Brain Foods

Brain Foods

Posted by Safe In4 Hub

Carb Highs and Lows

We can’t avoid sugar. Even without a drop of honey, molasses, syrup and sugarcubes, this sweet delight finds us. Fruit sugar, or fructose, affects our bodies in a similar way as table sugar. So do carbohydrates. Diabetics and those familiar with Atkins are aware of the glycaemic index or GI. Put simply, this measures how quickly a food can raise our blood sugar. Since blood sugar triggers the release of insulin diabetics are constantly watching their carbs. Yet we without this or other insulin-disorders still endure carbohydrate confusion. Since insulin drives blood sugar into the cells and prevents fat breakdown in the body, high carbohydrate, or high GI foods are considered fattening. Yet carbohydrates are the brain's main source of energy. What do we do?

The trick to managing carbohydrates is planning. Eating a variety of low GI foods through the day improves mood, heightens energy and reduces weight. The latter is a result of helping us feel fuller for longer. Foods scoring below 50 on the glycaemic index release their sugars slowly, giving us vigor instead fatigue. Alternately, we can reduce the impact of a high GI food by eating it in combination with healthy low GI foods and protein. We can also eat more wholegrain breads. These slow down carbohydrate digestion. Preliminary studies show that the Omega-3 fatty acids from fish have the same effect. Slower digestion has many benefits. Stable blood sugar helps us avoid those not-so-sweet lows after a sugar high.

Though carbohydrates initially boost our mood by activating the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, they produce a quick and shocking crash. The dramatic lowering of serotonin can cause sleepiness, hostility and depression. The latter is most extreme. For proof of the relationship between depression and blood sugar, we need only to ask Diabetes UK. "Research indicates a direct link between people with mental health problems and diabetes. People with diabetes are twice as likely to become depressed,” states Penny Williams, care advisor for Diabetes UK. This depression often results in changing behavior including alterations in diet. With less attention to sugar levels the depression worsens. It's a sad spiral. Says Williams: "We encourage people with diabetes to manage their condition with a healthy diet and lifestyle. For people with mental illness, making the necessary lifestyle changes can be hard."

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