Candle light dinners are definitely more romantic than dinners under bright lights at your computer, but a new study suggests they may also be better for your health.
Researchers at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine exposed 19 healthy adults to bright, or what’s called blue-enriched light, during meal times. Some got three hours of bright light in the morning — around breakfast — and the other group got it in the evening — around dinner time.
Both groups saw a rise in insulin resistance, or a reduced ability for the body to control blood sugar/glucose levels, compared to similar exposure to dim lights. But the group exposed to bright lights in the evening experienced higher blood sugar spikes and reduced ability to bring levels back to normal. Over time, high blood sugar can result in weight gain and other health problems.
Previous Northwestern studies have suggested that exposure to morning light is correlated with lower body mass or BMI.
Lead author and Feinberg neurology fellow Ivy Cheung says the mechanism for these recent results remains unclear. But she said the preliminary findings suggest that, “Increasing morning natural light and possibly limiting some of the artificial brighter light in the evening — that is not as natural — would be helpful.”
Cheung says although this looked at short term exposure to blue-enriched light, “We’d really be interested in seeing how, in the long term, that might impact blood sugar and health risks. The whole idea of light exposure impacting health is new so we are really excited to see what else comes out of this work.”