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I always skip my breakfast: Am I wrong?

16 Oct 2017 05:15am IST

Report by
Francisco Colaço

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16 Oct 2017 05:15am IST

Report by
Francisco Colaço

Today, as I write this piece, I am reminded more than ever of the lyrics of the famous song, “Am I Wrong?” by Nico and Vinz on Black Star Elephant. The lyrics go on like this, “Am I wrong for thinking out of the box? /Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way?/ I ain't trying to do what everybody else is doing/ Just cause everybody is doing what they all do/ If one thing I know, I may fall but I'll grow/I’m walking down this road of mine, it’s my own road to my home.”

Here’s the simple reason to be sentimental (and you may have a hearty laugh if you like!). I’ve been skipping my breakfast for ages - not to put on additional weight - and now it pains me when scientists vouch that: “Skipping breakfast may double risk of hardening our arteries”. Too bad, isn’t it, for a 73-year-old?

Breakfast is the first meal of the day in the early morning. It refers to breaking the fasting period of the prior night. Breakfast has even been commonly referred to as "the most important meal of the day". Some epidemiological research had indicated that having a breakfast might lower the risk of “metabolic disorders” and “cardiovascular diseases”. 

But while current professional opinions are largely in favour of not skipping breakfast, I derive no small consolation that some scientists contest its "most important" status, and like me, they too find that the influence of missing out breakfast to manage body weight is tenable. 

Not only do I dislike breakfast but when I am away from home and put up in any Hotel which gives bed and “breakfast on the house”… while I sip a cup or two of hot Cappuccinos, I hate to see other customers with their plates filled to the brim gorging themselves on all kinds of “prohibited” foods: eggs, butter, bacon, lumps of cheese, marmalade, rasgoolas, sugary drinks and what not.

And when I almost thought there was nothing wrong with my practice of “giving breakfast a miss” I painfully realise there is more bad news around the corner. 

A recent study in the JACC (Journal of the American Journal of Cardiology) reveals that people who skip breakfast or eat poorly to start the day are twice as likely to develop hardened arteries, which can lead to deadly heart disease. 

The study in the JACC uncovered signs of damage to the arteries long before symptoms or disease developed. Researchers said their findings could offer an important tool in the fight against cardiovascular disease — the world's top killer.  “People who regularly skip breakfast are also likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle,” said study author Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai Heart and editor-in-chief of the JACC. “This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease,” he said. The report is based on 4,000 middle-aged office workers in Spain. 

Participants were followed for six years. People who skipped breakfast “also had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids, and fasting glucose levels”. 

This heightened risk of hardened arteries among people who skipped breakfast appeared independently of other factors, such as smoking, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.

With all this research evidence staring at me am I shaken? Nay! It is stated that breakfast skippers who are generally attempting to lose weight - like me - often end up eating more and unhealthy foods later in the day. I beg to disagree and can prove scientists wrong as in my case. 

I also wonder if, after all the frightening talk by these scientists on “hormonal imbalances” and “altered circadian rhythms”, they have ever bothered to study  “sadhus” who skip their meals for days together for penance, to purify mind and body, to strengthen their own convictions and to learn self-control. (One thing I know they remain in enviable health!). 

Further, the main weakness of the present study is that it wasn’t a “controlled” experiment which rigorously a scientific study must be. 

Anyway, in the autumn of life, who cares about these grandiloquent experiments? I am not going to change, for sure. If God grants me another year or so it is his mercy. 

Sometimes one feels, except for the loved ones, that it is better to depart than to stay on because fanaticism and evil are taking over the world by storm. Gauri Lankesh died for a noble ideal but today she must be enjoying a life of bliss. 

The thunder is on us who continue to face the forces of evil. When Jesus was on his journey to the Cross and saw the women of Jerusalem crying he said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” The pressure is on us who remain to face this skewed world.

So what will I do posed with the question, “To breakfast or not? I will carry on saying, “Damn that breakfast!” And like Frank Sinatra will keep crooning, “Oh no, oh no, not me, I did it my way”… And I will add, “Oh yes, oh yes, I will continue do it my way.” As far as you are concerned, the choice is yours.

(Dr. Francisco Colaço is a seniormost consulting physician, pioneer of Echocardiography in Goa.)
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