The effects of carbohydrates on arousal

Reid, Marie and Hammersley, Richard (1999) The effects of carbohydrates on arousal. Nutrition Research Reviews, 12 (1). pp. 3-23. ISSN 0954-4224


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Carbohydrate ingestion may reduce arousal, although some studies have failed to find this effect. Arousal has generally been measured by mood scales. Reductions in rated arousal have sometimes been interpreted as indicating direct effects of serotonin on behaviour. It is suggested that the theory of rated mood in common use is deficient and an enhanced theory incorporating cognitive factors is proposed. According to this theory, the effects of carbohydrate on behaviour will be mediated by psychological factors. At minimum, the prior mood state of the subject, the habitual diet, expectations about the effects of food ingestion and the meaning of the situation where carbohydrates are ingested will also influence mood and behaviour. Review of the literature since 1983 shows that carbohydrate most often reduces arousal when it is given about lunchtime and subjects are not blind to what they are eating. Furthermore, effects usually occur only on some of several rating scales pertaining to arousal, at inconsistent times after eating. It is proposed that cognitive beliefs about the sedative effects of high carbohydrate food incline subjects to rate more highly the reduced arousal caused by the post-lunch circadian dip. Carbohydrate may affect serotonin levels, but this is not the main explanation for the effects reported.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management > Psychology and Sociology
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2009 11:35
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 15:37


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