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Many people prefer to go on a zero-carbohydrate diet to shed weight and look slim. While this might look an easy and affordable option for weight loss, know it has its own perils. Lack of carbohydrate in your diet can make you dumb and your brain less active over time. Our brain functions solely on glucose, which is the end product of carbohydrate metabolism. This is the reason why when the body goes into hypoglycaemia (low glucose state, especially in diabetics), one goes in a coma as the brain ceases to function, informs Soly James, Chief Dietician, Raheja Hospital, Mumbai. Here are 10 ways to keep your brain active and alive.
Why does the brain need carbohydrates?
Your brain is working 24/7, with billions of neurones put to work, sending and receiving electrical messages, creating complex thoughts and emotions, storing information and memories even while you are asleep. For this and much more, your brain needs glucose as a fuel. Denying it will spell slow brain death. Remember, 50 percent of your body s glucose is used only by your brain. This is one reason parents are advised to ensure that children have a carbohydrate based diet before leaving for school as that would help in building concentration, improve memory and enhance one s grasping power, says Soly. The same is true for adults too. Here are foods that keep your brain young and active.
Why is a low carbohydrate diet dangerous?
If you are avoiding carbohydrates, that means you are relying on proteins and fats for your body. This means more egg whites, red meat, butter, ghee and other fat-rich foods that might increase your lipid or LDL cholesterol levels, if not had in a planned manner. Also, too much of protein means high level of amino acids, which is excreted in the urine in the form of urea and creatinine. This means more work for the kidneys, that increases the risk of renal diseases, informs Soly. By depriving your body of carbohydrates, you not only put your brain at risk, but other major organs too. Here is how to make the right choice between good carbohydrates and the bad ones.
How much carbohydrate do you need per day?
The requirement of carbohydrate intake depends on a person s height, weight, sex, amount of physical activity and any other medical condition he suffers from. Ideally, one should include 130 gm of carbohydrate in his diet for the brain and other vital organs to function at their optimum, says Soly. However, she mentions the requirement can vary from 130 to 300 gm depending on the above-mentioned factors. While choosing carbohydrates, one needs to pick the foods carefully. It is the complex carbohydrates that your body needs the most brown rice, wheat, jawar, bajra, ragi, pulses, oats are good choices. Stay away from the refined carbohydrates like sweets, bakery products, white pasta, white rice, etc., warns Soly.
In case you are wondering how to get the minimal requirement of 130 gm of carbohydrate through your diet, here is a sample diet plan:
2 slices of brown bread 30 gm
One fruit (orange or apple) 10 gm
One cup of milk 10 gm
4 medium sized chapattis (2 for lunch and dinner each) 80 gm
1 medium sized potato 20 gm
1 small bowl of rice (optional) 20 gm
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