Researchers have said that a disruption of circadian rhythms, when combined with a high-fat, high-sugar diet, may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and other harmful conditions.
Robin M. Voigt, PhD, assistant professor at Rush Medical College and first author of the study, said circadian rhythms, which impose a 24-hour cycle on our bodies, are different from sleep patterns, adding that sleep is a consequence of circadian rhythms.
While circadian rhythm disruption may be common among some, the research suggests that it may be contributing to a host of diseases that may be prevented by regulating things such as sleep/wake patterns and times of eating to help prevent circadian rhythm disruption. Including prebiotics or probiotics in the diet can also help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.
In the study, male mice had their cycles of exposure to light and dark reversed on a weekly basis (i.e., “shifted”), an experience that is known to disrupt an organism’s innate circadian rhythm. Some of the mice ate standard food; others ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet.
Researchers found that the microbiota of the mice that had their circadian rhythms disrupted were significantly different from that of the control group â€” but only if they had consumed the high-fat, high-sugar diet.
All the mice that ate the high-fat, high-sugar diet displayed changes in the makeup of the microorganisms in their guts, regardless of circadian status. However, mice that ate the high-fat, high-sugar diet, and had circadian-rhythm disruptions, had higher concentrations of bacteria that are known to promote inflammation than any of the other mice in the study.
Disrupting the circadian rhythms of the mice fed standard chow did not significantly affect the microbiota in their intestines.
The study has been published online in the journal PLOS ONE.