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Rosemary Nardone, CHHP, RM

Certified Nutritional Health Counselor 

On any given morning, one in five Americans skip breakfast.  Those who do eat mostly grab what amounts to sugary muffin or scones that pack on pounds.  We think we have the rest of the day to eat right, so whatís the harm? 

Study after study shows that people who eat a healthy breakfast based on whole foods rich in nutrients and fiber, moderate protein and good fats are more energetic and mentally alert than those who eat poorly or not at all.  They are also less likely to get diabetes or suffer high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.  For those trying to keep off the extra pounds, breakfast is essential. 

Itís simply physiology.  Our bodies need to recharge to function properly.  It gets its fuel  known as glucose by breaking down carbohydrates in our food, then entering the bloodstream, circulating and providing cells with energy.  It only stands to reason after youíve fasted for more than eight hours overnight, eating would be important.  Blood sugar needs to be at a certain level, but if you donít eat breakfast your body stays stuck in low energy state.  This triggers brain-hunger and you seek out food. 

Rule number one, donít skip breakfast; rule number two, make your food choices count.  When the body turns carbs into glucose, it produces insulin which channels glucose into the cells.  Problems arise when all of this happens too quickly such as when you eat processed foods and refined carbs like coffee cake, bagels, donuts.  Your body then rapidly causes blood sugar to spike due to insulin surge, taking your energy down with it.  Three hours later, you get the urge to eat again because blood sugar is low, grab the easiest thing like a cookie, the whole process starts again.  This cycle repeated over and over for years paves the way to create metabolic syndrome, precursor to diabetes, heart disease, immune disorder, obesity and cancer. 

In contrast, carbs found in whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables takes longer to digest controlling blood sugar so you donít experience the crash thus sustaining energy and will power.  When choosing cereals, look for low sugar, high protein, high fiber, whole grain.  Most supermarket cereals contain corn syrup, high sodium and white flours which are counterproductive to nutritional health. 

Meanwhile, fiber is the focus of several studies linking breakfast consumption to protection from heart problems.  How?  By lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  It is important we get 25 grams of fiber daily.  Most of us only get l5, so eating the right cereal at breakfast is our best chance of getting this in your diet.  Bowl of high fiber cereal sprinkled with berries gives us at least 12 grams of fiber for starters. 

Staying power is the next step.  Healthy carbs may be core for healthy breakfast, but we need to balance the meal out with foods rich in Protein which increases satiety by slowing down the rate which food moves from your stomach to intestines.  In addition, studies  show that protein suppresses and appetite inducing hormone called Ghfelin.  Approximately 10 grams of protein is enough to balance out your meal.  You can get that by a cup of low fat yogurt, 1/3 cp almonds or an egg.  As far as healthy fats, I recommend choosing unsaturated fats including nuts, flaxseeds, salmon.  Eggs have gotten a bad rap, but as a protein source they are considered ďgold standardĒ Ė they contain a perfect balance of amino acids and choline. 

You say you donít have time to eat breakfast Ė I say break the rules and remember you donít have to eat the minute you get out of bed, wait an hour or two after sleeping.  Not necessary to eat your whole meal at once, instead nibble throughout the morning.  Also, donít limit yourself to traditional oatmeal and eggs, turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with sliced tomato would fill nutritional requirements.

 Get back on track, start enjoying breakfast!

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