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Science says how important breakfast really is

Breakfast seems to be indispensable to many people. But is an early meal actually healthy?

The dispute has been raging for decades: is breakfast good for the body or not?

Many researchers take a critical view of this first meal of the day: Often, superfluous calories are consumed because breakfast does not reduce the amount of food consumed at lunch and dinner.

The British biochemist Professor Terence Kealey claims in his 352-page work "Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal" that the early meal often leads to obesity, it harms our body because it increases the blood sugar level excessively. If this happens regularly, body cells could become resistant to insulin - a possible trigger for type 2 diabetes.

This content comes from GEO knowledge nutrition

Other scientists disagree: According to their assessment, people who have breakfast live healthier, are less likely to be overweight, their arteries are less clogged - and they are less likely to develop diabetes.

How is this dispute (which seems downright absurd to laypeople) to be assessed? What does it mean for our everyday life?

Thousands of studies have appeared on the subject, but the picture is so contradictory that it doesn't help with this question.
There is only a broad consensus when it comes to the realization that breakfast is obviously important, at least for children and young people. A long-term study by Swedish scientists shows that people who did not or hardly had breakfast in their youth suffered more from obesity and high blood sugar levels as adults than subjects who regularly ate something in the morning.

A study from the USA comes to a similar conclusion. There, the researchers surveyed almost 2,200 schoolchildren over a period of five years. Here, too, it was found that those who had breakfasted more regularly stayed slimmer on average.

Body does not have to rely on breakfast in principle

But why this is so, which biochemical processes in the body are possibly responsible for it - the scientists could not say anything clear about this.

It is possible that part of the effect can be attributed to the fact that children who eat breakfast particularly often grow up in intact families in which the parents ensure that their daughters and sons eat a healthy diet, encouraging them to exercise. Conversely, those children who forego breakfast grow up less sheltered and eat fast food and sweets more often than others.

A look at the evolutionary history of humans shows that our body is not fundamentally dependent on eating in the morning. The prehistoric man had enough energy in the morning to go hunting when he woke up. Only then was it eaten. Even today, after waking up, our blood sugar levels are usually high for several hours.

Researchers on the Nile found the first evidence that people had breakfast: around 2500 years ago, Egyptians ate three meals a day. In the morning there was obviously pastries, fruit or almonds, and beer or wine was served. Homer's “Odyssey”, written a few centuries before Christ, also mentions “making breakfast”, and Roman soldiers ate porridge made from spelled or barley at sunrise.

Breakfast is part of a way of life

Since then, extremely different breakfast cultures have developed around the world. The Japanese usually eat miso soup in the morning, often also fresh fish. Canadians grab pancakes or waffles with maple syrup. Turks serve feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, scrambled eggs, sesame rings. In France, breakfast is rather Spartan, as is the case in Italy and Spain: Most of the time, it is a coffee and a piece of pastry, a croissant or a biscuit.

For many people, breakfast has become part of a way of life - and the breakfast industry is booming. In particular when it comes to cereals, the manufacturers lure with new promises, advertising with “PowerMuesli”, “Low-Carb-Muesli” and “Wellness Flakes”.

In fact, many ready-made mueslis are real sugar bombs. Cereals for children in particular contain a large proportion of sugar, which sometimes makes up almost 50 percent of the ingredients. Even fruit mueslis without added artificial sugar often contain more than 20 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

If it's breakfast, it's a healthy one

If you have breakfast - which is the ideal one? The Swiss nutritionist David Fäh has researched precisely how many calories and fat different breakfasts have and how long they keep you full. He advises against a quick breakfast with croissant, muffin or donut - it contains too much fat, too little protein and too much sugar. That only saturates for a short time, at most for two hours.

The nutritionist recommends a homemade Bircher muesli. The classic recipe consists of oat flakes soaked in water overnight, which are mixed with lemon juice, milk and a freshly grated apple in the morning; plus a boiled egg. The protein and carbohydrates in the oatmeal, which the body can only break down slowly, keep this combination full for up to five hours. In addition, she is extremely healthy.

In the end, one thing remains: if breakfast, then a healthy one. But nobody should force themselves to do it. If Bircher muesli and eggs are too generous for you, you can keep it like primitive man - and go about your day's work first.