Forget Light/Dark, There’s a Circadian Clock in Your Liver

Beyond social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing a healthy circadian rhythm may increase your resilience to fight Covid-19, that’s according to Satchin Panda a scientist at the Salk Institute.

“The circadian rhythm and turning on and off of more than ten thousand genes is the largest regulatory network that we know that exists in humans,” according to Dr. Panda.

Many people will be familiar with the circadian clock in the brain. But scientists like Panda believe that other clocks play a role in immune system health.

“There is a [circadian] clock in the liver. Forget about light or dark,” says Panda. “What we have to be more careful about is when we eat and when we fast.”

As we age, there is a decline in circadian rhythms, coupled with declines in the overall metabolic tissues homeostasis and changes in the feeding behavior of aged organisms. This disruption of the relationship between the clock and the nutrient sensing networks might underlie age-related diseases.

According to Panda when the timing systems in the human body are desynchronized, essential organs are compromised, reducing the potency of the immune system.

When we start the liver clock appears to have effects on glucose, lipid and oxidative pathways and immune system rejuvenation and repair.

Panda’s research team used an app called “mycircadianclock”. In this pilot study, patients were asked to take photos of what they eat and when, and log in sleep and exercise metrics.

Panda’s team was then able to create “Feedometer” graphs using plot points.

“We wanted to see if a personalized circadian rhythm will keep us away from disease,” says Panda.

Most people told researchers that they ate in a 12 hour window. But according to the data collected, most people eat for over 15 hours.

A key finding of the pilot study was that the daily intake duration exceeded 14.75 h for half the cohort.

By reducing the meal timing from a 15 hour window to 10 or 12 hours, participants reduced important biomarkers such as for inflammation.

According to Panda his labs’ research suggests that erratic eating patterns highly influence not just body clocks, but immune system function.