Bring Breakfast Back!!
By Live Well Teens Team
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” This is a popular, well-known saying, and you may think that this is just good advice. But, research generally suggests the importance of breakfast in a healthy lifestyle. Yet, many or most of us do not seem to follow this advice to the fullest.
In fact, approximately 60 percent of high school students skip breakfast each morning, and 14 percent of them do not eat the meal most or all days of the week in the United States. Eating some kind of breakfast is better than eating nothing at all, but a high-quality and nutritious breakfast is the best for health and well-being.
Why is Breakfast Necessary?
When we eat breakfast, our bodies take this as a sign that more food will come throughout the day. When our body doesn’t get food at this crucial time, it assumes that it must conserve any calories it receives rather than burning them
Benefits of Eating Breakfast
1. Breakfast Boosts Brain Power
Eating breakfast has been proven to boost brainpower. Research suggests that eating a healthy breakfast comprising healthy fats, carbohydrates, protein in the morning leads to improved concentration, memory, and boosts performance on tests. Kids and teens who eat breakfast will be able to focus on their schoolwork, rather than on their stomachs because their blood sugar levels are stable. Blood sugar keeps the muscles in the body working at their best, allowing for improved performance in school.
2. Breakfast Improves Your Metabolism
Eating breakfast can improve your metabolism because the fiber in many foods can improve colon and digestive health. Also, eating a healthy breakfast can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes and heart disease, which are leading killers of many Americans.
3. Breakfast Provides Essential Nutrients
Popular breakfast foods provide fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and a variety of other nutrients. These nutrients can improve your skin, repair tissue, and even strengthen your teeth. One significant advantage of breakfast is that you can incorporate more food groups that you may have trouble fitting in later in the day. Breakfast eaters gain all of these extra nutrients while breakfast skippers don’t. It seems like a missed opportunity to get more nutrients into your diet and kick start your day. Studies have shown that people who don’t get these nutrients during breakfast are less likely to compensate for them later in the day.
4. Breakfast Improves Heart Health
According to John Hopkins Medicine, children, adolescents, and adults who don’t eat breakfast have higher LDL (or bad) cholesterol than those who do. In addition, breakfast eaters consume lower fat and more fiber in their diets. Fiber is a nutrient many Americans lack; thus, it is essential to include it in one’s diet. Also, many popular breakfast foods strengthen your heart and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dangers of Not Eating Breakfast
1. Weight Gain
Several studies show that children and adolescents who skip breakfast 1-3 days a week have higher BMI (body mass index) and are more likely to be overweight and obese. According to John Hopkins Medicine, kids, and teens who eat breakfast have lower BMIs and function better in school. Kids who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to miss essential nutrients in their diet and snack more later. When our body skips a meal, it goes into survival mode and tends to overeat later. Additionally, missing breakfast leads to the body’s metabolism to slow down, making it harder to digest food. For those of you skipping breakfast every day, don’t!
2. Stress and Depression
Skipping breakfast can have a drastic impact on our stress levels and mental health. Skipping breakfast can cause stress levels to rise, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety. How? Well, breakfast can decrease cortisol levels in the brain, bringing them back to normal levels. When our body does not get breakfast, it floods our cells with cortisol and increases stress levels.
However, a study found that, while eating breakfast has benefits for stress and depression, people eating low-quality breakfasts do not fare any better with stress and/or depression similar to breakfast skippers. So, the quality of breakfast and how healthy it is is just as important as eating breakfast.
Breakfast and Mood
Breakfast can also affect our mood throughout the day. Skipping breakfast tends to leave people grumpy, tired, and hungry throughout the day. Skipping breakfast leads to a drop in blood sugar, and this dip can cause irritability, anger, & fatigue. Serotonin & dopamine are neurotransmitters that affect mood, and there is a connection between food intake and the release of these neurotransmitters. Skipping meals affects these levels and causes your mood to worsen. Additionally, research shows that people who skip breakfast are at an increased risk for mood disorders. Thus, make sure that you eat breakfast; it will keep you happy and energetic all day long.
How to Eat a Healthy Breakfast
A healthy breakfast should include adequate protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats. Below, we will compare a healthy and unhealthy breakfast:
Unhealthy Breakfast Items
- Sugary cereals (these cereals contain sugar and little to no nutrients): In general, sugary cereals contain lots of refined sugar. You might be consuming one spoonful of sugar for every three spoons of cereal. Most sugary cereals contain additives, colors, and dyes, in addition to nutrients that are added only during manufacturing. Despite this, sugary cereals continue to be a leading breakfast item for children.
- Granola bars : Granola bars are also not a healthy breakfast. Many contain sugar and no nutrients at all. Even the ones purporting to have nutrients may have them be fortified or in small amounts.
- Chocolate and Nut Butters: Many chocolates and nut butter contain unhealthy oils, such as palm and coconut oils, and high amounts of sugar. These oils have high amounts of cholesterol, which negatively impacts the arteries and increases coronary heart disease risk.
- Doughnuts: Not only do doughnuts contain trans fat, which also increases heart disease risk, they also have high amounts of sugar. Doughnuts are also processed heavily, and the enriched flour contains harmful chemicals that speed the aging process of bread.
Healthy Breakfast Items
- Vegetable sandwich (e.g., tomato, avocado, cilantro, lettuce, and nutritional yeast) on whole-grain bread with a side of raw cabbage (washed), add hummus for extra protein kick.
- Omelette made of chickpea flour with cilantro, tomato, and onion inside or organic omega 3 rich eggs.
- Homemade almond milk, different types of nuts, and a variety of cut fruits (e.g., banana, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
- Make sure that your breakfast has a high amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Plant protein is optional but recommended.
- We recommend eating breakfast because of its numerous health benefits.
- Ensure that you are eating lots of fiber and a balance of carbohydrates and proteins for breakfast while minimizing fats.