In sync: How to take control of your many body clocks


Jonny Wan By Catherine de Lange GERDA POT’S grandmother was a stickler for timekeeping. “She always had breakfast at the same time, lunch and dinner at the same time, but even in between she had tea and coffee breaks every day at the same time,” says Pot. She also aged robustly, living independently well into her 90s. That got Pot wondering: was there something in the regularity of her grandmother’s habits that held the key to her rude health? A nutrition researcher at King’s College London, Pot was better placed than most to investigate – and she soon found she wasn’t the first to ask such questions. She had stumbled into the field of chrononutrition, and is now one of a growing number shedding light on the misunderstood role of time in human biology. We have known for a long time that messing with our body clocks can take a severe toll on our health. For decades, however, we thought that the body clock was one central timepiece housed in our brain. No longer. We now know our bodies contain thousands, if not millions, of disparate clocks that carefully orchestrate the functioning of our tissues and organs from the heart to the lungs to the liver. These clocks mean not only that there are benefits to eating regularly, as Pot and others are discovering, but that different parts of the body are tuned to work optimally at certain times of the day. When these clocks fall out of sync it can have serious consequences. Conversely,
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