Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at the best times to eat for optimal health and fresh concerns about the health risks from BPA.

Not just what you eat but when

You’ve probably heard the advice, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” A growing body of research confirms this theory, according to this article in The New York Times.

Aligning our eating with our body’s circadian rhythm—that internal cycle that tells us when to wake up, eat and fall asleep—is better for our metabolic health and reduces our risk of disease, scientists say.

Blood sugar control is best in the morning, nutrition researchers say, and we burn more calories and digest our food more efficiently earlier in the day, as well. Conversely, late-night snacking or that glass of wine right before bed sends a signal to our body that it’s still daytime, forcing our digestive organs to work when they should be in repair and reset mode. It’s not only a recipe for a weight gain, experts say, but also a risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases.

The average person consumes calories in a 15-hour or longer window each day, according to Satchin Panda, Ph.D., a professor at the Salk Institute. In his new book “The Circadian Code” (Rodale Books, 2018), Panda recommends eating all your food each day in an eight- to 10-hour window, starting in the morning, for optimum metabolic health.

Doctors and researchers agree: BPA is bad

The federal government and medical academia have long been at odds over the health risk from bisphenol A, or BPA, used in plastic food packaging.

The Food and Drug Administration has remained firm in its stance that its safe for consumers, while researchers have repeatedly found evidence that BPA and other hormone-disrupting chemicals in plastic may contribute to problems such as early puberty, obesity, diabetes, developmental delays, reproductive dysfunction, aggravated inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged families to limit the use of plastic food containers to lower children’s exposure to chemicals in food, calling the FDA’s regulation of BPA “inadequate.”

This comes, according to this HuffPost article, after the first round of results from a six-year study, Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity, or CLARITY-BPA for short. The results appear to at least partially support academic researchers’ claims, showing that exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA alter the way the brain uses estrogen, resulting in altered development and greater anxiety-related behaviors later in life.

The discrepancy between what academic research had discovered about BPA and the government’s insistence on its safety lies in the type of testing used, scientists say. The regulatory guidelines that the FDA uses to assess the safety of food additives and other chemicals were devised in the 1970s, before scientists had uncovered the ability of certain chemicals to alter our hormones. And its pronouncements both in 2008 and 2014 that BPA posed no risk to human health relied on industry-funded studies rather than the more than 100 peer-reviewed academic studies and 35 other federally funded studies on BPA and neurodevelopment.

CLARITY-BPA’s mission in part is to test whether the FDA’s assessment guidelines can really protect our health, which could have implications for the presumed safety of thousands of other chemicals.

Photo credit: Anakopa, Thinkstock