Diabetes. An all-too-familiar word in our communities these days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2014 there were 29 million people in the United States with this disease and an additional 86 million with prediabetes. These numbers have increased significantly over the past few years, and not only in the older population but more and more in youth and young adults.
“These new numbers are alarming,” states Ann Albright, Ph.D, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. Our nation, our communities, our loved ones are facing an epidemic.
On October 29, 2015, The New England Journal of Medicine released an insightful article about how important it is for diabetics NOT to skip their morning meal, particularly if they are not regularly taking insulin. Researchers studied 22 patients, comparing their blood values on one day when they ate three meals, including breakfast, with another day when they skipped that first meal but ate the same for the other two.
What the researchers found was rather astounding! On no-breakfast days, the blood sugar levels were higher in patients after eating later that same day. Their bodies also released less insulin, likely the cause of the increased blood glucose values on the day they missed their morning meal.
And that was not all! Free fatty acid levels in the blood were also affected. Free fatty acids, which come from triglycerides, dispose a person to health complications such as strokes and heart attacks. Once again, those who skipped breakfast were negatively impacted. The patients who skipped breakfast in this particular study had higher concentrations of these dangerous fats in their blood along with elevated glucose levels.
The article concluded that breakfast, particularly for diabetics, is an important moment for the body’s management of food later in the day. It is as if the morning meal primes the body for handling the meals that surely come hours after. Researchers termed this the “second-meal phenomenon,” stating that breakfast created a more responsive pancreas, allowing the body to better handle food and regulate blood sugar levels throughout the entire day. Free fatty acid levels seemed to be affected similarly.
Another Vital Breakfast
The importance and health benefits of breakfast are being proved by science. But it leaves me thinking of another “breakfast” that we, as Christians, ought to be taking in at the start of every day. We see it exemplified in the life of our Savior.
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35, NKJV).
A familiar verse. And many of us know there are others like it. During His ministry here on earth, Christ spent time in solitude with His Father, often in the early hours of the morning before daybreak. Strength and wisdom were imparted to Him for the day’s toils and labors.
Christ’s Object Lessons states, “From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit” (p. 139).
If the Son of God so needed His daily spiritual meal, how much more His followers?
Again, Christ’s Object Lessons makes it clear. “In like manner the disciples were to seek blessings from God…. They must receive spiritual food, or they would have nothing to impart” (p. 140).
As surely as our physical bodies benefit from and even need that morning meal to prime our pancreas for regulating blood glucose and to stabilize our levels of free fatty acids, how much more our spiritual life benefits from, and may I say needs, that morning “food” from God!
“Every morning take time to begin your work with prayer. Do not think this wasted time; it is time that will live through eternal ages” (Prayer, p. 156).
Our physical breakfast may benefit our bodies for the remainder of a day; our spiritual breakfast blesses for eternity!
Let us seek daily, morning by morning, to gain our strength, our hope, our wisdom, our completeness from Him. Let us feed on His faithfulness and be so filled with His love that the same may be imparted, by His grace, to those we meet later that day.
[Photo: FreeImages.com/Pontus Edenburg]