Carbs and Cognition: Boost Brain Power

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Studies show that consuming too many simple carbohydrates — table sugar, for example — increases the risk of dementia as we age. Instead, we should be eating enough complex carbs, such as whole grains, to keep our brains in top shape.

“We need healthy or normal insulin function in the brain — it’s a component of learning and memory processing,” says Dr. Carol Greenwood, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. But poor quality carbs can damage insulin metabolism, she says, promoting diabetes, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

In her e-book, MINDfull Dr. Greenwood explains different ways to nourish the brain, and the key role carbohydrates play in that process. The brain uses the glucose from carbs for fuel and to produce compounds, such as acetylcholine, needed for communication between brain cells.

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Choose the right carbs

— Eat more fruits and vegetables.

— Choose whole grains, cereals, beans and pulses (see wheatberry salad recipe).

— Consume good fats, such as omega 3s from fish

— Avoid bad fats, such as saturated fat from red meat.

— Avoid highly processed foods, including those high in sodium.



Courtesy of Baycrest, the global leader in innovations, research and breakthroughs for the journey of aging.