Your Brain On Eggs

Your brain on eggs

Your brain on eggs

Eating a balanced diet is important at any age. My mother used to hand me words of wisdom like, “you are what you eat” and “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I guess that’s why I was never one to skip breakfast. One of the worst habits at any age, but even worse as we get older, is skipping breakfast. A cup of coffee won’t give you what you need. After all, breakfast is short for breaking the overnight fast.

For years and years I started my day eating eggs. However, after learning about my skyrocketing cholesterol numbers, I changed my eating habits to limit my egg consumption. Because they are believed to raise cholesterol in the body, eggs got a bad rap for many years. At one time, I totally eliminated eggs at breakfast for an entire six months. Instead I ate oat based cereals. Anticipating a lower cholesterol number, I was shocked when my doctor told me my number dropped only one teeny-tiny point over my previous six month blood test. I’m no scientist or nutritionist, but that piece of information made me wonder if all the hoopla over eggs was — well, just hoopla.

Despite my questioning, I continued to avoid eggs at breakfast. Instead, I ate cereal or an energy bar. I didn’t feel more energetic. In fact, by 11 a.m. my stomach started sending signals of hunger. I felt depleted, even tired.

Now, along comes a book I read, Rewire Your Brain by John B. Arden, Ph.D. It’s not a new book. The copyright is 2010. It was sitting in my to-be-read stack since 2014. While the book has a lot of technical information on how our brains work, Arden also offers up a chapter on “Fueling Your Brain”. Guess who is the breakfast heroine in this chapter — yup, you got it — the egg. There are lots of other foods we need and should eat to fuel our brains, but the morning egg, breaking the fast, carries a lot of weight.

Speaking of weight I, like many people, think about what I eat in terms of feeding my entire body and keeping my weight in check. Until reading Arden’s book I never really gave the specifics for fueling my brain a lot of thought (no pun intended). According to Arden, “A bad diet can have a major impact on the brain’s ability to function properly, making you less apt to think clearly, pay attention, and cultivate neuroplasticity.” As we know, these abilities are really, really important for aging well.

Memory is also important. Arden goes on to say, “One of the neurotransmitters you need for processing memory is called acetylcholine. Your body needs an amino acid called choline to manufacture acetylcholine. One source of choline is eggs.” While there are other sources of choline, the egg is the one for getting your brain off to a good start for the day. Remember, it’s been fasting all night long with the rest of your body.

As we age we also lose muscle. Protein builds muscle. Eggs are a good source of protein. Eggs are also a rich source of vitamins, including B vitamins like B12, essential for energy. Other vitamins are A, E and K plus riboflavin and folic acid. Exercise and a balanced diet can help keep our muscles in good working order.

 
After reading all this, I decided to try Arden’s suggestion of eating an egg (using a no-stick spray), a piece of whole wheat toast (sans butter), and a glass of orange juice for breakfast. It took about a week for me to start feeling more energy. I noticed I can go until noon or later without feeling hungry. Since mornings are when I write, I realized I was mentally sharper. And, I sleep more soundly. This is my brain on eggs.

What about the cholesterol?  At last count a couple of weeks ago, despite my breakfast egg, my cholesterol is down 44 points!!!  Obviously, I’ve made a lot of other changes to my diet in the last year.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week with no increase in their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes.” They go on to say, the risk of heart disease is more closely tied to the saturated and trans fats used to cook the eggs than the eggs themselves.  As always, you should check with your doctor about your egg consumption as, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is not recommended if you have certain diseases, such as diabetes.

Whether or not an egg a day is good for you is up to you and your doctor to decide. For me, I’m continuing my breakfast egg routine.   Regardless of what you eat in the morning, make sure you do eat to break the fast and fuel your brain and body. That’s essential for living well and aging dynamically.

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11 comments on “Your Brain On Eggs

  1. You won’t get any argument from me when it comes to eggs! You’re right: all the anti-egg hoopla DID turn out to be wrong. My husband & I have eggs 3-4 times a week for breakfast and love it. Eggs are good for the heart and for the brain – they keep us “juiced up” in a good way, with the healthy fats we especially need as we age.

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  2. Thanks, Kathy! I like the title of your post! I have been trying to increase my protein and an egg at breakfast helps! Eggs are so versatile- delicious fried, scrambled, poached, hardboiled!

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  3. Pingback: Your Brain On Eggs – impossiblejourneyblog

  4. There is so much more information available now to us so that we can make our own decisions on what is good and not so good for us. We don’t have to blindly follow policy based on politics. Eggs are wonderful, inexpensive packets of nutrition. We have a dozen chickens that keep us in eggs most of the year. You may want to look into the research being done that is debunking the low-fat myth. Our brains need fat to function and may even protect against dementia. I always enjoy your posts.

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  5. I love this post Kathy! I had given up eggs for the same reason and had the same results. I was weak and bloated from the whole grains I was using as substitutes for eggs. Sometimes I think we need to trust our bodies and eat the foods that make us feel energized and happy. Your blog is really helping me navigate my retirement. I am one of those unhappy retirees . Your blog is helping me find my way back to happy. Thank you!

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  6. I really like how you linked eating not only to weight & health (which is what I always think about) but to mental acuity! Very interesting. I think I’ve got a new book on my to-be-read list. Oh, and I love eggs. Unfortunately, I like them in things like cheese omelets and egg salad….on well, so much for that low-fat. I’ve noticed eggs popping up in many dishes as we eat out as well – had a wonderful shrimp and grits last week with a poached egg on top. So yummy. Again, not so much low-fat! This is my brain on food!

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  7. Retirement can be fattening – easy, all day access to food helped me gain 10 lbs in the first two years. Eggs are a good appetite suppressant.

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  8. I agree with you about the body and our brain needing the protein and I find that when I do have an egg for breakfast, I stay fuller longer and generally eat less the rest of the day. I always love to read your posts.

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  9. I’m an egg-lover (especially since I live in a rural area where farm-fresh local eggs are readily available), and I was very happy when the scientists figured out that our bodies make cholesterol from saturated fats in our diets, not from dietary cholesterol and the egg got rehabilitated. I don’t eat an egg every day, but I typically eat 3 or 4 each week.

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  10. Great information! I too have vacillated about eating eggs. It was a relief to know (finally) that eggs were not going to affect my cholesterol level.

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