People tend to engage in late night meals due to the nature of their jobs,staying up late to study and just the night crave to eat something. Everyone at certain times have indulged in late night meals but some people continue with it and turn it into an habit that cannot be broken easily.
Human body naturally is controlled by circadian rhythm which affect our energy level and the rate of our body metabolism that is responsible for wakefulness,working and movement during the day and fasting and sleeping during the night. Any alteration in this body rhythm as in the case of late night meals can affect our body negatively.
Below are some of harmful effects of late night meals
1. Increase in weight
Late night meals leads to increase in weight.Research have shown that when we eat a significant portion of our total food intake in the evening, we are more likely to be over weight. Major reason for this may be that the regulatory elements for the circadian clock in our fat tissues are disrupted leading to impaired fat storage. Also late night eaters have poorer choices of food, they usually select foods with low nutritive values but have higher caloric contents that can lead to increase in weight.
2. Reduction in blood sugar control
Some hormones level like insulin are usually altered by late night meals,this usually lead to a reduction in the control of blood sugar. Furthermore the ability of our body to use insulin to control blood sugar changes throughout the day, and its efficiency decreases at night. Glucose levels after meals are usually very high when meals are consumed late in the night.
3. Increased acid Reflux
Eating late night meal before bedtime tend to increase the risk for heart pain, acidity, epigastric pain or night time acid reflux, these conditions usually affect peoples quality of sleep. The stomach tries to digest food while you lie in bed, the pressure of food metabolizing can lead to the loosening of Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), allowing foods that are yet to be digested and stomach acids to travel back up the esophagus. people who suffer from reflux, are advised to create at least a two hour gap between eating and sleeping to prevent night-time reflux and also to avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol and drinks that contains caffeine within the two hour gap.
4. Increased risk of heart attack
Levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are usually elevated during late night eating due to the impairment in their metabolism. These fats are bad fats that predisposes the heart to the development of heart diseases.Blood pressure goes through a natural daily pattern; it rises and drops throughout the entire day. Our blood pressure is usually reduced at night while we’re asleep, a few hours before we wake up in the morning, our blood pressure will begin to rise and will repeat its daily pattern. Eating late at night will affect the blood pressure, the blood pressure drops by at least 10% at night to make room for the body to rest. Research suggests that late-night meals significantly impacts your blood pressure overnight, keeping your body in ‘high alert’ mode instead of going into relaxation. Constant elevated blood pressure level increases risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
5. Impairment of memory and concentration
Research has shown that late night eating impairs our memory and level of concentration.Irregular eating patterns affect the circadian system, this in turn affects the brain’s ability of learning, concentration and memorizing
Ways to reduce late night eating
- Calm yourself down before going to bed to avoid craving for comfort foods.
- Keep junk food out of the house, you will not be able to eat what is not within your reach.
- Eat your main meal three hours before bed time.
- Avoid large meals within few hours to bed time.