Could eating more solve our jet lag woes?

I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you want to get over jet lag on your summer holiday this year, it looks like you’re going to have to eat more. I know: it’s devastating news. But you’ll just have to force yourself to reach for another slice of chocolate cake so you can finally wake up feeling refreshed.

Scientists from The Research Institute for Time Studies at Yamaguchi University in Japan have just unveiled research that suggests that the insulin that we naturally release after eating can restore our body clocks to normal.

The researchers, led by Miho Sato, shifted the body clocks of mice by feeding them only at night, to simulate jet lag. Then they suppressed insulin levels in half of the mice and began feeding all the mice in the day again. After four days, the livers of the mice whose insulin had not been suppressed had readjusted to normal, but the livers of the mice whose insulin had been supressed were still out of whack.

Of course, we’re not mice, but we do have similar body chemistry to rodents (best not dwell on that too much), so chances are we’d react similarly to this experiment. Which means that keeping insulin levels stable by eating at regular hours and not missing meals while you travel might be the best way to avoid feeling groggy and actually enjoy your holiday (or, er, your exciting return to work) after a long-haul flight.

When to eat for the right effect would depend on which direction you’re going in and the time difference involved, but generally Sato’s advice is to fill up earlier for destinations that are ahead of us, and hold off a while if they’re behind. What’s that you say? Back in April, scientists developed an app that relieves jet lag by advising you when to be in the dark and when to expose your eyes to light? Lalalalala can’t hear you…

Image via Planet Chopstick’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley