Wednesday, 12 October 2011


A boiled egg with dippy toast fingers may not be your choice for breakfast, but its combination of protein and carbohydrate will set you up well for the day.

But if your idea of breakfast is a black coffee and a cigarette or a latte and muffin, en route to work, you could be doing your body and your brain a serious disservice.

"The body's natural reaction to low blood sugar is to compensate by increasing adrenalin output," says psychologist and director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP) Sally Goddard Blythe. "Such a biochemical combination can affect attention, concentration and impulse control. In the long term, sharp swings in blood sugar levels increase irritability, fatigue and bouts of hyperactivity."

Do you really need more stress in your life, detrimental to your body, your brain and - somewhat inevitably - relationships with those around you, from your family to your work colleagues?

Slow release carbohydrates, combined with some protein to further reduce insulin surges, provide the fuel you need to start the day. Not only that, you are less likely to get a desperate urge for a sugar hit mid morning, when grabbing a full fat latte and muffin 'snack' could earn you a quarter of your daily calorific intake.

So what to choose to break your overnight fast and get your day off to a good start? A boiled egg and wholegrain toast is an excellent choice. But porridge oats, with skimmed milk and fruit is another choice. Oatcakes and cheese, perhaps? A bagel and avocado? Skimmed, live yoghurt with apricots? My personal choice is a helping of rolled oats, sunflower seeds (high in zinc), a handful of nuts (walnuts for omega-3, brazil nuts for selenium, almonds for magnesium) for protein and blueberries (lots of vitamin C and antioxidant anthocyanin) with some skimmed milk.

And if breakfast is important for grown-ups, imagine how much more important it is for children whose smaller, growing bodies and higher energy needs demand regular, nutritious meals.

So if all else fails, as you rush for the door thinking breakfast is a luxury you don't have time for, at least grab yourself that ultimate in fast food - a banana. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

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