5 ways to jump-start a healthy morn­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - JESSI ROTI Chicago Tri­bune

The alarm goes off and you hit “Snooze,” maybe even twice.

While brush­ing your teeth, you be­gin to check your work email.

There never seems to be enough caf­feine in your cof­fee, so you end up hav­ing at least three cups be­fore noon.

The Pop-Tarts in the of­fice vend­ing ma­chine look bet­ter than the ba­nana you grabbed be­fore run­ning out the door.

Does any part of this morn­ing rou­tine sound fa­mil­iar?

Many peo­ple get stuck in their morn­ing rou­tine, and while it’s not al­ways ter­ri­ble to hit the snooze but­ton for an ex­tra few min­utes of rest or an­swer a work email be­fore you step foot in the of­fice, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily pro­vide you with the en­ergy you’ll need to feel awake and alert the rest of the day.

The Chicago Tri­bune asked two ex­perts — Dr. Maria Reyes of Rush Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Dr. Wendy Yoder, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist — to share tips on how to jump-start a healthy morn­ing, men­tally and phys­i­cally.

1. Wa­ter be­fore cof­fee. Reyes and Yoder rec­om­mend drink­ing be­tween 8 and 16 ounces of wa­ter first thing in the morn­ing. Yoder says wa­ter, which makes up about 80 per cent of your brain tis­sue, will help you “fully wake up and max­i­mize cog­ni­tive ca­pac­ity.” She also sug­gests adding fresh le­mon, which im­proves gut health and pos­i­tively af­fects brain health.

Reyes adds that wa­ter also helps flush tox­ins from the body and could po­ten­tially in­crease your me­tab­o­lism. “Drink­ing wa­ter (op­posed to cof­fee) upon wak­ing will re­plen­ish what you’ve lost overnight,” she said.

Once you’ve had wa­ter, watch your cof­fee in­take.

“The caf­feine can help in­crease alert­ness and give you that en­ergy boost you might need in the morn­ing.” Reyes said. “There have been stud­ies link­ing mod­er­ate cof­fee con­sump­tion (two to five cups per day) with de­creased di­a­betes and heart disease/stroke risk, even can­cer, due to its an­tiox­i­dant prop­er­ties. How­ever, too much cof­fee (greater than six cups per day) can cause in­som­nia, tremors, and con­trib­ute to heart­burn.”

Adding a lot of su­gar and milk to your cof­fee also can negate its pos­si­ble health ben­e­fits.

2. Leave the work email for the of­fice. “Al­though tak­ing care of emails prior to get­ting into work seems like it would give you a head start on your day, it may ac­tu­ally de­lay and dis­tract you and in­crease your stress lev­els,” Reyes says.

In­stead, she and Yoder rec­om­mend re­plac­ing the time spent check­ing your email with “mind­ful ex­er­cises” like med­i­ta­tion, which can help you fo­cus and re­lieve stress, or even writ­ing in a jour­nal or play­ing with a pet. It’s all about prim­ing your brain for the day with­out us­ing that en­ergy to­ward some­thing cog­ni­tively or emo­tion­ally drain­ing.

3. Move your body. Even if you can’t get the rec­om­mended 45-minute work­out into your morn­ing rou­tine, there are quick and sim­ple al­ter­na­tives.

“Do not lie in bed,” Yoder says. “Even if you lack the en­ergy for ex­er­cise early in the morn­ing, at least get out of bed and walk to another room. Move­ment wakes up the brain.”

Reyes sug­gests a seven-minute com­bi­na­tion of “stretches, plank ex­er­cises and some jump-rop­ing.”

4. Eat a break­fast full of healthy fats and pro­tein. “Con­sider a break­fast bowl con­tain­ing some brown rice or quinoa, spinach and an egg,” Reyes says. “An egg white omelette with some low-fat cheese can also pro­vide you with some healthy nutri­ents to keep you en­er­gized.”

Yoder agrees, “Al­though we are con­stantly re­minded that break­fast is the most im­por­tant meal of the day, the cru­cial fac­tor is to em­pha­size qual­ity.”

She sug­gests adding full-fat cream or coconut oil to cof­fee, which she says en­hances at­ten­tion far bet­ter than a bowl of ce­real. “Eat­ing car­bo­hy­drate-heavy meals first thing in the morn­ing will cause glu­cose lev­els to spike, re­sult­ing in slug­gish­ness and men­tal fa­tigue a few hours later.”

Reyes also ex­er­cises cau­tion to­ward juic­ing, which is of­ten cited as a health­ier op­tion. “Don’t be fooled,” she said. “Some­times you can in­ad­ver­tently con­sume too much su­gar if you mix a lot of fruit with your spinach/kale. It’s prob­a­bly best to just eat a piece of fruit in­stead of juic­ing it.”

5. Turn on the light. Remember when you wanted to sleep in in­stead of get­ting ready for school when you were young and your mom would come in, turn on the light or push back the drapes and com­pletely ruin your day?

Well, your mom was do­ing you a favour all along.

“Our sleep cy­cles nat­u­rally at­tune to light,” Yoder said. “If nat­u­ral light is pos­si­ble, this will help pro­mote alert­ness and stim­u­late the brain to wake up. Also, it will serve as a con­sis­tent daily cue.”


Drink­ing a glass of wa­ter with le­mon first thing in the morn­ing can help with cog­ni­tive ca­pac­ity and gut health.

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