Cancer prevention goes beyond what you eat, but when you eat. This is the result of a new study carried out by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, published in the journal of cancer.
The finding is important because it illustrates that diet may interfere with your body’s circadian rhythm in ways that put you at the risk of having cancer. Below is a summary of critical points in the report for you:
- The research found that a waiting period of at least two hours between dinner and bedtime reduces a person’s risk of having cancer by 20 percent.
- Sleep patterns can be disrupted by meal timing
- The study was correlational, the scientist could not attribute the risk of cancers to eating late meals (it can be a complex interaction of several factors)
Despite the research being an observatory study that relied on questionnaires, it opens a potentially new dimension in cancer prevention and research.
Nutritionist has advocated that periodic fasting, meal frequency, and calorie restricted diets can impact immunity. This new study confirms that when you eat can have an adverse effect on your overall health.
What you eat is still more important than when you eat
Most nutritionists are still convinced that the food you eat plays a more significant role than when you eat. This is because many plant-based foods are rich in phytonutrients that counter oxidative stress and other tumors causing factors. On the contrary, genetically modified foods, red meat, and processed foods have all been linked to increased cancer risk.
A dietician Katie Ferraro at the University of California School Nursing sums it up by saying “I’m more concerned with what you eat than the time of day you eat it with regard to cancer prevention. Higher fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with lower rates of cancer, which certainly applies to breast cancer. Who cares what time you eat if your meal is all charred meat?”
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The scientific evidence that supports taking breaks between meal times
Evidence abound showing factors like meal times, portion sizes and eating frequency can impact metabolic processes, immunity, epigenetic expression and circadian rhythms in such a way that it elicits the development of cancer. Below is some scientific evidence which shows that constant snacking, late night munching and feeding in perpetuity can negatively impact your health.
- A study showed that lab animals whose calorie intake were consistently limited through intermittent fasting (allowing several hours between meal times) improves metabolic functions, reduces oxidative stress, promote weight loss and boost immunity. All the aforementioned factors are associated with a decreased cancer risk.
- Intermittent fast has been shown to reduce three biomarkers associated with the disease. Individuals who have a waiting period of about 12 hours in between evening dinner and morning breakfast have lower levels of the hormone 1GF-1, lower levels of C-reactive protein and lower blood glucose levels. An increase in these biomarkers has been associated with an increased risk of premature aging, inflammation, and diabetes respectively.
- Intermittent fast activates the NRF2 gene pathway. This activation helps to increase the antioxidants level in the body, which neutralizes inflammation and other tumor causing factors.
- Fasting periodically improves mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, it is the work-house of the cell. When your mitochondria perform at an optimal level, your body metabolisms burn fat efficiently. Excess weights have been implicated in both cancer and diabetes.
- Dr. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California sums it up “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.” Studies on mice have confirmed that fasting periodically helps promote cancer prevention and immune cell regeneration.
Researchers studying the impacts of mealtime habits on immunity, cancer and circadian rhythms expressed the need for more urgent research in this field. Very few nutritionists advocated dramatic caloric restriction or extreme fasting as these activities can impact your health negatively.
The 16:8 method is a fasting technique that is both a time-honored and familiar techniques that helps align the eating habits and the body natural rhythms. With this method, you can have breakfast at 9.00am, lunch at 1.00pm and dinner at 5.00pm, but you have to avoid snacks or additional meals between these three meals times.
Scientific evidence shows that the 16:8 regime can help improve your metabolism, aid weight loss while boosting your immunity. When you consider all these facts, it comes as no surprise that the latest research suggests that when you eat plays a leading role in cancer prevention.
– Oluwatosin Jegede