A Note From Andy: I had a wonderful phone call last week. It was with Dr. Paul Sullivan, one of the many Connections I’ve made through Manward.
After hearing about his research, I begged him to write an essay about what he’s discovered. Dr. Paul has an incredible story. He was Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” he has 35 years of experience as a pharmacist and nutritional product formulator, and he has consulted with some of the biggest healthcare companies on the planet.
Today, though, he’s revealing that good health is not merely about the drugs we take… it’s about when we take them. It’s a breakthrough that blew my mind when he told me about it. I’m confident you’ll feel the same way.
Barely six months ago in Stockholm, Sweden, U.S. scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize for medicine for the unraveling of molecular mechanisms that control our internal body clocks.
Chronopharmacology and chronobiology, or the study of biological clocks, are now a growing field of research thanks to the pioneering work of the three scientists, who explained the role of specific genes in keeping fruit flies in step with light and darkness.
“This ability to prepare for the regular daily fluctuations is crucial for all life forms,” Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Karolinska Institute Nobel Committee, told reporters.
“This year’s Nobel Prize laureates have been studying this fundamental problem and solved the mystery of how an inner clock in our bodies can anticipate daily fluctuations between night and day to optimize our behavior and physiology.”
Their discoveries help explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythms to be in sync with the Earth’s revolutions as well as how the body’s systems react to light and darkness.
Scientists now understand that body clocks influence fertility, alertness, mood, hunger, metabolism, sleep and other physiological conditions.
Today, scientists are now exploring new “chronotherapy” treatments based on such circadian cycles, including establishing the best times to take medicines.
As both a nutritionist and compound pharmacist, I have been an avid student of applying these same principles I have been researching for the past 18 years to nutrition and the optimal time of day to take each nutrient.
Your Body Is a Time Machine
Life moves to the beat of clocks and calendars… some outside the body, like the one on your smartphone, and others within your body in your very cells and organs.
When we talk about clocks here, the application is to rhythms or biorhythms, where our body changes according to a certain predictable, timely pattern.
The difference is “night and day,” where your body undergoes daily cycles of body temperature, cholesterol, blood pressure, hormone regulation, immune cell activity and basically all metabolism.
The brain’s timekeeping mechanism gets its instructions from a variety of sources but most often from light changes (for example, changing from light to darkness when the sun goes down) that then relay signals to your body’s own cellular clocks, giving “signals” to regulate overall body rhythms and functions.
A Time for Everything
Although the concept of chronobiology and the application of circadian rhythms has existed for at least 60 years, it has received little attention from Western medicine.
When it comes to nutrition, we all recognize that “one size does not fit all.” And when it comes to leveraging the benefits of your biorhythms, neither does “one time of day fit all” when it comes to nutrition or medicine.
While there are many dozens of examples of body rhythms, a few examples are…
- An easy starter would be melatonin. Melatonin concentrations in the body peak at 2 a.m. and then shut down early in the morning before we awaken (hence the optimal time of day or night to take melatonin is 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime).
- Blood pressure starts to rise along with cortisol around 6 a.m., and more than 70% of strokes and heart attacks happen between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. (hence the optimal time of day to take heart supportive nutrients is at dinner so they are available overnight).
- Even for prescription medicines such as statins, where there is clear evidence of increased cholesterol biosynthesis nocturnally, evening administration is clearly recommended in the literature. Actually cholesterol has an annual rhythm and is 8% to 9% higher in December-January than June-July, irrespective of medication.
- Osteoarthritis pain is most prevalent in the afternoon whereas rheumatoid arthritis pain is more prevalent in the morning (hence the optimal time of day to take nutrients that are supportive for osteoarthritis is at breakfast so they are available in the afternoon).
As per the Nobel Prize for medicine quoted above, scientists now understand that body clocks influence alertness, hunger, metabolism, fertility, mood and other physiological conditions.
“We are learning more and more what impact it has to not follow your clock,” Nobel committee member Christer Hoog told Reuters. “If you constantly disobey your clock, what will happen?”
In the medical literature, we are learning more about what “will” happen if you “obey” your internal clock, and that is taking either supplements or prescription medications at the “right time of day or night” will certainly enhance their absorption and metabolism and “increase” your chances of receiving the desired, positive and “timely” outcome.
When it comes to your health, clearly, it’s about time.