Can a High Fat Diet Cause Obesity by Disrupting Your Body Clock?

You’re probably already aware that your body has an internal clock that regulates most aspects of bodily functioning including your sleep patterns, hormone levels, and even your metabolism. Because these internal body rhythms are so important for maintaining good health, it’s critical that your body clock be synchronized and running smoothly. Disruption in body rhythms, also known as circadian rhythms, is thought to play a role in a variety of chronic diseases including diabetes and cancer. Natural body rhythms are also believed to be important for maintaining a normal weight. According to a recent study, eating a high fat diet can disrupt your body clock, resulting in an increased risk of obesity.

How might disruption of your body clock increase your risk of becoming obese? According to a study conducted on mice, a high fat diet disrupts normal circadian rhythms which may alter an important pathway known as the adiponectin signaling pathway. This pathway controls the release of a hormone involved in fat and sugar metabolism. When this particular hormone is altered, it can lead to obesity.

Although this study was conducted on mice, it’s believed that disruption of natural body rhythms may play a role in human obesity. Several studies have shown that people who sleep fewer hours are more prone to being overweight. Sleep deprivation is another way that natural body rhythms can be altered.

If the results of this study apply to humans, it may provide another means by which high fat diets cause obesity. Although some fats are essential for absorption of vitamins by the intestine and for normal bodily function, excess amounts will be stored as unwanted body on the hips, thighs, and abdominal region. As this research suggestions, a high fat diet may alter your body clock which could not only contribute to obesity but also increase the risk of other diseases such as diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

The bottom line? If you’re trying to control your weight, it may be best to limit your fat intake not only to reduce calories but to avoid potentially disrupting your body clock. The fats you do add to your diet should be unsaturated ones, particularly monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and nuts, and omega-3 oils found in fatty fish and flaxseed. It will be interesting to see if the results of this study looking at the effects of a high fat diet on body rhythms and the body clock will hold true in humans.

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