Lab Notes #4: On the Virtues of Breakfast, Nuts, and Sustainable Beer

Another short stack of questions and answers from recent healthcare news:

How important is breakfast?
Is timing really everything? 
Is there a sustainable way to drown my sorrows?

Let’s face it: your mother was right–especially when she told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition on breakfast skipping, researchers found a compound effect in the relationship between skipping breakfast as the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“The more [often] people skipped breakfast – the more days a week – the higher their risk of type 2 diabetes,” said Cleveland Clinic wellness expert Michael Roizen, M.D. Skip one day a week: increase your risk by 6%. Skip four or five breakfasts per week: bump up your risk to 55%. According to Dr. Roizen and the researchers: it’s all about the blood sugars, since the human body is most insulin-sensitive in the a.m. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes (here).

Timing is not everything, though, when it comes to your diet. In this week’s issue of Lancet, a worldwide study of diet and morbidity found equally discouraging news. Implicated, of course, were the usual suspects: salt (too much), whole grains (too few), and fresh fruit (too little). The researchers focused on two outcomes: “[they] calculated the number of deaths and DALYs [disability-adjusted life-years]” attributable to diet for each disease outcome”–or, quantity and quality.

So here’s a bit of good news:

Over the past decade, the effectiveness of a range of population-level dietary interventions has been systematically evaluated and several promising interventions have been identified. These include mass media campaigns, food and menu labeling, food pricing strategies (subsidies and taxation), school procurement policies, and worksite wellness programmes.

The bad news, though, is that despite the popularity, for example, of trans-fat bans, “few countries have successfully adopted and implemented them.” The problems go way up the food chain of production, though, in terms of processed meats, food distribution, and deforestation. Nuts! Seriously: most of us should be eating more nuts. This project is funded by the Gates Foundation, so researchers are keeping tabs on the impact of the global food supply on climate change, too.

Care to take your mind off the problem of the global food supply? Crack open a sustainably-harvested beer: Long Root Wit, by Patagonia. It’s made from the grain Kernza,

[which] is ideally suited for organic regenerative agriculture because its long roots and perennial growth allow it to thrive without pesticides and use less water than conventional wheat, while also helping to reduce erosion and remove more carbon from the atmosphere.

Call your local Whole Foods Market to see if they’re stocking Patagonia products in the beer cooler.

To your health!