Tucking into a hearty breakfast upon arriving at our destination could offset the effects of jetlag, say scientists.
Researchers studying our internal clocks suggest adjusting to new time zones by eating at regular mealtimes can help align our circadian rhythms.
The American scientists, who created a mathematical model to measure what happens to our internal clocks under the effects of aging and disruptions such as jetlag, also found that constantly shifting mealtimes and snacking late at night can misalign our internal clocks.
Future research also hopes to identify factors that make our internal clocks more resilient – which could dispel jet lag in the first place.
Jet lag is caused by a difference between the body’s circadian system – our internal clocks – and its surrounding environment after traveling to a new time zone.
A few decades back, scientists began to discover that our bodies contain multiple internal clocks which are calibrated in different ways.
They deciphered that jet lag-like symptoms occur when these clocks drift out of sync with each other – which happens in several ways and becomes more and more prevalent the older we get.
Modern research has shown our circadian clocks are present in almost every cell and tissue in our bodies, with each relying on its own set of cues to calibrate.
The brain’s clock, for example, depends on sunlight, whilst clocks in the peripheral organs calibrate themselves at mealtimes.
However, little is still known about how our bodies’ various internal clocks affect each other, leading researchers to use simplified models.
But in this most recent study, published in the scientific journal Chaos, Dr. Yitong Huang and her colleagues built a mathematical framework that accounts for the complex interplay between the different systems.
The team’s model features two populations of coupled oscillators – devices that fluctuate periodically between two things based on changes in energy – that mimic the natural rhythms of circadian cycles, with each oscillator influencing the others whilst simultaneously adjusting based on unique external cues.
Using this model, the researchers were able to explore how such a system could be disrupted by sudden changes in time zones, and what can make the effects worse.
They found that common symptoms of aging, such as weaker signals between circadian clocks and a lower sensitivity to light, resulted in a system left more vulnerable to disruptions and slower to recover.
But they also discovered that the secret to help speed up recovery from jet lag lay in the stomach.
“Having a larger meal in the early morning of the new time zone can help overcome jet lag.
“Constantly shifting meal schedules or having a meal at night is discouraged, as it can lead to misalignment between internal clocks.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker