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6 Breakfast Habits That Are Shortening Your Life, According to Science

The way you choose to spend your mornings can have a negative impact on the length of your life.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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There are two kinds of people: those who love breakfast, and those who loathe it. Whether you're into filling up with a feast, keeping things on the lighter side, or completely skipping it, this beginning meal (and what you choose to eat during it) can actually have a big impact on your overall health—potentially for the worse.

How you choose to start your day, whether it's what foods you eat or what breakfast habits you partake in, can hurt your health. At the very worst end of the spectrum, these breakfast habits may even shorten your life by increasing your risk of chronic diseases that are liked to all-cause mortality.

Here are the science-backed ways your breakfast habits may be shortening your life, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

Skipping breakfast may impact your metabolism.

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If you skip breakfast, it could be impacting your weight. A February 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that participants that ate a large breakfast (rather than a large dinner) burned nearly twice as many calories throughout the day. Those who ate breakfast also reported lower levels of blood sugar and insulin. And another argument for a larger breakfast: the study also found that participants who ate a low-calorie (instead of a high-calorie) breakfast reported increased feelings of hunger, especially for sweets. All of these effects have been linked to obesity, which an NIH study finds may shorten life expectancy up to 14 years.

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2

Eating bacon may increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

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The smell of bacon sizzling in a skillet is one of the best breakfast scents. But a February 2020 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that eating just one piece of bacon per day (25 grams) of the processed meat increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. The study followed nearly half a million adults in the United Kingdom between the ages of 40 and 69 for five years. According to the American Cancer Society, 37% of patients with colorectal cancer have a lower 5-year survival rate than those who don't have cancer.

3

Your breakfast juice may increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

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A September 2019 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that upping your intake of 100% fruit juices by ½ cup or more per day increased the risk of diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., by 16%. Instead, researchers suggest swapping juice with a whole piece of fruit, which contains much more fiber than juice.

4

Drinking grapefruit juice may interfere with your medication.

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If you're a fan of a fresh glass of grapefruit juice with your breakfast, you should be careful and consider skipping it if you're taking medications. For example, the Food and Drug Administration notes that grapefruit juice can interact with medications. It can increase the amount of medication that enters your bloodstream with medications that are meant to address chronic health diseases that are linked to higher risks of all-cause mortality, such as cholesterol-lowering (atorvastatin) and blood pressure-lowering (nifedipine) medication.

5

Drinking coffee too early may affect blood sugar regulation.

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While you may pour yourself a cup of joe first thing when you wake up, you may want to wait until after you eat breakfast. An October 2020 study from the University of Bath found that drinking black coffee first thing in the morning can have a negative effect on blood glucose (sugar) control, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease—two leading causes of death in America. It found that drinking black coffee increased the blood glucose response to breakfast by around 50%.

6

If you skip breakfast, your heart health may suffer.

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Some more bad news about skipping your morning meal: it may be hurting your heart. An April 2019 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology of 6,550 adults in the U.S. found that those who skipped breakfast had an 87% higher risk of cardiovascular-related death compared to those who ate breakfast because it can lead to higher levels of cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. Skipping breakfast isn't the only thing taxing your heart. Beware of these Eating Habits That Cause Lasting Damage to Your Heart, According to Experts

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