You might not have thought of it this way, but breakfast is the breaking of the night’s fast. Breakfast is especially important because it can supply glucose, the brain’s basic fuel supply.

In 1995, a group of psychologists, neuroscientists, nutritionists and physiologists were requested by the Pediatric Department of the University of California at Davis to study all the scientific research on breakfast and make a report. They reported, “... breakfast is important in learning, memory, and physical well-being in both children and adults.” The landmark Alameda County Study found those who consistently ate breakfast and did not eat between meals reported better health and tended to live longer lives.

Having a good breakfast is very important to provide for maximum brain and body efficiency especially for the later morning hours. Breakfast eaters were found to be more efficient in problem-solving, had increased verbal fluency, improved attention span, and better attitudes and scholastic scores.

A study at Harvard with 4,000 elementary students, (half of the students ate breakfast, while the other half did not eat breakfast), found those students who ate breakfast had better scores on attention tests, better short-term memory, and higher verbal fluency.

So what did those researchers find was the best breakfast to have? The answer is low-glycemic index and low glycemic load foods. The glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly the carbohydrates are absorbed into our bodies and converted to fuel. The glycemic load refers to how high the blood sugar raises. Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, suggested that when it comes to brain food, those foods low on the glycemic scale — such as whole grains are preferable to heavily processed grains. So a bowl of oatmeal and a bowl of sugary cereal may have the same number of carbohydrates, but they have a very different glycemic index and glycemic load. The general rule is that the less processed a carbohydrate is, the lower the glycemic index. Cooked dried beans (without added sugar) have a lower glycemic index than grains, and can provide a steady, stable supply of energy for the brain.

The evidence is clear. Our health is influenced by our diets. Choosing a breakfast to improve your brainpower is a step toward better health at any age.

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