Is there more to say about Breakfast?
Catabolism and the role of Cortisol
There is much more than Breakfast and Blood Sugar balance, and Stress, when it comes to balancing it all, and this depends on the food choices that we make upon rising.
Inevitably, we had to adapt our lifestyle to the ways of our modern society, and all that it encompasses. We work longer days, have fewer breaks and holidays are not as work-free as they used to be. Recent surveys suggest that 75% of us regularly read work emails when on holiday.
Living in a constant stress mode, this has a direct consequence on our health as a whole and body weight. But it goes a lot further than this.
Brainwashed by relentless advertising campaigns, we are letting ourselves believe those slogans: that life is hard and demanding, and that we are in need of shortcuts when it comes to feeding ourselves. Breakfast were once a meal, nowadays breakfast is inexistent or simply consist of a bagel, doughnut or a croissant and a coffee, and if lucky may be some breakfast cereals in low-fat cow’s milk.
I have explained in previous articles that this has a direct effect on Blood Glucose Balance, Cortisol and Insulin imbalances, which can lead to weight gain, Metabolic Syndrome or Type II Diabetes.
Sugar intake, Blood Sugar Imbalances and Cancer
According to recent findings, the problem with Higher Sugar Intake (both in the form of Glucose and Fructose) is that sugar is toxic to the body on several levels. This is why the body is working so hard, especially the Pancreas, to keep Glucose levels under check.
Sugar is acidic to the body (creating an acidic environment) and on the long-term, a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to develop, and for body cells to mutate into Cancer cells.
“The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar. All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation.” Dr Otto Warburg
Healthy cells are aerobic, meaning that they burn oxygen and Glucose (blood sugar) in order to produce energy. This process is referred to as Aerobic Respiration.
Disruption of energy occurs when the blood contains lower levels of oxygen, or when it cannot transport oxygen efficiently, or when oxygen cannot enter the cell due to changes to cellular membrane (see illustration above), or when the cell can no longer produce energy. This leads to decrease used of oxygen and glucose by cells to produce energy, and they begin to ferment Glucose instead. Fermentation is a much less efficient form of energy production and also generates a lactic-acid by-product that continues the acidifying process and spread to surrounding tissues.
Therefore, concentrating on good Fat, Protein and Carbohydrate Sources, is not only the key to a perfect breakfast. Looking at alkalinising ingredients might also be necessary.
What are the key facts for a perfect breakfast?
It must be:
Example recipe: Quinoa Sprouts Porridge.
For 2 people:
125 g Quinoa
250 ml Water
250 ml Coconut Milk (or Raw Goat’s Milk or Raw Goat’s Milk Kefir)
¼ Tsp Turmeric
½ Tsp Cinnamon Ground (or 1 stick)
¼ Tsp Nutmeg
½ Tsp Dried Organic Lemon Rind (ideally Organic Dried Pink Grapefruit)
1 Tsp Ginger Ground (or freshly grated ginger – hazelnut-size)
1 Tbsp Açaì Berry Powder
Your choice of Activated Nuts and Seeds (let to soak for 2 hours before adding them to recipe – not longer, as it will promote the growth of yeast and fungi)
Soak Quinoa in water. Let to soak for 24 hours. Drain and Rinse thoroughly.
Place on a tray and let to sprout for 3–4 days, rinsing and draining well each morning and evening.
Once the Quinoa has sprouted, bring to boil Coconut Milk and all the spices together, and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until it is nice and thick. Let to cool slightly, and then add the Quinoa Sprouts. Stir gently and add nuts and seeds (esp. Sesame seeds for they are naturally rich in Calcium), and Lemon/Grapefruit Rind. Simmer for 5 minutes then serve.
If you prefer a raw recipe, warm the milk to 40˚c, for 35–45 minutes. Then add the quinoa sprout and keep warming gently for another 25–35 minutes. Or replace the Coconut Milk with Raw Goat’s Milk or Raw Goat’s Milk Kefir. Because the grain of Quinoa is sprouted it does not require any cooking.
If you prefer an easier recipe, cook Quinoa as instructed on label, until fluffy and light, and carry on cooking on infused Coconut Milk. Simmer until all liquid has all been absorbed.
Turmeric and Cinnamon are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Lemon or Pink Grapefruit rind adds a tangy/bitter taste that is vital for liver functions, and is rich in many antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Coconut milk and Raw Goat’s Milk are both very filling due to their content in fat, Protein that works perfectly with the Carbohydrates (and more Proteins) present in Quinoa.
Stress and Protein
I have exposed one of the main inconvenient of Cortisol, especially when we are under constant levels of Stress. Cortisol is catabolic: it destroys tissues – even more so during bed rest (following trauma), and to some extant in people with a very sedentary lifestyle, when coffee is the only breakfast and Blood Glucose and Cortisol are going through a daily rollercoaster. (Ferrando, AA. 1999)
If sleep is also an issue, the body is unable to heal and repair, and the release of hormones such as Growth Hormone is dramatically decrease; however, “even partial sleep deprivation results in an elevation of Cortisol levels the following evening.” Both decrease of Deep sleep and Sleep Loss “contribute to elevating Cortisol levels. […] And could underlie a constellation of metabolic and cognitive alterations” (Van Cauter, E. Leproult, R. Plat, L. 2000. p. 861)
Since, all living creatures, including humans, are made of Proteins, it is clear that our protein requirement is therefore increased during chronic stress, anxiety and depression, and Nutrients such as Magnesium and Vitamin C are the first nutrients to suffer, and be depleted in devastating amounts.
As exposed in statement above, chronic stress and high Cortisol not only has an effect on Proteins within the body but is also damaging to the brain, and on our cognitive functions.
Breakfast, and every meal in the day, must then be mostly made of nutrient-dense foods, rich in powerful Antioxidants, and if you cannot choose Organic ingredients for various reasons, supplementing (at different times) during the day with Vitamin C and Magnesium may be necessary when you are under constant stress, anxious or depressed.
Choosing the right kind of Proteins is also a prerogative. Avoid Non-Organic chicken and Non-Grass-Fed red meats, for they are mainly fed on grain, which disturb the natural Omega-3-content to high Omega-6s levels); plus, they may be grown in cramped indoor places and given antibiotics to prevent diseases.
Ferrando, AA. (1999). Inactivity Amplifies the Catabolic Response of Skeletal Muscle to Cortisol. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 84 (10), pp. 3515–3521. Available at: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jcem.84.10.6046.
Van Cauter, E. Leproult, R. Plat, L. (2000). Age-Related Changes in Slow Wave Sleep and REM Sleep and Relationship With Growth Hormone and Cortisol Levels in Healthy Men. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 284 (7), pp. 861–868. Available at: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192981%20.
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Olivier is a Michelin trained chef, a registered Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist, embracing fully his passion for good food and healthy eating.