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Start the Day Right
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Photo: Hemera
Regularly eating a healthy breakfast does make a difference. Studies show it improves your overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, too many people skip or skimp on breakfast and suffer the consequences. Those who skip breakfast have slower reaction times and are more accident-prone. School children who skip breakfast have greater neuromuscular tremors, irritability and anxiety; more tardiness; more disruptive classroom behavior; and a decreased ability to concentrate and solve problems.

Without breakfast, nutritionally deprived children score lower in fluency tests, generate less ideas, and have less motivation. They also do poorly on visual and auditory short-term memory tests. In the Alameda county study, elderly persons who skipped breakfast had a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of dying.
 
Eating breakfast has many benefits. It reduces fatigue and sleepiness in the mid-morning hours; helps banish away the blues; improves concentration, increases alertness, and helps one function more efficiently. The Iowa breakfast studies showed that academic performance is generally better when breakfast is eaten.
 
Studies have shown that those who skip breakfast are more likely to struggle with a weight problem. Calories eaten earlier in the day are more effectively utilized than those consumed late in the day. Eating a good breakfast generally improves the overall quality of the diet. Those skipping breakfast are more likely to snack throughout the day and consume a moderately large evening meal.

The deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on the health of ten lean women were measured in a study conducted at the Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, U.K. Omitting breakfast was associated with a 9 percent elevation in total cholesterol levels and a 17 percent elevation in LDL cholesterol levels, respectively, in addition to having significantly lower insulin sensitivity.  While there was no significant difference in feelings of hunger between the two groups, those who ate breakfast consumed five percent fewer calories during the two week test period.

Other studies have shown that the consumption of whole-grain cereals for breakfast is associated with a reduced fat intake, a lower body weight, lower blood lipid levels (especially LDL cholesterol), and reduced mortality rates from cardiovascular disease. People who skip breakfast were reported to have higher immunoglobulin E levels, giving them a higher risk of allergic disorders.

Don't leave home without it

A good breakfast should contain at least 30 percent of the day’s calories. It should emphasize high-fiber complex carbohydrate foods such as whole-grain breads, bagels, muffins, waffles, and cereals, as well as nuts and fruits. A low-fat milk or calcium-fortified soy beverage would improve the nutritional profile of the meal. So start your day right. Make time for a healthy breakfast. And don’t leave home without it.

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By Winston J. Craig, R.D. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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