Why do carbohydrates elevate my mood?

photo of carb foodsQ. When I’m feeling blue, I crave carbohydrates. They seem to perk me up. Why is that?


A. Our bodies produce serotonin which is the “feel good” brain chemical. It’s true that low serotonin levels may cause us to feel down and we may find that we crave sweets and carbohydrates. These foods increase the production of serotonin and therefore elevate our mood.

Unfortunately the quick high only lasts a short time, particularly if we are eating processed carbohydrates. Whole grains and fruit are the smarter choice.

In order to maintain an even mood throughout the day, try starting with a whole grain bagel in the morning which helps boost your serotonin levels. Include proteins, fruit and vegetables to sustain you during the day. They have more of a long-term effect to help you get through the day.

– Nasreen Khatri, psychologist at Baycrest

See more nutrition tips to boost brain health.