HEALTH It's the most important meal of the day, yet one that’s often overlooked because of a hectic routine and lack of planning

Do you start your day feeling sluggish and deprived of energy, even after a good night’s rest? Perhaps the solution lies in your breakfast plate. Over the years, a great deal of research has established the impact of this nutritious meal on our long-term health; yet, the significance of it is invariably ignored. Here are some sensible reasons to refuel and re-energise oneself every morning.

Replenishes your energy reserves:

On average, we sleep for 6-8 hours. Our last meal of the day is usually a couple of hours before bed time. So in effect, while we sleep, our body is starved for 8-10 hours. “(After this), your brain needs glucose to function,” says Geeta Dharmatti, chief dietician at the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, Pune. “If you skip breakfast, you’re not only going to feel sluggish, but you’re also most likely to find yourself craving something sweet to eat later in the day, as your body cries out for a quick fix to boost energy levels. However, as your body digests complex carbohydrates from a healthy meal, it will slowly release glucose into your bloodstream, translating into long-term energy to help get you through the day.”

Improves cognitive skills and supports growth:

A study conducted by Harvard University, discovered that students who ate breakfast regularly had improved grades in subjects that required quick thinking and intense concentration such as mathematics. They were also much less hyperactive, had reduced their absenteeism and late arrivals and improved their social behaviour .

“Eating a nutritious breakfast can do wonders for your memory,” says Nupur Krishnan, clinical nutritionist and director of Bio-logics Nutrition Clinics in Mumbai (www.biologics24.com).

Keeps the weighing scale steady:

Researchers from the National Weight Control Registry in the U.S. established that in addition to diet and exercise, over 78 per cent of people who lost 30 kilos or more and kept it off for over 6 years had the habit of eating a healthy breakfast every day and this positive lifestyle change was an effective and simple weight control strategy. “Breakfast keeps you energetic and healthy as it provides the necessary boost in terms of nutrients and prevents you from binging later. People who skip the meal can find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of eating disorders, even suffering from problems such as anorexia nervosa, hair fall, memory loss, hypoglycaemia, headache and weakening eyesight,” says Nupur. “This will, in turn, weaken the immunity, leaving you vulnerable to colds, fevers and flu.”

Staves off diabetes, nutritional deficiencies:

Eating a regular breakfast will help keep Type 2 Diabetes at bay, says a recent U.S.-based study that examined over 3,000 young girls in the ages of 9-19. The study established that girls who consistently ate breakfast had a lower body mass index than those who skipped it.

Here are some more tips to keep in mind.

Don't just drink. Eat!

Most children tend to down a glass of milk in the morning, as they are rushing off to school, but Nupur recommends a more solid fare. “Milk is not enough to provide all the nutrients,” she says. “Try to eat a boiled egg or an omelette, idli or dosa, a vegetable grilled sandwich, carrot halwa, cereal or porridge. Make good protein choices such as paneer sandwiches and vegetable or fruit smoothies. Even wheat puffs and fruits can be options for those who crave variety. These items are loaded with protein, fibre, important vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, all of which are essential for growth and development.”

Even for adults, sometimes breakfast is just a quick cup of coffee. Geeta says, “Coffee is an excellent stimulant but it offers little benefit. Apart from being a diuretic, it inhibits calcium absorption from protein-rich milk and curd.”

A balanced breakfast provides more than just a great start to the day; consider it the most valuable investment made in the long-term interest of a healthy body.

KAMALA THIAGARAJAN



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