Muesli: not only etymologically interesting

Muesli – a Swiss German word

Back in Switzerland, it was fairly common to eat oats either in the form of a Bircher Muesli (Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician and a pioneer nutritionist, August 22, 1867 – January 24, 1939) or in a soup (Haferkernsuppe). I liked muesli as a lunch, especially during the hot summer months, but not to a degree where it would enter my all-time favourites, which is probably the reason it disappeared from my menu after moving to the UK.  I was quite surprised though when I discovered muesli on the breakfast aisles in my local supermarket. I couldn’t help pointing out that this word is one of the rare examples of Swiss-German origin that made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. The word Muesli itself derives from the German word ‘Mus’ which means mash or puree using the diminutive ending “-li”. The ubiquitous and sometimes annoying way of making everything small in Switzerland.

Health benefits of Oats are Still Emerging

Over the last few years, I have noticed my weight going up and when climbing a few flights of stairs feeling out of breath. Only when I diagnosed myself with prehypertension did I realise that I must do something about it. Having preached “Lifestyle changes” to others in the past, it was now my turn to apply them. I started to go on regular cycle rides and was experimenting with new eating habits. Browsing through fitness sites, I realised how important breakfast was. Although the concept of ‘breaking the fast’ in the early hours of the day, when my stomach was not quite awake felt always unnatural to me.

oat muesli for healthy breakfast

This was when I met Muesli for the second time in my life; I found out that fibres, especially oats, hold a sacred place among the Food-Gurus. There is evidence emerging that both soluble and insoluble fibres provide multiple health benefits. And there was me thinking that “5 a day” was mainly to keep on top with vitamins & minerals and to keep you regular in the bowel department.

Soluble Fibre

The soluble version of fibre has a starchy, gel-like consistency. The one you get in porridge or the muesli. Soluble fibre will help you digest carbohydrates at a more slower pace; resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar. These “slow release” foods are often referred to as having a low glycaemic index (GI). A eating habit well known among the diabetic patietns, it is great for blood sugar control and it has been proven that it can also prevent diabetes type 2. With regards to cholesterol, there is further great news, in that oats help to reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the “bad2 cholesterol. This is the reason that oats are now recommended by the British Heart Foundation.  Another benefit of soluble fibres: it keeps you fuller for longer.

Insoluble Fibre

With regards to insoluble fibres, these are the bulky substances you’d find in fruit skins, seeds and wholemeal products. It helps you to bulk-up your stool and stay regular. Evidence suggests that you are less likely to develop colon cancer when eating a diet rich in fibre. So when mother told us to eat our fruit and veg or when she served us a Bircher Muesli, she did the right thing.
I have now converted to having breakfast in the form of muesli made of oats, joghurt, fresh fruit and ground flax seeds.


I am feeling better – whether my blood pressure or cholesterol levels will improve is yet to be seen, but my weight is on the way down.
…And I am feeling fitter.