Doctor’s Tip: Eat breakfast like a king
The Blue Zones are five regions of the world where people long lives, of good quality — and not just due to genetics. One of the lessons from studying these populations is to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” For optimal health it’s important to eat a large, healthy breakfast first thing in the morning.
Some people say that they’re not hungry first thing in the morning — but that’s just a matter of habit. Others say that if they eat breakfast, they are “ravishingly hungry” one or two hours later. However, this is a symptom of eating the wrong things, rather than “real hunger” based on need for calories. If you eat processed and/or sugary food for breakfast, such as cereal from a box, your blood sugar shoots up. In order to bring it down, your pancreas secretes more insulin, resulting in a rebound hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which causes “ravishing hunger.”
Here’s an example of a healthy breakfast, which contains several of Dr. Michael Greger’s “daily dozen” (things we should be eating every day) from his book “How Not to Die”: Buy some bulk steel cut oats from Whole Foods, or better yet whole oat groats from Vitamin Cottage. Add 3 cups of these unprocessed oats to 10 cups of water and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and let it sit for several hours, stirring occasionally (overnight works well if you start about an hour before bedtime). Then refrigerate, and every morning heat up a bowl of this cooked cereal in the microwave. Put a handful of organic, frozen edamame on top, which gives you some of your daily legumes (sounds weird but actually tastes fine). Sprinkle cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric (Vitamin Cottage), and 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (any grocery store) on top. Add raisins; a handful of raw, unsalted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans or even peanuts are the healthiest); and ½ cup of fresh or frozen organic berries (if reasonably-priced fresh organic berries aren’t available, buy frozen organic blueberries at Costco). Finally, add unsweetened organic soy, almond or other plant-sourced milk — whichever one has the least amount of added salt.
Also, have an orange or half a grapefruit, but avoid fruit juice, which is basically flavored sugar water. Make herbal tea (hibiscus and berry have the most micronutrients), or green tea (second best). If you want toast, buy low-sodium Ezekiel bread (zero salt and sugar, lots of fiber and whole grains based on 5:1 or less total carbs:fiber ratio), spread unsweetened organic apple sauce (most grocery stores) on top and sprinkle on some cinnamon.
On Sunday, make pancakes with 1/3 buckwheat flour, 1/3 garbanzo bean flour and 1/3 yellow or blue corn meal (all available at Vitamin Cottage). Add pumpkin spice, ground flaxseed; crushed pecans or walnuts; blueberries; and plant-based, unsweetened milk. Use minimal to no baking powder or soda — due to the sodium. Cook on a stick-free (ideally ceramic-lined) pan with minimal to no oil on the pan (avoid iron or Teflon pans — see prior column about safe cookware). Put unsweetened applesauce and sliced bananas and/or other fruit on the cooked pancakes, and if you want drizzle on a small amount of maple syrup.
Another idea for a healthy breakfast is tofu scramble. Tofu is somewhat refined soybeans, but still very healthy, although organic is recommended. Google vegan oil-free tofu scramble recipes, or invent your own. The more spinach, mushrooms and other veggies you add, the more healthful it will be. Use No-Salt Salt, pepper, other spices, and/or hot sauce.
What about smoothies and juicing? Dr. Esselstyn is one of the two doctors who has proven that heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based, whole food diet with no sugar, salt or added oil. He is featured in the Forks Over Knives documentary (Netflix and You Tube), and wrote “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” He points out that humans evolved to get nutrients through chewing our food — not by drinking it.
Have a happy and healthy new year.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and other medical issues. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at email@example.com.