To carb or not to carb? It seems it is always the debate in nutrition these days.
Yes, we need carbs, and carbs support our mental health.
The top benefits of carbohydrates for mental health are:
- They feed good gut bugs and create a more diverse microbiome.
- They help us sleep better!
- They improve mood health.
- They keep stress hormones in check.
Like everything – the amount and type of carbs you consume will depend on your unique body. Only you can determine what is best for you and your energy needs. Ideally, the whole food sources of carbs are going to be the best. Think vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes (if tolerated), and whole non-gluten grains.
The issue with refined, processed carbs and our mental health is that these modernized whole grains have been stripped of the components that hold much of the nutritional value and fiber of the original crop in whole form. As a result, they cause our blood glucose to rise quickly and can send our bodies into a cascade of dysregulation, which may lead to mood instability, panic attacks, and poor sleep. I choose to stay away from gluten-containing grains because gluten is a known trigger for many mental health issues, from schizophrenia to ADHD to bipolar disorder.
I love the approach we take in the Feast to Fast program, where we categorize carbs into real food carbs, whole food carbs, and “heck yeah” carbs. All have a place!
The bottom line is, your body will respond differently than my body. Start playing with carbs in different ways and see how they make you feel. You get to choose what works best for you!
Confused about nutrition for brain health? Reach out! I’d love to help you find some sustainable tools for your health.