The Sad Case of Out-of-Sync Clocks and Insulin Resistance

Our bodies have metabolisms that run on a 24 hour clock. (circadian) During that time the body must do a variety of functions such as excreting digestive juices, actually digesting, resting, repairing, expressing genes and communicating down to the cellular and molecular levels. It is an well-organized and very important business. In our brains behind our eyes is the Master clock named the SCN that runs all the clocks in our body. 

This "boss clock" named the SCN,  instructs all the little clocks in the tissues and organs throughout your body when to go and do their stuff.  He is part of the brain. He sends his messages to all the clocks in your liver and pancreas and elsewhere in your body, from your head to your toes.

How does Mr. SCN know when to do what he does? Obviously he uses light signals from the eye. He knows that when it is light that daytime activities need to be done and when it is dark then night time activities need to be done. He gets his cues from his environment, but he is an old-fashioned chap.  Like your dad and his dad’s dad we have had a natural environment to get our cues from. That’s just how it is meant to be. 

Let me highlight just one of these processes that Mr SCN helps coordinate: At night special things happen whilst we are asleep. Our cells clean out all the waste. If this is not done our poor cells start to really get in a mess. Yup! They become sick and confused all the clutter and stuff starts to mess with the signals the cell gives to others. The cell stops working with the program and so we end up having metabolic diseases like fatty livers and even cancers.

Now to get their orders "in time", the clocks in your body need Mr SCN  to have his head in the game. He is literally a bundle of nerves and needs to be running a split second ahead of the pack because they all need to get the signal from him perfectly at the same time. Every clock is ready to obey him, but should he become confused or get light signals he should not get then we have problems. Big ones. 

Mr SCN  needs a fatty acid named DHA as his helper. And DHA has a superpower: He turns sunlight into a DC electric current in your eye. DHA is found in your brain and tissues, but by perfect design he is mostly in the retina of your eye where he helps power Mr SCN  who is in your brain behind your eye ready to do his magic with “bioelectrical cellular communication”.Wow, a big word for keeping things going, hey?! 

Now if poor Mr SCN  is not getting enough DC current, or not the right light at the right time of day, or not enough DHA in his food or good nutrition for the body to at very least make a teeny amount of DHA itself, what is going to happen to poor Mr SCN?  Well he is going to become sluggish and then we have problems. Instead of running broadband he is running the South African Post Office. The messages are not going to get through on time and some may be scrambled or heavens forbid, lost like your postal speeding fines do! 

Put electromagnetic signals near him and he also starts to get bewildered with interference on his line. ???? It’s like giving putting 3 telephones in someone’s hand whilst they are running a busy restaurant kitchen. Confusing and dangerous. Some electromagnetic disturbances make Mr SCN’s  clock tick slower or faster and make him a very confused guy instead of the zippy young chap he should be. And it is just going to get worse. You can imagine him sending messages such as: “Clean house” when you switch the telly off at night: He knows you are going to sleep. “Ahh finally!” But when you climb into bed with your mobile or tablet to read your Facebook messages and he gets confused and tells everyone to wait. 

Hold on team” it is still daytime. Carry on with day stuff”. "Whaattt?" cry "We are sooo tired boss." 

That’s not cool. That makes your body start to wear out right down to your cells. All those light signals late at night or too early in the morning are like leaving a traffic light on green in one direction. Some stuff gets done and other stuff that should be done does not, and so we have jams and accidents and very angry and inflamed livers and kidneys and bladders and tummies. Eish! Our pancreas that makes the insulin gets very insolent or resistant. He is exhausted. All this "on and off" makes him very grumpy and so to cope he goes on strike. Can you see the post office story impacting everything?

Metabolic chaos ensues. All this chaos proceeds from things not happening at the correct time. Instead of “In sync” playing in your body we have “de-sync” and dis is disaster. Yes! Out-of-sync bodies are fat and/or sick bodies with chronic diseases .

More examples of things that cause this "de-sync" are eating the wrong foods at the wrong time like late-night snacks. Eating a load of bananas in the middle of a cold winter. Serious! Dressing like a polar bear in the middle of summer. Sleeping during daylight and partying or working all night.

So let’s put everything in super-slow motion so you can understand how things get into a metabolic mess. This is only a part of the story and maybe a little oversimplified, but I think you will start to understand:

4:00pm body clocks, 3:59pm brain clock:
You eat some food. 
Gut says to brain, "Food incoming! Insulin please, please boss!”

4:01pm body clock, 4:00pm brain clock:
Gut says to brain, "WTF! Where is my insulin??!!"
Brain says, "Pancreas! Some insulin please!", unaware that the gut is pissed off now. 

Pancreas replies, "Whatever bro, cool" and gets to making insulin.

4:02pm body clock, 4:01pm brain clock:
Brain thinks, "Another message?? :confused: Alright ....More insulin incoming".
Pancreas shouts: "How much insulin do you want me to make?! :eek:"

6:00pm body clock, 5:59pm brain clock:
Gut to brain, "Food is now finished with digesting, don't need the insulin anymore."  

6:01pm body clock, 6:00pm brain clock:
Gut to brain: "Hellloooooo??? Why do I still see Insulin?"
Brain goes, "Stop insulin Now :cool:"
Pancreas, "Whatever bro!"
6:02pm body clock, 6:01pm brain clock:
Brain now sees pissed-off message from gut. “Oops”.

If the brain's clock is slow, it is essentially "forced to predict the future", and you know how well that goes. We start falling apart - metabolic chaos ensues.

By Jason Coates