Mealtimes can affect mental health

Mealtimes can affect mental health

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    The time of day you eat your meals can have a significant impact on symptoms of anxiety and depression and therefore affect mental health, according to the results of a new study.

    Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital worked on a study that simulated night shift work and tested the effects of daytime and nighttime feeding and daytime feeding only. Their findings are published in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    First step: simulating night work through induced disruption

    The researchers recruited 12 men and 7 women. The volunteers underwent a forced desynchronization protocol, being subjected to dim light for four full “days” lasting 28 hours each. On the fourth “day”, all the participants were therefore shifted by twelve hours, which made it possible to simulate night work and in fact, circadian disruption.

    The greater the discrepancy with the circadian rhythm, the more people are anxious

    Then, the participants were randomly assigned to two groups with different meal times: one being a control group, with meal intake on a 28-hour cycle and therefore both daytime and nighttime meals (as night workers) and the second group took their meals 24 hours a day and only ate during the day.

    Result: people in the first group showed an increase in depressed mood by 26% and anxious by 16% compared to the second group. The researchers also noticed that the more people were out of step with their circadian clock, the more the symptoms were present.

    Meal times have an influence

    Meal timing is becoming an important aspect of nutrition that can influence physical health“explains one of the authors of this study, Prof. Sarah L. Chellappa.”The role of timing of food intake on mental health remains to be assessed. More studies are needed to determine if changing meal times can help people with depressive and anxiety/anxiety-related disorders.” concludes the specialist.