Beware of Unintended Consequence of a (too) Low-Carb Diet
The Human Brain
Losing weight is a common resolution each New Year and a fantastic one. What better way to start the New Year than to promise ourselves to take care of our bodies. Many think starving themselves is the best way to losing weight. When you starve yourself or drastically cut out carbs, you may be putting your mind and cognitive skills at risk. Robin Nixon on Live Science came up with these five pittfalls to avoid:
1. The Brain constitutes less than two percent of our body’s weight, yet it is responsible for taking twenty percent of the nutrients we ingest. Plus, it’s a picky eater (much like that 2 year old you used to be–but it never grew up). The brain prefers carbs, but only heatlhy carbs: fruits, grains, vegetables. The frontal cortex is prone to confused thinking when your glucose levels drop, where as high glucose levels slowly but surely damage cells everywhere in the body, including those in the brain, said Marc Montminy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.
2. Eat many small meals throughout the day. There have been studies that show eating six small, well balanced meals throughout the day is healthier and better on the body than three big meals. The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana. Hate the thought of eating so many times during the day? There’s more.
3. A lower glycemic index (GI) may be the meal plan for you. The glycemic index ranks foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbs, by and large, are higher GI foods, whereas vegetables, high in fiber content, are lower GI foods. Have a sandwich consisting of High Fiber whole wheat bread, with some meat or other protein, slather a little olive oil, and you have a lunch that is brain-friendly.
4. Fat is where it’s at: Trans fats, common in fast food, are the worst. Saturated fats are not great. Unsaturated fat is the healthiest. Saturated Fats are unhealthy for your brains. If saturated fats (think fast food, fried-anything) are bad for your heart, think of what they’r doing for your brain.
Speaking of fat for brains, essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3s, are proving valuable in treating depression and other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as benefiting infant brain development, Green said.
5. Finally, you know your brain and body and how it best responds to fats. Do you want to nap after a heavy-fat-and-cholesterol-laden lunch? Are you grumpy or faint? It may be time to take a second look at what you’re feeding your brain.