Time-restricted Eating (TRE) and its Effect on Metabolic Disease: Join the Livingto100.Club

Time-restricted Eating

There’s a new gun in town to fight off chronic diseases. In a persuasive article, limiting food intake to a window of 10 hours can prevent, or even reverse metabolic diseases like obesity, high blood sugar, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. That’s the message from two researchers from the University of California San Diego, Drs. Satchin Panda and Pam Taub. These two scientists are exploring the effects of timing of nutrition on health on human subjects, after reviewing animal studies that have shown that time-restricted eating (“TRE”) have beneficial effects on conditions that already affect millions of people in the U.S.  Their objective is to see how TRE, shown to be safe in healthy individuals, can affect individuals who collectively have what is now referred to as metabolic syndrome: obesity, high blood sugar, high BP, high level of bad cholesterol (HDL) and low level of good cholesterol (LDL). 

Metabolic Disease

The symptoms of metabolic syndrome include:

  • fatigue and inability to focus
  • high blood pressure
  • low HDL (high-density lipoproteins, “good cholesterol”)
  • high LDL (low-density cholesterol, “bad cholesterol”)
  • high triglyceride levels
  • high fasting glucose levels
  • central obesity (apple shaped obesity)
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome in women and erectile dysfunction in men
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • the browning of folds of skin around the neck and armpits.

Instead of looking at calorie consumption and usual medications for these diseases during this small study, the researchers looked to a different lifestyle choice to reduce risk: a daily fasting program that restricted eating to a 10-hour window. Drinking water and taking medications outside this window were allowed. 

Is TRE Effective?

Patients’ physical activity, glucose levels, BP, HDL and LDL levels were monitored.  After 12 weeks, most of the 19 subjects lost a modest amount of body weight, particularly fat from the abdominal region. Those with high blood glucose levels reduced these levels, and most reduced their LDL and BP.  And all of these changes were independent of increases in physical activity.  Unexpected findings also included restful sleep at night and less hunger at bedtime.  Also unintended was the finding that after completing the study, nearly 70% of the subjects continued with TRE for at least a year. As usual, the authors concluded that larger sample sizes are needed, as well as randomized trials and multiple locations.  They also emphasized that restricted eating is practiced under medical supervision.   

A recent blog from the Living to 100 Club explored the subject of intermittent fasting, various practices, and the multiple benefits that accrue to those who practice it.  The research is mounting: more and more favorable outcomes are surfacing.  The TRE study described in this article, though limited, only adds to the evidence that there’s something to this for longevity, and health improvement.

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