Are You in the Habit of Eating Late at Night?
Scientific studies consider a person eating late at night or having late night dinner eating habits if he/she eats very close to sleeping or around 7pm and consumes more than 50% of daily caloric requirement during this time of the day. Some studies also call this Nocturnal Eating, Eating Late, or having dinner two hours before bedtime. Research also points to people who wake up in the middle of the night and eat. Medical journals also describe these eating habits as Nocturnal Snacking or eating late at night. Whatever you call it these days; doctors warn about the detrimental effects to a person’s health of late night eating habits.
Eating Late at Night, Why is it So Bad For Your Body?
A study by Striegel-Moore, RH, et al found out that eating late at night contributes significantly to the following:
- Consumption of 433 calories more per day
- Addition of 492.1 mg more sodium
- Having 0.9% less protein
- Gain of 33.8 mg more cholesterol
Since energy expenditure and physical activities are normally less during the night (assuming you do not work the graveyard shift of course), these added calories, sodium and cholesterol can negatively affect the overall well being of a person. Some of the negative effects described by medical studies that contribute to different types of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases include:
- Increase blood glucose level
- Higher blood pressure
- Elevated lipid levels, etc.
Why is Eating Late at Night Associated with Memory and Learning Problems?
Several scientific pieces of literature describe the effects of consuming calories very late at night to result in weight gain and obesity. Moreover, new studies describe the correlation between eating late at night and the overall health of the brain. Dr. Mercola, as well as Nakajima and Suwa, claim that eating late at night or two hours before going to bed is detrimental to mental health since it disrupts the normal circadian rhythm of a person. The “feasting-famine” cycle as discussed by Dr. Mercola is very important in the proper metabolic process of the body.
Metabolism, according to Healthline.com, is a chemical process that our bodies use to transform food or nutrients into fuel. Bodily functions depend on this metabolic process. Additionally, a healthy diet plan is vital for maintaining normal metabolic processes. Excessive consumption and irregular eating patterns can impair the body’s ability to digest nutrients, leading to slower absorption rates.
- Gallant et al. in their study, which relates to eating late at night and obesity discussed the possibility of individuals experiencing physiological and psychological problems because of circadian disruptions. Marchetti also posits the idea that the body attuned with its circadian rhythm is more likely to be in good health holistically. Light is one of the environmental cues that regulate circadian rhythm. Currently there is a growing evidence that food intake is also an important cue in maintaining correct circadian rhythm, which in turn promotes proper metabolic processes. The best brain foods include omega-3 fatty acids, broccoli, avocadoes, berries, celery, leafy greens, eggs, walnuts, turmeric, and extra virgin olive oil. These support normal nervous system functions.
Disruption in the Circadian rhythm and the metabolic process as an effect of eating late at night can affect the brain in the following way:
- Quality of sleep is lessened, therefore a person may develop mental fatigue, or decrease concentration
- Certain human growth enzymes which are needed for important cellular process are activated when the body is in a “rest state”, unfortunately if a person eats late at night, or eats 50% of calorie requirement after 7pm, the body will have a harder time going into a rest state because the body is still processing food.
Dr. Mercola suggests eating prior to 7pm or to reduce calorie intake after this period. This would allow the body enough time to process food and prepare it for sleep. It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to process the amino acid tryptophan to the brain and then converted to serotonin, which is a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter. If a person eats after 7pm especially with a high-protein meal, this will disrupt the “sleep signal” and will inhibit the tryptophan conversion process in the brain, which makes it hard for a person to have a good quality of sleep.
Fasting Can Boost* Brainpower
A study by Dr. Michael Mosley as quoted by Dr. Mercola, also points to the beneficial effect of fasting in the brain. As Dr. Mosley described, a body that is in the “fasting” state increases the creation of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein triggers brain stem cells to change into new neurons, and activates several other chemicals that promote neural health. This “brain protein” is also significant in understanding the mental state changes associated with Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases.
Along with fasting, taking the best memory pills can augment the effects you will obtain from this dietary technique. Memory enhancement pills contain compounds that improve neurotransmitter connections within the brain, influencing the dopaminergic pathway, which leads to better brain functions.
Among the most effective memory pills is Provasil. It contains natural ingredients rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the brain cells from free radical damage. A Provasil review from one of their customers raved about how it helped him restore mental alertness and focus. He’s now able to concentrate on tasks even for longer. Provasil provides a lot of benefits for its users.
Avoid Late Night Eating to Sharpen Memory and Learning Habits
Here are ways on how to boost* memory and learning habits by avoiding late night eating binges:
- Schedule Your Meals – Better to have it before 7pm or to have less calories after this time. Respect your body’s internal clock to boost* production of needed enzymes for brain health.
- Get Good Quality of Sleep – Eating more carbohydrates and less protein at night, 3-4 hours before sleeping to activate serotonin in the brain. Remember good quality of sleep promotes mental alertness and boost* brain power.
Doctors cite several studies that points to the effects of late night eating, not only on the physical wellbeing of a person, but also on his mental state. Researches mentioned in this article discussed how a person who is engaged in late night eating or nocturnal eating binges is more likely exposed to disruption in memory and learning functions specifically if he is into this eating habit in a very long time. In the end, remember that good eating habits promote better health, both physically and mentally. Strive to eat health to boost* your brain powers.