Nutrition, Digestion and Breakfast

Breakfast- is literally the breaking of the fast you have had overnight, which is a time for rest and rejuvenation of the digestive system. Breakfast is a great way to start the day with foods to nourish us, give us energy and fuel for our bodies and brains for the day ahead.

So we all now know that the star ratings on sugar and additive laden breakfast cereals are nothing to go by as to their nutritional value. We know that there is no nutritional value in white bread toast, with a sugary spread. Eating these types of breakfasts that are high in sugar and in carbs give us a quick spike of blood sugar, which then in turn results in a huge slump in energy by mid morning. Indulging in a sweet treat for morning tea with biscuits, or pastries has the same effect resulting in an up down up down pattern of blood sugar spikes and slumps throughout the day. Continuing this pattern can contribute to an impaired insulin response, and to further stress on the liver, leaving us tired, lethargic and unmotivated.

Foods in nature are amazingly packaged to deliver the goodness of the food in its ultimate form. Wholefoods are just that. A whole complete food in its entirety. Once we start pulling bits out, stripping it down and separating components, the goodness is often impaired and becomes not as nutritious as in its natural state. Consider juicing. To put simply when you juice a fruit for example you are taking away the fibre and concentrating the sugar. Fibre is a super important part of the fruit, and a very important role it has is it slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Bought juices have a sugar content comparable to soft drinks.

Digestion is a process that starts before we eat. Looking at food, and thinking about food, initiates the production of saliva. Chewing is super important process and produces amylase, a key enzyme to break down the food further, before it continues its physical and chemical breakdown along its journey through the digestive tract. It is often a lack of digestive enzymes that contribute to digestive problems and upsets, indigestion, gas, bloating etc. Although smoothies can be a powerhouse of nutrients, because they don’t generate those initial enzymes, they may be better suited to another time of day, especially if you suffer from digestive upsets. Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water in the morning can help to boost digestive enzymes, as can bitter foods, and also kick start the liver.

The best combination of macronutrients to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream is fat and protein. These will also help you to feel fuller for longer and provide a sustained release of energy.

Suggestions for healthier alternatives to cereal and milk are overnight oats, with a combination of nuts and seeds, bircher muesli, chia pudding. If you love your toast for breakky, a healthy option would be fermented organic sour dough. Top with a good quality almond or cashew spread, eggs, or avocado.

When we consider our breakfast options, often they are influenced by our faced paced busy lifestyle, and eating on the go is common. When we are busy and stressed our body is not in digestion mode and therefore indigestion, and lack of absorption of nutrients from our food can occur. It’s best to take time to focus on eating, relaxing and enjoying your food to optimize digestion. Preparing food the night before may make eating a more nutritious breakfast more achievable.

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