A New Reason to Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast
You have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? For one, since you have fasted all night during sleep, you are fueling your body for a day of activity. Two, some studies show that breakfast eaters are thinning and healthier than those who skip breakfast. There may be another reason to get up a few minutes early to ensure you eat a healthy breakfast. It could significantly decrease your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the Harvard University School of Public Health analyzed the eating habits and health outcomes of more than 46,000 women over the course of six years. Those who skipped breakfast had a 20 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes over those who ate breakfast on a daily basis. The risk was even higher for full-time working women (who probably skip breakfast due to lack of time in the mornings) – 54%.
Why is eating breakfast so important? Timing, says lead author Rania Mekary. “When you go to bed, your insulin level is flat -- not too low, not too high. When you don’t ‘break the fast’ in the morning, your insulin level drops -- so when you have lunch later in the day, it’s more likely to spike, then crash again.” Over time, this yo-yo insulin effect can cause the body to build up insulin resistance.
In addition, a separate study found that appetite-regulating hormone levels, such as ghrelin, were more favorable after eating breakfast. Ghrelin, often called the “hunger hormone,” is secreted by the stomach and pancreas and released into the blood before meals. It acts as a natural appetite stimulant. Elevated levels can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Are you one to skip breakfast due to a chaotic morning schedule? Here are some tips to healthy breakfast options from Good Housekeeping Research Institute nutritionists:
• On the weekends, bake a batch of whole grain muffins so that on the weekdays, all you have to do is grab and go.
• Purchase single serving breakfast cereals (or make your own). The night before, put a small thermos of low-fat milk in the fridge.
• When making pancakes or waffles for the kids, make a few extra to put into the freezer. You can warm them in the microwave when you get to work. Remember to grab a piece of whole fruit or a handful of nuts for extra nutrition.
• Pre-make a batch of breakfast burritos or breakfast muffin sandwiches for a more complete breakfast containing carbs, protein and a bit of fat.
• Breakfast smoothies are a great (and fast) breakfast option. A simple recipe is to blend ¾ cup fat-free plain yogurt with one cup fresh berries, a teaspoon of honey and 4 ice cubes.
• A breakfast doesn’t have to be “traditional” to be healthful. Grab some whole grain crackers, a piece of string cheese and a serving of grapes and you have a snack for your desk to start the day.
RA Mekary et al. Eating patterns and type 2 diabetes risk in older women: breakfast consumption and eating frequency. Am J Clin Nutr August 2013 ajcn.057521