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Like a good little mental fitness blog should, we’ve been researching in the field of mental health – finding the things we can all do to improve our mental health. Something we’ve uncovered is very encouraging – there’s far more than we ever thought possible, that can be done to improve one’s memory, mental health, while preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
One of the most effective, and easiest, changes we can make is at the breakfast table.
It’s alarming how many people skip breakfast and even more alarming how many think they are actually doing something good for their body when they do so.
Study after study shows that for optimum physical health, we need to eat a good breakfast. I’m sure you’ve seen these studies before, yourself. What you may not realize, however, is just how important a good breakfast is for your mental health.
Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory as well as attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. By the same token, workers who fuel up with a healthy breakfast work circles around those who either skimp or skip breakfast entirely.
So what breakfast foods do the experts suggest are the most pivotal for your brain’s health? To fully arm yourself with the healthiest brain foods and fuel your mind with the nutrients it craves, include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Be sure not to overeat, however. High calorie breakfasts can slow you down and make it hard to concentrate.
Sugar is one of your brain’s favorite fuel sources – not table sugar, but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and, yes, even mental ability. A glass of juice is, obviously, the best way to give your brain this sweet treat.
Then, of course, there’s my favorite part of morning (or noon, or night…): Coffee. Caffeine can energize and help you focus and concentrate.Caffeine in foods such as coffee (and chocolate, another reason for loving life) give your body and mind a wake up call. Of course, the effects aren’t long term – just long enough to help you wake up and begin functioning.
One of my favorite breakfast foods is oatmeal. It’s unmistakably good for you and it’s so wonderfully filling that you don’t feel like you’re starving halfway between lunch and breakfast. You can kick up the health benefits of oatmeal and make it as healthy for your brain as it is for you heart by adding nuts. Nuts (and seeds for that matter) are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age.
Another favorite healthy food, dark chocolate, also has powerful antioxidant properties. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration. That’s why dark chocolate is a favorite mid-morning snack.
As we’ve said many times on Out of Bounds and Self Help Daily, what’s good for the heart seems to be good for the brain – and vice versa. The heart and the brain each depend on blood flow and eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower bad cholesterol, and prevent memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. When you reduce your chances of plaque buildup and enhance blood flow, you really fire up those brain cells!
Be sure to include whole grains in your breakfast meals as often as possible.
Further research shows that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
But that’s not all: Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills.
Obviously, adding blueberries to oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and pancakes is an extremely healthy thing to do for your brain’s health.
So, are you ready to start powering up each morning with a healthy breakfast? Start off with 100% fruit juice, a whole grain cereal or oatmeal, blueberries, and a cup of coffee.
In addition to eating a well-balanced breakfast, mental health experts also advise:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Stay hydrated.
- Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Eliminate as much stress from your life as possible.
- Stay physically active – remember, keep that blood circulation, for your heart AND brain.
Make each moment count double,