When I began researching diet counseling, I discovered the usual kinds of research, which evaluated the benefit of face to face educational interventions for reducing heart disease and/or stroke for example.
The interventions were typically done with folks who already had a chronic health issue, and I don't think provided any information that would inspire the searchers who find me to make a change, and then I stumbled across the concept of a polymeal which really intrigued me, especially the part about dove dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) being part of the polymeal, because of the high amounts of flavanoids contained therein.
The concept of a polymeal is something I could get my teeth into, because I have long taught my anger management folks about the connection between food allergies and low blood sugar and violence, and the folks currently writing about brain fitness emphazize nutrition as the second most important brain fitness pillar.
Good nutrition, including lots of antioxidants is very important to the neurogenesis (or growth of new brain cells), and neuroplasticity, which is the effective rewiring of the brain which happens every time I learn something new, oftentimes within minutes.
Both the polymeal advocates and the brain fitness folks report that fish is an important ingredient, for the inclusion of omega 3 fatty acid.
It turns out that our neurons are sheathed in a membrane that is about 60% omega 3 fatty acid, which needs to be replaced.
If not replaced the membrane gets brittle and communication between neurons becomes garbled and our behavior begins to look disoriented and confused, according to the authors of
Brainfit for Life, Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.
What is a Polymeal?
The polymeal diet was created as a palatable and tasty way to keep your heart healthy. Daily consumption of a polymeal could cut your risk of heart disease by 76%!
The polypill, which combined six different medications, was studied in 2003. Research showed that if the polypill was given to everyone 55 years old and up 88% of heart attacks and 80% of strokes would be prevented. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, some people weren’t so thrilled with it, given some of the side effects of long term drug use.
Dr. Oscar H. Franco was inspired to create an alternative to the polypill that could provide similar benefits through dietary changes alone, and the polymeal was born.
The term “polymeal” is a bit misleading, though. Many people assume that you must eat all of the ingredients in one meal and feel that would be too limiting. The idea is to eat these foods everyday. Fitting them into one meal is great if you can manage it. Spreading them out throughout the day is great too, and likely easier for most people to do on a daily basis.
Consume these ingredients on a regular basis, and you could extend your life by up to six years.
* 5 ounces red wine
* 3 ounces fish (4 times a week)
* 3-4 ounces dark chocolate
* 14 ounces fruits & vegetables
* 2-3 ounces almonds
* 1 clove garlic
Regular consumption of the polymeal can:
* Decrease heart disease by 76%, including heart attack and stroke.
* Extend your life by nearly 7 years for men, and 5 years for women.
* Delay the onset of cardiovascular disease by 9 years for men, and 8 years for women.
* Reduce blood pressure
* Decrease bad cholesterol levels
What Does Your Wife Say About That Much Garlic?
While I love the idea of diet counseling and the polymeal, I ran it past my wife yesterday, and she immediately turned up her nose at the idea of that much garlic daily, and I am allergic to ethyl alcohol, so I cannot have the red wine.
But I can have include the almonds right away and the dark chocolate, and I can definitely include more fruit.
I already eat a fair amount of the vegetables, but could use more fruit, which I love to put in smoothies?
Wonder if you could blend dark chocolate with a smoothie? Probably not.
The Role of Diet Counseling in Brain Fitness
In Brainfit for Life Evans and Burghardt address the role of dietary counseling and brain fitness from the stand point of micro- and macro nutrients, with lots of attention to omega 3 fatty acid and antioxidants, which help the brain do what it does best, grow new brain cells and rewire itself as we learn new materials.
That learning is usually the learning that we do when we learn a new language, or we learn a new musical instrument, or we use one of the new computerized brain fitness programs like the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, recently put to the research test in the IMPACT study on 520 or so Senior Citizens, with excellent results, or we use the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, which increases IQ. You really have to see the research on that, so check out the links below, and you (or your kids) can work on increased IQ right at your computer.
And the Lumosity program is a great way to build brain fitness challenges into your daily schedule for brief periods of time. I like to do Lumosity breaks to switch gears and refresh my brain for a ten minute or so period when I start to get fatigued.
And then I have some almonds and Dove dark chocolate.