Whether you eat your breakfast at 6am or 1pm, everyone should eat breakfast. But, what you end up eating for breakfast matters more than you probably thought. The content of the first meal you eat each day can have a serious impact on your health, most specifically your mental health. In fact, a properly balanced breakfast can actually help those struggling with depression.
According to nutritionist Melissa Brunetti, an ideal breakfast for those with depression or other mental health struggles is one of eggs, sprouted grain toast and an avocado. She claims that this breakfast provides the nutrients most needed for your brain’s optimal mental health. Let’s look at a breakdown:
Eggs. Your brain needs fat. It is actually around 60 percent fat. Filled with amino acids, folate, omega-3s, vitamin D and healthy fatty acids, eggs are veritable brain food. They contain what our brains need to create neurotransmitters and hormones—what they need to thrive. Eggs help to regulate blood sugar levels as well, providing further mood balance.
Avocado. Just like your favorite Thanksgiving bird, eggs and chocolate, avocados contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. As you know, serotonin in a brain chemical associated with ‘feeling good.’ Consuming tryptophan may help those with mood disorders feel better. Plus, avocados are loaded with brain-boosting healthy fats to encourage proper function.
Sprouted grain toast. Why sprouted toast? Sprouted grains are easier for the body to break down and absorb than unsprouted grains. Sprouting unlocks the nutrient capacity of a grain, nut or seed. It turns off the anti-nutrient compounds that unsprouted seeds have in place to avoid being digested (in order to ensure successful procreation). Unfortunately, these compounds restrict us from absorbing all of the nutritional value from a seed, nut or grain. By sprouting, we can assure that we are ingesting the most nutritionally bioavailable form of the plant. In this way, consuming sprouted grains means you’re supplying your brain with higher quantities of important minerals like zinc, magnesium and iron. Deficiencies of these have been linked to depression, so sprouting is an extremely beneficial practice.
These food recommendations are based on the pillars of the Mediterranean Diet, which has long been associated with reducing the risk of depression.
What should you do if you’re a vegan?
If you’re a vegan, the sprouted bread and avocado may sound great, but eggs are a non-starter. Instead, make some avocado toast, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and pink salt. Pair it with a small bowl of coconut/flax milk chia pudding topped with mixed berries. The chia seeds and flax milk provide beneficial omega 3s. The berries offer depression-busting antioxidants. The coconut milk offers healthy saturated fats and blood sugar regulation. It’s not the exact nutrient profile of an egg, but this vegan alternative has many of the same benefits. Along with breakfast, make sure you also take a noontime stroll outside to get your fill of vitamin D, which is well-known to influence depression symptoms.
Egg and avocado toast (or its vegan alternative) is a great breakfast for those struggling with their mental health. While diet can have a huge influence on your depression symptoms, don’t make any drastic dietary changes without consulting your doctor. A healthy diet, in conjunction with a balanced lifestyle and exercise habits, are small life changes that can make big improvements in your mental health.