We've all heard that “breakfast” is the most important meal of the day” yet it is the meal most difficult to execute. Overly busy schedules and keeping up with the rat race doesn’t seem to allow people the time to sit down over a hearty breakfast as was the custom “in them days” and instead opt for a late hearty dinner. It is precisely this lifestyle that has knock on detrimental effects on general health and wellbeing.
Quick fix breakfasts like “cereal” in milk or processed almond milk (which normally only contains 2% almonds plus additives) is hardly a nutritional powerhouse and granola bars alongside the cappuccino consumed as a quick pick me up on the way to one’s busy day cannot offer any promise of nutrient dense fuel conveniently condensed in a small package to get one even through half the morning.
Skipping “nuisance” breakfast altogether is also in popular practice. The skippers “just can’t stomach it”.
So why is breakfast so crucial?
Numerous studies have demonstrated how breakfast eaters are more energetic, productive, happier, with better mental performance .Findings from epidemiologic studies also indicate that breakfast eaters show improved glucose and insulin responses throughout the day with much less incidences of type 2 diabetes and obesity . Skipping breakfast also encourages overeating later in the day.
A recent study which did a systematic review of 45 studies looking at the effects of breakfast on cognitive performance in children and adolescents found that breakfast consumption had an immediate positive effect on cognition. Tasks requiring attention, executive function, and memory were facilitated more reliably by breakfast consumption relative to fasting. So for hard working adults, taking 30 minutes of the morning to prepare and consume a nourishing breakfast will actually yield a more productive working day.
The biological clock as drawn In Chinese medical texts places the stomach and spleen between the hours of 7am and 11 am when those organs are at their peak activity. These are the hours that the body is best set to digest placing further insistence that breakfast is an opportunity not to be missed especially after an average 12 hours of fasting.
So what should a good hearty breakfast look like?
As a child growing in East London in the 80’s my breakfast consisted usually of a bowl of Weetabix in hot milk and a lot of whining, and what my dear mother thought was a fine example of excellent health in a bowl. On very few occasions she threw in a raw egg (good source of protein…. with a splash of salmonella). Remember this was an age when instant powdered mash was all the rage.
A predominantly sweet breakfast using refined carbs (cereal , granola), may arouse a welcome burst of energy but will be followed by its rapid demise resulting in premature burn out and faster loss of focus, not to mention the onset of the afternoon bout of lethargy. It also raises the risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Whilst it may vary from person to person depending on their body type, in general I recommend a savory morning kick start consisting of protein, moderate carbs, and a decent amount of quality fats. Fat and protein are essential for balancing metabolism and brain chemistry. Many of the neurotransmitters in the brain are made from amino acids (the building blocks of protein) such is tyrosine and tryptophan. Grains should be complex and well prepared- i.e. soaked or well-cooked so so that b vitamins and minerals in the grains are more bioavailable.
The Weston Price foundation endorses the old traditional breakfasts feared by many today ,consisting of eggs, buttermilk and meats- “The English fry up” with a spoon of cod liver oil (another personal childhood trauma of mine) as the optimum way to start the day whilst weary of the “fat phobic” breakfasts more typical of the modern breakfast . I am always happy to recommend the Israeli counterpart consisting of Sunnyside eggs, soured cheese; like yoghurt or Labaneh with a green salad , home fermented pickled cucumbers (to promote better absorption , gastric health and lower the glycemic load of the meal) and Syrian olives with a nice dollop of avocado or butter.
So bottom line? If there is one good basic step you can do to further your wellbeing..
Eat Breakfast… and make it a satiating one!
In part 2 of this article I will explore how breakfast is done traditional around the globe and will post some interesting recipes.. so stay tuned.
About Denise Rubin, Nutritional Health Coach, Eatwise
I am a specialist in the treatment of chronic disease using food, herbs and spices that correspond to your unique needs. My mission is to help clients understand what is going on in the inside them and then teach them how to regain and take control of their health. My goal is to revive the ancient concepts that Hippocrates and Rambam wisely identified: “that the food you eat not only builds the scope of your body but also the quality of it down to on the deepest most cellular level.” Contact me today to arrange an appointment at 052-555 6418 or firstname.lastname@example.org
 The Effects of Breakfast Consumption and Composition on Metabolic Wellness with a Focus on Carbohydrate Metabolism1,2,3,4Kevin C Maki*et al Advances in nutrition, an International review Jounal, http://advances.nutrition.org/content/7/3/613S
 The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Adolphus1, Lawton CL2, Champ CL2, Dye L, Advances in nutrition, an International review Journal, http://advances.nutrition.org/content/7/3/590S
 Morning Nourishment: JOETTE CALABRESE Bountiful Benefits and Creative Ideas- JOETTE CALABRESE The Weston Price foundation, https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/childrens-health