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Old Mon, Jan-09-17, 20:38
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Rosebud Rosebud is offline
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I think this is a slightly better article on the same book:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...3dac43c2c93ca3c

Terence Kealey's Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal is worth digesting


Oliver Moody
The Times
12:00AM January 9, 2017


The writer Julian Barnes recently said that he revised a lifelong disdain for EM Forster after reading his account of a breakfast taken on the train to London in the 1930s.

“ ‘Porridge or prunes, sir?’ ” Forster wrote. “That cry still rings in my memory. It is an epitome — not, indeed, of English food, but of the forces that drag it into the dirt.

“It voices the true spirit of gastronomic joylessness. Porridge fills the Englishman up, prunes clear him out, so their functions are ~opposed. But their spirit is the same: they eschew pleasure and consider delicacy immoral.”

Eighty years on and what a sad relic of a meal breakfast still is. ~Either we eat drooping, slithery lumps of fat and protein then spend the rest of the day feeling vaguely guilty; or we bolt down starch and refined sugar as a metabolic promissory note for a more interesting lunch. And the worst of it is that you have to repeat the process every morning, like a daily enforced communion service for people who don’t believe in God.

It would be wonderful to abolish the whole rotten institution. And that is exactly what Terence Kealey proposes in a new book.

Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal is an artful dismembering of the ~received wisdom that the morning is the most important time to eat. In some ways it is a modern return to a long and distinguished tradition of breakfast-bashing. The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes warned, “Woe to thee, o land ... when thy princes eat in the morning”, and in the 13th century Thomas Aquinas judged that eating early in the day was a sub~category of the sin of gluttony.

By the 19th century, however, the meal had become a moral and commercial battleground. John Kellogg, the cornflakes inventor whose Seventh Day Adventist principles were outraged by the behaviour an excess of energy is wont to induce in young men, is thought to have arrived at a nutritionally worthless form of ~cereal to take the zip out of their ~libidos.

As an anti-breakfast movement began to coalesce in the 1900s, the American bacon lobby brought in Edward Bernays, the original master of public relations, to corral 4600 doctors into ~endorsing the meal.

Although the book is notion~ally about breakfast, it turns out to be more of an excuse for the author to unburden himself of his thoughts on the grand gamut of eating and exercise.

Kealey, a clinical biochemist who lectured at Cambridge before becoming vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham for 14 years, was ~diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010.

His doctor told him to eat little and often, to stuff his meals with carbohydrates, to avoid alcohol and not to skip breakfast. After a bit of experimentation with a blood-sugar monitor, Kealey disobeyed on all four counts. His diabetes swiftly stabilised.

The chemical hero of this book’s story is insulin, which tells the body’s cells to open up their membranes and allow fuel shipments of glucose to enter. For some people, though, the cells stop listening to these instructions, leaving torrents of pure sugar tumbling around the bloodstream with nowhere better to go than the bladder. This is, crudely, the main problem faced by type 2 diabetics such as Kealey, but he is more bothered about a “modern plague” of insulin ~resistance, which is implicated in one in three deaths.

“Hardly anyone has heard of insulin resistance,” he writes, “yet its death rate can be compared to the death rates from the bubonic plague during the Black Death years of 1346-53. Admittedly, insulin resistance does not kill as fast as did the Yersinia pestis bacterium, but it kills as surely.”

This, in Kealey’s view, is what makes breakfast such a dangerous meal. A morning dose of toast and jam, or porridge and maple syrup, or any of the other sickly rafts of carbohydrates most of us rely on, tends to send blood sugar levels mounting joyously, with ~insulin galloping in their wake. Do this hard and often enough, and the insulin will lose its ability to charm glucose into your cells.

There is a reason why the dietary advice published so widely swings backwards and forwards with the awful regularity of an amnesiac pendulum — the ~science of nutrition is a shambles. This is not the fault of the scientists, who often work to high ~standards, but rather of the subject matter.

Food is so hard to disentangle from the multitude of other good and bad things we do to our bodies each day, and those bodies are so variable to start with, that it is a small miracle when two studies agree with each other. Kealey is excellent on this ~tumult of ~research. It may, ironically, be the biggest flaw in his ~argument. The teeming variety of human genetics, gut microbiota, circadian rhythms, illnesses and lifestyles means that while skipping breakfast could well be a good thing for some or even most of us, there may be no such thing as an iron rule.

Nevertheless, this book is a ~lively and forensic piece of science writing that manages to be at once polemical and yet thoughtfully ~engaged with the evidence. It is ~entirely possible to disagree with Kealey’s conclusions, but very hard to dismiss them.

The Times
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