Carbohydrates are brain food and if you want your child to be able to think fast, remember more and do well in the exams – make sure that the right carbohydrates are part of your child’s meals.
Why are carbohydrates important for the body?
Carbohydrates are very important for the body because carbohydrates are used as fuel by all the organs of the body especially the brain.
Unfortunately, in recent times carbohydrates have got themselves a bad name.
The minute you hear the word carbs or carbohydrates – you begin to imagine – words like calories – weight gain – obesity etc.
“Low carb” diets and “no carbs” diets have become the latest fads. And a lot of people – parents and children included have begun to think that the healthiest diets are those that have very little carbohydrate and lots and lots of protein.
Nothing however can be further from the truth.
Carbohydrates are very important for the body. They are the fuel that every organ in the body needs to function properly. Eating a diet that is “low carb” or “no carb” makes it very difficult for the body to function
Do you need carbohydrates for brain function?
Yes – carbohydrates are required for brain function and that is why Carbohydrates are called brain food. The brain cannot function without carbohydrates
The actual fuel that the brain uses is Glucose.
Glucose is the simplest carbohydrate. All carbohydrates when they are broken down by the stomach after eating – eventually become glucose.
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Which sugar is considered a Brain Food?
Although the brain needs glucose to function – eating glucose or sugar (which is the commonest form of glucose) does not help the brain. This is because, to function efficiently – the brain needs glucose to arrive in the brain in small amounts.
Eating sugar, or sugary foods like sweets, chocolates, desserts etc. – results in a large amount of glucose reaching the brain at once. The brain cannot manage such a large amount of glucose.
When the sugary are foods are eaten therefore – for a very short while we feel energized and active. Very soon however the energy and activity increases so much that the brain starts malfunctioning. This makes us restless and we find it difficult to focus and concentrate.
When our body senses that our brain is in trouble – it quickly removes the excess glucose from the brain – and this then makes us feel tired and irritable.
Glucose has the same effect on all of us but the effect is most pronounced in children.
So – sugar is not a brain food.
What should children eat to make their brains function better?
The brain needs a steady supply of glucose to function perfectly. And this steady source of Glucose is available when we eat complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are present in foods like whole wheat, brown rice and ragi or other millets.
When we eat complex carbohydrates – our body slowly breaks them down and turns them into glucose.
Since this breakdown takes time – glucose arrives in our brains slowly. And the brain is able to use the glucose properly and concentrate more easily and learn faster and function better.
Complex carbohydrates therefore are what children need to eat. These are the carbohydrates that are the real brain food.
Also read What should a child eat during exams?
Do not fear carbohydrates. Just ensure that your family eats the right carbohydrates
Read more on whether Carbohydrates help or damage the brain here