In a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers found blood sugar control, is affected by various factors—including the timing of meals relative to sleep as well as levels of melatonin, a hormone primarily released at night that helps control sleep-wake cycles.
They tested 845 adults from Spain, and each participant fasted for eight hours and then for the next two evenings had first an early meal and then a late meal relative to their typical bedtime.
The investigators also analyzed each participant’s genetic code within the melatonin receptor-1b gene (MTNR1B).
Previous research had linked a variant (called the G-allele) in MTNR1B with an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.
The team found that melatonin levels in participants’ blood were 3.5-fold higher after the late dinner. The late dinner timing also resulted in lower insulin levels and higher blood sugar levels.
(This connection makes sense because insulin acts to decrease blood sugar levels.) In the late dinner timing, participants with the MTNR1B G-allele had higher blood sugar levels than those without this genetic variant.
The team found that late eating disturbed blood sugar control in the whole group.
Furthermore, this impaired glucose control was predominantly seen in genetic risk variant carriers, representing about half of the participants.
Experiments found that the high melatonin levels and carbohydrate intake associated with late eating impair blood sugar control through a defect in insulin secretion.
The study results may be important in the effort towards the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
The findings are applicable to about a third of the population in the industrialized world who consume food close to bedtime, as well as other populations who eat at night, including shift workers, or those experiencing jetlag or night eating disorders, as well as those who routinely use melatonin supplements close to food intake.
The authors note that for the general population, it may be advisable to abstain from eating for at least a couple of hours before bedtime.
If you care about blood sugar, please read studies about common eating habit may lead to high blood sugar, weight gain, and findings of fruit may that could help reduce your blood sugar after a meal.
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The study is published in Diabetes Care and was conducted by Richa Saxena et al.
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