“We found that there is a system-wide, molecular impact of time-restricted eating in mice,” says Professor Satchidananda Panda, senior author, and holder of the Rita and Richard Atkinson Chair at Salk. “Our results open the door for looking more closely at how this nutritional intervention activates genes involved in specific diseases, such as cancer.”
Two groups of mice were fed an identical high-calorie diet for the study. One group was allowed free food access. The other group was only allowed to eat for nine hours each day. After seven weeks, tissue samples from 22 organ groups and the brain were obtained at various times of the day and night and evaluated for genetic alterations. Tissues were taken from the liver, stomach, lungs, heart, adrenal gland, hypothalamus, various regions of the kidney and intestine, and various areas of the brain.
The Researchers Discovered That 70% of Mouse Genes Respond to Time-Restricted Eating
“By changing the timing of food, we were able to change the gene expression not just in the gut or in the liver, but also thousands of genes in the brain,” says Panda.
Time-restricted eating altered over 40% of genes in the adrenal gland, brain, and pancreas. These organs play a crucial role in hormone control. Hormones coordinate operations in various sections of the body and brain and hormonal imbalance is linked to a variety of ailments ranging from diabetes to stress disorders. The findings suggest that time-restricted eating may aid in the management of certain disorders.
Surprisingly, not all parts of the digestive tract were similarly affected. While time-restricted eating activated genes in the two upper parts of the small intestinethe duodenum and jejunumthe ileum, at the lower end of the small intestine, did not. This discovery could pave the way for further research into how shiftwork occupations, which disturb our 24-hour biological clock (called the Circadian rhythm), affect digestive illnesses and tumors. Panda’s previous research found that time-restricted eating benefited the health of firefighters, who frequently work shifts.
The researchers also discovered that time-restricted feeding synchronized the Circadian cycles of several organs in the body.
“Circadian rhythms are everywhere in every cell,” says Panda. “We found that time-restricted eating synchronized the Circadian rhythms to have two major waves: one during fasting and another just after eating. We suspect this allows the body to coordinate different processes.”
- Diurnal transcriptome landscape of a multi-tissue response to time-restricted feeding in mammals
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