Summary: According to a new study, the time you eat your meals can have a significant impact on symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Beat the blues with food? A new study adds evidence that mealtimes can affect mental health, including mood levels linked to depression and anxiety. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham Health System, designed a study that simulated night shift work and then tested the effects of daytime and nighttime feeding versus daytime feeding alone.
The team found that, among participants in the daytime and nighttime group, depressed mood levels increased by 26% and anxious mood levels by 16%. Participants in the group eating only during the day did not experience this increase, suggesting that mealtime may influence mood vulnerability.
The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our results provide evidence for the timing of food intake as a novel strategy to potentially minimize mood vulnerability in people with circadian misalignment, such as those engaged in shift work, with jet lag or suffering from circadian rhythm disorders,” the co-correspondent said. Author Frank AJL Scheer, PhD, director of Brigham’s Division of Medical Chronobiology Program of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.
“Future studies in shift workers and clinical populations are needed to firmly establish whether changes in mealtime can prevent their heightened vulnerability to mood. Until then, our study brings a new “player” to the table: the timing of food intake matters for our mood. »
Shift workers constitute up to 20% of the workforce in industrial societies and are directly responsible for many hospital services, factory work and other essential services. Shift workers often experience a mismatch between their central circadian clock in the brain and everyday behaviors, such as sleep/wake and fasting/eating cycles. Importantly, they also have a 25-40% higher risk of depression and anxiety.
“Shift workers — as well as people with circadian disturbances, including jet lag — can benefit from our mealtime intervention,” said co-corresponding author Sarah L. Chellappa, MD, PhD, who completed work on this project at the Brigham.
Chellappa now works in the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Cologne, Germany. “Our findings open the door to a novel sleep/circadian behavior strategy that could also benefit people with mental health conditions. Our study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that strategies that optimize sleep and rhythms circadians can help promote mental health.
To conduct the study, Scheer, Chellappa and their colleagues recruited 19 participants (12 men and 7 women) for a randomized controlled study. Participants underwent a forced desynchronization protocol in dim light for four 28-hour “days,” such that by the fourth “day,” their behavioral cycles were reversed by 12 hours, simulating night work and causing misalignment circadian.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two mealtime groups: the daytime and nighttime meal control group, which ate meals on a 28-hour cycle (resulting in nighttime and daytime meals, which is typical among night workers), and the Daytime-Only Meal Intervention Group, which had meals on a 24-hour cycle (resulting in eating only during the day).
The team assessed depressed and anxious mood levels hourly.
The team found that the timing of meals significantly affected participants’ mood levels. During the simulated night shift (Day 4), people in the daytime and nighttime meal control group had increased levels of depressed mood and anxious mood levels, compared to baseline (Day 1). In contrast, there were no mood changes in the daytime meal intervention group during the simulated night shift. Participants with a higher degree of circadian misalignment experienced a more depressed and anxious mood.
“Meal timing is becoming an important aspect of nutrition that can influence physical health,” Chellappa said. “But the causal role of the timing of food intake on mental health remains to be tested. Future studies are needed to determine whether changes in meal times can help people with depressive and anxiety/anxiety-related disorders.
Disclosures: Scheer served on the board of the Sleep Research Society and received consulting fees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Funding: Cette étude a été financée par les National Institutes of Health (Numéros de subventions R01HL118601, 1UL1TR001102 et 1UL1TR002541, R01HL118601, R01DK099512, R01DK102696, R01DK105072, R01HL140574, R01HL1539696 et K900, R01HL140574, R01HL1539696 et K9001H500, AMERICE14500 -PDF-103).
About this food and mental health research news
Author: Jessica Pastor
Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Contact: Jessica Pastore – Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: Free access.
“Daytime Eating Prevents Mood Vulnerability in Night Work” by Frank AJL Scheer et al. PNAS
Eating during the day prevents mood vulnerability in night work
Shift workers have a 25-40% higher risk of depression and anxiety, in part due to a misalignment between the central circadian clock and daily environmental/behavioral cycles that can negatively affect mood and emotional well-being. Therefore, evidence-based circadian interventions are needed to prevent mood vulnerability in shift work settings.
We used a tightly controlled 14-day circadian paradigm to assess mood vulnerability during simulated night work with day and night or day-only feeding versus simulated day work (baseline).
Simulated night work with daytime and nighttime eating increased depressed mood levels by 26.2% (p– value adjusted using false discovery rates, pFDR=0.001; effect size r = 0.78) and anxious mood levels by 16.1% (pFDR=0.001; effect size r = 0.47) compared to baseline, whereas this did not occur with simulated night work in the group eating only during the day.
Importantly, a higher degree of internal circadian misalignment was strongly associated with more depression (r = 0.77; P = 0.001) and anxious type (r = 0.67; P = 0.002) mood levels during simulated night work. These results offer a proof-of-concept demonstration of an evidence-based mealtime intervention that can prevent mood vulnerability in shift-work settings.
Future studies are needed to determine whether changes in mealtimes can prevent mood vulnerability in night shift workers.
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