Thursday, 26 June 2014

Brain boost

Apparently when you remove processed sugar from your diet, it takes a while for your body to adjust.

Before, blood glucose levels spike after eating food or drink with processed sugar, only to drop sharply as insulin is produced to tell your cells to absorb it.

Glucose levels are more regular, but lower, maintained by the breakdown of more complex sugars, carbohydrates and fats in foods with low Glycaemic Index (GI). Processed sugar has a GI of 100. Foods with a lower GI take longer to be broken down to glucose. Foods with a GI below 55 are recommended.

From what I have read, it is advisable to snack between main meals to maintain blood glucose at a steady level. Fruit is good, though I am partial to raw carrots. Carrots have a GI of around 50, more than apples (GI 38), but contain less sugar overall and has the advantage of coming with fibre.

Driving to my parents recently, I felt a familiar drop in alertness, which usually prompts me to stop for coffee and some chocolate.

This time, I had the coffee, but looked for an alternative snack without processed sugar. A mix of nuts and raisins seemed a good bet. Raisins have a GI of 64, so they are not a green lighted food in Rick Gallop's traffic light system.

They had an immediate effect in energising my brain for the remainder of the journey. I'm now carrying some nut and raisins mix in the car for whenever I need to boost my alertness with a healthier sugar hit.

On the return leg, I tried coffee without raisins when I started to flag to see if it was the caffeine hit that had been responsible. It was not.

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