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Breakfast habits that could be impacting your gut health

Breakfast habits that could be impacting your gut health

The right way to upgrade your morning ritual
Dosa on a plate
Representational image | Shutterstock

As more and more people acquired the habit of eating out for the first meal of the day, the Indian breakfast pallet has changed. According to a survey by Franchise India, around one in three people eat breakfast outside more than two days a week.

No more is the Indian breakfast menu limited to paranthas, dosas, idlis, and poha. Processed and sugary breakfast options like pancakes, cornflakes, sausages, bagels, and muffins have gained in popularity.

Svasty Upadhyaya, a nutritionist at Netrin Sports Technologies, Hyderabad says “Whole-grain cereals, commonly known as breakfast cereal, are usually processed. It also contains a lot of added sugars. Processed food items are a threat to gut flora and lead to high cholesterol and heart issues”.

“Eating a proper, balanced breakfast is what matters,” says Upadhaya. An ideal breakfast should result in gradual energy release throughout the morning.

Breakfast is a significant meal of the day because it fuels the body to perform physical and mental activities. The latest studies suggest that 15-25% of your daily energy intake should come from the first meal of the day. The suggested calorie intake for females is equivalent to 300-500 and for males, it is 375-625 when it comes to breakfast.

Dr Umang Behl, a dietician from New Delhi, says that the fast should be broken with a wholesome meal in the morning. “A typical breakfast should be either complex carbohydrates-based or a combination of protein and complex carbs.” For example: Oatmeal or paneer-stuffed roti with curd, veg poha or daliya, coupled with orange juice.

Breakfast foods like idli or dosa are made of fermented rice and lentils. These fermented foods contains microorganisms that can help maintain gut health.

Indian paranthas (made with whole wheat and less oil) add fiber and keep the gut microbiota intact.

Gut health can be maintained by including pre and probiotic foods in breakfast. A few examples of probiotic foods include yoghurt, curd, buttermilk, idli, dosa, dhokla, kimchi, kombucha, some types of cheese. Prebiotic foods include onion, garlic, oats, barley, apples and flax seeds. Probiotics-rich food contains good bacteria and prebiotics serve as food for these bacteria. A combination of these foods will help maintain good gut health.

In addition to the above combinations, Upadhyaya suggests adding vegetables and legumes to your sambhar or poha/upama to make it a balanced breakfast. Vegetarians can add a portion of sprouts and a glass of milk to fill their nutrition gaps. Adding eggs for breakfast is always a good choice for non-vegetarians. Also, the addition of a whole fruit would make breakfast a balanced meal.

A food-conscious busy lawyer, Chamanpreet Kaur from Ludhiana makes sure that she takes warm lime water early in the morning followed by any raw fruit or vegetable or a cup of buttermilk before her actual breakfast. She chooses a non-fried parantha with egg/vegetable/dal with a cup of coffee without sugar for her breakfast. She prefers dry fruits as a mid-morning snack and consumes two chapatis with any sabzi with salad for lunch. She takes milk or fruit in the evening followed by two chapatis with chicken and salad for dinner.

She is leading a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and doesn’t have any ailments as of now.

But not everybody is the same. Surveys done in Asian and Pacific countries showed that there is an increasing trend of skipping breakfasts. The reasons to skip breakfast were found to be common: Not finding time during the morning rush, incapacity to cook, loss of appetite, not feeling hungry, waking up late.

The inability to eat something at the dawn can pose severe health issues in long run. Research has documented many ill effects.  For instance, a study documented a 27% increase in coronary heart disease among Americans who consistently lose track to eat the first meal of the day. Another study stated that skipping breakfast may increase inflammation.

Upadhyaya suggests that instead of having sugary foods for breakfast, have fruits. The natural sugars in the fruits are any day better than foods loaded with refined sugars. Dealing with sugar pangs or cravings can be done differently rather than stuffing yourself with loads of sugars and fats during breakfast. Fresh seasonal fruits with high water content like watermelon, muskmelon, mango, grapes, chikoo, papaya should be added in your breakfast. Additionally, you can have overnight-soaked chia pudding with the above-mentioned fruits. Adding seeds like chia, pumpkin, sunflowers will make the breakfast bowl more wholesome and keep one fuller for longer time.

Upadhya added one should not manipulate the main meals according to their convenience. Skipping breakfast and having early lunch can interfere with energy levels and disturb the metabolism.

Children who go to school without eating breakfast suffer an impact to their cognitive and academic capacities.

Apart from the dietary modifications, other parameters like taking 6-7 hours of sound sleep, waking up fresh, and following daily rituals of cleaning the bed, maintaining proper hygiene, practicing gratefulness, and physical activities would greatly enhance the quality of life, happiness, and overall health.

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13 Responses

  1. MNC’s Promote Cereals big time but traditional breakfast like Poha , Idli etc are excellent for Gut health

  2. Great article nicely explained. I would really like to know what is a good alternative to coffee / tea in the morning… Would it be milk with Museli/ cornflakes with nuts and no added sugar or butter milk or any other suggestions?

    1. Dear Mr Govindaraj, responding to your query, nutritionist Svasti Upadhyaya of Netrine Sports Technologies suggests taking Kashaya (a spice concoction) with jaggery as an alternative to coffee or tea. Even milk without sugar would be good. Hope this helps you kickstart your day right.

      Senior Editor
      Happiest Health

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