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Eating Meals Under Dim Light May Be Better for Blood Sugar


When you get up in the morning, you might eat your breakfast in near-dark. Or, maybe you wait until you get to the office and chow down under bright fluorescent lights in the break room.

While it probably doesn’t make much difference to you, your body is sure to notice the difference.

Scientists at Northwestern University find that eating under bright lights in the morning or evening increases insulin resistance. However, eating under dim lights doesn’t illicit the same response.

Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to produce enough insulin to move glucose out of your bloodstream. This results in high blood sugar levels. Over time, this could result in increased body fat, weight gain and a higher risk for diabetes.

Researchers recruited nineteen healthy adults for the study. To establish a baseline, all of them ate meals under dim light conditions in both the morning and the evening.

Then, they received three hours of blue-enriched light exposure starting a half hour after waking or 10.5 hours after waking. In this scenario, they ate breakfast and dinner in the brighter light.

The results showed that bright light exposure acutely altered metabolic function. This was true in both the morning and the evening when compared to eating under dim light.

However, while both meals resulted in higher insulin resistance, only the evening bright light exposure led to higher peak glucose levels.

“Our findings show that insulin was unable to acutely bring glucose levels back to a baseline level following a meal with bright light exposure in the evening,” said first author Ivy Cheung.

Previous research by Northwestern scientists shows that people who received the majority of their bright light in the morning weighed less than those who were exposed to most of their bright light after 12 p.m.

While the study did not offer any specific recommendations, the message is clear enough…

Keep the lights low while eating your meals, especially in the evening. Otherwise, you could end up with poor glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and weight gain.

SOURCE: Bright alters metabolism. Press Release. Northwestern University via EurekAlert. May 2016.


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