Click to listen to the audio…
Diet doesn’t matter if you live outside
And you’re a sand rat.
I know, I know…………… you’re not a sand rat, but just like a sand rat, you’re biologically wired to be diurnal i.e.
You DO, in the day and SLEEP at night.
Now this pattern of behaviour, is NOT what is seen in your typical lab rat. Lab rats come from nocturnal stock i.e.
They SLEEP in the day and DO, at night.
It’s a subtle difference, but a BIGGIE…………
Clearly what happens to a sand rat, is likely to be more relevant to you, than what happens to a lab rat. Humans ARE wired to be diurnal, even if you think you’re a night owl !
Why aren’t we studying sand rats ?
Now you might be thinking………….
Hello, why aren’t we studying sand rats more ?
Well the short answer is………….. sand rats, along with other rodents that are diurnal, don’t DO WELL, in labs. When the little guys get popped in a cage and fed standard rat chow, they get fat, become diabetic and many of them, actually pass to the other side.
As I said………….. they don’t DO WELL !
But, this doesn’t happen, if they’re kept outside. This is what a group of Israeli researchers recently discovered.
Happy healthy sand rats
Potter around in hot dry places in North Africa and the Mediterranean, feeding on a low calorie salt bush, by day.
When they are brought into a lab and fed, salt bush, they don’t seem to suffer, from all the metabolic mayhem. So the take home message for sand rats is
Don’t overeat, it makes you FAT and SICK.
Which is the same message we humans hear from health gurus…. but for sand rats its WORSE !
Remember, standard lab rat chow is NOT considered a BAD DIET. Well the human minders don’t consider is BAD, who knows what the rats think.
Let’s get back to THIS STUDY……….
Sand rats “pig” out
In this study, the sand rats where not on “diet”……
They sat around in cages, eating standard rat chow.
But they remained “perfectly” healthy.
The only thing that was different, the sand rats were OUTSIDE, not INSIDE.
Inside is the problem ?
So what is the difference between being outside and inside ?
A gazzillion things.
Inside there are no bugs, no predators, no weather and “NO LIGHT”.
Okay, there is light, but the light is “different”.
In this study, the researchers went to great lengths to ensure that the timing of the light was the same, for the sand rats, inside the lab, as well as outside the lab.
They did this, by adjusting when the lights went on and off, so as to perfectly match the daylight cycle outdoors. This meant at the start of the study, both groups of sand rats experienced 10 hours and 40 min of day, and by the end of the study, some 9 weeks later, the day length had increased to 12 hours and 39 minutes.
So day length was NOT different.
But light intensity was…………
Light bulbs are NOT sunshine
No matter how bright the lights are inside, they don’t compare to the amount of light you experience outside. Even on a cloudy day.
Now for the sand rats, this is an issue…………
When they tracked, the animal’s behaviours, they found, inside sand rats lost track of time.
No longer diurnal
Instead of eating in the day and sleeping at night, they did………
This can be seen here, the yellow shows, what the outside sand rats were up to, while the grey, shows how they behaved inside. You can see, they became couch potatoes and ate more dinner, in the wee eyes of the night.
Interestingly enough, they didn’t actually eat MORE food. The timing of when they ate, was different.
Basically they became………… NOCTURNAL.
And suffered the consequences, becoming FATTER and less glucose tolerant.
Are common. Despite being “wired” to be diurnal, many people “act” like they’re nocturnal.
Maybe this is not all that surprising………….
Humans are living under “LAB conditions”.
I know we don’t like to think about it this way, but in modern societies,
- food is available ad libitum 24/7 and
- we control our ambient temperature and light exposure.
This is what happens in a laboratory.
And when it come to light exposure , we’ve got it completely back to front. We’re exposed to low levels of light during the day and relatively high levels at night.
Lessons from our sand rat cousins
The plea from these researchers is that more research should be done on diurnal creatures.
I AGREE !
But in the mean time, if you want BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY, you need to be mindful of your diurnal wiring.
Make it a goal, to get out of the “lab”…………. and live MORE outside.
You might just find, what you eat, doesn’t matter quite as much !
A dose of bright light, before noon, might be just what you need to be lighter on your toes, timing of exposure to light impacts weight
If you eat, when you should be asleep, the enzymes contracted to work the night shift clock in for work, but they don’t do the work, so fat burning ceases.
Modern living is CLOCK LIVING, but just like you, Mother Nature is time sensitive. You need to co-ordinate your diary with your body’s schedule.