We have spoken a lot about how timing your meals can impact your weight and sleep. Meal timing can also play a role in blood sugar management. Skipping meals can cause blood sugar lows. Eating too often can cause highs. Today, we’re looking at new research that has found that keeping a regular meal schedule can positively impact gut health.
A study found that sticking to a regular meal schedule lowered people’s risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or having a flare-up if they had IBS.
“It’s no surprise that consuming large meals in one sitting can cause digestive distress. I’ve also had clients who feel IBS spasms when going too long without eating,” said Dasha Agoulnik, registered dietitian and CEO of CorePerform. “Establishing patterns of regular meals can help decrease digestive burden and encourage proper digestive patterns.”
Along with eating a high-fiber diet, meal timing is one of the top pieces of advice that Maria Adams, adjunct professor of nutrition at Endicott College, suggests. She adds that it isn’t simply meals you need to consider but snacks as well. Many of us eat snacks on and off throughout the day. The healthiest course is to stick to three meals a day. If you are going to have snacks, it’s more beneficial for your digestive tract if you eat them at the same time every day, according to Prof. Adams.
There is clear logic as to why eating regularly helps people with digestive problems. Bodies are biological machines. If you add in a lot of fuel at once and then none for long periods, your digestive tract has to work very hard very quickly and then weight. It makes sense that that could lead to GI problems.
But, there’s an additional factor: the microbiome. As you know, your diet impacts the bacteria and microorganisms that live in your gut, helping you to stay healthy. A study found that eating the bulk of calories early in the day, fasting at night and sticking to the pattern reduced inflammation, improved cell regeneration and aided GI problems. Moreover, the researchers saw more microbial diversity in the gut. That’s the proof of a healthy microbiome.
With all this in mind, if you have concerns for your gut health, want to aid your microbiome or want to be more regular, eating on a schedule may be a smart move. While it’s not always possible to eat at precisely the same time every day, setting meal times and trying to stick with them might be a healthy step forward for you.