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Heart Health: 4 Reasons to Avoid Eating Late at Night

Eating late at night

Are you guilty of eating dinner late due to a busy lifestyle or just love a good midnight snack? These late night eating habits could have a negative impact not just on your waistline, but on your heart health as well. A study done by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, confirms that eating late-night meals has various negative health effects. To help keep your heart and weight in check, here are four reasons to avoid eating late at night.

Increases Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease

We all know that eating late at night can lead to weight gain, but this new study suggests that it also raises your risk of diabetes and heart disease. The team of U.S. researchers found that late night eating can raise insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Elevated levels of glucose and insulin are precursors for prediabetes and eventually diabetes.  

Eating late at night can also raise your cholesterol and triglycerides, which are types of fat found in your blood that can increase your risk of heart disease. If a lifestyle change is not made once diabetes develops, this could lead to other health problems such as kidney disease, heart disease, and blindness.

Weight Gain

Research has consistently proven that people who eat late-night meals weigh more than those who eat their meals earlier in the day. The Perelman School of Medicine study discovered that eating late at night caused people to gain weight due to the reduction of the body’s ability to burn fat, and the participants ended up storing store carbohydrates – which also leads to weight gain and high blood sugar and insulin levels.

For eight weeks, researchers put nine participants on a daytime eating schedule from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., which consisted of three meals and two snacks. This same group followed a delayed eating schedule from noon to 11 p.m. that also consisted of three meals and two snacks. Through both schedules, their sleep pattern remained the same (11 p.m. to 9 a.m.).

The results, eating earlier in the day produced hormone changes that caused the participants to feel full longer. According to the researchers, this suggests that eating earlier may help prevent overeating in the evening and late at night.

Acid Reflux

By now we know that when we eat is just as important (if not more) as what we eat. Eating too close to bedtime can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. Researchers suggest eating a light dinner allowing about 2 to 3 hours between dinner and bedtime.

Eating a heavy dinner within an hour of going to sleep could lead to a sleepless night and burning chest pains. In addition to late-night meals, it’s best to avoid consuming carbonated drinks, alcohol, and drinks with caffeine within that 2 to 3 hours bedtime span as these items can trigger acid reflux as well.

Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Your blood pressure goes through a natural daily pattern where it rises and drops throughout the entire day. According to the Mayo Clinic, your blood pressure is usually lower at night while you’re asleep. A few hours before you wake up in the morning, your blood pressure will begin to rise and will repeat its daily pattern.

When you eat late, this affects your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your blood pressure should drop by at least 10% at night, to allow the body to rest. Research suggests that late-night meals significantly impacts your blood pressure overnight, keeping your body in ‘high alert’ mode instead of going into relaxation. If your blood pressure remains at an elevated level, this increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

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