Health

 

Janice Stanger, PhD

Janice Stanger, PhD

Posted September 1, 2014

Published in Health

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How Important Is It to Eat Breakfast?

Read More: breakfast, cereal, flaxseeds

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Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Busy People

Skipping breakfast is tempting for time management, especially if you're still sleepy, worried about arriving at a meeting on time, or getting children dressed and out the door with homework in tow. Yet years of research with both adults and children in the U.S., Europe, and Australia show that eating breakfast is important for health and energy levels. When apple on books_small.jpgyou look at your productivity across the whole day, eating soon after getting up is a worthwhile investment of effort.

WHAT DOES THE EVIDENCE SHOW?

Hungry children do not perform as well in school as their classmates who have breakfast. Eating before school starts leads to improved academic results, better classroom behavior, and a lower tendency to be sick later in the day. Based on this research, the Federal government has established the subsidized School Breakfast Program to help assure that students start the day with food, regardless of their family circumstances.

Skipping breakfast is associated with a greater risk of being overweight or obese in both children and adults. People who skip breakfast are more likely to crave higher-calorie foods later in the day. Those who eat breakfast tend to burn more calories and be more physically active before lunch.

Studies have found other health risks of not eating breakfast include:

  • Increased cardiac risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol
  • Greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes

Why is eating breakfast so important? Researchers don't have a definitive answer, but the basics of human biology suggest a possible solution to this puzzle. Under ordinary circumstances, glucose (a type of sugar) is the only energy source your brain uses. If you are fasting or not eating enough carbohydrates, the brain develops a limited ability to use ketones (acids made when you use fat for energy).

However, your brain always runs most effectively on and always requires some glucose. Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every cell in the body, are powered exclusively by glucose and have no ability to burn any other fuel.

When you have not eaten in several hours, the glucose from your last meal will be used up, yet you cannot live without this essential energy source. What's your body to do?

Click here to find out how your body makes sure you have the needed glucose, plus tips for plant-healthy, convenient breakfasts

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