Circadian Rhythms and Your Immune System- Part 2

Part 1 of this article was posted on Sept. 11.

https://blog.elivatefitness.com/healthy-aging/circadian-rhythm…ne-system-part-1/

We discussed cortisol production and its relationship to Circadian Rhythms. In Part 2 we’ll discuss Inflammation …


Noon to 5 p.m. – The Rise of Inflammation

The afternoon hours see a steady decline in cortisol along with the most intense hours of sunlight (Vitamin D).

Research tells us it takes 24 to 48 hours for Vitamin D created by sunlight (on the skin) to be fully absorbed and activated. This will happen if we don’t hop in the shower after working/playing in the sun. But who does that? These days, just about everyone except kids takes a shower after sweating in the sun – and much of the vitamin D made in the skin is at risk of getting washed off.

Vitamin D has documented anti-inflammatory effects. Given the mechanism of absorption, though, it’s doubtful sunlight and vitamin D have direct, instant anti-inflammatory effects. These effects are more likely cumulative, and amortized over several days after exposure. So, we disregard vitamin D’s effects as a circadian influence.

The afternoon hours see a steady decline in cortisol along with the most intense hours of sunlight (Vitamin D).

Research tells us it takes 24 to 48 hours for Vitamin D created by sunlight (on the skin) to be fully absorbed and activated. This will happen if we don’t hop in the shower after working/playing in the sun. But who does that? These days, just about everyone except kids takes a shower after sweating in the sun – and much of the vitamin D made in the skin is at risk of getting washed off.

Vitamin D has documented anti-inflammatory effects. Given the mechanism of absorption, though, it’s doubtful sunlight and vitamin D have direct, instant anti-inflammatory effects. These effects are more likely cumulative, and amortized over several days after exposure. So, we disregard vitamin D’s effects as a circadian influence.

On to the subject of declining cortisol: With cortisol levels falling during the afternoon, cortisol’s anti-inflammatory influence is lost, along with a shift in the way the body regulates blood sugar. Remember: Cortisol’s action boosts blood sugar levels, pulling sugar out of the muscles and other organs. As cortisol’s glycemic effect slowly subsides, the body relies more on the liver and fat stores to deliver energy. This is accomplished through adrenaline and the stress response. The act of physical labor initiates the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine to open up blood vessels and improve circulation. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are necessary to trigger the release of sugar from the liver and to compel fat cells to burn fat. The stress response (in this case physical stress) increases blood sugar and improves its delivery to working muscles. Unlike cortisol, though, the availability of sugar does not come with cortisol’s anti-inflammatory influence. So, inflammation and tissue breakdown are characteristic mid-afternoon circadian events.

This adrenaline helps to fulfill the work day’s remaining energy demands. However, by the time the day’s work is complete, there is a lot of damage that the body will have to address – to heal and recover from – so more work can be done the next day… and the following day… and so on. Inflammation: the inflammatory process is a big part of that.

The prevailing thought is that inflammation is a terrible thing: a debilitating force that wears away at the joints and is a gateway to degenerative disease. It is. But only when it’s out of control. Inflammation is a healthy part of tissue maintenance when applied appropriately.[2] It is a service the body performs every day to clean out the debris of micro-injury and broken connective tissue. Once the job of cleaning out tissue debris is done, inflammation should transition into healing and tissue regeneration. This is the problem for most chronic degenerative disease: the healing and regeneration window is too small compared to the inflammatory window. And this is why we have degenerative disease from inflammation.

Bibliography

1. Dimitrov V, White JH. Species-specific regulation of innate immunity by vitamin D signaling. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Nov;164:246-53. PubMed PMID: 26369615. Epub 2015/09/16.

2. Medzhitov R. Origin and physiological roles of inflammation. Nature. 2008 Jul 24;454(7203):428-35. PubMed PMID: 18650913. Epub 2008/07/25.


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