It turns out that when your mom or significant other was warning you of the dangers of skipping breakfast, they were right. Again. This fast paced world in which we live often leaves us with very little time to think about and take care of ourselves. Long hours and early days means that what we need, or more importantly what our bodies need, often takes a backseat to what the boss or the company needs.
For many of us, men and women this means skipping out on the one thing guaranteed to get your day off to a better start: breakfast. According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Medicine men who skip breakfast are increasing their risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This diet related disease can lead to serious health risks of left untreated.
[If this is what you need to eat breakfast everyday…DO IT!]
Keep reading to find out how you can lower your risk of diabetes and maintain a healthy weight!
Published in the May 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this study sought to find if there was a connection between eating habits and instances of type 2 diabetes. This study particularly looked at how the eating habits of men could increase or decrease their risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study followed more than 29,000 men, beginning in 1992, as part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. At the beginning of the test period the subjects were all free of type 2 diabetes as well as other health problems that included; cancer and heart disease. The men were followed for 16 years, with their eating habits and patterns analyzed.
At the end of the test period researchers found 1,944 instances of type 2 diabetes. The number of men with type 2 diabetes was obviously higher, however adjustments were made for men who were part of populations with known risk factors such as those with a high body mass index, family history of diabetes, low levels of physical activity and those who have body fat around the midsection.
When all of those with type 2 diabetes risk factors were eliminated the end result was 1,944 instances of the disease.
THE ROLE OF BREAKFAST
The men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 21% greater risk for contracting type 2 diabetes than those men who ate breakfast daily or on most days. In fact men who ate 3 times a day were far less likely to succumb to type 2 diabetes than men who ate only once or twice each day.
One reason for the results may be that men who routinely skip breakfast are more likely to have issues with blood sugar regulation, which can lead to extreme highs and lows in energy levels and appetite. Although the study did account for the body mass index of the participants, it is likely that those who skip breakfast eat a lot of high calorie and high sugar foods throughout the rest of the day.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
The one thing this study does not advocate is getting up every morning and having a 1,000 calorie breakfast. Unfortunately the study does not go into great detail about breakfast, such what types of breakfast the men with a reduced type 2 diabetes risk ate or when it was eaten. Nor did it go into any detail about how the men who skipped breakfast ate the remainder of the day.
[Eat breakfast every day, not every breakfast food in one day!]
We know that breakfast is important, but does that mean we can eat whatever we want as long as we eat breakfast? Unfortunately we can all stop holding our breath because we know that it doesn’t mean that. Iain Frame from Diabetes UK recommends that reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes means eating 3 balanced meals each day. Those meals—even breakfast—should include fruits and vegetables, high fiber whole grains, and very little fat, sugar and salt.
It’s actually easier than you think to enjoy a healthy (and fast) breakfast every morning. All you need to do is give yourself at least 15 minutes. In that time you can:
- Scramble 2 eggs and toast 2 slices of whole wheat bread
- Make eggs in a pita breakfast sandwich
- Make a healthy breakfast smoothie to go
- Whip up a bowl of hot oatmeal
- Combine Greek yogurt, blueberries and granola for a healthy parfait
Whether you make your own breakfast every morning or have someone else who does it for you, making eating before you leave the house a top priority. If you don’t you have a lifetime of medicine, glucose testing, expensive diabetes supplies and a restricted diet.
Before we get to the serious stuff, take a look at this yummy breakfast in bed video with celebrity chef Giada. It’s yet one more reason to eat breakfast each morning!
Most of us believe that if we aren’t extremely obese then we have very little risk of type 2 diabetes, no matter what we eat, and that is one of the most dangerous and pervasive ideas around. The truth is that while those with a high BMI are at greater risk, this study proves that there is much more than weight at play in determining who gets it and who doesn’t.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that if you are part of any risk group you should keep an eye out for a variety of symptoms that may present. Keep in mind however that many people experience no symptoms during the first few years with the disease, which can make it difficult to diagnose and monitor.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get tested:
- Frequent thirst
- Bladder infections
- Increased desire to urinate
- Blurred vision
- Erectile dysfunction (a good enough reason on its own to eat breakfast!)
- Slow to heal wounds or infections
- Numbness in the hands or feet
There are other things you can do in addition to eating breakfast that will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes including adding more physical activity to your life. The more physically active you are the better your body can lower your blood sugar levels without the help of expensive meds. The labored breathing often found during and after intense exercise can be a much cheaper method of regulating your blood sugar levels.
Right now eating breakfast only costs you a few minutes each morning, but continuing to skip it may mean tens of thousands of dollars each year to continually treat type 2 diabetes.