The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1094: Does It Matter When You Eat?

If your hectic life means you don't have regular meals, learn how when you eat can affect your health almost as much as what you eat.
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Does It Matter When You Eat?

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For decades, epidemiologists have noted that people who eat breakfast seem to weigh less and live longer. But it hasn’t been clear if eating breakfast helps people stay healthy, or if healthy people tend to eat breakfast. How much does that matter when people in the US appear to have switched from eating three meals every day to eating or snacking multiple times a day? Does when you eat affect your health?

When You Eat and How That Affects Your Health:

Our guest, Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, studies the effects of meal timing on our health. She has found that sleep disruption is also linked to dietary disturbances. Our internal clocks appear to respond to food intake in ways we might not intend.

Changes in when you eat may affect how your hormones behave. For example, eating late in the evening tends to increase insulin resistance so that you don’t utilize the energy as efficiently. What you eat matters as well. Apparently, consuming a lot of sugar could put you at risk of developing a fatty liver.

Is Fasting Helpful?

Some studies have compared alternate day fasting to everyday calorie restriction as weight control strategies. They appear to lead to very similar weight loss. And weight does matter: losing as little as 5% of body weight can improve glucose tolerance, reduce inflammation and tune up the lipid profile.

Learn how to create a healthful cycle with adequate sleep, regular exercise and a smart diet. Find out which functional foods can be helpful, and why, if you choose to eat chocolate (yum), you should make sure it is high-quality chocolate!

This Week’s Guest:

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, FAHA, is Associate Professor of Nutritional Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. She is on the faculty of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center and the Institute of Human Nutrition of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. Photo by © ASCO/Todd Buchanan 2016

The AHA Scientific Statement issued by a committee that Dr. St-Onge chaired was published in Circulation on January 30, 2017.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I was hoping (based on the title) that this presentation would discuss the effects of when we eat (how late in the day or evening we eat) on the quality of sleep, but there was very little discussion of this. So, in this regard, I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps that could be a different show.

I have been going on cruises for eight years now. There are plenty of food chores on board. As a child we ate what our mothers put on our plates. There was no saying ” I don’t like it” and there was no asking for more. Our parents came out of the time of “depression”. My mother was careful with all food items, nothing went to waste. When cruising I can not help noticing the piling of food on plates and the waste of food. People are shoveling the food into their mouths. It seems without the enjoyment of eating. Has it become the quantity of food instead of the quality? I was taught to chew my food and to not talk with your mouth full. Has the art of eating been lost? I always eat too much meat on cruises and pay for doing so for about a week on returning home. We only eat meat for dinner not breakfast and lunch. My question would be is there too much importance place on quantity of food instead of the quality? I love cruising but is it the environment that causes over eating?

May I ask a question rather than give a comment? I know you must receive hundreds of questions and may not entertain these any longer.

Let me know before I describe my 41 year old daughter’s autoimmune issues and ask for suggestions.

Whatever happened to the Rotation Diet? It’s the only one that worked for me.

I take a naturalistic approach to health and listen to my body. I do not eat breakfast per se because I am simply not hungry in the early morning. And, I do not like to eat a heavy meal before bedtime as many people do who dine out. My BMI is normal at 75 years old. In fact, I am featured as a success story in the book “The Whitaker Diet” by Dr. Whitaker.

We really need to use some common sense about how much and what we eat and quit listening to “so-called” experts. Notice how the food pyramid has changed over the years as well as how they have reversed the prohibition against certain foods like whole milk, butter, and fat.

Remember what Jack LaLane said: “If man makes it, I don’t eat it.”

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