Disrupting circadian rhythms tied to diseases
New research reinforces the belief that disrupting your body's natural circadian rhythms may make you more susceptible to inflammatory diseases.
Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and respond primarily to light and darkness; they are not to be mistaken for sleep patterns, which researchers explained are a consequence of circadian rhythms.
Scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago tested the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the health of mice. They reversed the mice’s cycles of light and dark exposure on a weekly basis. The mice were either fed a standard diet or one relatively high in both sugar and fat.
The results of the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that mice that ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet and had their circadian rhythms disrupted had more inflammation-causing bacteria than did the mice that had their rhythms disrupted and were fed the standard diet.
Researchers said that their findings suggest that people who frequently experience circadian rhythm disruption—such as doctors, firefighters and policemen—may have an increased risk of inflammation-causing bacteria. Because diet also significantly affected the outcome of the study, researchers said that people should avoid diets high in sugar and fat in order to reduce inflammation, which has been associated with diseases such as heart disease and cancer.