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Skipping Breakfast Increases Diabetes and Obesity Risks

Compared to those who eat breakfast up to three times a week, those who eat breakfast every day gained 4.2 pounds less weight over 18 years, and were less likely to suffer diabetes, abdominal obesity, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure (Diabetes Care, published online June 17, 2013).

People who skip breakfast:

• have higher body fat, particularly belly fat, a major risk factor for diabetes and heart attacks (PLoS One, published online Mar 8, 2013;8(3).

• suffer increased diabetes risk; the fatter they are, the more likely they are to suffer diabetes (Am J Clin Nutr, published online June 12, 2013).

• are far less active throughout the day and eat more fat (J Am Diet Assoc, 2005 Sep;105(9):1373-82).

Definition of Insulin Resistance

Sugar cannot enter a cell, unless insulin is there to drive sugar into that cell. (The exception is that contracting muscles can draw sugar from the bloodstream without insulin). Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar into cells, it must first attach on specific hooks, called insulin receptors on the surface of cells. Anything that prevents insulin from attaching to its receptors will prevent insulin from doing its job of driving sugar into cells. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin cannot attach to its receptors. Then blood sugar levels rise to high levels that can damage every cell in the body. The vast majority of cases of diabetes occur when insulin cannot attach onto its receptors.

Also, high blood sugar levels cause the pancreas to release even more insulin and blood insulin levels rise higher and higher. High levels of insulin constrict arteries leading to the heart which can cause heart attacks.

Skipping Breakfast Causes Temporary Insulin Resistance

A paper presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society (June 18, 2013) shows that overweight women are far more likely to develop insulin resistance several hours after they skip breakfast. Blood samples from overweight women who skipped breakfast had higher insulin and blood sugar levels after eating lunch, compared with the women who ate breakfast. This is a sign of temporary insulin resistance. The higher levels of insulin caused by skipping breakfast cause:

• increased hunger to make you eat more

• increased body weight

• higher blood sugar levels that damage cells and cause diabetes

• big fat bellies because high insulin levels cause fat to be deposited in the belly.

What You Should Eat for Breakfast

A healthful breakfast does NOT include many of the traditional breakfast foods. Avoid sugar-added drinks and foods; eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices. Avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham or sausage, and other meat from mammals. Avoid fried foods and foods made with highly-processed grains such as pancakes, waffles or French toast, and many types of breakfast cereal. Oatmeal and other breakfast cereals made with whole grains, with no added sugars, rarely cause a high rise in blood sugar.

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Intestinal Bacteria Predict Diabetes

Most women with Type 2 diabetes have intestinal bacteria with genes that are different from those of healthy women. The genetic makeup of intestinal bacteria was a more exact predictor of diabetes than the more traditional models such as having a huge belly (waist-hip ratio) and having a high BMI (Body Mass Index), which means a lot of body fat (Nature, published online June 21, 2013).

Future research will tell us whether bacteria in our intestines can cause diabetes by increasing the rate in which sugar passes from the intestines into the bloodstream to cause high rises in blood sugar after meals, and whether it will be possible to alter the colonies of bacteria to prevent or treat diabetes and obesity.

High-Sugar and High-Meat Diets May Increase Alzheimer Risk

A diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats causes changes in the brain that are seen in Alzheimer's disease (JAMA Neurology, published online June 17, 2013). This same diet caused changes seen in diabetes:

• high blood sugar levels,

• high blood insulin,

• low cerebrospinal fluid (brain) insulin seen in diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and

• very high levels of cerebrospinal fluid unbound beta amyloid that forms the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. A low saturated fat and sugar diet decreased unbound beta amyloid.

The brain damage of Alzheimer's disease may be caused by a buildup of beta amyloid in the brain. This study shows that a high sugar and meat diet may increase risk for Alzheimer's disease by preventing the body from clearing beta amyloid from the brain. Your body clears beta amyloid by binding it to a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE). The meat and high-sugar diet used in this study prevented unbound beta amyloid from being cleared from the body. The study diet had a very high glycemic index (greater than 70). Forty-five percent of its energy came from fat, 25 percent from saturated fat, 35-40 percent from carbohydrates and 15-20 percent from protein. It was loaded with cheeseburgers, soda drinks, and French fries. The comparison group ate a very low-fat diet with a low glycemic index (less than 55). It consisted of 25 percent of energy from fat, less than seven percent from saturated fat, 55-60 percent from carbohydrates, and 15-20 percent from protein. The foods included poached fish, brown rice, and steamed vegetables. Adherence to both diets were excellent.

Lack of Brain Insulin Causes Alzheimer's Disease

The study shows that lowering brain insulin levels raises Alzheimer disease molecules. The normal brain requires insulin for memory. In diabetes (insulin resistance), high levels of insulin in the blood lower insulin in the brain to reduce the transport molecules that remove beta amyloid, causing beta amyloid to accumulate in the brain which may be the cause Alzheimer's disease. A diet that leads to diabetes also causes the same changes that are seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Prevent Alzheimer's Disease the Same Way You Prevent Diabetes

The study suggests that Alzheimer's disease is really a diabetes of the brain and could be prevented with the same lifestyle changes that are recommended to prevent diabetes:

• Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

• Avoid red meat, fried foods, all sugared drinks including fruit juices, and sugar-added foods.

• Try to exercise at least an hour every day, particularly before and after you eat.

• Get blood levels of hydroxy Vitamin D above 75 nmol/L.

This week's medical history:
Ilya Metchnikoff’s Theory of Autointoxication

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries

Recipe of the Week:

Lentil-Carrot Soup

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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