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Breakfast Facts

Rohini Diniz

It is strange but true, that although breakfast is supposed to be an important meal of the day, it is the one that is most neglected. Several studies conducted around the world have documented the ill effects of skipping breakfast. As the name implies, breakfast literally means breaking the overnight fast between dinner and lunch.

Breakfast helps recharge the body and brain with energy. Memory is the function that is most affected by skipping breakfast as the brain requires a minute-to-minute supply of glucose for its normal functioning. Studies have shown that children who do not eat breakfast perform poorly at school. On the other hand, children who eat breakfast think faster, clearly, solve problems more easily and are better learners. They are less likely to be irritable and aggressive. They do not get tired and have enough energy for games and sports. Eating breakfast has been shown to be associated with more positive moods and calmness.

People who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier diet overall. Studies have shown that breakfast eating children and adults get more fibre, calcium, vitamin A, C, riboflavin zinc and iron in their diets. Breakfast skippers on the other hand often snack on high sugar or high-fat foods, drink more soda, are more likely to overeat at night, and are more often overweight or obese than breakfast eaters.

There is a common belief that skipping breakfast helps one lose weight, but studies have shown that making breakfast your biggest meal of the day is a good way to lose weight provided you don’t overeat at lunch and dinner. Research has shown that consuming more calories in the morning and fewer as the day goes on is an effective way to maintain a healthy weight. Studies have also shown that people who eat breakfast have lower BMI (Body Mass Index) and healthier body weights. The greatest reduction in BMI has been shown to occur when subjects ate a large breakfast, a smaller lunch and then nothing else until the following day.

Eating breakfast regularly has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in diabetics.

Although more research is needed to understand how eating breakfast might impact overall heart health, a study published in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that people who skip breakfast may be putting their heart health at risk. The study found that people who skipped breakfast tend to eat more throughout the day, including more fat. They were also drinking more alcohol and were more likely to smoke. Breakfast skippers also had increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as higher body weight, elevated levels of triglycerides and LDL in the blood, higher blood pressure and were also more likely to have plaque build-up in the vessels outside of the heart. While this study does not show that skipping breakfast is the cause of these risk factors, it does show a connection between skipping breakfast and unhealthy eating patterns.

To be continued. . .

(Writer is a consultant nutritionist with 19 years of experience, practising at Panaji and can be contacted on rohinidiniz@gmail.com)

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