers like light, food, and movement can really influence your circadian clock to a pretty extreme degree. We talk about light signaling and the best way to integrate your light patterns and use light to your advantage. And when it comes to food, the things that start the circadian clock when it comes to food and stop it, and some solid reasons why you might want to stop eating a few hours before bedtime. He gives a lot of practical tips in this episode and it was such an honor to talk to him.
Episode Highlights With Dr. Satchin Panda
- What circadian clocks are and why they are so important
- How this relates to gene expression, food, exercise, and sleep
- What the suprachiasmatic nucleus is and how this tiny gland the size of a pin head controls much of circadian biology
- How light is one of the biggest factors that influences circadian clocks and how to use this to your advantage
- How this light signaling can reduce depression if done correctly and how this ties into postpartum depression
- Ways to use light to improve mood and sleep
- The problem with most indoor lighting, especially after sunset
- How food timing affects circadian biology and how to use this to your advantage
- Why the timing of the first and last meals are so important
- The reason any amount of carbohydrates and most calories start the feeding window
- The difference between fasting and time restricted eating
- How mice studies show that eating in just a shorter window without reducing calories (in fact high fat and high carb diet) led to a 28% lower body mass and 70% reduction in body fat
- What human studies are showing about time restricted eating
- How this also helps with blood pressure, glucose regulation and cholesterol levels
- When a shorter window isn’t necessarily better and how to avoid negative energy balance which can disrupt hormones and sleep
- How melatonin production reduces pancreas function and another reason to stop eating a few hours before bed
- The reason eating within a few hours of bedtime leads to more body fat
- A reason to avoid calories for an hour or two after waking up
- What an idea circadian optimized day looks like
- How shift work affects these patterns and what secondhand shift work is
- Why teenagers have a slightly different circadian clock and how to support this
- The reason grades improve for kids when they start later and get more sleep
- Why humans are designed to have more physical activity late in the afternoon or early in the evening and how to time workouts best
- How a short walk after dinner can help improve these circadian patterns
- What a circadian optimized day look like
Resources We Mention
More From Wellness Mama
- 429: How Light Can Heal (or Damage) Your Health & Hormones With Andy Mant
- 373: Why Sunlight Is As Important As Nutrition and Exercise for Health & Lifespan With Ari Whitten
- 301: How to Use Light to Drastically Improve Health With Matt Maruca
- Benefits of Time-Restricted Eating (& How to Start)
- How I Reduced My Cortisol Levels Naturally With Food & Light
- How to Manipulate Blue Light to Improve Health
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Discussion (1 Comments)
Donna J. Shepherd
Thank you for the excellent summary of all the information that the doctor shared. Excellent resources shared as well. I hope to make use of all I learned right away!