If we can’t rely on the marketers or the government or even the nutritionists to guide us through the supermarket, then who can we rely on? Well, ask yourself another question: How did humans manage to choose foods and stay healthy before there were nutrition experts and food pyramids or breakfast cereals promising to improve your child’s focus? We relied on culture, which is another way of saying: on the accumulated wisdom of the tribe. (Which is itself another way of saying: on your mom and your grandma.) All of us carry around rules of thumb about eating that have been passed down in our families or plucked from the cultural conversation. Think of this body of food knowledge as samizdat nutrition: an informal, unsanctioned way of negotiating our eating lives that becomes indispensable at a time when official modes of talking about food have suffered a serious loss of credibility.
The night and early morning hours before approximately five a.m. are passive times of the day when the digestive organs need to rest. The liver in particular needs to complete numerous subtle metabolic functions unhampered by the early stages of digestive activity. One of these functions is blood purification, which is interrupted and altered when late meals are eaten. According to the “Chinese clock,” the most active time for the liver is between one and three a.m.
The Chinese clock is an ancient observation that the body’s internal organs have peak activity during two-hour intervals. This theory also suggests that an organ’s minimum activity is twelve hours away from its peak interval. For example, the peak activity of the stomach is from seven to nine a.m., and its minimum activity is twelve hours later from seven to nine p.m. Continue reading →