A new study found that skipping breakfast could damage your immune system (Immunity, Feb 23, 2023). Missing the first meal of the day can suppress the immune cells of the brain to make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection. Mice that received no breakfast had an incredible 90 percent fewer monocytes in their blood four hours after skipping breakfast and even lower levels eight hours later. Monocytes are white blood cells made in bone marrow and released into the bloodstream to help control infections.
In the fasting mice, the monocytes returned to the bone marrow instead of staying in the bloodstream. When the mice ate 24 hours later, the cells moved back into the bloodstream and became inflamed and far less able to protect against infections. The researchers noted that monocytes had become significantly weakened in the fasting group, while monocytes in the non-fasting group were unaffected. In addition, mice that fasted for 24 hours had more inflammation and were more likely to die from a bacterial infection than mice on a regular eating schedule (NewsMax Health, March 5, 2023).
Intermittent Fasting: Skip Supper, not Breakfast
If you are thinking of trying intermittent fasting to lose weight, do your fasting before you go to bed, not in the morning when you are ready to move about and exercise. Avoiding food after 6PM until the next morning can give you a 12-hour healthful fast that will help you to prolong your life as well as to lose weight.
A review of seven scientific studies showed that moving after you eat reduces the after-eating rise in blood sugar (Sports Med, Aug 2022;52(8):1765-1787). Lying down and not moving after eating causes a higher rise in blood sugar (Topics in Clinical Nutrition, April/June, 2014;29(2):132-138). Your muscles and liver are the only places where you can store significant amounts of sugar. Moving about after eating empties your muscles and liver of sugar, making room for more sugar to be stored there.
• Blood sugar rises after you eat. To prevent blood sugar from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin, which lowers blood sugar by driving sugar from your bloodstream into your liver and muscles.
• Triglycerides go up. Once your liver and muscles are full of their meager amount of stored sugar, your liver converts extra sugar into fatty triglycerides.
• Healthy HDL cholesterol goes down. A high rise in triglycerides can increase clotting risk, So your good HDL cholesterol carries the triglycerides from your bloodstream into your liver.
• Up goes your bad LDL Cholesterol. Then your liver takes 1500 triglyceride molecules and a lesser number of cholesterol molecules to make the bad LDL cholesterol.
• Up goes your risk for heart attacks, strokes and premature death. A high LDL cholesterol is associated with increased risk for many diseases and premature death (N Engl J Med, 1990; 322:1700–7)..
Planning Healthful Breakfasts
A healthful breakfast can be based on whole grain cereals such as oatmeal with raisins. I recommend avoiding processed meats, meat from mammals, fried foods and foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar. Egg whites are fine but whole eggs are looking less healthful because the yolks are a rich source of lecithin and choline, which can be converted in your body into TriMethylAmineOxide (TMAO) that is associated with increased risk for heart attacks and certain cancers (Am J Clin Nutr, Sep 2014;100(3):778–786). Processed meats and mammal meat have Neu5Gc that is associated with increased risk for inflammation, which increases risk for heart attacks (PNAS, December 29, 2014;112(2):542-547).
If you use packaged breakfast cereals, check the nutrition label and list of ingredients. Breakfast cereals are the seventh-largest source of added sugar foods in the typical North American diet (Front Nutr Nutritional Epidemiology, June 17, 2021;8). Sugar is often the second highest ingredient in packaged breakfast cereals. Look for high-fiber breakfast cereals that are made with whole grains and have no added sugars.
• Ignore health claims on cereal boxes.
• Manufacturers often list sugar content under several different names to make you think that you are getting less sugar than is actually in the cereal.
• Stay away from the breakfast classics that are virtually 100 percent refined carbohydrates and sugars: pancakes or waffles with syrup, toast with jam, pastries and so forth. One tablespoon of maple syrup has 14 grams of sugar.
• Fruit juices causes the same high rise in blood sugar that you get from drinking soda (PLoS One, 2014;9(3):e93471).
Do not skip breakfast because the best time to eat is when you are going to be moving around. Moving your muscles will help to prevent the high rises in blood sugar that are caused by eating. The most healthful time to eat is before or after you exercise. The worst time to eat is before you are going to sleep, lie down, sit to watch television, play with your computer or work at your desk. See Move Around Before and After You Eat
Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com