Energize Your Brain with Breakfast
Start your day the right way — with a healthy breakfast. This important meal can fight fatigue and stress, brighten your mood, and sharpen your focus and concentration. Go from exhausted to exhilarated with these tips for beating fatigue. If you always feel tired, don’t miss breakfast. Just follow these six tips for morning meals that make you merry.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Caffeine can give you a jolt of energy to get you moving in the morning, but just the smell of coffee may help with stress. In a study of sleep-deprived rats, the aroma of roasted coffee beans changed the levels of some brain proteins, indicating antioxidant function and a calming effect on stress. Drink coffee and you may also reduce your risk of depression.
Get serious about cereal. In one study, people who regularly ate cereal felt less depressed, less stressed, and had lower levels of emotional distress than those who did not eat breakfast every day. Your best bet is a whole-grain, high-fiber cereal. A high fiber intake has been linked to less fatigue and emotional distress and fewer mental difficulties.
Count on carbs. Tired and sluggish? Carbohydrates will give you more energy. That’s because your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, your body’s main source of fuel. Aim for a mix of complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs, including whole grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes, take longer for your body to absorb, so you get a steady stream of energy.
Simple carbs, on the other hand, give you a quick and fleeting energy boost. Fruit and honey, which contain the sugar fructose, are healthy examples of simple carbs. To get both complex and simple carbs into your breakfast, add some fruit to your whole-grain cereal. This fruity, high-fiber breakfast is a great way to keep your energy up throughout a busy morning.
Carbohydrates also affect your mood. In a Japanese study, men who ate the most carbohydrates were much less likely to show symptoms of depression than those who ate the least. A high intake of carbohydrates helps deliver the amino acid tryptophan to your brain, which stimulates the synthesis of serotonin, the brain’s feel-good chemical.
Plate up some protein. For endurance, you should also include protein along with your carbohydrates. Protein helps regulate your body’s release of energy. Good sources include eggs, meat, and low-fat dairy products.
Boost your B’s. Low levels of B vitamins such as folate and B12 have been linked to depression. Enriched breads and cereals provide folate, while meats, dairy foods, and eggs give you vitamin B12.
Add some antioxidants. Japanese researchers found that older men who ate lots of foods rich in vitamin C and carotenoids — including beta carotene, the plant form of vitamin A — had fewer depressive symptoms than those who ate the least. These antioxidant vitamins could protect your brain from oxidative stress, which contributes to depression. Citrus fruits and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables should do the trick.
Combine some of these nutrients into a healthy breakfast. Try a whole-grain bagel with cheese, oatmeal with raisins, or whole-grain toast with peanut butter and fruit. Or enjoy scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit or hard-boiled eggs sliced in a whole-wheat pita.
- FC&A Staff Writer