We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal, but what does that mean when it comes to how our brains function throughout the day? Jane Reagan, a registered dietitian at Wardenburg Health Services, spoke to us about how eating breakfast can improve brain function and gave us a few breakfast recipes to try.
When people get up in the morning, they’ve fasted for 10-12 hours, so they will have lower levels of blood sugar. Eating first thing in the morning raises blood sugar levels and keeps it steady, which can improve mood and help us have more energy throughout the day.
In addition to raising blood sugar levels, having breakfast can improve cognitive function and memory. Studies have shown that when people eat breakfast, things like concentration, memory and energy all improve, making them more alert as well.
It’s important, whenever possible, that breakfast includes adequate fiber, a fruit or vegetable, calcium, protein and a whole grain. Having a balance by getting all of these nutrients is going to make people feel better.
Protein in particular is important because it is part of so many different processes in our bodies. Protein is part of every enzyme and hormone, and we use it to help build muscle, so making sure it is part of breakfast is important. Proteins are also made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of neurotransmitters in our brains that help us feel more alert, happy and relaxed.
Having carbohydrates, such as whole grain cereals, oatmeal, cream of wheat or whole grain bread that has more fiber in it is also important and helps us sustain energy for longer periods of time. Fiber also keeps blood sugar steady and helps keep us feeling fuller for longer.
Vitamins B and C are great to include in breakfast because they play a part in building neurotransmitters in our brains; these vitamins are in grains and fruits. Choline, which helps with the creation of memory cells, is another nutrient that can be included in breakfast and can be found in egg yolks.