Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Light Bulbs Make Us Fat…

It’s true. It’s Edison’s fault. While technology has advanced our species it has also impacted eons of evolutionary progress. Few people understand the connection or how the process of invention can have a negative effect on our health, but I can’t help but sense their related connection.

For example, “circadian rhythm” is a term used to describe the internal clock regulating the activities all living creatures perform throughout a 24-hour day. While this internal clock may differ, some animals are nocturnal while others are active during the daylight hours, the circadian rhythm reigns supreme over everything within the body like temperature, appetite and energy level. It’s the reason why some people can regularly wake up at a specific time without the use of an alarm clock.

Before Edison’s miraculous invention came about, our human circadian rhythms were closely matched with the 24 hour cycle found in nature. We got up with the Sun and slept when it went down. By nature, and extensive evolutionary history, we developed a close relationship with 24 hour days.

When the Miracle at Menlo Park introduced the world to a light source that was able to make a room almost as bright as the day, we no longer had to squint under the dim light of torches, gas lamps or candles. We were now able to see greater distances and perform tasks that had been previously reserved for the brighter light of day.

Here is the problem: our bodies depend on light levels to determine when to release some of the many hormones that drive our behavior and our health. This ability is solely dictated by our circadian rhythms which developed with the sunlight cycles.

Let me fast forward to a 21st century example. We’ve all experienced late nights; times you stayed up to watch a movie, TV or surf the Internet. These seemingly harmless pursuits expose us to light sources during times the body thinks it should be sleeping, thereby disrupting our natural circadian rhythm.

Over time, this disruption can limit your immune system’s efficiency and interfere with the regulation of your body temperature which closely relates to your metabolism, too. Although there is no harm in the occasional late night, if made a habit, late night activities can derail the body’s ability to recover from daily stress. Stress releases Cortisol and Cortisol can make the body store fat. Hence: light bulb = fat.

Ok. Maybe I jumped the gun on my logic there, but the truth really isn't that far off. The negative impact on our circadian rhythms by modern technology is being researched by numerous organizations, with a general consensus that has not been positive.

So, while I would like to blame my extra pounds squarely on Edison and his invention; the light bulb, I must be fair. It really isn't his fault. I know that. It is up to me to develop a responsible way in which to continue to benefit from modern advances while maintaining balance with nature. After all, the Sun is not going away anytime soon. And, neither is my circadian rhythm.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal

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