nmo-gut-health-journal

Lose Weight, Improve Gut Health, and Sleep Better With Light Management

November 09, 2019 Kriben Govender

 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Andy Mant. He is the founder of Blueblox Glasses. He was happy with the results from his nutrition and exercise but felt something was missing.  His research led him to discover the impact of light on health.  The effects of natural and artificial lights on wellbeing are huge and when you start to go down the rabbit hole of light you realize that light at the wrong time can make you fat!!


For Example: I caught a cold this week. I also woke up at 3 am from stress and I couldn't get back to sleep. I was out of my routine and I ended up getting sick. We know that sleep significantly influences the type of bacteria in the gut especially Akkermansia. But sleep in itself has a lot to do with light and circadian rhythm.


One of the routines I do in the morning is to get exposure to the early morning light. I go out into my garden and spend time in the sun. Find simple ways to go outside and get light throughout the morning. Light is more important to us than we know. Read on to learn why we need melatonin as an antioxidant, how gut health and light are linked, the power of blue light glasses and how to find a reputable pair, red light therapy, and how not all drinking water is created equal.

sunlight and gut health

Why Is Light So Important To Us?

We all have body rhythms. You will hear this referred to as our body clock, biological rhythm, or circadian rhythm. Circadian means “around day” in Latin, these are cycles that are in every living thing on this planet. The reason is that our biology is in connection with the rotation of the earth. It takes 24 hours for the earth to have one full rotation and that is the same amount of hours in our Circadian Rhythm. Within our body, we have our “master clock” This clock is in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain and it is influenced by light and dark

Back in our early days, we would get up with the sun. It would tell our pineal gland to suppress melatonin and release different hormones to make us feel alert in the morning. This would lead us to go out and hunt, and we would then progress throughout our day with the light. When the sun set, we would be in the presence of darkness or orange/red light.

When it's dark, our body clock lets our bodies know that it can start releasing melatonin. Melatonin is an antioxidant and a sleep hormone that puts our body into a deep restorative sleep. Which also allows it to start repairing damaged cells. That is how human circadian biology works. All of the cells in our bodies have their own clock. Such as your gut microbiota- microbes within your gut, every cell and organ. They are all entrained by different things but light is the most important because it is the entrainer of our master clock.

If your master clock is not syncing correctly then all of your other clocks within your cells will not be functioning well either. When you are going out in the sun during sunrise, you are setting your clock. When you set this clock, it means that all of your hormones can be secreted correctly throughout the day. 

redlight and guthealth

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

All light is about frequencies. It is specific frequencies of light that are going to provide benefits or negative effects depending on the time of day that you utilize them.

Natural Red Light- When the sun rises in the morning, there is a lot of infrared light in that spectrum. During sunset, you are going to see red and oranges. They are soothing colors and they help the body to unwind and destress. That is why when you go camping and have a campfire and you sit around with no blue light present you are going to feel at ease. Your wellness will be heightened.

To start the day, you will have a low spectrum of high-density light such as your blues and greens. They are great for feeling alert and awake but not great at night. The blue light affects the surface of the skin or enters through the eyes. With oranges and reds, they penetrate very deeply into the muscle.

Red light will improve that inclusive zone that is your cells and mitochondria. It is much more efficient and has many different benefits.

1. If you are in the gym lifting weights and are feeling stiff the next day, utilize a red light therapy device. It has great effects on cell efficiency. Which is helping your cells repair the muscle. You can cut your recovery times from running, lifting, or any activity that makes you sore with red light therapy.

2. Some studies demonstrate that when you put red light close to your skin it reduces the appearance of wrinkles. There are many salons that now offer this therapy.

3. I also find it useful in the winter because it gets darker earlier. The use of artificial LED lights become a problem after dark. You can use red light bulbs or a red light device like the MitoHQ Red Light panel to create a sense of what our ancestors had after dark which was the orange and red light from a fire. 

What Effects Does Light have on Hormones?

We get light in the morning, it is a balanced spectrum of reds and blues. It raises cortisol, which makes us feel alert and awake. We are also creating serotonin. This is needed to make you feel good, but it is also important after dark because serotonin is converted into melatonin. So you can be:

-Wearing blue light blocking glasses at night

-Having a lot of red light in your house after dark 

But if you are not getting your morning sunlight then you are going to have a hard time creating optimal amounts of serotonin which is needed for sleep. This is why it is important to get out during the day. We know that light passes through our eyes from the sun, raises cortisol, increases serotonin, and tells us that it is daytime. So what do you think would happen if you came home from work when the sunset and you switch on an LED light? It tells your brain it’s daytime and it can raise cortisol levels again. You get a state of chronic cortisol in your body. 

Chronic exposure to any one hormone will lead to:

-The resistance of that hormone 

-Diseases such as stress, anxiety, depression, or even suicide. 

Just flicking on a light after dark is messing up our biology. Our cells, skeletal muscle, and brain all run on a light and dark cycle. We have created a society where we are living in constant light. When we come home from work we switch on a tv, play on our phones, and then we go to bed at night and don't have blackout curtains to block the streetlights from shining through our windows. We also get up in the middle of the night and switch on a light…..

All it takes is a flash of blue light in the eye and your cortisol levels are going to be through the roof! This is why we have such high levels of depression and anxiety. We are seeing teens and small children suffer from anxiety and depression. A lot of it comes from the environment they are in. A huge contributor to anxiety, stress, and depression is the overexposure of artificial blue and green light. It is very clear that having the wrong type of light during certain parts of the day is messing up your whole system. It is leading to circadian diseases. 

gut health and hormones

Eat According To Circadian Rhythm

When it comes to nutrition, people only talk about eating micros and macros and they never talk about the timing of food. There is a lot more than just eating your ideal macronutrients and micronutrients, light comes into play. When we talk about circadian rhythm, it needs to be programmed correctly to the spin of the earth and to the light and dark cycles for us to be optimal. If you are exposing yourself to light at the wrong time of day, you will have the wrong hormone being released. And how you store that food will be influenced by light as well..

Think of it from an ancestral standpoint:

We evolved under the sun

We evolved to be creatures of the day

During this period of time, we were most active during sunlight. We would hunt and we would eat almost immediately. We would bring food back for other people at the camp and eat there as well during the day. When you observe hunter-gatherer societies now a lot of them go out and eat during daylight hours. 

When you start to look at it from an evidence-based standpoint, when you should eat is when the hormone balance in your body is right for digestion. You have your selection of peptides and hormones that need to be available for the digestive process. When you look at someone with a properly functioning circadian rhythm, all of those hormones are at the right level to eat during the morning. We trained our body clock to start ticking at the first sign of light. 

When you dive deeper and you look at the skeletal muscle clock, you find that exercising in the morning is more beneficial for weight loss. This is because everything is front-loaded for first light. You should be eating, exercising, and looking at the first light. When you go through the day and it gets dark, your hormone profile will start to change. Your melatonin will start to boost, your body is starting to go into a growth and repair stage. It does NOT want to be digesting food after dark! Your sleep is going to be important because it is going to be:

-Repairing your muscles

-Helping your brain

- Healing your gut

-Making sure your microbiome is healthy. 

The last thing you want to be doing is eating late at night.

Two studies on insulin resistance and light: For people that are exposed to artificial light before sleep, they are more resistant to the high carb meal that they ate in the evening. They will be more likely to store this meal as body fat. This is because insulin levels will be much higher from artificial light. While you sleep, you have a 50% insulin resistance for someone that was just exposed to 30 seconds of artificial light while they slept! This could be a street light or a lamp shining through your window. 

You should be eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. A lot of people ask, “What about the benefits of intermittent fasting?” You don't have to fast in the morning you can fast after dark. It is fantastic for longevity. 

I have ran some experiments with an Oura Ring. When I eat a big meal after dark, I lose 60-70% of my quality sleep.. If I finish my dinner at 4 pm my sleep is MUCH better than when I eat after dark. Try this: Eat a meal at 7-8 at night for one night then eat your final meal at 4 pm on another day. 

When you eat has a major impact on your sleep. A lot of people that are getting such bad sleep is a combination of things such as:

-Artificial Light Exposure

-Meal Timing

You are destroying your health from lack of sleep if you eat these big meals before bed. You are not getting the growth and repair and you are not getting the adenosine cleared from your brain. You will end up seeing diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia all start to increase. When we eat can influence our sleep. 

caffeine and gut health

What is Adenosine And How Does It Affects Us?

There are two types of ways we get to sleep:

1. The light and dark cycles. When it is light, certain hormones that keep us alert and awake and they tell our bodies repair cycle to relax. After dark (in the absence of blue and green light  the opposite will happen and boost us into growth and repair mode.

2. When we run metabolic processes in our body, the system we use is all ATP driven. The mitochondria pumps out energy and it can be formed from light or food. When our heart is beating and doing all of the metabolic processes with ATP, the by-product of it is adenosine. When adenosine accumulates it's like a waste product. Over the course of the day, when you are running these metabolic processes, the more adenosine builds up. This is referred to as sleep pressure. There is so much waste product that is built up in your brain and cells that the body needs to go into a sleep mode to repair and clear them out. If you are running these processes during the day, you need to clear it out during your sleep. BUT if you aren't getting quality sleep because of the blue light or eating a big meal, you aren't going to get out the proper clear out. This is why I believe that we have an influx of neurological diseases at the moment. We are not getting good sleep and we are leaving a lot of dead cells and adenosine in our body which are all toxins. 

Antioxidants are the main source of clearing out this adenosine. The antioxidant that has the most powerful effect on cleaning out adenosine is melatonin. And how do we boost melatonin? Morning sunlight from serotonin and darkness after dark. WE NEED TO ELIMINATE THE BLUE LIGHT! Some people say “I sleep fine I don't need blue blocking glasses.” Sure we can all fall asleep but are we optimizing the process of waste clearance in the brain by doing this? No. You will notice how fresh you feel after wearing the blue-blocker glasses. 

Caffeine is the highest blocker of adenosine. Coffee turns off your adenosine receptors for 2-6 hours. You will continue to build up a lot of adenosine in the brain, but since you don't have the receptors functioning properly, you don't feel sleepy at the correct time. I haven't drank coffee in 2-3 years and that has helped my anxiety. My hormones are well balanced and my gut is probably a lot better. 

What we find in society today is that people are drinking so much caffeine in the afternoon. You will be disrupting your biology by doing this. If you have to have coffee then have it first thing in the morning. People that argue that it’s full of antioxidants but they're missing out on the most powerful antioxidant, melatonin. 

 

The repair process of your gut lining happens when you sleep. That gut lining is a cell layer thick, it’s thin and fragile. If we aren't getting quality sleep then we will never for a robust gut lining- and potentially end up with leaky gut. Sleep, melatonin, and gut health are all connected. -Kriben Govender

Serotonin and melatonin are both produced from tryptophan. We get this tryptophan from our diets or from some types of gut microbiota like Bifidobacteria. One product that is rich in tryptophan is Kefir. You can make your own and it is going to assist in the development of serotonin. 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut! Serotonin makes you feel really good. Serotonin is converted into melatonin and that sums everything up together. We have moved away from the campfire and we have moved towards everything artificial. We need to implement strategies during the day to mimick how our ancestors lived. This is how our body is primed. -Kriben Govender

You don't have to take it to the extremes….. Modern technology is great! We need artificial light but we need to make sure to biohack our environments and change our lifestyles to adapt to the environment that we are in. For instance, here are a few hacks you can do to improve your circadian rhythm: 

-As soon as the sun rises get outside as early as possible and soak in that sunlight. 

-Expose as much skin as you can to this sunlight. 

-Start with at last 5-10 minutes and go from there.

What Do I Do About Blocking Blue Light If I Work On A Computer All Day?

If you work in an office or you are on a computer frequently download the applications Flux or Iris. These softwares take out a lot of the blue light out of your monitors. This will help with reducing the damaging blue light. During the day, exposure to excess blue light is going to cause:

Eyestrain

Dry itchy eyes

Macular degeneration

Headaches

You can have these applications on your computer during the day but you should still be wearing your blue light filtering glasses. As the day goes on you want to be getting outside as much as possible. Ask your employer if you can go outside for 1-2 minutes, 5 times a day to get the natural light for your eyes. It’s going to send that message to your brain of what time it is and what amount of hormones to release. You can get as much morning sun as you want but if you sit in an office all day then it won’t level out.

TRY TO SEE THE SUNSET EVERY DAY! The colors of light in a sunset will always be deep oranges and reds, these are high wavelength colors. They make you calm, relaxed, and de-stressed. That tells the body that the sun is going down it's time to start making melatonin and relaxing. 

 

What Are Heteroplasmy Rates And How Do We Optimise Them?

Heteroplasmy rates are all about electron chain transport in the mitochondria. If these rates are greatly increased, you are going to have huge gaps between how the electrons are transported. This makes the cell less efficient. You want to have them closer together because this creates more energy, burns more energy, and you will lose more weight. 

If you don't have great heteroplasmy rates you are not going to utilize energy that you are taking in from light or food efficiently. You will start to lose this energy that was going to be used for metabolic processes and will end up storing it in other ways such a subcutaneous fat. It can also make you more hungry because it needs more fuel to run the processes.

For Example: If you are running an inefficient system you are going to be losing a lot of that energy in other places. If you were to have a car and it wasn't efficient, you would end up putting a lot of petrol in it and not get very far. This analogy is the same as your heteroplasmy rates. If you improve your heteroplasmy rates within human cells you are going to be making “that car” more efficient. You want that energy to be used to increase performance. But if your heteroplasmy rates are malfunctioning a lot of that energy will be stored in inefficient ways. 

The better the rate, the more quickly your body can repair cells. If you have bad rates and it is taking a long time to repair a cell then something may be missed. You could be left with mutant and dead cells within the body. This causes a lot of sickness. You want to improve those rates greatly and you can do this by improving your circadian rhythm AND by drinking really great high-quality water. Not all water is created equal. You are clogging up your system by drinking water that contains fluoride, chloride and high levels of deuterium and it is damaging your heteroplasmy rates. 

When it comes to ATP you have something called the ATPase which is a small spinning head within the cell that runs off of hydrogen and oxygen in the form of water. But when you start drinking from a water source that is high is deuterium you are going to have an extra neutron in some of the hydrogen atoms found within that water source, this is going to cause the ATPase to spin less efficiency. Which will negatively affect your heteroplasmy rates which will then affect your energy levels. 

To measure these rates, you would have to focus on changing it and then see how you feel a few weeks later. It will be the same positive side effects that you would have from correcting your circadian rhythm. Getting your morning sun in, blocking blue light, and drink good quality deuterium depleted water this will help to improve these rates. 

clean water and the gut microbiome

Are There Any Benefits To Restructuring Water?

One of the most powerful things you can do with your water is expose it to infrared light. This will prime the water for the zone in the cells where water is going to be drawn in and utilized. Today your water source is taken, then goes through pipes and never sees any light. It has been pumped through chemicals to treat it for microbes. When you correct your gut and you start drinking from natural glacial water sources and streams you can kill bacteria from the infrared light. A lot of people will go back and boil the water but you can go to “findaspring.com” where people are finding springs with drinkable water and getting that healthy water that hasn't been touched by chemicals. This will help create exclusion zone water and it won't be filled with all of the chemicals. 

You need to take the chlorine and fluoride out so you aren't damaging the gut microbiome since you are basically using antimicrobial agents. -Kriben Govender

There are 3 important factors in human longevity:

-Getting Quality Water

-Having Quality Sleep

-Eating Quality Food

There is a great spring near me so we load up the car and get 60 litres of spring waters and bring it back to our house. The water you drink does matter, you will feel a difference. We oversimplify things like water and take it for granted. There are very different types of water that affect the body. They can be beneficial or not so beneficial. The water that you use when you make Kefir will have an effect on it. You will find that if the water is not right the cultures will die. My hypothesis is that water influences whether certain bacteria or yeast can thrive or not. This is the same thing that I hypothesis that happens in the gut. It is almost antibiotic water that has been forced onto a population and it is damaging the gut microbiome- Kriben Govender

What do you do to a swimming pool to kill bacteria? You put chlorine in it. If you do this to your drinking water then it’s going to kill your gut bacteria or favour the wrong microbes. If you are drinking water from a tap you are dropping a bomb into your gut. Be mindful of the water that you are drinking and exposing it to red light can help!

blue blocking glasses

How Are Blue Light Glasses Beneficial?

They are very beneficial but you don't want to be wearing the wrong pair of blue light glasses in the wrong part of the day. What differentiates our Blublox glasses from our competitors is that we are completely evidence-based. We have great articles on our website that link to all of the studies that are out there on blocking blue light at different times of the day and how much we have to block to be optimal. We started Blublox glasses because other glasses on the market were not optimal. They either have a blanket approach where they blocked everything or they had an approach where they didn’t block enough. After dark, you have to block a MINIMUM of 100% blue light. Unfortunately, many of the major brands only block 98% and even just that 2% is going to impact your sleep. 

The other major concern is the skin. If you sit with your shirt off and blue light on you you'll have a bit of an issue as well. Take out your LED light bulbs, put in red bulbs and throw on your blue box glasses! 

Augmenting our modern lifestyle with some approaches that we used in the past is going to be very critical to addressing chronic diseases that we are experiencing. We can focus on gut health but also things like the blue-blocking glasses that are going to assist in melatonin production. This has a downflow effect on improving your gut health. I encourage you to get better sleep, watch the sunrise every morning, and make sure that the blue light glasses that you have actually work. Share this with a friend that could use a pair of Blublox glasses (Hint: everyone can!)

Check out our range of Blue Light Blocking Glass and other Mitochondrial Health Products


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Author Kriben Govender

Kriben Govender

Kriben Govender, is a Food Scientist, Registered Nutritionist and Founder of Nourishme Organics, a company specialising in Gut Health and Mitochondrial health-focused products and Allele Microbiome – a provider of cutting edge Metagenomic Stool Testing and Deuterium Testing.

Kriben holds a honours degree in Applied Science (Food Science and Technology) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition Society of Australia.


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