How fewer meals may lower diabetes and obesity risk

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A recent study from the University of Georgia has turned the spotlight on time-restricted eating, a form of intermittent fasting, which might be beneficial in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and improving overall health.

This eating pattern involves having fewer meals, avoiding late-night snacks, and not eating for about 12 to 14 hours, usually overnight.

After a thorough review of existing research, the University of Georgia team, including Krzysztof Czaja, an associate professor of biomedical sciences, found a notable link between the frequency of meals and the risks of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

This finding challenges the long-held belief that eating three meals daily with snacks in between is the healthiest approach.

The traditional eating pattern of multiple meals and snacks doesn’t allow insulin levels to decrease throughout the day.

This, combined with the high calorie and sugar intake in the average American diet, can lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately Type 2 diabetes.

According to Czaja, this continuous eating pattern prevents the body from utilizing fat stores for energy, as it’s constantly dealing with the sugars being consumed.

Time-restricted eating, however, gives the body a chance to lower insulin and glucose levels, which can improve insulin resistance, brain health, and glycemic control.

It can also reduce daily calorie intake by approximately 550 calories, eliminating the need for calorie counting.

The study also highlights how fasting may alter the gut microbiome, potentially reducing inflammation and various metabolic disorders. Time-restricted eating can also regulate hormones that control appetite and energy levels.

The researchers recommend regular meal schedules, eating breakfast, and reducing meals and snacks to combat obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy breakfast choices like eggs, rich in healthy fats and protein, are preferred over sugar-laden cereals and pastries. The study found that other forms of restricted eating, like fasting for several days, had minimal benefits.

Obesity, a growing epidemic in the United States, is linked to numerous health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Czaja points out that ancient humans did not eat every day, suggesting that our bodies evolved to function well without daily food intake.

Modern eating habits of three meals plus snacks are a hard pattern to break, but they are not aligned with our gut-brain signaling.

The researchers emphasize that dietary needs are not one-size-fits-all, with varying requirements based on individual factors like size and activity level.

The key takeaway from their review is that fewer meals of high-quality food are beneficial, especially for those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and obesity. They also advise against late-night eating, which can disrupt sleep quality.

This study, published in Nutrients and co-authored by undergraduate biology major Carlee Harris, underscores the importance of reconsidering traditional meal patterns for better health outcomes.

If you care about health, please read studies about why blood sugar is high in the morning, and how to cook sweet potatoes without increasing blood sugar.

For more health information, please see recent studies about 9 unhealthy habits that damage your brain, and results showing this stuff in cannabis may protect aging brain, treat Alzheimer’s.

The research findings can be found in Nutrients.

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