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Iron-rich Foods May Put Night Workers at Greater Risk of Diabetes

The researchers found that dietary iron plays an important role in the circadian clock of the liver. “Iron is like the dial that sets the timing of the body clock,” said lead author Judith Simcox from the University of Utah in the US. The liver’s circadian clock is set by food intake. As people sleep, this clock helps maintain a constant blood glucose level and then causes it to spike just before they wake up. They found that when heme binds to circadian proteins, their activity increases and causes the liver to optimally control blood glucose levels. Increased activity of a circadian protein is healthy when it occurs in the liver’s natural clock cycle. But if this happens at a time that is out of sync with the circadian clock, such as during a graveyard shift, it could result in abnormal blood glucose levels. They concluded that when a shift worker eats foods high in iron at night it could exacerbate the lack of synchronization between the clock in the liver and the main one in the brain. Diabetes, Oct 2014