Food and our mood - Spotlight on Carbohydrates

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We harp on about carbohydrates a lot, highlighting how important they are as part of a healthy and balanced diet. But how do they effect our mood? Can food really impact how we feel? As part of the 'Food and Our Mood' series we'll start by looking closer at carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients (nutrients that form a large part of our diet), the other two are fat and protein. It's advised that for the general public 50-55% of our daily intake should be made up of starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, potatoes and bread. Healthier sources of carbohydrates include wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and lower fat dairy. These are an important source of fiber and other nutrients as well as calcium and B vitamins.

Carbohydrate = Glucose = Brain Power
— BDA

 

According to the British Dietetic Association, the ability to concentrate and focus comes from the supply of energy of blood glucose to the brain. Our brains actually use 20% of all energy needed by the body. That's a lot, right? Also brain and muscles cells almost exclusively rely on glucose to function, not only that but it also helps maintain body temperature.

So where does glucose come from? The glucose in our blood comes from the carbohydrates we consume. Eating regular meals containing some carbohydrates ensures you will have enough glucose in your blood. Not having enough glucose in the blood (known as hypoglycaemia) can make us feel weak, tired and ‘fuzzy minded’ which may occur when we don’t eat enough carbohydrates. 

So there you have it, turns out not eating carbohydrates can effect how we feel and how well our brains and muscles work. However, the BDA also warns that "although glucose ensures good concentration and focus, once your blood glucose is within the normal range, you cannot further boost your brain power or concentration by increasing your glucose levels. And if you consume some carbohydrate foods, additional sugary ‘energy’ drinks are not needed and not helpful."

Ailsa