After overnight fasting, the first meal taken in the morning is breakfast. Many individuals skip it because they have no time in morning to eat. Some skip it as a weight loss measure. But such people do not realize that missing breakfast is not healthy. Breakfast as first meal of the day is very important for overall good health. The old saying, “eat breakfast like a King, holds true even today”.
When one passes 8 to 10 hours after dinner and during sleep, without any food or drink, the body’s blood glucose levels go down, which is source of energy for the body. This makes one feel weak and dull. It also makes one irritable and cranky throughout the day, till next meal becomes available. Often it becomes difficult for him/her to focus on the work at hand. Low energy levels and hunger pangs, affect quality of work.
Studies have established that children who eat breakfast regularly, remain more cheerful and alert, are more focused on their work and perform better as compared to children who skip breakfast. Same thing can be said for adults.
The body’s metabolism is also slowed down during night. After a breakfast, it is stimulated, thus helping to assimilate and burn the calories consumed then and subsequently faster. In contrast if somebody skips breakfast and eats much later in the day, metabolism remains sluggish.
People, who skip breakfast in a bid to lose weight, in fact tend to add more calories. When one eats after being famished for hours together, he would mostly eat a greater quantity of food as compared to if he had had breakfast. Since the body’s metabolism remains sluggish since morning, it tends to assimilate more calories and burn them slowly. Thus instead of losing weight one would be adding it up. When more fat is assimilated in the body, unhealthy or bad cholesterol tends to increase in blood. Thus the obesity and increase in fats in blood makes one more susceptible to high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases, along with osteoarthritis. Moreover if one takes small frequent meals, the nutrients are assimilated and distributed more easily and uniformly in the body as compared to a big meal taken one or 2 times. This makes the body healthier.
Acid is produced by stomach to protect the inner lining against infections or injury of any kind. Normally this acid is neutralized by the food consumed. If one stays without food for a long time, this acid is not neutralized, resulting in burning pain in stomach, behind chest, nausea and or bilious vomiting making one to feel sick. Due to overnight fasting, the acid levels tend to increase. This can be neutralised only by taking breakfast.
It is important to take a breakfast and equally important to take a healthy breakfast. Ideally it should be nutritious and balanced. Quantity of food and type of food would be as per one’s personal choice. Freshly prepared breakfast is better than easy to prepare or ready to eat fast foods. Whole grains in any form (chapatti, bread, germinated grains, e.t.c), milk or milk products, nuts and fresh fruits should be consumed. Eggs are filling and rich source of protein. But they also have high cholesterol content which would increase obesity, deposition of fats in inner lining of blood vessels and related problems. Hence eggs should be used sparingly, particularly by adults. Fruit juices are good but ideal choice should be juice prepared from fresh fruits.
Somebody in a rush for work can try to do small chores, while nibbling on breakfast
Dr Rachna Pande,
Specialist, internal medicine