Breakfast

January 5, 2006

Everybody knows that breakfast could make/(lack of it) spoil your day. But still majority overlooks this factor and go ahead with their demanding day. The drawback? fall in productivity, spoiling health and getting air-lifted by angels/demons much earlier than the normal person would. I dont want to write about the pros of work-out (as well) because I would feel more ashamed then.

Ok, one must have heard of this: "Eat your breakfast like a King, have your lunch like a working class person and dinner like a beggar would". This was putting the gist of the article [which is to follow] before a layman.
Quoting shamelessly from the fwd: (credits: thanks Santosh!)

Breakfast and your health

By Harvard Health Publications

Your mother was right (again): It is important to start your day with a good breakfast. But the hearty feast of bacon and eggs that you may remember from your youth is hardly a good start by today’s standards, and the doughnut and coffee that have replaced it in today’s fast-paced world is no better. Why is breakfast so important, and how can you plan a meal that is enjoyable, convenient, and healthful?

Morning metabolism

Retaining the patterns that served our hunter-gatherer ancestors so well in the Stone Age, your metabolism maintains a nearly steady supply of energy whether food is on board or not. It’s a good thing since your brain can’t store any energy on its own, depending instead on a constant infusion of glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. After a meal, food is digested in your stomach and intestines; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are broken down into smaller fragments that are absorbed into your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level rises, your pancreas secretes insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to enter cells, where it powers the body’s metabolism. Glucose that’s not needed on the spot is converted into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles to meet future energy needs. But the body can store only a small amount of glycogen; most of your energy reserves are in the fatty acids that are socked away in your body’s fat deposits. In contrast to the treatment of other nutrients, your body does not store excess protein; it converts it into fat.

When it’s not getting new supplies of food, your metabolism goes into reverse, thanks to hormones such as glucagon, adrenaline, and cortisol. Your liver converts glycogen back into glucose and produces additional glucose to keep your blood levels nearly steady. If you need even more energy, your body releases fatty acids that can be burned for energy. But since all your proteins are serving important functions, they stay put during short periods of energy deprivation. In times of real famine, however, the body cannibalizes itself, burning protein for energy it can’t get any other way.

A lapse of 10 or 12 hours between dinner and breakfast is hardly a famine, but it’s enough to put your metabolism into a fasting, energy-mobilizing mode. Your first meal of the day will help flip the switch back to energy storage, so it’s important to do it right.

Patterns, not perfection

There is no such thing as a perfect food or even a perfect meal. But there is surely a dietary pattern that is best for health. Harvard’s Health Professionals Follow-up Study of 51,529 men compared the effects of a "prudent pattern," characterized by a high consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and poultry, with a "Western pattern," marked by the consumption of high-fat dairy products, refined grains, sweets, processed meat, red meat, and fried potatoes. No surprises here: The men who followed a prudent diet had a much lower risk of heart disease and diabetes than the gents who ate a typical 21st-century American diet.

Your diet should be prudent but not punitive or even boring. Choose a variety of foods and experiment with new ones. Keep your fat consumption low to moderate (20%–30% of your daily calories) by reducing your consumption of saturated fat from meat and whole dairy products and trans fatty acids from stick margarine, fried foods, and snack foods. Favor omega-3 fats from fish and nuts and monounsaturated fats from olive oil. Eat only a small amount of simple sugars and other rapidly absorbed carbohydrates, but get enough complex, slowly absorbed carbohydrates to bring your total carbohydrate intake to 50%–65% of your daily calories. Eat foods that provide at least 25 grams of dietary fiber a day. Don’t neglect protein, but don’t feel you have to push your ration above 15% of your daily calories.

How can breakfast fit into this healthful pattern? Few men will choose to start their day with vegetables, beans, or fish, even though they are excellent foods. But breakfast is the best time to get complex carbohydrates and fiber. In fact, if you don’t start out right at breakfast, you’ll find it hard, even impossible, to get the fiber you need.

Cereal: The heart of the matter

Cereal is the key to a healthful breakfast, but only if you choose the right one. Unfortunately, most cereals are made from refined grains and many are laced with extra sugar. Despite this, many cereals tout their health benefits. Don’t be misled by bold print that boasts about vitamins, minerals, or even whole grains. You should focus on two criteria: fiber content and personal preference. Look for a cereal that provides at least 6 grams of fiber per portion; 10–12 grams would be even better, but you’ll still need lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds later in the day to meet your target of 25–30 grams.

Dietary fiber comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble. Both are good for you. Most high-fiber cereals are made with wheat bran, which is rich in insoluble fiber. Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, but many popular dry oat cereals contain only a trace of the oat bran fiber that really counts.

Insoluble fiber draws water into the intestines, making stools bulkier, softer and easier to pass. That’s why people who consume lots of fiber enjoy a reduced risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, and hernias. And two important 2003 studies link dietary fiber to protection against intestinal polyps and colon cancers.

Soluble fiber delays the stomach’s emptying and keeps your blood sugar from rising too fast after a meal, so it lowers insulin levels. It also helps reduce blood levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. A study of 11,864 American adults found that blood cholesterol levels are lowest in adults who eat cereal and highest in breakfast skippers.

It’s easy to understand how dietary fiber protects your intestinal tract, but can it actually help other parts of the body? Two Harvard studies say it really does protect the heart. The Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study reported that a high-fiber diet reduced the risk of heart attack by 41% over a six-year observation period. For each 10-gram increase in a man’s daily fiber intake, his risk of heart disease dropped by 19% — and just one bowl of high-fiber cereal can provide those 10 grams of protection. Similarly, the Nurses’ Health Study of more than 68,000 women linked a high intake of fiber to a 47% reduction in heart disease over a 10-year period. And when researchers compared various sources of fiber, they found that cereal was even more protective than fruits and vegetables.

Intestinal woes and heart disease should be enough to persuade you to choose a high-fiber cereal for breakfast — but there’s more. Harvard researchers report that whole grains are associated with a 38% lower risk of diabetes and a 31% reduction in strokes. And the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that men who eat whole grain cereals regularly enjoyed a 17% lower death rate than those who ate them infrequently.

You don’t have to munch on bran fiber from dawn to dusk; men benefited from 29 grams a day, women from just 23 grams. Take a look at the table on page 3 to see how various cereals stack up. Even better, read the fine print on your cereal’s nutrition label before you open the paper at breakfast tomorrow.

Fiber and flavor are the main criteria for a cereal, but other factors may influence your choice. An ideal cereal should have almost no fat; that rules out many "healthy" granola-based brands. Sugar adds calories at the expense of health; pick a cereal with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. A high potassium content is a plus, but sodium and iron are not. Whole grain cereals also provide selenium, the mineral that’s been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. As for vitamins, FDA mandates ensure that all cereals are fortified with folic acid. It’s a good thing, since research has already demonstrated that folate-rich cereals substantially reduce blood levels of homocysteine, the amino acid that has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, and even dementia. Other added vitamins may be a slight advantage, but if you take a daily multivitamin diligently, you don’t have to depend on your cereal.

It may take a while to get used to a truly high-fiber breakfast cereal. You may find the transition easier if you start out with 2% milk, then gradually switch to 1% or nonfat milk; all will provide some of the calcium and vitamin D you need. Bananas, berries, or even apple slices can go a long way toward turning your cereal into a treat — and fruit will add valuable vitamins and minerals.

Cereal now also comes in bars. They can be useful as snacks or for people who simply can’t sit down for breakfast. All Bran bars, for example, provide 5 grams of fiber — quite good for a snack, but only half as good as All Bran cereal and with nearly twice as many calories.

Comparing some cereals

Cereal Portion Size Fiber (to the nearest gram) Calories

All Bran Extra Fiber 1/2 cup 13 50

Fiber One 1/2 cup 13 60

Bran Buds 1/3 cup 13 70

All Bran 1/2 cup 10 80

100% Bran 1/3 cup 8 80

Raisin Bran 1 cup 7 190

Oat Bran (hot) 1/2 cup 6 150

Grape Nuts 1/2 cup 6 200

Bran Flakes 3/4 cup 5 90

Shredded Wheat 2 lg. biscuits 5 160

Oatmeal 1 cup (dry) 4 150

Wheaties 1 cup 3 110

Cheerios 1 cup 3 110

Instant oatmeal 1 oz. 2 108

Smart Start 1 cup 2 180

Corn Flakes 1 cup 1 100

Special K 1 cup 0 110

Beverages

You need milk on your cereal, and a glass of low- or nonfat milk is also fine for breakfast. Citrus fruits and juices will add vitamin C and other nutrients. Men who take certain medications, including some cholesterol-lowering statins and various antihypertensives, should choose orange juice rather than grapefruit juice, which can boost the blood levels of some drugs. Coffee or tea? Your preference rules. Caffeinated beverages are perfectly okay unless you experience unpleasant side effects such as heartburn, palpitations, or headaches.


Other grains

Bread and toast are American breakfast traditions. If you like them, choose whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, which have a low glycemic index. Bran muffins are tricky; some are high in fat, and most provide only a few grams of fiber. Bagels are low in fat (unless you cover them with cream cheese) but very low in fiber. All in all, there’s nothing wrong with any of these baked goods — unless they displace your breakfast cereal.

Spreads

Breakfast spreads present opportunities as well as perils. Avoid the regular use of butter (saturated fat) and stick margarine (trans fat). Honey and jam have no fat but are too sugary for daily use in large amounts. Soft margarine from a tub is acceptable, but plant stanol margarines such as Benecol and Take Control are even better, since regular use will help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Fruit

The best diets include at least two to four portions of fruit a day. Breakfast presents a great opportunity to take the first step toward that goal. Pick the fruits you like best; there are no bad choices.

Eggs

It’s enough to make the average guy’s blood boil. Conflicting messages have scrambled the traditional wisdom about eggs, and modern nutritional science has not yet cracked the problem.

An average egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat, virtually all in the yolk. Even though dietary cholesterol won’t raise blood cholesterol levels nearly as much as saturated fats, it does contribute to the total. That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily consumption of just 300 mg or less of cholesterol, or 200 mg for people with high blood cholesterols. It’s a sound recommendation, and it’s taken eggs off the heart-healthy breakfast table. Fortunately, egg substitutes can be used to make fine baked goods and even omelets and scrambled "eggs."

But that’s not the end of the story. In 1999, the news media triggered a massive backlash when they announced that a Harvard study found that eggs did not contribute to cardiovascular disease. The study of more than 37,000 men and 80,000 women reported that "consumption of one egg per day is unlikely to have a substantial overall impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke among healthy men and women." One egg a day — that’s only 213 mg of cholesterol, well within the AHA guidelines. And the study found that more than one egg a day was linked to a twofold increase in cardiovascular risk among diabetic men.

Designer eggs are adding to the confusion and controversy. You can already buy omega-3, organic, free-range, and vegetarian eggs, and more varieties are on the way. Until reputable scientists tell us otherwise, an egg is an egg is an egg. That means they’re fine on Sundays or for that special brunch, but a distant second to high-fiber cereal for your daily breakfast.

Not recommended

There is room for debate about eggs but little debate about some of the other foods Americans eat for breakfast. Doughnuts, croissants, waffles, and fried potatoes have too much fat. Processed meats, including bacon, ham, and sausage, have too much fat and salt. And the McBreakfasts at your nearby fast-food drive-in have too much of everything (except, of course, fiber).

Breakfast and your belly

Many people assume that skipping meals will help them lose weight. It’s not true, particularly if the missed meal is breakfast. For example, a study of 16,452 American adults found that breakfast eaters were leaner than breakfast skippers — and people who ate cereal for breakfast were leaner than those who ate meat or eggs. A study of 2,831 young adults agreed, finding that people who ate breakfast regularly were only half as likely to be obese as those who usually skipped it. And a smaller Massachusetts study reported that skipping breakfast was associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of obesity. Not surprisingly, eating breakfast at home was more beneficial than eating out.

Start right

If breakfast isn’t "the most important meal of the day," it is a very important start to a healthful day. Numerous claims to the contrary, a good breakfast probably won’t boost your mental skills, but it can help you lose weight. And if you eat a high-fiber cereal, breakfast will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, especially if you add nonfat milk and fruit.

Above all, perhaps, a good breakfast is an ideal way to start changing to a healthful diet. The food choices are simple, and you can measure your progress quite easily. Experiment until you find a healthful breakfast you can really enjoy. And if you eat right and stay healthy, you can afford to "cheat" from time to time — though if you’re like most men, you’ll gradually lose your craving for the bacon and eggs of yore.

If nostalgia is your thing, go for oatmeal.

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One Response to “Breakfast”

  1. john Says:

    You can be sure I gonna eat some breakfast for that damn hemorrhoids!
    Great source of information here.
    Thank you!


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