Maybe you are a parent whose son or daughter tends to skip breakfast.  Have you wondered whether this is a healthy habit?  Have you wondered why your child is not hungry?

When children and adolescents sleep, they are experiencing a fast (breakfast is “breaking the fast”).  While a person sleeps, they are burning their own fat as fuel.  When they wake up, they may not be hungry because they continue in fat burning mode, also known as ketosis.  In ketosis, a person does not feel hungry.

Is this state healthy for teens?

Let’s look at what is going on when your child does not eat breakfast.  First, due to prolonged fasting, they enter a state known as autophagy.  Sounds sophisticated, right?  Autophagy means that your child’s body is cleaning up old cells and damaged proteins.  This is very beneficial.  A Pubmed article, “Targeting Autophagy to Overcome Human Diseases”, puts it this way:

Autophagy is a cellular process where “cells self-eat, in a continuous recycle of renewal, eliminating the harmful or useless parts. Autophagy is a conservative process and plays an essential role in maintaining and regulating cellular balance and physiology. Autophagy regulation is arranged in a systemic way for the degradation of altered organelles and abnormal proteins. Autophagic process alteration producing a malfunction may be the cause of diseases, such as tumors, metabolic dysfunctions, neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.”

According to the above article, autophagy, which literally means “eating oneself”, is a mechanism used by the body to stave off diseases, tumors, metabolic dysfunctions, neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.  Wow!  The body is recycling old proteins and repairing itself.  Think of autophagy as the body doing clean-up detail.  A job some of you probably wish your child would take the time to do with his or her bedroom!  

Fasting can also benefit the brain because the body can create new brain cells.  According to another pubmed article called “Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health”,

New neurons are born continuously throughout adult life in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of mammals, including rodents, monkeys and humans…Both running and IF (intermittent fasting) can enhance neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons), with running stimulating the proliferation of the stem cells and IF increasing the survival of the newly generated neurons. 

Lastly, fasting can limit inflammation in the body.

So, the next time you notice your child is not hungry in the morning, you know that your child is in a fat-burning, body-repairing, protein-recycling, neuron-generating, anti-inflammatory state.  

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