Feed Your Brain

August 30, 2019

A healthy diet is an essential key to maximizing your brain’s potential after a brain injury. Poor diet can affect mood, behavior and brain function. Our brains need energy and nutrients for healthy brain chemistry, functioning of nerves, and correct neurotransmitter levels.  A healthy diet becomes even more critical after a brain injury as you begin the recovery process.

 The basics of a healthy diet

Fad diets come and go, but the essentials of a healthy diet remain:

Power up with protein

To help heal your brain, you need plenty of dietary protein. Aim for 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of your body weight. Eat lean, healthy protein sources like organic/free range poultry, fish, beans, legumes nuts & seeds 

Eliminate sugar and other high-glycemic-index foods

Foods like white bread, white potatoes, and pasta increase blood sugar levels and inflammation in the brain.

Follow a no-grain or low-grain diet

Eat only gluten-free grains for at least 30 days (preferably 100 days) to see if symptoms are reduced. Gluten sensitivity is common and often undiagnosed, and removing it can reduce inflammation and get you back on track. 

Eat more vegetables

A lot more (8-10 portions daily)!  Adding non-starchy vegetables and berries, can reduce inflammation and feed health-promoting bacteria in the gut, which improve mood and cognitive ability.

Fuel With Healthy Fats

We still need fat in our diet, but if you are injured, this would be a time to dial in your fat sources and make sure they mostly come from unsaturated fats, such as nuts & seeds and nut butters (studies suggest nuts are associated with reduced markers of inflammation), avocados and olive oil that can work in our favor to reduce inflammation.  Other healthy sources: those cleaner omega-3 oils; omega-3-rich fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies.  The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found abundantly in fish oil, are crucial for reducing brain inflammation, and building strong, flexible cell membranes. For the first few weeks after a concussion, supplement with up to 4,000 mg daily of a high-quality fish oil. Continue with 2,000 to 4,000 mg daily for three months after that.

Resist the urge to cut calories

Your instinct is probably to cut back on calories since you’re no longer working up a sweat every day.  Resist that temptation and keep eating at the rate you have been. Your body heals from macro and micronutrients, so you need to keep calories up to keep supplies of nutrients up. Plus, the act of healing boosts your metabolic rate. 

Alcohol, caffeine & other drugs

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause nutritional deficiencies as key vitamins and minerals are needed to break it down in our bodies. Most rehabilitation specialists will advise completely quitting alcohol use for at least a year or two after a brain injury, if not permanently. For those who do choose to eventually drink again, they are advised to drink in very moderate amounts only, and for family members to ensure it is not worsening any behaviours or other impairments after the brain injury.

Hydration is Key for Brain Health

Don’t get me wrong, both food and water are both very important. However, if you stop eating you will be able to fast for a while. Some people even do 30 days on just water with electrolytes! Stop drinking water, and you will only have a precious few days. When you get dehydrated, you will notice more severe symptoms than when you are just hungry. 

Take your weight in pounds and divide by two, this will give you the amount of ounces you need.  For example: 128lbs divide by 2=64oz (2 litres of water daily).

If you would like more information on post concussion nutrition, feel free to contact me at the clinic!

 

Carole Woodstock
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
FIS, NCCP
Posted in Nutrition, Uncategorized by Pat Moore