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Question Your World: How can time-restricted eating impact health?

Our health is perhaps one of the most important aspects of our lives. Over the years, researchers have studied how diet, exercise, time in nature, and social structures play a big role in our body's health. Since our wellbeing is a timeless topic, there are always new experiments on the variables that factor into our overall health. Recently scientists took a look at something that may have a profound impact on us, time. How can time-restricted eating impact health?

You know they say that time can heal all wounds, and for some situations, only time will tell. But how about this one? Time can help you lose weight. Say what? Well not exactly time, but by using time properly as it pertains to when we eat. In the past, we've discussed other time-related human health experiments. Now here’s yet another study on how when we eat may be a very important variable in our health. 

In a recent study, scientists experimented on mice and fruit flies by putting them on a time-restricted eating schedule. Meaning they could only eat within a 10-hour period each day. The results? This restricted 10-hour eating window was able to prevent or even reverse some of their metabolic diseases. After seeing those results, the researchers took it to the more relatable level, human testing. This was only a group of 19 individuals, a small feasibility study. 

Patients diagnosed with at least three of the five criteria for metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol) were all participants in this restricted-time diet. For 10 hours, between 9 am and 7 pm, these patients could eat whatever they wanted, but beyond that window of time they could only consume water or vital medications. In addition to the limited-time eating schedules, these patients also wore a smart watch to track activity and sleep times. A special app was created for them to catalog calories too. 

The results? After 12 weeks, they returned to the lab for a medical examination and to see what changes were observable since the beginning of this project. Most of them had lost a modest amount of body weight, their blood pressure was reduced, and nearly two-thirds of the patients also reported more restful sleep at night with little to no hunger around bedtime. Also, nearly 70% of these patients continued the time-restricted eating schedule for at least year, long after the study had concluded. 

While these results are a positive sign, there’s still much more testing needed before this becomes an option for many folks struggling with metabolic health issues. Based on the results of this experiment, this team of researchers has now launched a much larger study to further understand how this time-restricted eating schedule could impact the human body. 

So, now the big question is, will these future experiments lead to a new medical breakthrough for human health? Well, you know what they say, only time will tell.

Credit: All images via Getty Images


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