Autoimmune Disease: August Roundup of Medical Literature

This article is part of a monthly series dedicated to highlighting current trends in autoimmune disease research and additional research that has implications for those with autoimmune disease.  My aim is to understand how research findings may affect future research, treatment advances, and technology solutions.

Benefits of Aligning Meal Time with Circadian Rhythm

During a 12-week cohort study of 256 mice, scientists tested their feeding-fast cycling to determine if time restricted eating had an affect on their health. Research was based on the understanding that cells operate on a “24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm–cellular cycles that govern when various genes are active.” Meaning, digestion happens more successfully during the day and while repair occurs at night. 

Researchers tested the mice by either placing them on an around the clock buffet or restricting their feeding window to 10-hours. Both groups received the same amount of calories.  The findings indicate that the group that ate around the clock gained weight and developed metabolic disease, whereas the group with a restricted feeding window did not.

Intermittent fasting (IF) has been a hot topic in the wellness world. Personally I try to stick with an 8 to 10-hour feeding window. Of course scheduling does not always allow that to happen, so I do my best.  There are arguments against IF as a tool for women due potential hormone imbalance. I listen to my body and find that I’m usually cycling on and off IF based on how I’m feeling and how badly I want a mint cacao smoothie early in the morning.

If you are a podcast lover like me, I thought Max Lugavere’s interview with Satchin Panda on the topic of circadian rhythm was very informative. Plus Panda is the researcher in this study!  [Science Direct]

Photo: Pexel

Low-Carbohydrate Diet Does Not Decrease Age at Mortality

This study peaked my interest because it specifically addressed the health benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, which has been highlighted in the wellness world with the increasing popularity of the Keto diet. If you are unfamiliar, the Keto diet promotes  high-fat, low-carbohydrate consumption to prompt the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as fuel – known as being in a state of ketosis. What is interesting about this study is that the results indicate that a low-carbohydrate diet actually reduces life expectancy!

The cohort study assessed the dietary habits of 15,428 adults over 25 years. The span of time blows my mind. The study aimed at understanding the relationship between carbohydrate intake and all-cause mortality. The authors also conducted a meta-analysis by reviewing several multinational studies over the course of their own study. The overall study, including the cohort and meta-analysis, concluded that individuals who ate a moderate-carbohydrate diet, defined as 50-55% of their energy intake coming from carbohydrates versus protein or fat, had the lowest risk of mortality. The group who was the worse off were those who lowered their carbohydrate intake by substituted for animal fat and protein.  

Although I do not aim for ketosis, I am definitely in the low-carbohydrate camp, because it simplifies my diabetes management. With that said, I also think it is important to stay abreast of current scientific research to be able understand how our current lifestyle choices may impact future outcomes.  [The Lancet]

Photo: Pexel

Use of Continuous Glucose Monitor During Exercise Provides Valuable Insight

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 29 existing studies that analyzed continuous glucose monitor (GCM) data to understand the effects of various forms on exercise on post-exercise blood glucose levels. One study found that there is a risk of hypoglycemia (low-blood sugar) beginning four hours after aerobic exercise, while another study determined risk begins between four and seven hours. In looking at high intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), the studies provide conflicting evidence as to when hypoglycemic episodes occur post-exercise. Literature regarding resistance training found that although hypoglycemia occurs more frequently, it was milder compared to aerobic exercise.

The article addressed multiple considerations to take into account pre- and post-exercise. One is the reduction/adjustment of insulin to prevent hypoglycemia. There are certainly challenges when there is a late-onset of hypoglycemia multiple hours after exercise! Another consideration is combining insulin adjustment with a low-carbohydrate snack. Obviously that can also be tricky and may induce hyperglycemia.

I think the practical value of this article is recognizing that hypoglycemia can occur many hours after exercise (the article claims up to 22 hours). Personally, I am shortsighted in looking at the effects of exercise – I’m concerned with what is occurring during and immediately afterwards. I would like to dive deeper into my own CGM logs to see if any patterns present themselves with this new (to me) information. [NCBI]

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