Breakfast has a long reign as the most important meal of the day. While some nutritionists praise it for its hunger busting and weight loss properties, certain studies suggest all of that is based on a myth and the people who eat a hearty breakfast every morning don’t have a better health or less difficulties maintaining a healthy weight that folks who regularly skip breakfast. Given that both sides offer equally convincing arguments, the decision is up to you and the needs of your body.
But then comes the more important question: which foods are healthy breakfast options and which foods shouldn’t be eaten on an empty stomach? Although most people believe they know what constitutes a healthy breakfast, the fact is that some foods that seem healthy (and they generally are) are best avoided in the morning. Here’s a list of 4 breakfast foods that you should replace with healthier or more adequate alternatives to ensure optimal intake of crucial nutrients and a satisfying morning meal.
#1. Sugary fruit juices
Until recently, the health community thought that the ‘evil’ drinks were the fizzy drinks so it declared a war against Coke and Pepsi and called for substituting them with fruit juices, the supposed healthier variant. However, many studies have found that most fruit juices, which are often marketed as natural, healthy and packed with vitamins, contain ridiculously high levels of refined sugar, sometimes even more than carbonated drinks. The consumption of both carbonated drinks and classic fruit juices in the morning can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and make you more vulnerable to energy slumps throughout the day.
Therefore, it’s best to start the day with a few glasses of fresh water or perhaps prepare your own energy-boosting drink by juicing vegetables and fruits with low GI’s, such as blackberries, kiwis, apples, grapes, spinach, cucumbers, ginger and carrots. One of the best breakfast fruit options is papaya, a fruit which contains plenty of fiber, vitamins E and C, and the powerful enzyme called papain that’s known for its digestion-boosting properties and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. If you have an inflamed lower esophagus, avoid citrus fruit such as oranges and grapefruits because they can worsen the symptoms even further, especially when consumed on an empty stomach.
#2. Coffee or tea
Drinking coffee or tea shortly after waking up is a tradition all around the world, mostly because of the energizing effect of caffeine, but perhaps also because the smell of freshly prepared coffee in the morning has been overly romanticized over the past decades. But contrary to popular belief, drinking coffee as soon as you wake up is counterproductive – studies say that when consumed on an empty stomach, the cherished effects of caffeine are less potent than when caffeine is consumed at other times throughout the day.
In addition, this morning habit tends to increase people’s tolerance for caffeine, which eventually reduces its effect in the long run. That’s the reason why after long periods of regular consumption, many coffee drinkers stop experiencing the benefits they used to get from drinking coffee. And finally, caffeine tends to interfere with the production of cortisol, which even though has been labeled as the “stress hormone”, is a key aspect of our daily hormonal cycle.
Cortisol levels are highest in the morning – they have the responsibility to help wake us up. So when we drink coffee in the morning, the body produces less cortisol and tends to rely more on the caffeine. In this way, instead of boosting the effect of cortisol, caffeine simply replaces it, often in a less effective way. So to make the most out of coffee, refrain from drinking a huge cup in the morning and instead drink it at other times of the day.
Around two thirds of American adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. So if you like tomatoes and often include them in your breakfast, that’s great news. Tomatoes are one of the most common garden fruits in the USA and one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world. They pack an abundance of health-promoting nutrients and taste great in any recipe. The only problem is that tomatoes have a relatively high acidity content and therefore increase the acidity in the stomach, causing irritation and stomach aches in many people, especially those who are suffering from ulcers and acid reflux and have a higher concentration of acid than normal in their stomach already. If this applies to you, keep in mind that eating tomatoes can worsen your symptoms and upset your stomach, so it’s best to reduce your consumption of tomatoes or completely eliminate them from your diet.
However, if you’re not quite ready to give up on these sweet, fleshy fruits, there are a few guidelines that can help you keep them in your diet. For example, pick tomatoes that are ripe and soft because the more ripe the tomato, the less acid it contains. You could also buy yellow tomatoes, which have one of the lowest amounts of acid of all tomato varieties, or opt to consume tomatoes cooked instead of raw, because the process of cooking reduces the acidity level.
There’s no denying that breakfast pastries are delicious, but how healthy do you think it is to eat a dessert as your entire meal every day?
Pastries such as cinnamon rolls, muffins, Danish, croissants and strudels have a high sugar content and most are made with white flour, two things that tend to cause blood sugar spikes followed by energy crash and hunger later in the day. Instead of the classic continental breakfast, opt for whole grains or oatmeal.
Whole grains contain complex carbs and will help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. On the other hand, oatmeal has plenty of soluble fiber and improves digestion and absorption of crucial minerals, proteins and carbs, protects the stomach walls from damage caused by hydrochloric acid and can keep you full for a long time. To enrich its flavor and nutrient value even further, throw in a handful of nuts and blackberries. Nuts are abundant with protein and healthy fats and have the ability to normalize the pH levels in your stomach, while blueberries are low in calories and contain potent antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals. Another great breakfast option with a power to boost digestion is buckwheat, which is especially rich in iron, vitamins and protein and can be consumed in countless tasty variants.
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Knowing which foods are good for an empty stomach and which foods may irritate it or interfere with its optimal function. Taking better care for your stomach health will improve your digestion and metabolism and have a positive influence on all other bodily systems, which means that you’ll be healthier and more successful at shaking off the extra pounds of fat. So think twice before reaching for that glass of fruit juice or croissant and aim to make the best choice possible.