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.
- 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 increase sleep-inducing serotonin levels in your brain.
- 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. 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.
- Lox for that bagel: Salmon contains a form of omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA, which makes up 97% of the omega-3s in your brain. You need lots of DHA to get your mental decks cleared for action -- part of DHA's job is to carry away cellular waste that makes your brain feel sluggish.
- 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.
- Soy: It contains compounds called isoflavones that help clear your mind (and may 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.
- 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.
- 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 efficiency.
Besides facing the day -- we all have to -- the real benefit of switching your system to “on” in the morning is that your brain starts buzzing, absorbing facts, and making sense of interesting news. And becoming a lifelong learner can make your Real Age as much as 2.5 years younger.