According to a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, meal timing can influence mental health, including depression levels and anxiety-related symptoms. Experts from Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, made a study that aimed on examining night work and then checked the effects of daytime and nighttime eating compared to only daytime eating.
To conduct the study, Scheer, Chellappa, and their team registered 19 participants, which included 12 men and 7 women, for a controlled research. The research concluded that meal timing can majorly impact the participants' mood levels. The team noted that the participants who were in the nighttime eating group experienced more depression-like mood levels. As compared to the daytime eating group, there was an increase by 26 percent and anxiety mood levels by 16 percent. People in the daytime-only eating group did not go through such symptoms, clearly indicating that meal timing may affect an individual's mood.
Co-corresponding author Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Brigham's Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, said, "Our findings provide evidence for the timing of food intake as a novel strategy to potentially minimize mood vulnerability in individuals experiencing circadian misalignment, such as people engaged in shift work, experiencing jet lag, or suffering from circadian rhythm disorders."
He further added, "Future studies in shift workers and clinical populations are required to firmly establish if changes in meal timing can prevent their increased mood vulnerability. Until then, our study brings a new 'player' to the table: the timing of food intake matters for our mood."
Co-corresponding author Sarah L. Chellappa, MD, PhD, said, "Meal timing is emerging as an important aspect of nutrition that may influence physical health. But the causal role of the timing of food intake on mental health remains to be tested. Future studies are required to establish if changes in meal timing can help individuals experiencing depressive and anxiety/anxiety-related disorders."