The breakfast debate

The breakfast debate – better to skip and fast, or is breakfast still the most important meal of the day?

With some influencers touting the benefits of fasting for health and longevity, with others promoting that one has to eat right after waking, in order to keep the metabolism and hormones healthy, it is easy to get confused.

But what is the truth?

The answer sadly is not quite that clear cut … and the daily eating schedule that is best for you might not only depend on the best timing science tells us, but other factors, such as work and social commitments too.

In today’s blog post I will dive into what science says on meal timing, breakfast, intermittent fasting, and their impact on hormones, cellular health (ie inner anti-ageing, longevity promotion and ill health prevention), metabolism and hunger, so that at the end you hopefully feel equipped to make a better and educated choice on when and how to eat and fast, to suit not only your health goals, but also your life!

Let’s start with intermittent fasting, and its benefits

The health benefits of intermittent fasting

The health benefits of intermittent fasting, as in not eating for periods of time, are vast.

When we don’t eat for a while, our body starts ‘cleaning up’ after itself, leading to healthier and stronger cells, and less sick, old and mutated cells.

This cleaning up process is also called autophagy.

One can compare it to having a house full of kids, running around, playing, and making a mess. It is difficult to tidy up and clean while they are there, so it is best to move everyone outside for a while to give the house a proper deep spring clean. Fasting works on a similar parameter. We need to give the body a break from digesting, so that we can switch over to the cellular cleaning mode.

Once our body has been in a fasted state for a while, our metabolism switches from burning sugars (and high insulin levels) over to burning stored fats. This not only helps shed some spare weight for those that have it, but also is much ‘cleaner’ fuel, allowing our cells to clean and flush everything through. Being in a fasted and fat burning (‘ketogenic’) state is also anti-inflammatory.

Normal daily living and eating puts strain on our bodies, accumulating damaged, mutated and sick cells, also called senescent, or zombie cells, that refuse to die when they should. Fasting upregulates ‘programmed cell death’ (called apoptosis), which forces those cells to give up and stop clogging up our inner machineries, making space for new and healthy cells.

One can easily see how this can reduce ill health on many levels, and science does show that intermittent fasting has wonderful benefits in line with it, including the support and even potential prevention of:

 

    • Cancer

    • Better outcomes as an adjunct to cancer treatments

    • Autoimmune disease

    • Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and blood lipid profiles

    • Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

    • Reduced weight and hunger

    • Reduced visceral fat (belly fat)

    • Shifting gut bacteria from pathogenic ‘bad’ ones to healthy ones, thereby reducing digestive symptoms from IBS to the more serious IBD

    • Anti-inflammatory mechanisms

    • Lowered insulin resistance and blood sugar crashes

    • Improved PCOS and with it fertility, cycles, skin and hair. (Polycystic ovarian syndrome often comes with acne, long cycles without ovulation and as such difficulties conceiving, excess hair growth where we don’t want it, in particular the face and chin).

This obviously all sounds wonderful, and who wouldn’t want to have a part in this! You might think, the more, the better?

A way that appears easiest for many people is to skip breakfast and lunch, and then gorge themselves at dinner.

Not so fast. As the potion lies in the nuances, and what can be a ‘magic strategy’ if done right, also can be a poison if applied the wrong way.

Which brings me to the second part of today’s post.

In recent times, there has been an uptick in influencers and news articles talking about how intermittent fasting can mess with our hormones, cycles, and even most recently about its potential to increase heart disease. Yes, you read that correctly, the exact things it is supposed to prevent and assist with.

While there is a tremendous amount of research on the health benefits of fasting, there is also research on the dangers of skipping breakfast, making this topic somewhat confusing. I’m diving into the ins-and-outs in my latest podcast episode. Listen here, or watch below!

 

I’d love your thoughts, are you a breakfast and brunch queen/ king, or partial to skipping?

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Mirthe

It is my goal to empower you to become the CEO of your health trajectory, preventing and optimising with precision and science backed strategies to live your best life & thrive.

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Mirthe_Precision_Health_Functional_Medicine_London

HI, I'M MIRTHE

It is my goal to empower you to become the CEO of your health trajectory, preventing and optimising with precision and science backed strategies to live your best life & thrive.

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