We all have different circadian rhythms but they slow down during aging, and we may be able to do something about it.
Your body is in a state of constant flux and the circadian rhythm is its master regulator, controlling everything from sleep cycles to appetite and beyond. Jet lag is a side effect of a confused internal cycle as it adjusts to a new timetable. Shift work and irregular patterns of activity can also potentially cause some serious problems if sustained for a long period, including raising risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia and all cause mortality.
When researchers studied aging mice, they saw a progressive decline in levels of molecules called polyamines. These are involved with a number of processes, but particularly in cell growth and circadian rhythm. The drop in polyamines also coincided with a slowing of their circadian cycle - which increased disease risk.
"This discovery demonstrates the tight intertwining between circadian clocks and metabolism, and opens new possibilities for nutritional interventions that modulate the clock's function. Impaired circadian rhythmicity has been linked to a wide variety of age-related diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and inflammation."
Diet can influence your rhythm
What you eat and when you eat it are both important in determining what your cells will do with the energy. When researchers treated young mice with a drug that blocked metabolism of these polyamine molecules, their rhythm slowed by 11 minutes every day. However, when mice were given increased polyamines their cycle sped up, which was able to reverse the slowing process in older mice.
Polyamines and longevity
This isn't the first time polyamines like spermidine have been linked to longevity. They also increase a process called autophagy, which leads to better cell recycling and garbage disposal. There has been evidence that they can increase lifespan, at least in flies. They're actually found in a variety of foods like soybeans and blue cheese, although at a smaller concentration.
Controlling the cycle
We're each born with specific tendencies which affects whether we prefer morning or evening, but there are external elements that can alter our internal rhythms. We know diet plays a role but light exposure, especially blue light, activates daylight sensors which control wakefulness. Spending lots of time before bed gazing at electronic devices, or sleeping in a bright room could potentially be harming your health if they're a daily activity. We don't know enough yet about human polyamine usage or the effect of circadian rhythm perturbation in humans, but it could well be another area to explore.
"If they hold true in humans, they will have broad clinical implications. The ability to repair the clock simply through nutritional intervention, namely polyamine supplementation, is exciting and obviously of great clinical potential."
Read more at Medical Daily