Prestige issue 268, November 2015

Diet by Carine Chaccour


Carine Chaccour. © Archives Carine Chaccour

Disorders of memory and concentration can occur at any age: learning difficulties with young people, memory lapses during periods of fatigue or stress with adults, decreased concentration after meals or reduction in intellectual performance with people of advanced age. However, nutrition can play a significant role in maintaining and even improving these functions. More than 40 nutrients are involved in brain function. In this respect, it is also important to ensure adequate intake of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) than micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Some advice

Take a full breakfast, rich in carbohydrates. After breakfast, a glucose level at optimal levels promotes intellectual performance. Skipping breakfast is associated with fatigue among students. To achieve and maintain desired blood glucose levels, opt for foods that naturally contain carbohydrates and are high in fiber, and reduce those high in added sugars. Eat some protein at breakfast and reduce high fat foods. The foods to choose are: cereals and bakery products with whole grains, egg whites, whole fruit cheeses, milk, yogurt. As children imitate parents, the eating habits of these influence those of their children. So you have to set an example for children to adopt healthy behavior, especially at breakfast.

Reduce energy intake of meals. Low calorie meal cause less drowsiness than meals high in calories. For better brain function throughout the day, divide your food intake with 3 meals and 2 snacks and 1 or eat at regular times.

Divide carbohydrate intake throughout the day. At lunch, go for a light meal, which must contain at least one serving of meat or substitute, but no more than 2 servings of bread and cereals. Too many carbohydrates at noon causes a sedative effect, attributed to the increase in the production of serotonin. Avoid sugary desserts, potatoes, couscous, white rice, instant noodles and corn.

Take a nutritious snack in the afternoon. Taking a nutritious snack in the afternoon improves mental performance: fruit, yogurt, cereal bar, almonds, walnuts, vegetables…

Increase omega-3 consumption. The human being has approximately 100 billion neurons which a part, of insignificant quantity is lost around 40 years. Only neurodegenerative diseases that can occur at any age, cause significant loss of nerve cells: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis. The brain is composed mostly of fat. Myelin comprises 70% lipids. This sheath that surrounds nerve cells are neurons, to protect and promote the creation of new connections between them. That’s why good fats are associated with a healthy brain, and more and more studies link high consumption of plant fats and marine omega-3, and reduced cognitive decline in the elderly. A diet low in omega-3 weakens the structure and composition of the membranes of neurons, thus affecting brain chemistry. A diet too rich in saturated fat, mostly from animal sources, and trans fat can cause degeneration of neurons and reduce intellectual performance. A priority: olive and canola oil, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts, almonds, pistachio…

Eating fruits and vegetables in abundance. Brain Aging is due to oxidation of neurons caused by free radicals. Vegetable consumption is associated with less cognitive decline.

Increase the intake of B vitamins. These vitamins, especially B1, B6, B9 and B12 play a key role in the remembering phenomenon. Minor deficiencies in these nutrients can adversely affect cognitive performance. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, there is a lack of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter produced in part by vitamin B1 and essential for the functions of memory and learning. Consume: ham, eggs, salmon, turkey, tuna, liver, chick peas, pistachios, poultry offal, legumes, spinach, asparagus, dairy products …

Consuming foods rich in iron. The iron’s role is to carry oxygen to the brain and contributes to the production of serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite and sleep while dopamine affects attention, sense of organization and control of movements. Iron deficiency harms intellectual performance. Iron Sources: red meat, organ meats, shellfish, green vegetables, legumes, breads and whole grain cereals, flours and iron-fortified cereals, quinoa, blackstrap molasses, spinach, lentils.

Consume low-fat dairy products. Consumed regularly, several constituents of dairy products including calcium and vitamin B12 can have positive effects on neurocognitive health of older people. Choose low-fat dairy products as saturated fats have adverse effects on brain function.

Follow the Mediterranean diet. It delays the cognitive decline in the elderly and protects people who have mild cognitive impairment against Alzheimer’s disease. Whole grain products, fish, fruits and vegetables, garlic, onion, spices and herbs; olive oil as fats; legumes, nuts and seeds, yogurt and cheese; average consumption of chicken, eggs and sugary foods; very little red meat; daily caloric intake of 1.800 to 2.500 calories.

Drink water. The fact of not hydrating sufficiently interferes with concentration. Make sure to drink enough per day, which corresponds on average to 2 liters per day.

The brain does not decline over time

Essential organ of the central nervous system, brain defines the person, and brain death defines human death. The brain has long been seen as a machine, a supercomputer capable of handling the most complex information in a synchronized way, but fixed once and for all. However, today, according to a recent and interesting article, studies have shown that the brain is changed to the contrary, even repairable. This means that our brain does not decline over time, it never dies. It has an amazing plasticity that allows it, after a stroke, to recover the use of members or speech. New scientific findings suggest that the brain can go back and resume its original functions. They proved the following facts:

  • That the brain has a sixth sense. A subcortical brain structure housed background allows it to understand space. A quick and immediate detection system allows the orientation of the head, eyes and the whole body to its target.
  • That the brain is a simulation machine. When performing an action, the brain has already decided on a second or two before.
  • That the brain seeks to restore a balance between the inner world and the outer world.
  • That the brain is the only organ to escape the effects of time, he is immortal. Neurons are produced continuously providing, however, that the person wants to marvel and desire to learn.
  • That the brain is magician. It is an unruly horse that the inhibitor leads as the rider with its reins. It arbitrates between the animal and the trainer that is in us.
  • That the brain is expert. Our business shapes our brain, which is a powerhouse of information and interventions.


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