lag problems may be related to meals
a trip to Europe? There may be a way to make jet lag more bearable.
A new U.Va. study indicates that the timing of meals may play
an important role in how quickly the body adjusts to a new time
schedule. Abrupt changes in light/dark cycles and eating schedules
have effects on the way people feel, as well as on overall health.
at the NSF Center for Biological
Timing, based at U.Va., have found that chow time can reset
the circadian clock in the liver, as a factor separate from --
but related to -- the central body clock in the brain after an
abrupt change in light/dark cycles. The liver helps regulate digestion,
which may explain why so many trans-oceanic travelers experience
upset stomach when they suddenly begin eating on new schedules.
The researchers use transgenic rats to study how light/dark cycles
and eating schedules affect the clocks in several of the body's
a study published last year, Michael Menaker, U.Va. Commonwealth
Professor of Biology, and his team, discovered that the liver
resets its clock at a slower rate than the central clock in the
brain during light shifts resembling travel across several time
zones. Menaker's new study, published in a recent issue of the
journal Science, demonstrates that readjusted eating times can
greatly reduce the time necessary to reset the biological clock
in the liver and, possibly, other peripheral organs. Both studies
have implications for the health of shift workers as well.
says travelers might be able to help the body adjust to time zone
shifts by easing into the destination's eating schedule a few
days before making a long east-west trip.