A person’s health can be expected to improve if light is used at the right time at the right wavelength. Four out of ten Dutch people are overweight. But getting fat shouldn’t be possible. “The brain sees when you eat, how much you eat, and tells you when to stop eating because your body has enough energy,” says Andries Kalsbeek. These stop mechanisms do not work in the brains of overweight people. They eat more than they need. Why?
Old biological systems in a new world
A well-known hypothesis is that the basic mechanisms in the evolutionary old brainstem and hypothalamus are not adapted to our current living conditions. Those ancient mechanisms were developed at a time when food was scarce, and people had to use their eyes and nose to find it. “Nowadays we see and smell food anytime, anywhere. The old systems are not equipped for this, and therefore no longer adaptive. In addition, the cerebral cortex gives off a reward signal when we eat.
Another hypothesis has to do with timing: “The biological clock in our brain controls all kinds of processes in the body via the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus integrates and coordinates the information from all organs, and commands those organs. Almost all processes in our body have a day-night rhythm. However, the lifestyle in our current 24-hour society is often no longer in line with our biological clock. We often eat, sleep or move at the wrong time of the day. Since light is the most important synchronizer of the biological clock, smart light interventions may be able to synchronize all our day and night rhythms, despite the disruptive influences of our 24 hour society.
Kalsbeek expects that a person’s health can improve if light can be used in the right way, at the right time and with the right wavelength. This applies not only to people who are overweight, but also to people with type 2 diabetes. To investigate this hypothesis, test subjects had breakfast after an overnight stay in the Sleep Lab with and without a light box by their plate. Then their blood samples are analyzed to see how well they process their breakfast.
“In the future, light glasses may help people with overweight or type 2 diabetes get their organs back in line. Until then, it is recommended to avoid screens and other strong light sources before going to sleep. This not only helps you fall asleep better, it also prevents you from gaining a few pounds.
Source: Het Herseninstituut