The Good: In general, stick to complex carbohydrates, which take awhile to break down in to simple sugars in the intestines. As a result, they provide a steady source of energy as opposed to a fluctuating one. The rate at which sugar is absorbed in our brain cells is called the glycemic index, and foods with a lower glycemic index have steadier blood sugar levels (you want a low glycemic index). Look for fruits, such as grapefruit and cereals; grains, such as oatmeal and bran; vegetables and legumes, such as soybeans, chick peas, and lentils; and lastly, dairy products! The more protein, the better. Protein provides amino acids, allowing for neurotransmitters to be produced. Neurotransmitters are little messengers that carry signals from one brain cell to another, so the better they are fed, the better they work!
The Bad: As mentioned before, your brain runs on blood sugar, and likes a steady supply. Why? Wild fluctuations cause a rush of sugar into the bloodstream, which then causes a balancing rush of insulin, which in turn causes a plunging blood sugar level. These rollercoaster-like levels can stimulate a neurotransmitter imbalance, causing you to feel inattentive, irritable, fidgety, and sometimes even sleepy. No good for the noggin! So what are these terrible foods? Artificial food colorings, artificial sweeteners, colas, corn syrup, frostings, white bread, etc.
The Ugly: These are the worst of the worst. First and foremost, alcohol. After alcohol is processed in to the blood, it immediately starts killing brain cells. Yikes! Second – nicotine that gross stuff that is found in cigarettes and tobacco products. Nicotine constricts the capillaries, restricting blood flow to the brain, and reducing the delivery of oxygen and glucose. Lastly, hydrogenated fats. These bad guys work more subtly, by slowly clogging your arteries and causing heart disease.
Treat your brain right and choose the best foods possible to keep it functioning properly.
By Aisling Williams
Photo Source: litemind.com