Brain Food - Carbohydrates
Download PDF
“Low-carb/no-carb” diets were popular in recent years as a way to lose weight, however glucose (a sugar found in carbohydrates) is the most important nutrient for the brain and nervous system.

Using approximately 40 percent of the carbohydrates we eat, the brain uses more glucose than any other organ in the body. Some carbohydrates are better at fueling the body properly than others.

Carbohydrates – Are you getting enough?

A shortage in the supply of glucose to the brain and you can experience fatigue, irritability, dizziness, poor concentration and forgetfulness, and even digestive issues.

Food for Fuel

       Not only do we need to consume enough carbohydrates to keep our brains healthy we need to maintain an even supply of glucose to the brain to maximize mental performance. Dips in blood sugar are associated with poor attention, poor memory, and aggressive behavior. Complex carbohydrates maintain an even amount of glucose by releasing their sugars more slowly. As a general rule, you can assume that whole, unprocessed foods are the slowest to release their sugar.

Why refined is bad

      When we refine sugars, we are in essence cheating nature by isolating the sweetness in a food and discarding the rest. All forms of concentrated sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, malt, glucose, honey, and syrup) are fast-releasing (have a high glycemic load). Our body responds to high sugar foods by releasing insulin, a hormone that escorts sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. There is only so much sugar the cells can take at one time, so excess sugar is first put into storage in the liver and muscles (as glycogen), and when that has reached it limits, as fat. Therefore eating a lot of sugar regularly can leave you with a lot of stored fat.

     Most concentrated forms of sugar also lack vitamins, and minerals which are important in metabolism function. Without these essential vitamins and minerals our metabolism becomes inefficient, contributing to poor energy levels, decreased concentration levels, and weight gain. Too much sugar can also send your stress hormone, adrenaline, into overdrive resulting in irritability, anxiousness, and aggression.

The long goodbye to sugar

It’s best to decrease the sugar content of your diet slowly. Gradually get used to less sweetness. Try making some easy substitutes to keep your blood glucose, and your brain, in balance.


Instead of…


White toast and jam

Wholegrain toast and baked beans

Sweetened cornflakes

Steel cut oats with raspberries

Croissants and baguettes

Whole grain rye bread

White rice


Chocolate bars

Raw vegetables with hummus


Berries, apples, or oranges


 Stay away from sugar substitutes

     While they won’t raise blood-sugar levels, sugar substitutes shouldn’t be part of your plan to cut down on sugar in your diet. Sugar substitutes are not natural, they are chemically made. Your body doesn’t know what to do with them so it stores them in fat as a protection mechanism to keep them away from vital organs. Some even have been shown to have adverse effects on health. One study showed shown aspartame caused nightmares, memory loss, bad tempers, and nausea. Sugar substitutes also don’t help us adjust to less sweetness in our diet. Staying away from sugar becomes easier and easier as our cravings for it subsides.

You Might Also Like...

Bacopa Monniera: A Herb to Enhance our Memory

Read this article

Antioxidants 101

Read this article

Dirty Dozen 2014

Read this article