The Sunny Side Up on Breakfast

healthy-breakfastWhile in surgical training, I probably missed breakfast ten times more than I had it. An early morning (and I mean early) cup of Joe was standard fare for the most part.  But now that I lead a more human life, I eat breakfast daily and rather enjoy it. Maybe it’s because my mother constantly harped on me: “Eat it honey, it’s the most important meal of the day!”

Well, my mother was right. Again. There were hints in the past that breakfast is good for your health, but a very recent study really boils the egg on this issue.

The Alameda 7

In the 1960’s, a well-done California study examined 7 health habits, now termed the “Alameda 7,” and showed them to be associated with a longer lifespan. What were they? Thought you’d never ask:

  • Having never smoked
  • Drinking <5 drinks at once
  • Sleeping 7-8 hours nightly
  • Exercising
  • Maintaining a desirable weight
  • Avoiding snacks
  • Eating breakfast regularly

Yessiree, getting yer birdseed, baled hay, pigs in a blanket or having that Cowboy with spurs, or that Adam and Eve on a raft, wrecked or not, made the list of everyday practices for maintaining health and living longer.

Stoking the Fire

Very recently, a 16-year study of almost 27,000 men found that missing breakfast correlated with medical conditions that kill. In essence, men who routinely skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease compared to men who ate breakfast.

To address the criticism that men who eat breakfast may do other things to help them live longer (like swimming a mile instead?), the study “controlled” for other lifestyle habits that might influence the findings including diet, exercise and smoking patterns. But alas, even considering these factors, the results held true.

One widely held explanation for the study finding is based on the idea that missing breakfast is a physiological, hormonal or metabolic “strain” that takes its toll over time. Kinda like missing sleep.

Now pul-eeze, do not take this to mean that if you don’t eat breakfast every day that you will die of heart disease before your parents do. But, do understand that our bodies like to be rested regularly, taken out for a stroll regularly, and fed regularly. You always try to be on time in your life, now make it a point to be on time for your life.

This article originally appeared on Dr. Turek’s blog,, and has been republished here with permission.

Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor

View posts by Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor
Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.
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