16 December 2008
Low-carb diets causing brain damage?
When women eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they perform more poorly on memory-based cognition tasks, say researchers at Tufts University. "This study demonstrates that the food you eat can have an immediate impact on cognitive behavior," explains Tuft's Holly A. Taylor, the author of the study. "The popular low-carb, no-carb diets have the strongest potential for negative impact on thinking and cognition."
Taylor explained that while the brain uses glucose as its primary fuel, it has no way of "storing" it. Rather, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then carried to the brain through the blood stream and used immediately by nerve cells for energy. Reduced carbohydrate intake thus reduces the brain's source of energy.
She added that although the study had a modest sample size, the results showed a clear difference in cognitive performance as a function of diet. "The data suggest that after a week of severe carbohydrate restriction, memory performance, particularly on difficult tasks, is impaired," she noted. "Although this study only tracked dieting participants for three weeks, the data suggest that diets can affect more than just weight. The brain needs glucose for energy and diets low in carbohydrates can be detrimental to learning, memory, and thinking."
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Source: Tufts University