Soul Sculpting Project: Eat, Sleep, Pray: Designing a Circadian Day
Part 1: Eat
What’s your cycle?
When did you eat your last bite or sip last night? (plain water doesn’t count as a sip)
When did you take your first bite or sip this morning?
Let’s do the math to find your eating cycle.
- How many hours spent in occasional eating ?
- How many hours in a row of no eating?
A last bite of desert at 7:30 PM + a first sip of coffee at 7:30 AM = a cycle of 12 hours eating and 12 hours fasting.
A bedtime snack at 10:00 PM + a first sip of tea at 6:00 AM = a cycle of 16 hours of eating and 8 hours fasting.
What’s your cycle?
The topic of the 2017 Nobel prize is turning my world upside-down. Or more correctly right-side-up. The topic: Circadian Rhythm. Sound remote? It is not. It is as near to us as we can get.
Nearly every cell in our body has a clock. Each little clock works with the 24 hour cycle known as Circadian Rhythm.
And there is a time for every activity under heaven.(Ecclesiastes 3:1b)
These clocks, in every part of our body, work in a basic 2 part cycle:
- Work time
- Repair time
There a time to eat and a time to refrain from eating.
Time to eat: our digestive system gets to work processing food.
Time to refrain from eating: our digestive system does repair work on the gut lining.
What happens in the repair time?
- Our gut lining gets replaced. Every 1-2 weeks a complete over-haul is accomplished
- Toxins from food and our environment are broken down and eliminated
- Cholesterol is dealt with
- Damaged DNA is repaired
- Fat is burned
When we live in sync with our Circadian Rhythm, providing the right time for each part of this 2 part cycle, our body had a chance to thrive.
Q. When is the right time to eat and the right time to refrain from eating?
A. The repair cycle in digesting needs a minimum of 12 hours a day to do basic maintenance.
This means that in every 24 hour cycle we have a maximum of 12 hours to eat.
This timing answer has come out of the recent work of the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. Here is one of their many studies:
Two groups of mice ate the same amount of calories.
Group 1 ate any time they wanted
Group 2 was restricted to eating within 8 hours
After 18 weeks: Results
- Group 1 was obese, diabetic and had high cholesterol.
- Group 2 was completely healthy, not obese, not diabetic, and did not have high cholesterol.
In other studies the sick mice from Group 1 were then fed within 8 to 10 hours for several weeks and their diseases reversed.
Additional studies exploring food types found that when mice eat ate was more important than what they ate.
Timing makes healthy food unhealthy and unhealthy food OK.
What about people? Does timing matter for us?
Research on humans is increasing and so far it appears that we are a lot like mice. When we eat within less than 12 hours a day we give our digestive system a chance to do repairs and keep us healthy.
When we eat for more than 12 hours a day we disrupt our circadian rhythm and invite a host of mental and physical diseases. Here are a few: obesity, kidney disease, high cholesterol, bad sleeping, joint pain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many other chronic diseases.
In our current world of 24 hour light and food many of us are not living in sync with our Circadian Rhythm. I think that getting in sync would make a significant difference in our ability to thrive. So I invite you to join me in exploring our Circadian Rhythm.
Eating in Circadian Rhythm Test
- When is your first bite (sip) ? When is your last bite (sip)? (Water is OK any time.)
- What is the time your body has to repair?
Example: First sip 7:00 AM /Last bite 9:00 PM = 14 hours eating and 10 hours repairing.
- If you are eating in 12 hours and repairing for 12 hours you are in a minimal maintenance zone.
- If you are eating in 8-11 hours and repairing for 13-16 hours you are in an maintenance and improvement zone
- If you are eating for 15 hours and repairing for 9 hours you are in a danger zone.
Research indicates that many to most of us currently eat more that 12 hours a day – so if you over 12 know that you are not alone.
In Salk Institute Studies some mice were on 9 – 10 hour feeding schedules for week days and then were given weekends off when they ate any time. These mice were still healthy. We are designed with some flexibility.
Soul Sculpting Project: Eating in Circadian Rhythm
Invite God’s presence as you:
- Take the results of your test and design a small step of improvement towards eating in Circadian Rhythm.
Example: Expand your repairing time a few minutes each day (thus decreasing your eating time a few minutes each day).
Why is Circadian research turning my world right-side-up.
Ever wish your body came with directions? I mean clear and correct directions on the care and feeding of your most amazing body. When I discovered Circadian Rhythms I discovered directions. I am experimenting with these directions and the results are increasing my well-being. It is my prayer for you that as you explore getting in sync with your circadian rhythm your ability to thrive will soar.
There is an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on earth. Ecc. 3:1
Want to know more? Check out Circadian Rhythms in the work of Satchidananda Panda, professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. Lots on YouTube. Easy to understand.
For it was You who created my inward parts, You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. (Psalm 139: 13-14a)