The Scope with Dr. K — Episode 31

Circadian Rhythm, Inflammation and Disease — Dr. Ali Keshavarzian

On this episode of The Scope With Dr. K, Dr. Kosinski delves deeper into wraparound services for gastrointestinal care through the lens of chronobiology. In a freewheeling discussion with gastroenterologist Ali Keshavarzian, MD, professor at Rush Medical College and director of the Rush Center for Integrated Microbiome and Chronobiology Research, this episode examines the connections between sleep, diet, inflammation and disease.

Episode Takeaways:

  • Healthy bacteria in the gut act as a gateway to the body, allowing nutrients in and keeping toxins out. Disruption to this intestinal barrier is associated with exacerbation of digestive diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
  • In his study of the intestinal barrier, Dr. Keshavarzian identified a link between disruptions in circadian rhythm and inflammation. His work first focused on the chronobiology of inflammatory bowel diseases, but has since expanded into other chronic diseases, like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
  • This work establishes foundational knowledge for how to improve interventions for chronic disease.


For decades, Dr. Keshavarzian has been driven by one question: What lifestyle factors facilitate or accelerate chronic disease? His leading hypothesis involves disruptions in circadian rhythm, gut microbiota and inflammation.

“Every organ in our bodies has its own clock, including the intestine. And as you can imagine, the intestinal clock is not going to be regulated by light and dark. It is regulated every time you eat,” Dr. Keshavarzian said. “That is something I highlight to my patients, that it’s not only what you have to eat, but you have to know when to eat.”

Now Dr. Keshavarzian is taking his research beyond GI disorders: Some of his more recent work establishes a connection between Parkinson’s disease and abnormal gut bacteria. Tune in to learn how Dr. Keshvarzian is changing the way we think about inflammation, chronic disease and treatment.