A pilot study into a 10-hour time-restricted eating intervention might lead to a new treatment option for metabolic syndrome patients at risk of developing diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

It found this 10-hour time-restricted eating intervention lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and resulted in weight loss and reduced abdominal fat when combined with traditional medications,

Metabolic syndrome is often associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It is a clustering of at least three of the five following medical conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides, central obesity and low serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Metabolic syndrome affects nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population.

Time-restricted eating means eating all calories within a consistent 10-hour window. Researchers said it supports an individual's circadian rhythms and can maximize health benefits, as proven by previous research published by a team from the Salk Institute.

Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour cycles of biological processes affecting nearly every cell in the body. Scientists found that erratic eating patterns can disrupt circadian rhythms and increase the risk for metabolic syndrome and other metabolic disorders.

The collaborative study involving researchers from the Salk Institute and the UC San Diego School of Medicine was published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism. It included 19 participants (13 men and 6 women) diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Participants self-reported eating during a time window of more than 14 hours per day.

Study participants used the myCircadianClock app to log when and what they ate during an initial 2-week baseline period. This was followed by a three-month, 10-hour time-restricted eating intervention. About 86 percent of participants correctly logged their food using the app, indicating high compliance throughout the study.

The study showed participants experienced improved sleep and a 3 to 4 percent reduction in body weight, body mass index, abdominal fat and waist circumference. Major risk factors for heart disease diminished while participants showed reduced blood pressure and total cholesterol. Blood sugar levels and insulin levels also fell.

A study in 2018 found that 31 percent of the U.S. population is at risk for one vitamin deficiency. Pixabay

"Metabolism is closely linked with circadian rhythms, and knowing this, we were able to develop an intervention to help patients with metabolic syndrome without decreasing calories or increasing physical exercise," Pam Taub, co-corresponding author, who is also an associate professor of medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and a cardiologist at UC San Diego Health, said. "If we can optimize circadian rhythms then we might be able to optimize the metabolic system."

The study found combining time-restricted eating with medications can give metabolic syndrome patients the ability to better manage their disease, noted Satchidananda Panda, co-corresponding author and professor in Salk's Regulatory Biology Laboratory. "Unlike counting calories, time-restricted eating is a simple dietary intervention to incorporate, and we found that participants were able to keep the eating schedule."

Emily Manoogian, the paper's co-first author, said eating and drinking everything (except water) within a consistent 10-hour window allows your body to rest and restore for 14 hours at night.

"Your body can also anticipate when you will eat so it can prepare to optimize metabolism. We wanted to know if controlling the timing of food intake to support circadian rhythms would improve the health of individuals that were already being treated for cardiometabolic diseases," Manoogian added.