This article is written by Mia Johnson.
Nutrition is often the most neglected aspects of mental health. Food might play an integral role in our physical health, but the same is true for our minds. It’s only natural, considering that your brain is an organ like any other. This means that giving it the nutrients it needs can help improve its performance and health.
Breakfast is the backbone of our daily nutrition. It’s not called the most important meal of the day for nothing. The meal that starts your day off plays a big role in how that day will unfold. Here’s how you can positively impact your mental state with a good breakfast.
1. Kickstarting concentration
We all need energy to start off our day. Having your morning coffee or tea isn’t exactly going to make for a quality nutritious meal. It might keep you energized for a while, but don’t get your hopes up about it being a lasting effect. It’s only going to last so long until you crash and lose concentration. You need a healthy and fulfilling breakfast to give you the right kind of energy to get through the day.
To get the most out of your breakfast nutrition, you’re going to need the right kind of food to fuel you. Not every meal is going to be equally as potent at getting you out of bed and ready for the rest of your day. You would be surprised at all the foods that are sub-optimal for breakfast while still being advertised as “breakfast” food. Lots of high-carb and nutrient-poor foods like cereals and candy bars are often parroted as being effective morning pick-me-ups, despite the fact that carbs don’t offer much in the way of energy.
You would be much better off having rich and fulfilling meals that satisfy early morning nutritional needs. Foods that are well-rounded and chock-full of essential nutrients should be your main priority. Your meals should contain lots of protein and healthy fats to give you the right kind of energy boost to start the day off. Carbs aren’t out of the question, as long as you know what type you should be eating. Anything processed which fills you up with lots of sugar should be avoided, as it will make you sluggish after a while.
Slow-releasing carbs would be the preferable option. Something like oatmeal should do the trick. Obviously, you’re going to want something to give you some extra taste with your oatmeal. Lots of fruits and berries help give you a healthy dose of fibre while helping to make your healthy carb breakfast tastier. As long as you also accompany it with some nuts to add protein and fat, you should have a quick and powerful concentration-boosting breakfast.
2. Balancing digestive health
Food doesn’t come up often enough in discussions of mental health. It doesn’t seem like it would be a very important aspect of how we feel emotionally, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our digestive health plays a bigger part in our mental state than previously thought.
Part of the reason for this is the tiny ecosystem that’s located in our guts. There has been a lot of talk about the influence of our gut biome on how we feel. The nerves surrounding our digestive system create a third large cluster of sensitive nervous tissue that is very well connected to our brains. The bacteria in our guts secrete lots of substances that influence our gut, which then influences this nervous tissue. This ends up having a big impact on our state of mind. When you treat your gut flora well, it reacts by secreting things that will make you feel better.
This is why many nutritionists emphasize the importance of probiotic diets. Since our digestion works round the clock, it’s crucial that we provide our guts with the right kind of food all day. The positive probiotic effect needs to start first thing in the morning. Common probiotic foods like yoghurt are a must. They can be combined with lots of different ingredients to create delicious and gut-friendly meals. People often mix their oatmeal or cereals with yoghurt for added health benefits.
Probiotic supplements aren’t out of the question, either. It has been shown that probiotic supplements can help combat depression symptoms through the gut-brain axis. This means that by simply adding some probiotics to your everyday diet, you can improve your mental well-being by quite a bit. Of course, your diet also has to include some healthy nutrients to make sure your gut stays busy. As long as you introduce a probiotic element to your diet, you’re going to see both physical and mental improvements. It’s definitely something worth considering while you’re preparing breakfast.
3. Balancing emotions and avoiding mood swings
If you’ve ever been woken up while trying to get your beauty sleep, you’ll know that it’s not the most pleasant feeling. Our brains don’t like being interrupted while they’re fast asleep and this can easily cause some negative reactions. Crankiness is to be expected when you interrupt someone that was in the middle of getting some rest. However, it’s also something that can last throughout the morning if you don’t get a good nutritional start to your day.
A big part of that early morning crankiness is a lack of energy. You need to be well-energized to have patience and understanding that early in the day. When you don’t get your fill of nutrients first thing in the morning, you can also expect to be pretty cranky and moody throughout the day. To offset this, you should look towards adapting your diet to get that positive and wholesome morning experience.
Craft yourself a breakfast that will put a smile on your face and keep it that way. Different types of foods can energize you in the morning and keep your spirits up. What better way to warm up to the morning than with some light cooking? There’s nothing like a warm meal to keep you feeling warm and pleasant all day. What you decide to cook up is up to you.
Balancing healthy foods with delicious foods isn’t easy, especially during breakfast time. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t enjoy some bacon and eggs first thing in the morning. However, you’ll find lots of people that avoid such meals because of fear that it might be too greasy and unhealthy. Warm meals like this shouldn’t be disregarded, as you can always make them healthier with some more varied ingredients. Throwing in some vegetables or avocadoes would do the trick. You get to add some additional nutrients while also giving yourself a tasty meal that will leave you feeling cheerful throughout the morning.
4. Improving brain development
We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat”. While it may just be a figurative saying that addresses your overall diet, it can also be taken literally. You really are what you eat, as any nutritionist will tell you. The food you consume eventually becomes a part of you and helps build various parts of your body. The building blocks might be mostly identical, but there are some crucial variations that come from different diets.
Your brain is an organ like any other and it has nutritional needs. You could say that it’s a little more demanding than most other organs. It doesn’t just need building blocks to function at optimal capacity. You also need some very specific nutrients to help it perform all of its functions. The neurons in our brains communicate through the use of neurotransmitters, which are substances that need to be replenished. Some of them require precursors that you can only get through the right diet. You’re not likely to run out of these neurotransmitters, but your diet can affect their secretion.
Some of the more important nutrients to watch out for are B vitamins. They’re used to help keep our neural pathways healthy. Foods like whole grains contain lots of them and they should always find a place in your regular diet. Top some whole grain toast with avocadoes and cherry tomatoes and you won’t need much else to complete your meal. Milk and other dairy products are also chock-full of B vitamins, which is part of the reason why they’re often a crucial aspect of breakfast meals. These brain foods help keep you feeling alert and positive from the very start of your day, but they also help maintain this throughout your day.
5. Reducing early morning stress
We all get a little bit stressed out in the morning. When that alarm clock sounds and wakes you from your sleep, the last thing on your mind is going to be productivity. Waking up is hard enough on its own, but it’s not the only thing you have to deal with that early on. You have to get up and get ready for your day. Within the span of about an hour, you have to get your whole day in order without flinching. This is made even more difficult when you have to prepare a meal in the midst of it. The good news is that your morning meal can also help get you to get through this tough ordeal.
Sitting down at your dining room table with a delicious meal in front of you can alleviate much of the stress you might feel in the morning. The only question is – how will you prepare yourself a meal when you’re busy scrambling to get ready for work? It’s something that can really hamper your ability to make a high-quality meal, but it’s still perfectly doable. You can make lots of different healthy meals in a short amount of time, so you don’t have to worry about having enough variety in your breakfasts.
Lots of people opt to take their whey protein shakes first thing in the morning. Getting a healthy dose of protein alongside some healthy slow-releasing carbs can really kickstart your day and help you feel energized all morning. Plus, it’s not something that will take away from your morning preparations. You can be in and out of the kitchen in less than ten minutes, while also providing your body with a complete meal. If you want to make the best whey protein shakes recipe, you’re going to want to add a little something extra into the mix.
While it’s already a pretty nutritional breakfast, you can always enrich it with some additional elements. Give it a little boost in nutrition and taste by adding some fruit or nuts. Stick it in the mixer and you’re going to get an even tastier meal out of it. You can prepare a different kind of shake every morning by switching up the added ingredients from time to time. It’s a lot quicker than cooking something up and you don’t have to feel stressed out while preparing a more complex meal.
6. Sticking to a routine
One of the most important aspects of any diet is consistency. Our bodies like having a schedule to work with. When you introduce changes and catch your digestive system by surprise, it’s going to struggle to adapt. This includes changes in when you eat. You’ve probably noticed that you get hungry around the same time every single day. This happens because your gut is used to getting food around that time. It starts secreting digestive juices in preparation for that food. When you skip out on a meal or change it up, you’re going to find that you stay agitated and restless.
This is why it’s so important to make changes and stick to them. Your diet needs to be consistent to have a positive effect on your mind and body. As long as you’re getting your healthy dose of nutrients every morning, you’re going to feel a lot healthier and more relaxed.
There are lots of ways that you can use food to improve your mental state. Breakfast might just be the most impactful of your daily meals, which is why it’s important to start there. With a strong start to your day, you can bet that you’re going to quickly start feeling better.
Author bio: Mia Johnson is a writer with a ten-year-long career in journalism. She has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle. A native to Melbourne, she now lives in Sydney with her 3 dogs where she spends her days writing and taking care of her 900 square feet garden.
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