Saturday, November 8, 2008

8 Foods That Get You Going in the Morning


Having trouble switching from dreamland to realityville? Head for the kitchen. What you eat can help you be more alert, think more clearly, have more energy, and even be more creative, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Food & Mood. Assuming you’ve clocked at least 7 hours of sleep, these foods will get you up, focused, and feeling like a morning person -- even if you're totally not.

1. A spoonful of sweetness: A tad of sugar in your coffee or honey in your smoothie stimulates the release of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that enhances memory. But don’t overdo it or you’ll soon feel drowsy. Excess sweetness can raise serotonin levels to a sleep-inducing high.

2. A whole-wheat bagel: Your primo brain fuel is glucose, the basic building block of carbs. So after a night of fasting, your brain is on red alert for a carb fix. But you don’t need a lot -- half a whole-wheat bagel will rev up your engines. So will a bowl of oatmeal. Pick your fave.

3. Lox on that bagel: Salmon contains a fat known as DHA, which makes up 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids in your brain. You need lots of it to get your mental decks cleared for action -- part of DHA’s job is to carry away cellular waste products that make your brain feel sluggish.

4. Spicy V8: Hot and spicy foods amp up blood flow, which is like warming your engines. If tomatoes are too acidic for you in the morning, toss a tablespoon of peeled fresh ginger into hot tea or a cold smoothie for a similar rush.

5. Soy: It contains compounds called isoflavones that help clear your mind (and fight memory loss, too). Drink a glass of calcium-fortified soymilk, pour it over whole-grain cereal, or toss some chopped tofu into scrambled eggs.

6. Ice water: A small glass of frosty H2O will get your blood pumping. The cold shock forces your system to defend its normal temperature, which gives your metabolism a slight boost.

7. Coffee: But of course! Caffeine helps alertness by dampening a chemical called adenosine, which otherwise blocks energy-boosting brain chemicals. As a result, you think faster, drive better, and remember more. Just know your jitter threshold -- getting too wired can undermine your efficiency.

8. If all else fails: Place a tin of ginger-flavored Altoids, a few Red Hots, or a packet of Listerine strips beside your alarm clock. When the buzzer goes off, pop one or two of them into your mouth before hitting the snooze button. It’s virtually impossible to sleep with that “curiously strong” taste waking up your mouth!

Besides facing the day -- we all have to, eventually -- the real benefit of switching your system to "on" in the morning is that your brain starts buzzing, absorbing interesting info and making sense of the news.

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