By Sola Ogundipe
The time you eat could be just as important as what you eat. So you could be fuelling your risk of heart attack by eating your dinner after 8pm.
New research reveals a link between eating late and a lethal form of high blood pressure which can trigger heart attacks.
The correlation between the types of foods eaten and the timing of evening meals shows eating dinner late has the biggest single impact on overnight blood pressure.
The research is the world’s first into the links between late night eating and “non-dipper hypertension”.
The new study suggests eating late at night had a far greater impact than missing the first meal of the day.
It is normal for blood pressure to reduce overnight, even in people with hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure.
Skipping breakfast also makes you more likely to fail to see an overnight dip in pressure.
It has been discovered that having dinner less than two hours before bed time does more damage than the long-established risk of having a high salt diet. In fact, going to bed could be a warning sign of serious heart problems.
A healthy diet meant eating a good breakfast and lunch, but limiting the last meal of the day to a light meal, ideally no later than 8pm, researchers said. Hypertension is one of the key risks for heart disease.
In 40 percent of cases, blood pressure fails to drop properly overnight, sharply increasing the chance of heart attacks.
The study found that those who eat dinner late are much more likely to suffer from this “non-dipper hypertension”—the lethal form of high blood pressure where pressure fails to drop properly overnight.
In total 24 percent of those who ate dinner within two hours of going to bed suffered from blood pressure which did not drop sufficiently overnight, compared with 14 percent of those who ate their evening meal earlier.
Experts said that eating late leaves your body on “high alert”, encouraging the production of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, while it might also disrupt the circadian rhythms.
But this had less impact than late night eating. This might be explained by the fact those who ate late night were more likely to skip breakfast, researchers said.
Experts say modern life is encouraging people into “erratic” eating habits which could prove deadly. Normally at night, your body is getting ready for sleep but not if you are eating late.
If we eat late at night, the body essentially remains on high alert as during the day, rather than relaxing for sleep and stress hormones are secreted causing blood pressure not to decrease during sleep which should normally happen. We must define the ideal frequency and timing of meals because how we eat may be as important as what we eat.
Eating breakfast is important, we should have a strong breakfast, we shouldn’t skip lunch. We must have a small dinner and it mustn’t be later than 8pm in the evening.
Blood pressure is supposed to drop by at least 10 per cent at night, to allow the body to rest and recover from the day. If it remains raised, it significantly boosts your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Studies have linked late night eating to a higher risk of obesity, and to insulin resistance, which can fuel Type 2 diabetes.
Foods to avoid before going to bed
Eating right before bed is a recipe for gaining weight and sleeping poorly, but it can also seriously damage the tissue in your throat and esophagus. The single greatest risk factor is, by far, the time that people eat dinner. Have supper no later than three hours before bed. But even if you manage to do that, be aware that late-night snacking can have the same ruinous effect.
If you are going to hit the fridge before you hit the sack, here are eight items you should never, ever grab.
It relaxes the valves that connect the stomach and esophagus. When this happens, your body is unable to keep food where it belongs.
Soft drinks are acidic and actually more acidic than anything found in nature. The acid damages those same valves. Plus, carbonation increases stomach pressure.
Certain flavours are high in fat—which comforts and relaxes the valves, too
It’s another fatty food, but if you must indulge, hard varieties such as Parmesan and Swiss have less of a reflux effect than softer types such as feta and mozzarella. (Yes, that means no pizza.)
When it comes to reflux, fat is fat, whether saturated or unsaturated. So despite the fact that nuts generally contain a healthy dose of the latter, they should be avoided before bed.
It’s also highly acidic. A glass of orange juice or a green Apple are your worst choices, but some people can eat red apples without problems—it depends on the person.
Not only is it inherently acidic, but the caffeine it contains also generates additional stomach acid. If you must sip, decaf generally has lower acid levels than regular.
Anything that’s low in acid, such as bananas, a bowl of low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk or chamomile tea are soothing fill you up and settle the stomach.