The brain and the spinal cord constitute the central nervous system which assimilates information, controls motor skills and ensures cognitive functions. Although it represents only about 2% of the total weight (for a 60 kg person), the brain is the most energy consuming organ. Its basic metabolism consumes about 20% of the calories we ingest. It is therefore important to adopt a good dietary balance to help the brain function properly.
Rich in omega-3, omega-6 and vitamin E, fats are essential to the proper functioning of the brain. The effects of omega 3 on the brain are multiple. They protect the brain by neutralizing free radicals and provide the brain with the cholesterol necessary for the formation of synapses that promote communication between neurons. Lipids play major functional and structural roles in the brain. They serve as constituents of the cells that form the brain mass: 60% of its dry matter is made up of fat. The membranes of the neurons and glial cells that support and protect the nervous tissue as well as the myelin that isolates the nerve fibers and allows the message to be communicated are made of lipids. For a consistent intake of omega-3, choose flaxseed, rapeseed or walnut oil; for omega-6, consume borage, sunflower or grape seed oil. Walnut, camelina, hemp or soybean oil contains these two essential fatty acids in large quantities.
Fruits and vegetables
The brain produces a lot of free radicals (toxic substances that damage our cells). It therefore needs antioxidants to preserve its faculties. Antioxidants prevent the formation of molecules that would affect our intellectual capacities. Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, K and minerals, which help fight fatigue and stress.
They also provide polyphenols capable of neutralizing the free radicals responsible for memory and cognitive disorders. Pumpkins, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, peppers, carrots, apricots, peaches, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A when absorbed by the stomach.
Tomatoes provide the brain with lycopene, which slows brain decline. Vitamin A cleanses the body and the brain. It is an antioxidant vitamin that attacks free radicals. They are best eaten steamed or in foil. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, broccoli, salads, peppers, provide the brain with vitamin B9 which is used in the synthesis of neuronal membranes and neurotransmitters involved in depression.
Dairy products and chocolate
They provide proteins, but also vitamins B1, B2 and B12. To use glucose (sugar), the brain needs vitamin B1. Vitamin B2 is necessary for brain function. Vitamin B12 is involved in intellectual development. Do not hesitate to consume milk, yoghurts, cheeses at each meal. Every day, the brain uses about 120 g of glucose. Glucose is the fuel of the brain.
Therefore, the brain should not be deprived of glucose. Rich in theobromine and theophylline, chocolate is a perfect brain stimulant. It is also a very good anti-stress. It promotes concentration. The richer the chocolate is in cocoa, the better. Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more.
Vegetables, meats and fish
The brain needs protein to function properly. Meat and fish are already an excellent choice. Legumes are also high in protein. For 150 g of lentils, corn, chickpeas, beans, peas or 150 g of offal or steak, you get the same amount of protein.
Legumes are rich in vitamins B9 and B1. These are plant proteins that effectively contribute to brain health. Proteins are important for our neurons. In fact, they contain amino acids such as tryptophan, which helps in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood and sleep and whose balance is essential in the management of stress and depression.
Tryptophan also facilitates the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This amino acid is found in soy, chocolate, bananas, fish, brown rice and dairy products. Meat is also rich in iron. This allows oxygen to be transported to our cells and thus prevents fatigue. It promotes good memorization and concentration.
Red meats or offal are preferred. Giblets are even richer in iron than spinach. Fatty fish provide essential omega 3 to protect nerve fibers and neuron membranes. Salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel or sardines should not be missing from your diet.
If you want to know more about food and memory, check out our article on the subject!
A good diet, and a good memory training
Brain training programs
There are many ways to exercise your memory and cognitive functions. Daily practice of brain exercises reduces the risk of neurological disorders, as some programs act on all cognitive functions.
The JOE Brain Training program was designed specifically for adults to keep the brain healthy through fun and challenging brain exercises. It has over 30 cognitive games and targets concentration, focus, reflexes, language and many other cognitive functions.
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