Breakfast and the Brain
Q. I’ve heard you talk about “booting up your brain with breakfast” but I don’t get what the big deal is. What does it matter whether or not I eat breakfast?
A. That’s a question that I am asked quite regularly. There are, of course, opinions on both sides of the question. My brain’s opinion is that eating breakfast does matter, primarily for your brain—and I always do it. Breaking the fast from sleeping (unless you get up and snack at night!) boots up the brain much like you boot up a computer. Body cells can use fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for energy, not so with brain cells. Glucose from carbs is the preferred if not the best source of fuel that the brain can use efficiently. Due to its rapid metabolism, the brain requires minute-to-minute glucose. For example, glucose levels decline more during a period of intense cognitive processing. Studies in all types of people have shown improved mental ability following a carbohydrate meal. But what type of carbs? Healthier ones, of course, Carbs that are eaten in as natural state as possible and that are relatively low on the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load lists. Those recommended in a Longevity Lifestyle.
Eric Rimm, senior author of a study related to breakfast and coronary heart disease and associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, said, “It’s a really simple message. Breakfast is an important meal.” And Leah Cahill, postdoctoral research fellow in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, was quoted as saying: “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.” This study corroborated other studies that have pointed to a link between breakfast and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems seen as precursors to heart problems. As my favorite aunt would likely have put it: “Eat a good breakfast already!” I do.
[Nedley, Neil, M.D. Proof Positive; Brand-Miller, Jennie, PhD, Thomas M. S. Wolever, MD, PhD, et al. The New Glucose Revolution]