WHEN We Eat Affects Weight and Insulin Levels

In Ayurveda there is a basic framework for health that you can’t escape. No matter what subject you are dealing with, whatever specific tips and recommendations might apply to that subject, there is always an underlying truth: live in tune with the cycles and laws of nature that apply to the rest of the world and your body will function in a better way. Because, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are a part of nature.

Ayurveda gives us a handy reference guide. It outlines the building blocks of life, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and shows us how they relate to our individual physiologies and how the three doshas support various activities and functioning at different times of the day, different seasons of the year and different times of our life.

For the majority of man’s existence, it was natural to life a life in tune with these cycles. When it got dark, folks settled into their homes and headed to bed. When the sun came up, so did the population. The biggest meal was at noon because people had been working since sunrise and needed fuel to work the rest of the day. Now our lives are topsy turvey. We stay up until the wee hours, work through lunch and enjoy big family dinners at night. This throws all sorts of things out of balance.

There is now emerging evidence that people who consume the exact same diet in terms of calories, fats, carbohydrates, and protein may see big differences depending on how food is distributed during the day. When we eat affects weight control, blood sugar control, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Researchers concluded that it is metabolically better to consume most of our carbohydrates and calories in the early part of the day, as opposed to consuming them in the evening.

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We know the Ayurveda take on this: it is basic Ayurveda 101. Eat your main meal at noon. Pitta is at its peak from 11:00 to 1:00 and thus the body is better able to transform and metabolize food during this time. In the evening the Pitta quality in our physiology is more subtle. It is meant to repair the body from the activity of the day rather than digest large amounts of food.

How does modern science explain this? They say that these results relate to our hypothalamus, the part of our brain that governs our “master biological clock,” also known as circadian rhythms. In response to different cues, most notably light and dark, the master clock regulates genes that produce the hormones, enzymes and cell receptors responsible for metabolizing and storing carbohydrates and fat.

In the early hours of the day, people are more sensitive to the effects of insulin, requiring less of this hormone in order to clear our blood of the sugar produced from our meal. At night, people are less sensitive to insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels, higher levels of insulin secreted and increased amounts of fat storage in response to higher carbohydrate meals.

Because insulin is an “anabolic” hormone, it promotes storage and retention, making it difficult for us to burn stored carbohydrates and fat for energy. Having chronically high levels of insulin circulating, therefore, can have an effect on our weight in the longer term.

This is why Ayurvedic programs for conditions such as diabetes and weight loss can be so successful. They recognizes the multifactorial nature of these conditions and offer a framework that covers all aspects of life, rather than considering parts in isolation. Our body is an ecosystem. We need to treat the body as in intelligent, self-interacting system, in which each aspect of our lives affects all the other parts.

For more information on Ayurvedic programs for diabetes and weight loss, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

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