Ayurvedic Nutrition & Eating At Regular Times
Read five reasons why ayurveda, an ancient medical system from India, teaches that eating at the same time every day and in the right quantities is one of the most health beneficial things we can do for ourselves.
1. Eating At The Same Time Every Day Maintains Our Circadian Rhythm.
Our sleep cycle and our exposure to light are the most powerful effectors on our circadian rhythms. When we eat, however, is also a powerful entrainment method. Studies indicate that when we eat directly affects the circadian rhythms of our most important functions in the liver, kidney, heart, lung, and pancreas.
2. Regular Circadian Rhythm Function Aids Disease Prevention
Researchers theorize that irregularities in eating schedules are more influential on disease pathogenesis than staying up through the night is. Night shift workers, who move to a regular daytime activity lifestyle a few days a week, keep their circadian rhythms in constant desynchronization. Changes in feeding time can lead to uncoupling of peripheral oscillators from the SCN. Interestingly, not eating has no effect on circadian rhythms. It is only through eating that we effectively influence circadian rhythm.Irregular eating times can cause desynchronization, which has a detrimental effect of physiologic function.
3. Maintains Healthy Weight
Restricting food to a particular time of day effectively influences physiologic function. Studies indicate that by eating in accordance to correct timing, we can affect weight loss or gain. Mice, which are normally nocturnal, entrained to eat and be active during the day, gain significantly more weight than mice fed at night even with an exact diet. In humans, glucose tolerance and insulin responses to glucose and meals are higher in the morning than at night, and peak midday between noon and 6:00 P.M . This indicates that we should be eating during these times.
4. Balances Blood Sugar
Ayurveda teaches that breakfast should be higher in carbohydrates than our other meals are. Fruit salad in the spring and summer and cooked grain cereals in the fall and winter are easy to digest and provide energy to begin the day. Studies by the Stanford University Medical Center show fluctuations in powerful hormones called “glucocorticoids” are largely influenced by diet. Blood sugar regulation and the biological clock are entwined. Glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormones, are primarily responsible for blood sugar metabolism and inflammation reduction. They directly synchronize the biological clock as an integral part of regulating blood sugar and maintain healthy metabolism.
Chronobiology studies show the highest insulin requirements are expected midday and the lowest, during late night hours.The natural increase in insulin resistance that occurs in the evening can contribute to an excess blood sugar and weight gain if we eat excessively at this time. Because favoring a small dinner is encouraged for most types in ayurveda, eating a moderate size breakfast, and the largest meal of the day as close to 2:00 as possible is generally better tolerated. Eating the largest meal at, or just before, 2:00 helps to increase satiety into the evening, so that the smallest meal of the day happens with less effort or self-repression.
5. Enhances Life Span
Ayurvedically, routine is one of the most important dictators of health. Ideally, we eat our meals at relatively the same times every day. It is ideal to rise with the sun, eat a moderate breakfast, and eat the largest meal midday between 10:00 and 2:00 and our smallest meal for dinner, if we have dinner at all. Generally, ayurveda favors eating lightly. With time, and the incorporation of more healthy foods and behaviors, the desire to eat less will occur naturally.Calorie restriction has longevity and rejuvenating influences on life span and health, reducing the risk for atherosclerosis, improving cognitive ability and memory, and inhibiting normal and cancer cell growth.
Caution is advised against practicing ongoing calorie restriction or light diet prematurely. Doing so has shown to contribute to disordered eating for many individuals.If one is ready to eat lightly the body will naturally favor this lifestyle. For short duration to assist in systemic detoxification, calorie restriction can powerfully assist the body in cleansing and age remediation. Eating less for the sake of weight loss generally proves to be counterproductive long-term. If we are able to consistently apply the lifestyle practices in ayurveda, the call to eat what is genuinely needed will naturally awaken and create a more permanent and pleasant experience. Meanwhile, regular eating times can hasten this process by synchronizing our circadian rhythms, harmonizing fluctuations in blood sugar and cortisol, and reducing cravings for carbohydrates and energy.