At some point in your life, you’ve probably been told that breakfast is the most important part of the day. Chances are if you’ve ever watched TV, you’ve also seen a cereal commercial, heard the line ‘part of a balanced breakfast’. And chances are, you find yourself running out the door at least some of the time without bothering to eat breakfast. Is it really a big deal? There is some research that suggests that yes, it is. There have been numerous arguments for and against whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Consider this:
Skipping Breakfast Could Contribute to Poor Health
There has been some research that suggests skipping breakfast regularly can lead to specific health problems, most noticeably the hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs as a result of plaque buildup. This can cause a number of health problems, most notably, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart attack, and stroke. While the study did point out this correlation, there is no conclusive evidence to provide causation- that is to say, the act of skipping breakfast doesn’t likely cause plaque to form directly, but it may be indicative other unhealthy habits that cause plaque buildup.
According to the study, the odds of having plaque buildup in people who skipped breakfast regularly at least doubled that of those who ate breakfast regularly. This was verified through measurements of six locations commonly affected by the buildup of plaque. These areas are the neck (carotid arteries), the abdominals (infrarenal abdominal aorta) and the pelvic region (iliofemoral arteries). These blood vessels are crucial parts of the circulatory system. However, this buildup was not just a matter of those who ate breakfast vs. those who didn’t. Those not eating enough at breakfast revealed similar results to those skipping breakfast entirely.
Differences in Eating, Skimping, and Skipping
To be fair, those who ate at least a light breakfast were better off than the breakfast skippers. However, they were not as healthy as those who ate a full breakfast in the mornings. For those who ate something -but not enough- there was about a 20% increased likelihood to have a buildup of plaque in their key blood vessels. This is certainly a much better figure than those who skipped breakfast entirely, though it still does not compare to those who had a healthy breakfast on a daily basis. Still, is breakfast, or the lack thereof, cause of plaque buildup?
Direct Cause? Or Correlation
It’s thought that the lack of breakfast doesn’t immediately and directly cause plaque to form. What is more likely is that the habits of those that do not regularly eat a full, healthy breakfast are likely unhealthy in general. For example, those who skip a good breakfast may be more likely to snack frequently throughout the day, and likely on foods rich in salts, fats, and sugars. Furthermore, when they eat actual meals, those meals will likely be at a restaurant, and likewise unhealthy, or taken along with alcoholic beverages. This is especially true for those who travel for work.
Meals eaten out are very rarely nutritionally balanced. Therefore, it goes without saying that the aforementioned eating habits are unhealthy behaviors. They may end up contributing to health ailments including, but not limited to plaque buildup. Other problems that may arise are obesity, diabetes, heart disease (as mentioned earlier), and potentially, digestive problems. Inflammation, for example, is a serious concern. It can result in the digestive tract (and other places) from the things you eat. While it is a part of the body’s defense, it can exacerbate other conditions, including plaque buildup, which in turn leads to, well, you know.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Living
If you manage to eat healthy and moderate your intake, even skipping breakfast, you probably won’t develop all of these health conditions. That being said, there are a number of bad reasons to skip breakfast, and few, if any, good reasons to do so. Studies give mixed reviews on the matter of breakfast, with some insisting that skipping breakfast only makes one hungrier throughout the day, while others suggest that skipping breakfast (and late meals) can give a sort of fasting effect that is beneficial for weight loss. To be clear, however, outright starvation is undisputedly counterproductive to weight loss.
In the end, a balanced breakfast may or may not be the most important meal of the day. What’s more important is a balanced diet that meets the caloric needs of the body. When you eat is certainly important, but that is in relation to eating late at night, rather than early in the morning. If you are one who tends to skip breakfast (and even if you don’t), keep a careful eye on your calories throughout the day, and be sure to exercise regularly. Choosing healthy foods and expending the energy you consume will help prevent numerous health problems.Related: 10 Fat-Burning Plant Foods