Health Benefits to Eating Breakfast
A study published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, and conducted by researchers at Ohio State School of Health, examined data obtained from over 30,889 U.S. adults over the span of 11 years. The researchers were looking at the nutritional impact of skipping breakfast; about 15% of the study participants missed breakfast. Previous studies have shown that kids who skip breakfast can have difficulty focusing in school and may have behavioral problems.
The researchers found that the adults who routinely skipped breakfast were missing a few key dietary nutrients:
- Vitamins B1, B3 and Folate
- Vitamin D
- Minerals calcium and iron
- Vitamin C
The breakfast skippers took in more calories, sugar, carbohydrates and fat over the course of the day compared to the breakfast eaters. There was also more snacking throughout the day. The lunches and dinners of the breakfast skippers were also larger than the breakfast eaters.
This is an interesting study because you might assume that skipping an entire meal, like breakfast, might result in a calorie-deficit but the opposite is true. More calories are consumed. Perhaps the body is making up for the calorie and nutrient gap that occurs when breakfast is skipped. Breakfast is an important meal because the body has fasted since dinner or night time snacking the day before.
USDA dietary guidelines indicate that adults are already short on certain nutrients including calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin D, as well as iron in women who are pregnant. Those gaps could impact future chronic health issues like high blood pressure, osteoporosis, control of glucose levels, and chronic inflammation. Skipping an entire meal like breakfast each day will certainly not make up for those nutrient gaps.
A good rule of thumb is to eat within one hour of getting up; your body is ready to be nourished after a night of sleep. If the thought of solid food is not appealing, then perhaps a smoothie made from Greek yogurt, frozen berries and veggies will hit the spot. Perhaps traditional breakfast foods are not tempting either; maybe cheese and crackers, leftovers or a sandwich sounds delish. It's all good. There will be nourishment in all of those ideas.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital