Breakfast is the one meal that a lot of students ask me about. It seems that for a lot of people it is difficult to come up with a tasty, healthy breakfast that will give them the start they need to get going every day.
According to a 1998 u.S gallup survey about 14 percent of students surveyed didn't eat breakfast at all. Other research suggests that these figures climb throughout adolescence, reaching about 33 percent by early adulthood. This is despite studies which clearly show that people who start the day with breakfast wind up eating fewer overall calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and have better overall nutritional status than people who skip breakfast.
Breakfast eaters have been shown to have healthier body weights, as well as better cognitive functioning, and for students, that means a greater ability to think. Another reason people may not get the best start to the day is that according to the above mentioned 1998 gallup survey, 46 percent of people reported spending five minutes or less preparing a weekday breakfast.
Obviously, in this amount of time it may be difficult to adequately prepare a healthy breakfast. I believe that this is a symptom of a lifestyle which has lost balance. We often stay up later than is biologically optimal and try to sneak those few extra minutes of sleep in the morning prioritizing our body's screaming need for sleep ahead of our need for breakfast. In effect some of us trade in our health for a snooze button.
The word breakfast itself says a lot about the nutritional requirements of this important meal. It literally means to break the fast. For most people breakfast is the first meal for anywhere from 6-14 hours depending on your lifestyle. Now whilst the metabolic requirements of the body slowed down during sleep the body was still busy detoxifying, digesting, repairing and rebuilding itself. The energy for that came from the food we ate yesterday and our bodies inbuilt energy stores. Similarly, all the chemical reactions that took place in the body through the night have drained the body’s cellular water levels leaving most people in a state of mild dehydration. Therefore far from being a meal to skip, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day to ensure optimal health, energy and vitality.
After a good nights sleep we will a have a mild hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level) the body will be craving a quick energy hit. This is one of the reasons that commercially bought breakfast cereals are so popular as they provide an immediate elevation of blood glucose. However, this also causes a large increase in insulin release, which is the hormone that takes blood glucose and stores it the cells of the body as either glycogen or fat. After several hours the large insulin release causes the blood glucose levels to dip to unsafe low levels. Blood glucose is the major nutrient that the brain requires and as the levels drop the brain sends powerful signals to eat again, and quickly, to restore blood sugar levels to safe levels. In our need to satisfy this craving we will often grab the easiest and quickest "Sugar fix we can find" which continues the cycle. If this continues for a period of time the body's cells become desensitized to the effects of insulin. When the body's cells no longer recognize insulin effectively, blood glucose levels can rise uncontrollably. This is known as hyperglyceamia and is a characteristic of type ii (or adult onset) diabetes.
Additionally, because the cells do not recognize insulin the pancreas has to pump out more insulin in order to get the blood glucose down to safe levels. This can cause the pancreas over time to become fatigued and damaged to the point where the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to meet the body's demands. Another serious problem in western societies is osteoporosis. Bone softening can occur when we don't get enough essential nutrients from our diets or when these nutrients are stripped from the body's stores. Heavily refined products actually strip these minerals from our bone storage units in order for the body is able to digest them. The heavy focus in the media is to make sure we get enough calcium in our diets.
I hope this article will help you realize that we need to pay equal attention to protecting the minerals and nutrients we already have. Re-hydrating the body really should come form two sources. Firstly, from nutrient rich high water-content natural whole foods such as fruits or vegetables and secondly from fresh, natural drinking water. Mum was right in saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Researchers report that breakfast-eaters are far less likely to be obese or have diabetes or heart disease. A daily breakfast may reduce the risk of becoming obese or developing signs that can lead to diabetes -- called insulin resistance syndrome -- by 35% to 50% compared with skipping the morning meal.
5 simple steps to a healthier breakfast for vce students:
1. Make the time to both prepare & enjoy a healthy breakfast.
2. Avoid highly refined, sugar laden foods like commercially bought breakfast cereals. Aim to eat foods instead that have a low glycaemic index (g.I) to give you a steady state insulin release through the morning. This will help you to stay focused, alert and energetic longer.
3. Eat some high water-content natural whole foods. I personally enjoy eating some fruit in the morning. I like to top this with some whole biodynamic natural yoghurt, some l.S.A (linseed, sunflower & almond) meal as well as a small number of whole linseeds, sunflower and almonds. This provides me with a meal which has a balanced blend of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
4. Drink a glass of fresh, natural water within the first hour upon waking and up to eight glasses throughout the day.
5. Prepare some healthy snacks, like carrot or celery sticks, some nuts or a piece of whole seasonal fruit, that you can consume through the day to help maintain energy levels and prevent excessive hunger.
Yours in better health,
Dr matthew bateman (chiropractor)
Posted on 06/25/2008 at 12:00:00 AM