“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Growing up, I would roll my eyes any time my mom said this as I raced out the door on my way to school. Who had time for breakfast?
Turns out, my mom actually knew what she was talking about. Making the time for a nutrient-filled breakfast offers many benefits that will help you throughout the rest of your day.
This is now one of the core recommendations I give people looking to take small steps to improve their health and nutrition.
Eating breakfast can also go a long way for supporting your brain function– here’s how.
1. It increases focus.
A main reason I used to skip breakfast in the mornings is because I didn’t feel hungry when I woke up. Often, it would take an hour or two before I started to feel physical hunger pangs. Our bodies are complex organisms and physical symptoms aren’t the only way our bodies let us know they need fuel. Some people have emotional symptoms before they feel physical hunger. We all have that friend who gets hangry, right? For others, it’s feeling tired or a lack of focus.
This is because our bodies require fuel to run effectively. Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for a productive day.
Many studies show that eating a meal first thing in the morning helps boost your focus and memory recall. Why? When you provide your body with the nutrients it requires to function, it maintains the right sugar level in your blood.
When we don’t eat breakfast, our body enters starvation mode. It begins to seek alternative energy sources, such as breaking down fat and changing it to fatty acids. These fatty acids impair normal brain activities, causing you to have more difficulty focusing. A hungry body equals a hungry brain, which leads to poor focus.
2. It improves problem solving.
A hungry brain also has lowered mental cognition which can lead to inferior problem solving skills. You know that midday slump that leaves you feeling like you can barely keep your eyes open, let alone tackle the many obstacles that have popped up throughout the day? This is usually when I brew another cup of coffee from the office Keurig.
Life hack: drink your coffee after eating to keep your hormonal balance in check!
But coffee is only a temporary fix and often leads to a crash. Eating a balanced breakfast can not only help prevent that energy crash but keeps our brains ready to handle any challenges our day throws our way.
Breakfast is especially important for students and nontraditional learners! When your brain is “hungry”, it doesn’t have the fuel necessary to work through various scenarios and weigh potential outcomes. One way this shows up in students is test scores. According to research, students are likely to score better if they eat breakfast. Individuals who only ate breakfast once during the week performed much worse than students who ate breakfast four to five times on weekdays.
3. It supports better mental health.
A balanced breakfast is also important for our mental health. Our mental health is strongly connected to the health of our gut. Ninety percent of the seratonin used by our bodies is created in the gut. Eating a nutrient rich breakfast not only helps our bodies to create more seratonin, it may help us relax by increasing our norepinephrine, tyrosine, and dopamine levels.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 has triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of depression and anxiety worldwide. While there are many ways to prioritize our mental health, such as seeing a therapist or incorporating more movement into our day), they are often not used until after symptoms are present and can be time-consuming.
Eating breakfast daily takes only a small amount of time and proactively helps increase the amount of feel-good hormones our body produces.
4. It can support your overall health, if you choose a nutritous breakfast!
Because our food is fuel for our brain and body, what we eat matters. If you fuel your body with processed foods that contain no nutrients, it’s like putting bad gas into your car. It won’t perform as well and will likely become rundown faster. When you fuel your car with the proper gas for your vehicle, it gets better gas mileage, performs better and requires less maintenance.
Our bodies perform better when we are fueling them with nutrient-dense, whole foods. Breakfast should consist of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and protein to manage your daily blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels to perform better. Protein also keeps us full longer so we don’t get hungry so fast, leading to emotional and physical responses like mood swings, lack of focus and lethargy.
Instead of reaching for processed convenience foods that are also loaded with sugar, try some of these simple, yet balanced swaps that can be prepared in less than five minutes: overnight oats, protein shakes or smoothies, banana pancakes, avocado toast or a veggie breakfast sandwich.
You can promptly substitute high-fiber fruits for Pop-Tarts, sweet granola bars for nuts, and pure oats for pancakes. To add even more value to your breakfast, try mixing in some CBD oil. CBD Tincture, more commonly known as CBD Oil, has many benefits including pain relief and easing diabetic complications.
Whether you’re enjoying a weekend brunch with friends or grabbing a smoothie on your way out the door, breakfast does your body and your brain good. Turns out, Mom really does know best.