At this point, it’s likely that you or someone you know has tried a low-carb diet. Whether it’s the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, or the Keto diet, the one constant theme is to cut the carbs and lose weight. But what impact does this have on our mental health?
Carbohydrates found in whole grains, oats, quinoa, rice, fruits, veggies, and some dairy products, are a crucial energy source for the brain and the body. Without getting sufficient carbs, the brain can not function at its best, and the lack of feel-good serotonin that the carbs help to create can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and even panic.
Though there is a lot of positive research on the benefits of low-carb diets, the results when it comes to mental health are mixed.
In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed the results of a year-long research study into the effects of a low carb diet versus a high carb diet, on mental health. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories, and both groups lost weight, however, the low carb dieters scored much higher in the areas of increased anger, confusion, and depression. Yet, another study conducted in 2007, found the opposite to be true.
So what’s going on here?
Well, several things, for starters every body is a little different. We all know that some people are lactose intolerant, while others have food allergies, gluten intolerance, and so forth. The same is true of the impact that low-carb diets can have on our mental health. Some people might find that by reducing carbs, and increasing protein, they feel better. While others might feel worse. Though some of this could be attributed to the food selections in the low carb group, as certain carbohydrates can provide vitamin B-12, which, when low, can lead to memory loss, confusion and depression.
The bottom line: When choosing to reduce carbohydrates, pay attention to how you feel. If you find that you are feeling more depressed, lethargic, and irritable, you may need to consider adding in more healthy carbohydrates and focus more on portion control as opposed to elimination.
For more information on healthy carbohydrates, you can add to your diet, check out the following link: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/benefits-of-complex-carbs-and-the-best-ones-to-eat/