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Excess holiday eating disturbs your food clock

All of those delicious dishes during the holiday may not only add extra pounds but they also upset what scientists call your "food clock."

Researchers say that's a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food entrainable oscillator.

It keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel and is there to help our bodies make the most of our nutritional intake.

It controls genes that help in everything from the absorption of nutrients in our digestive tract to their dispersal through the bloodstream, and it is designed to anticipate our eating patterns. Even before we eat a meal, our bodies begin to turn on some of these genes and turn off others, preparing for the burst of sustenance which is why we feel the pangs of hunger just as the lunch hour arrives.

Scientist have known that the food clock can be reset over time if an organism changes its eating patterns, eating to excess or at odd times, since the timing of the food clock is pegged to feeding during the prime foraging and hunting hours in the day. But until now, very little was known about how the food clock works on a genetic level.

Researchers found that a protein called PKCγ is critical in resetting the food clock if our eating habits change. The study showed that normal laboratory mice given food only during their regular sleeping hours will adjust their food clock over time and begin to wake up from their slumber, and run around in anticipation of their new mealtime. But mice lacking the PKCγ gene are not able to respond to changes in their meal time instead sleeping right through it.

They say they've discovered the molecular basis for this phenomenon: the PKCγ protein binds to another molecule called BMAL and stabilizes it, which shifts the clock in time. They hope this research will also shed light on why some humans are over-weight and other metabolic syndromes.

For more details on this check out this month's journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

This report is compiled from content published by the University of California, San Francisco.

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