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Food and anxiety: why eating carbs and sugar for breakfast is setting your teen for a bad day.

Food and mental health are closely linked. In the last 10 years, science has discovered how our gut health plays a significant role in influencing our moods. Discoveries have shown how our gut microbiome communicates with the brain through the gut-brain axis.

Did you know our gut produces 90% of serotonin , 50% of dopamine and allows the neurotransmitters GABA to be produced in our brain?

All three neurotransmitters are key to maintaining healthy mental health.

What is the key to stabilizing our moods and emotions?

It's crucial to cultivate a healthy microbiome in your gut to produce balanced levels of neurotransmitters throughout the day. Certain foods such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber are necessary for this. Providing probiotics is also crucial for maintaining a healthy microbiome.

The production of neurotransmitters crucial for mental health relies on a balanced intake of specific nutrients. Amino acids, particularly tryptophan and tyrosine found in protein-rich foods, serve as the building blocks for neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and motivation. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, support brain health and aid in neurotransmitter function.

B vitamins also play vital roles in synthesizing neurotransmitters, while magnesium, zinc, and iron contribute to overall brain health and maintaining balanced levels of neurotransmitters. Consuming a diverse range of proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats ensures an adequate supply of these essential nutrients, promoting optimal neurotransmitter production and supporting mental well-being.

However, certain foods such as processed sugars, some carbohydrates, alcohol, and processed foods can directly influence your gut microbiome and kill the bacteria responsible for creating these important neurotransmitters.

Why is breakfast extremely important for mental health?

The first meal of the day is crucial for the gut-brain axis. When breaking a fast, our bodies use the foods we supply to kick-start the reserve of essential nutrients needed for optimum body and brain function throughout the day.

However, many individuals in our part of the world build their first meals around carbs and processed sugars. Starting the day with a breakfast high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can set a precarious tone for the day ahead. The rapid spike in blood sugar levels followed by a subsequent crash can lead to a rollercoaster of energy levels, leaving individuals feeling fatigued and irritable. This energy rollercoaster can impair concentration and focus, impacting productivity and cognitive performance throughout the day. Moreover, the lack of sustained energy from nutrient-poor breakfast choices may contribute to increased hunger and cravings later in the day, potentially leading to consuming more sugars and carbs.

For an individual to create balanced levels of neurotransmitters responsible for mental health, the first meal should provide minerals, vitamins, fiber, proteins, and fat. Such foods will help stabilize blood sugar, lower cravings, and maintain energy levels throughout the entire day.

Here are some breakfast ideas great for mental health:

- Eggs on whole grain toast
- Omelets with vegetables
- Berries with cottage cheese and nuts and flaxseed oil
- Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts
- Homemade waffles with almond flour and coconut milk
- Pancakes made with protein powder
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and potatoes
- Almond butter on whole grain toast

Overall, prioritizing balanced breakfast choices that provide a steady release of energy and essential nutrients for neurotransmitter production is crucial for supporting overall well-being and setting a positive tone for the day ahead.

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