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BRANTASTIC!; Forget a full English brekkie - it's high-fibre cereal you need to start the day in tip-top condition . . .

Byline: BY REBECCA LEES

IT used to be a Mars a day that would help you work, rest and play.

Now all you need to breeze through life is a bowl of high-fibre cereal each morning!

We all know the benefits fibre has on the digestive system. But researchers are convinced it also makes you feel happier, less stressed and more refreshed to face the day ahead.

And what's more, a bowl a day will keep those colds and flu at bay.

Tests carried out at Cardiff University have shown that eating a high-fibre diet is one of the best things we can do to make sure we stay in tip-top shape.

Professor Andy Smith, of the university's School of Psychology, said: "We have been interested in the effects of breakfast for many years and have found that people who skip breakfast don't feel as good as those who eat it.

"In the latest research, we looked at one aspect of breakfast, which was whether you have high fibre or not.

"People who regularly eat a lot of high fibre felt much better and were happier and less tired than people who did not.

"We got people who don't usually eat high fibre cereal to eat it for two weeks and compared the results with those who ate a normal breakfast for two weeks.

"Those who had the high fibre diet had more energy.

The effects came on almost immediately."

The research, carried out on 150 volunteers of different ages and walks of life, also included a second study which showed that people who regularly make time for breakfast, especially cereal, are less susceptible to colds and flu.

"An obvious reason for that is that eating breakfast is a good mark of how healthy you are generally, " he said.

Professor Smith added: "Most breakfast cereals are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, which are very important in terms of catching a cold.

"People who eat breakfast show improvements in memory, as glucose, found in cereal, is the main fuel for the brain.

"After the overnight fast, we need glucose to feed the brain, just as we need energy to do a physical job."

Surprisingly - although we all like to think of students surviving on a diet of kebabs and baked beans - Professor Smith believes Cardiff University students are realising the importance of breakfast.

"I think the message is getting through to many students now. I'm always amazed how many eat breakfast these days!" he said.

"Food companies are getting quite good, for example, by making cereal bars for when you are in a hurry. They are based on the same nutrients as cereal, and you can eat them on the bus.

"There is a lot of research suggesting breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day.

"The problem group are those who skip breakfast. Those dieting might be tempted to miss breakfast, when it might well be better to eat less later."

FRY-UP OR FIBRE - TWIN SISTERS PUT BREAKFAST TO THE TEST. . .

WE asked 26-year-old twins Abigail Gentile and Alexis Williams to keep a three-day diary of their breakfast eating to see whether they made a difference. And the sisters, from Barry, both agreed they felt ten times better after a bit of a bran.

And, although they couldn't resist cheating with one fry-up, they regretted it.

NAME: Abigail Gentile, 26 JOB: Works in the family business, Paul Gentile Jewellers.

NORMAL BREAKFAST: "Toast or cereal or maybe fruit if I'm rushed."

HER BREAKFAST DAIRY: Weds: I'm five months pregnant so I opted for the high-fibre cereal to see if it would boost my energy levels - Energy: High; Mood: Good.

Thurs: I cheated with my sister and had a fryup - Energy: Good but felt tired later; Mood: OK.

Friday: All Bran - Energy: High; Mood: Good.

OVERALL VERDICT: "The fry-up made me feel bloated and left me feeling bloated all day. If I'm going to have a cooked breakfast it's usually a poached egg or something rather than a fry-up.

"The high-fibre cereals were great. I didn't feel they stretched my stomach too much and I was much more comfortable throughout the day. I also had lots of energy, which is pretty important when you're pregnant!

"I give it a big thumbs-up. 10 out of 10."

NAME: Alexis Williams, 26

JOB: Manager at The Hair Business in Cowbridge.

NORMAL BREAKFAST: "A bowl of Special K or Weetabix or a piece of fruit."

HER BREAKFAST DIARY: Weds:

All Bran - Energy levels: High; Mood: Good.

Thurs: I cheated and had a fry-up - Energy levels: OK but felt really bloated; Mood: Good but a bit guilty.

Friday: All Bran and bananas - Energy levels: High; Mood: Good.

OVERALL VERDICT: "I felt much better on the days I ate All Bran and didn't feel as bloated as I do when I eat my usual cereal so I'd say the high-fibre bran was better. The fry-up was gorgeous but left me feeling lethargic.

"Just doing it for this short length of time has made me realise how important breakfast is.

I'd give this regime the thumbs-up."

THE PERFECT WAY TO START THE DAY The best breakfast you could possibly eat, according to Professor Smith, is:

A bowl of high fibre cereal A glass of orange juice, for those essential vitamins A cup of coffee, as the caffeine increases alertness.

CAPTION(S):

JUST THE JOB: Abigail Gentle found a bowl of bran left her feeling better STARTING BLOCKS: Professor Andy Smith says bran is best
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 21, 2002
Words:919
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