Breaking the fast is a ritual that humans perform every morning, and most people think they know what constitutes an appropriate breakfast. Believe it or not, there are some foods that seem healthy, that we really shouldn’t be eating on an empty stomach. Here are some the foods to avoid, and some alternatives to ensure your start to the day is healthy and satisfying.
Yogurt, although rich in protein and calcium, contains lactic acid bacteria. When the excess hydrochloric acid in our stomach kills these bacteria, the beneficial effects of yogurt are drastically diminished.
Oatmeal creates a protective coating around the lining of the stomach. This prevents hydrochloric acid from damaging stomach walls. It also contains soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels (1) and improves digestion and the metabolizing of vital minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates. Oatmeal will also keep you full longer than yogurt.
Tomatoes may taste great in our omelets or grilled on the side of a Sunday fry-up, but they contain very high levels of tannic acid, also increasing acidity in the stomach. Increased stomach acid can lead to painful gastric ulcers.
Eggs are a very filling and healthy breakfast item. Whether you like your eggs scrambled, poached or boiled, they have been shown to significantly cut your daily calorie intake.
Bananas commonly thought of as a healthy breakfast food item, typically in smoothies or on toast. However, eating a banana on an empty stomach can lead to a sharp increase of magnesium in the blood, which could have damaging effects on the heart and circulatory health. (2)
Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits on the planet; they are low in calories, but they improve memory, improve blood pressure and circulation and improve metabolism. Their benefits are augmented when consumed for breakfast! (3) You can put them on oatmeal, eat them in a fruit salad, or just pick at them on your own.
Watermelon is an excellent option for those who crave their fruit fix in the morning. It provides you with a good amount of fluid when consumed on an empty stomach, and improves the health of your eyes and heart, due to its high levels of lycopene.
Don’t: Coffee or Tea
Although it might be part of your morning ritual, make sure you’re pairing your morning caffeine fix with something else! Consuming tea on an empty stomach can sometimes cause nausea and stomach discomfort. Coffee on an empty stomach can further increase stomach acidity and worsen symptoms of reflux or gastritis.
Nuts are not typically thought of as a breakfast food item, but they are rich in healthy fats and protein. If eaten for breakfast, they can improve your digestive health by normalizing the pH levels of your stomach, decreasing the risk of ulcers and excess stomach acid.
Don’t: Citrus Fruits
Although this may not apply to everyone, citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges can irritate an already inflamed lower esophagus and may need to be limited or avoided, especially when having them on an empty stomach.
Papaya releases a powerful enzyme called papain, which is thought to aid digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer by clearing free radicals from the digestive tract. Papaya is also very high in fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, all very necessary for healthy food digestion.
Don’t: Short Crust/Puff Pastry
Think twice about a continental breakfast. Croissants and Danishes might sound like a tempting start to your day, but they contain yeast, a type of bacteria that irritates the lining of the stomach that may cause flatulence. How tempting does a croissant sound now? (7)
Opt for buckwheat, as it gently stimulates digestion. It is a great source of protein, iron, and vitamins, and is incredibly malleable, add it to smoothies, make pancakes and waffles, or make them into buckwheat bars for breakfast on the go.
Do: Wheat Germ
Two tablespoons of wheat germ can provide 15% of the recommended daily value of vitamin E and 10% of the recommended daily value of folic acid. Wheat germ will help your digestive system run smoothly. (8)
Don’t: Carbonated Drinks
Soda consumption is one of the leading causes of obesity in the United States, but even sugar-free carbonated benefits are not recommended on an empty stomach. Drinking them in the morning can damage mucous membranes and reduce blood supply to the stomach, making food digest more slowly, which can cause constipation.
Do: Whole Grains (no yeast)
Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, which are part of a healthy diet. The best time to eat this product is early in the morning, so you can spend your day burning off those carbohydrates. Whole grain toast or whole grain pancakes or waffles are the most common examples.
Do: Cornmeal Porridge
Cornmeal porridge removes toxins and heavy metals from your system. It normalizes intestinal microflora and keeps you feeling full and satisfied for a long time. (9)
Ensuring our stomach’s acid levels are normal and healthy, protecting our stomach and getting the proper nutrients can significantly influence the rest of our day, as well as our long-term health. Knowing what foods protect your stomach, and what foods may harm them will help to shape your future health.
- Andon, M. B., & Anderson, J. W. (2008, April 01). State of the Art Reviews: The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2(1), 51-57. doi:10.1177/1559827607309130.
- Blacker, B. C., Snyder, S. M., Eggett, D. L., & Parker, T. L. (2012, August 31). Consumption of blueberries with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat breakfast decreases postprandial serum markers of oxidation. British Journal of Nutrition, 109(09), 1670-1677. doi:10.1017/s0007114512003650
- Krebs, H. A., & Johnson, W. A. (1950, July). The Role of Citric Acid in Intermediate Metabolism in Animal Tissues. Source Book in Chemistry, 1900–1950. doi:10.4159/harvard.9780674366701.c143
- Schlaepfer, T. E. (2012, July). Faculty of 1000 evaluation for A multicenter pilot study of subcallosal cingulate area deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression. F1000 – Post-publication Peer Review of the Biomedical Literature. doi:10.3410/f.724420218.793510991
- Nicolosi, R., Bell, S. J., & Greensberg, I. (1999, August). Plasma lipid changes after supplementation with β-glucan fiber from yeast. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(02), 208-212.
- Evans, H. M., Emerson, O. H., & Emerson, G. A. (2009, June 27). THE ISOLATION FROM WHEAT GERM OIL OF AN ALCOHOL, α-TOCOPHEROL, HAVING THE PROPERTIES OF VITAMIN E. Nutrition Reviews, 32(3), 80-82. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1974.tb06280.x