Thursday, February 2, 2012

Health Care and Breakfast

You've probably heard most of your life about the importance of eating a good breakfast. Most nutrition experts say that it's the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast gets your morning started on the right track. It helps you keep your energy up and make healthier eating choices throughout the day, according to EverydayHealth.com.

There’s some physiology to it; eating breakfast prevents you from bottoming out and getting too hungry. And, psychologically, you know you started the day off right. When eating breakfast becomes part of your regimen, you start having ownership of it, become more consistent, and feel that you’re making a change for the better. Nutritionally, when you have breakfast, there’s more of a guarantee that you’re getting the nutrients you need every day.

According to I Village Health, here are 15 reasons to have a good breakfast:

1.) Lose Weight: It sounds counterintuitive, but people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Many breakfast abstainers get so hungry by midmorning that they grab high-calorie quick fixes rather than the lower-calorie whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk or whole-wheat toast, fruit and yogurt that they might have eaten for breakfast, explains the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Another bonus: Whole-grain eaters have lower body weights and smaller waist measurements.

2.) Have More Energy: When you wake up, your fuel tank is empty and your blood sugar is at its lowest for the day. You need breakfast to get your engine going -- it raises your blood sugar and ramps up your metabolism to energize your body. A carb-protein combo such as a bowl of oatmeal made with milk or a slice of whole-grain toast with cheese can give you longer-lasting energy and help keep hunger at bay during the morning hours.

3.) Get the Nutrients You Need: The nutrients that we don’t get enough of -- vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber -- are abundant in traditional breakfast foods. Instead of popping a multivitamin and calling it a morning, mix and match breakfast foods that deliver all four nutrients. Whip up a smoothie with low-fat milk (vitamin D and calcium) plus banana and berries (potassium and fiber). Or go for half a cantaloupe (potassium) topped with yogurt (vitamin D in some brands, and calcium) and fiber-rich breakfast cereal.

4.) Wake Up Your Brain: To perform at your best, you need to nourish your body from top to bottom, including your brain, with a nutritious breakfast. It’s easier to concentrate and complete tasks at work and home when you’ve eaten a balanced morning meal rather than relying on coffee alone for brainpower.

5.) Satisfy Your Hunger: What you eat in the morning can influence how hungry you feel throughout the day. A combo of lean protein and fat can keep you satisfied until midday or later. Try a couple of eggs or a carton of yogurt, along with whole-wheat toast, a whole-grain English muffin or other whole grains rich in fiber. Peanut butter on your toast or sliced almonds on your cereal also may boost satiety. Experiment to find the food combinations that work best for you.

6.) Steady Your Blood Sugar:  For lasting energy, it’s best to keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Cut back on juices, sweetened drinks and sugary breakfast foods that are absorbed quickly and give your blood sugar a quick jolt up and down rather than a steady climb. A drop in blood sugar can leave you feeling tired. New research shows that eating whole grains at breakfast may even help keep your blood sugar steady through lunch and into the afternoon.

7.) Meet Your Fruit and Veggie Quota: Health officials recommend eating at least 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily to help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer and possibly obesity. Aim for a cup at breakfast -- fruit, tomato slices and veggies in your omelet all count toward your daily total.

8.) Ward Off Disease: Antioxidants found in produce (especially blueberries and raspberries) are part of a food insurance policy that helps protect the cells in your body from damage. Bump up the antioxidant value of your breakfast even higher by topping your oatmeal with cinnamon, sprinkling walnuts in your bowl of cold cereal or stirring a bit of cocoa powder into your coffee.

9.) Make MyPlate Your Plate: The government’s new MyPlate symbol represents the ideal ratio of food groups, with 50 percent vegetables and fruits and 25 percent each protein and grain. To recreate it at home, pair a cup or so of fresh or frozen fruit with a slice or two of whole-grain toast and a hard-boiled egg, a slice of reduced fat cheese or a dollop of peanut butter. Add a serving of low-fat milk or yogurt to round out your meal.

10.) Trim Calories:  Instead of reducing calories by eliminating breakfast, eat about 350 to 400 calories, and always include nutrient-dense, low-calorie, filling foods such as fruit, cereal with fat-free milk or low-fat yogurt. Not hungry for breakfast? Take a look at the size of your dinner. An overly big dinner can kill your morning appetite and add too many calories.

11.) Protect Your Heart: Studies show that people who eat breakfast generally consume less cholesterol and fat and more fiber, and this improves their heart health. Of course, if your idea of breakfast includes bacon, butter and more than an egg a day, you’re not doing your heart any favors. You can trim the fat and cholesterol from your morning omelet by using just egg whites, extra whites mixed with one whole egg or an egg substitute.

12.) Cancel Out Cancer: To reduce your risk of cancer, health organizations like the American Cancer Society recommend eating more vegetables and fruits, swapping out processed grains and sugars for whole versions and limiting processed meats. Turns out that breakfast is the perfect meal to follow those guidelines. Think grapefruit or melon chunks, veggies in your omelet, whole-grain cereal and bread and lean bacon on special occasions.

13.)  Strengthen Your Immunity: Do your immune system a favor and sit down to a bowl of breakfast fruit salad with mango, papaya, pineapple and a squeeze of lime for a generous dose of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A promotes infection-fighting white blood cells and helps the skin and mucous membranes block invading bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C works hard to prevent damage to cells from free radicals. It is also needed to make collagen, a protein that helps heal skin wounds.

14.) Build Strong Bones and Muscles: The dynamic duo of calcium and vitamin D ensures that bones get what they need to stay strong, so be sure to include the most convenient source -- a cup of cow’s milk or fortified soy, almond or rice milk. Cow’s milk also is a good source of protein, the nutrient that helps you retain muscle. Compare the protein content of nondairy milks and choose those with higher amounts. Some brands have very little protein.

15.) Improve Digestion:  To help keep your gut healthy, include some probiotics and prebiotics in your morning meal. The probiotic bacteria found in certain yogurt varieties are bred for their beneficial functions -- some crowd out “bad” bacteria in your intestines, and others help regulate your digestive system. Inulin, a carbohydrate added to certain yogurts and other foods, contains prebiotics that help nourish “good” bacteria so that it can flourish.

If you consider that when you wake up in the morning, for the majority of individuals, your body and brain have been without food for around 10 - 12 hours. For children it may be longer. According to HelpWithCooking.com, your body is similar to a car in the fact that it needs fuel to run, and like a car, the better you look after your body, the longer and better it will run. Bodies must be fueled several times each day so that they function efficiently and carry out daily tasks as best you can. In the morning, after many hours without food, it is essential to refuel in order to provide the necessary nutrients and energy to get you through the first part of the day.

If you deprive your body of food in the morning you may find that you feel tired, dizzy and irritable and that your concentration is poor. It may take you longer to carry out tasks or you just might not feel up to anything mentally strenuous let alone physical. You will probably find yourself snapping at people unintentionally, especially if under stress and you will no doubt soon start to feel pangs of hunger as the morning wears on. It is also possible that you may become so hungry that you grab twice as many unhealthy snacks to eat before lunch.

According to the Mayo Clinic, breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits. Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

--Meet daily nutrient requirements.
--Concentrate better.
--Have better problem-solving skills.
--Have better hand-eye coordination.
--Be more alert.
--Be more creative.
--Miss fewer days of school.
--Be more physically active.

If you skip breakfast because you're short on time each morning, plan ahead. Much more info can be found at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/NU00197.  Also, here are some tips to fit in breakfast on a tight schedule:

--The night before, figure out what you'll eat. Then set out dry ingredients and any bowls, blenders or pans so they're ready for use.
--Make breakfast the night before, then just heat as necessary in the morning.
--Pack a to-go breakfast the night before.

Whatever your situation, whether you are working full time, you are a student, you are a stay at home parent or work out of your home, or you are retired, always take time to grab a healthy snack for breakfast. If you have the time, treat yourself to a really good meal first thing in the morning. Be careful not to overeat, but enjoy good food to start your day out right. If all you have time for is a "grab-n-go" type of item, then eat something healthy. Take time to treat your body and your mind right before you tackle the challenges of each new day.
 
Until next time.

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