5 ways your circadian rhythm impacts your gut health

Written by: Caray Viegas



Time to read 2 min

The circadian rhythm, often referred to as the body's internal clock, plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including gut health. The circadian rhythm influences the functioning of the digestive system, nutrient absorption, gut microbiota composition, and overall gastrointestinal health.

1) Digestive System Function:

The circadian rhythm helps regulate the timing and coordination of digestive processes. It influences factors such as gastric motility (contractions of the stomach), release of digestive enzymes, and secretion of bile for fat digestion. Disruptions to the circadian rhythm, such as irregular eating patterns or shift work, can lead to digestive disturbances and contribute to gastrointestinal issues.

2) Nutrient Absorption:

The circadian rhythm affects the absorption of nutrients in the gut. Different nutrients are absorbed more efficiently at specific times of the day. For example, studies have shown that glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are higher during the day, indicating that the body processes and absorbs carbohydrates more effectively during daylight hours.


"Disruptions to the circadian rhythm, such as irregular eating patterns or shift work, can lead to digestive disturbances and contribute to gastrointestinal issues."

3) Gut Microbiota:

The circadian rhythm influences the composition and activity of the gut microbiota, which are the trillions of beneficial bacteria residing in our intestines. Studies have demonstrated that disruptions to the circadian rhythm can alter the diversity and balance of gut microbiota, potentially leading to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, and metabolic disorders.

Inside intestine

4) Intestinal Permeability:

The integrity of the intestinal barrier is crucial for gut health. The circadian rhythm regulates the tight junctions between cells lining the intestines, controlling the permeability and preventing the leakage of harmful substances into the bloodstream. Disruptions in the circadian rhythm can compromise the intestinal barrier function, leading to increased gut permeability (leaky gut) and inflammation.

5) Hormonal Regulation:

The circadian rhythm also influences the secretion of hormones involved in digestion and gut health. For example, melatonin, a hormone regulated by the circadian rhythm, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the gut. Disruptions in melatonin production, such as irregular sleep patterns or exposure to artificial light at night, can impact gut health and increase the risk of gastrointestinal disorders.

Found this interesting? Here are some links to studies that can provide you with more information. To stay updated with the latest in circadian health, sign up to our mailing list.

Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., Green, S. J., Mutlu, E., Engen, P., Vitaterna, M. H., Turek, F. W., & Keshavarzian, A. (2014). Circadian disorganization alters intestinal microbiota. PLoS ONE, 9(5), e97500.

Poroyko, V. A., Carreras, A., Khalyfa, A., Khalyfa, A. A., Leone, V., Peris, E., Almendros, I., Gileles-Hillel, A., Qiao, Z., Hubert, N., Farré, R., Chang, E. B., & Gozal, D. (2016). Chronic sleep disruption alters gut microbiota, induces systemic and adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance in mice. Scientific Reports, 6, 35405.

Mukherji, A., Kobiita, A., Ye, T., & Chambon, P. (2013). Homeostasis in intestinal epithelium is orchestrated by the circadian clock and microbiota cues transduced by TLRs. Cell, 153(4), 812–827.