Are These Tbi Recovery Foods Safe For You
We tried to keep this list as healthy as possible, but many foods that are good for the brain are high in fat and sugar.
Although the fat and sugar in these foods are the healthier kind, if you have high cholesterol or are at risk of stroke or heart attack, some foods on this list might not be safe for you. Be sure to check with your physician or a registered dietitian before adding any of these foods to your diet.
And thats it! We hope this post gave you some inspiration to try out some new foods and create a healthy brain injury diet that enhances your recovery.
Feeding The Brain: Nutrition For Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury
Anne Danahy, MS, RDN
More than 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a brain injury each year. These injuries are a major cause of death and disability in people younger than 45. Approximately 5.3 million Americans are living with disability from a traumatic brain injury ,1 which often results in cognitive, behavioral, and physical deficits. In some cases, symptoms and long-term complications of a TBI may be improved with nutrition interventions.
What Is a TBI?
A TBI is a sudden trauma to the brain. It is often caused when the head violently hits an object, such as in a motor vehicle accident, sports, or a combat injury.2 TBIs can range from very mild to severe, depending on the extent of the force or injury. A concussion is the on the mildest end of the TBI spectrum. Brain injury due to sports contact has received considerable attention lately because of the risk of repeated injury. Mild, repetitive TBI has been associated with neurodegenerative diseases.3
Persons who sustain even a mild TBI are at risk for short-term and longer-term adverse neurological and cognitive symptoms. They include dizziness, confusion, impaired concentration, headaches, impaired sense of taste or smell, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, lower impulse control, and mood changes.1-3 Physical complications of TBI may include loss of balance, gait unsteadiness, impaired coordination, blurred vision, and nausea.3
Nutrition Implications of TBI
The Bottom Line
How Ketogenic Diets Curb Inflammation In The Brain
Blocking a Protein in Glucose Metabolism Could Have Same Effect as the Diet
Ketogenic diets extreme low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimens that have long been known to benefit epilepsy and other neurological illnesses may work by lowering inflammation in the brain, according to new research by UC San Francisco scientists.
The UCSF team has discovered a molecular key to the diets apparent effects, opening the door for new therapies that could reduce harmful brain inflammation following stroke and brain trauma by mimicking the beneficial effects of an extreme low-carb diet.
It’s a key issue in the field how to suppress inflammation in the brain after injury, said Raymond Swanson, MD, a professor of neurology, member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, chief of the neurology service at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and senior author of the new study.
In the paper, published online Sept. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, Swanson and his colleagues found the previously undiscovered mechanism by which a low-carbohydrate diet reduces inflammation in the brain. Importantly, the team identified a pivotal protein that links the diet to inflammatory genes, which, if blocked, could mirror the anti-inflammatory effects of ketogenic diets.
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Foods To Reduce Inflammation Of The Brain
In particular, salmon. Oily fish such as salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for proper brain health. Make sure you buy wild salmon where you can, as farmed salmon can often include high levels of mercury.
These tiny little seeds contain more omega-3 than any other plant-based food and can be sprinkled on breakfast cereals, added to smoothies and juices and even used in vegan baking as an egg substitute.
Avocados are packed with good fats, the monounsaturated fats associated with good heart health. These good fats also help regulate blood sugar levels, which if not controlled, can contribute to an unhealthy gut and rising levels of inflammation. Avocados are also rich in vitamin E which keeps the immune system healthy and helps protect brain cells.
Cacao is the raw form of chocolate before any of the fats and sugars have been added. Its full of brain-protecting antioxidants and flavanols, which help reduce inflammation. Its a little bitter, so the next best thing is very dark chocolate which has a slightly sweeter taste and still has the inflammation reducing properties.
Green Leafy Vegetables and Broccoli
Over the years, there have been many studies conducted into the health benefits of caffeine. Numerous studies have found that caffeine, in moderation, i.e. no more than a couple of cups of coffee a day, is linked to a reduced risk of brain inflammation-related conditions such as dementia.
What Is A Good Diet
What makes a good diet varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors such as your level of physical activity, your general health and how your brain injury affects you. Some studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish may be beneficial after brain injury.
This is based on research suggesting it helps to maintain cognitive function as people age. Its also important to drink plenty of fluids, as dehydration can cause tiredness, constipation and may worsen the effects of brain injury.
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Grocery Shopping And Menu
Shopping and cooking both consume a lot of mental and physical energy. The grocery store is a can be a difficult environment to navigate when you have a head injury because of the sounds, and visual stimulation and the complex cognitive skills required to shop.
Use a notepad or Post It note on the refrigerator to write down food items to purchase as you remember them before your next trip to the grocery store for better organization and to avoid forgetting things you need.
Plan your list to follow the order of the aisles, like fresh foods, then packaged, canned, and frozen foods in the center aisles. This will help conserve your energy so you wont have to make trips back and forth across the store.
If you have go to the grocery store, choose a time when it is less crowded and less noisy.
Enlist the help of neighbors or friends to pick up food on your list when they are making a trip to the grocery store.
If you are sensitive to noise and light, wear earplugs or sunglasses when shopping.
Dont shop when you are hungry. Youll make smarter food choices when you are not hungry because your focus and attention will be sharper.
Develop a list of your favorite meal ideas posted on your refrigerator for easy access.
Keep menus simple and avoid elaborate recipes with many steps or unusual ingredients that arent familiar to you.
Throw protein-based food out after three days in the refrigerator.
Visit to practice safe food handling.
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How Do We Apply This To Concussion
In acute concussion, oftentimes simply switching to a plant-based/Mediterranean diet is enough to knock down calories to see the benefits of caloric restriction paired with the anti-inflammatory load of fruits, veggies, and healthy fats in the diet.
That said, at a minimum, a 12-hr fast is recommended. So, if you stop eating dinner/snacks by 8pm, you do not eat again until 8am or later.
In post-concussion syndrome, there are numerous ways to apply clinical level intermittent fasting protocols. Daily bouts of fasting are considered Time-Restricted Feeding , while strategic caloric-restriction on two days of the week is considered 5:2 Intermittent Fasting.
There are folks out there where fasting is not the right option based upon co-existing health conditions. Rather than relying on a blog post to guide fasting, Id urge you to schedule an appointment with your nearest concussion literate doctor or dietician.
Diet For Concussion Recovery
It is common for concussion patients to ask what they can do at home to help with their recovery. Many want to know if diet is an important factor in recovery and the answer is yes, it is absolutely important.
If you have tissue damage somewhere in your brain, it is important to give your body the best building blocks possible to repair it and help it to heal properly. You need to be eating healthy foods that provide you with these building blocks. If you are what you eat, then your brain is what you eat too.
In the ninth video in our Post-Concussion Syndrome series, we talk about how diet can impact your recovery from a concussion or post-concussion syndrome. Well review some common things to eat and avoid to improve your ability to better.
Disclaimer: When going on any diet, its important to remember that everyones body is different. You may need to modify your diet based on whats right for your specific metabolism and nutritional needs. We always recommend consulting with our team before you begin a diet.
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The Great Big Summary:
Adopt a plant-based diet in the process of concussion recovery.
Talk with your concussion-literate doctor or dietician about implementing fasting strategies.
Avoid processed/refined sugars and carbohydrates.
There are some patients in which a Ketogenic Diet may be appropriate. Again, leave this to a doctor or dietician who specializes in concussion.
In acute concussion, perform a temporary elimination of dairy and gluten for at least 2 weeks.
In PCS, talk with your doctor or dietician to see if a food elimination challenge or food intolerance testing is appropriate given your condition and symptoms.
Stay hydrated with water. Avoid alcohol.
Dr. Mark Heisig is a licensed naturopathic doctor with continuing mTBI education from The American Academy of Neurology , Complete Concussion. Management and The Carrick Institute. His office is located in Scottsdale, AZ.
How Long Should I Be On The Diet
We at the Charlie Foundation believe that a 3-month commitment to the diet is a minimum commitment to allow your body to fully acclimate to the new fat based fuel source. Since most people following a western diet are not proficient at metabolizing fat optimally, this period allows the body time to become fat-adapted, utilizing dietary fat efficiently and effectively. There are a variety of nutritional plans that will enable a ketogenic lifestyle, and flexibility is one of the hallmarks of the diet that make it easy to adopt as a life-long tool to enhance your health. Our nutritionists can help figure out both the short and long-term options best suited for you and your lifestyle.
The First Approach: Mediterranean Diet
I know that I just said the Mediterranean Diet was studied in cardiovascular disease. However, its important to note that food doesnt operate under a drug paradigm, and drugs dont often work under human paradigms.
If we play a simplification game, drugs work by either stopping or speeding up metabolic processes. For example, the cholesterol-lowering drug class of statins stop the enzyme that makes cholesterol … with that you slow production of steroid hormones and CoQ10. Stoping a single enzyme affects everything at and after that enzyme. Not a very human-friendly paradigm. But, hey, medicine isnt magic.
Food, on the other hand, does not have targeted drug-like effects. Food is packed with macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, and zoonutrients. With a cocktail of compounds and constituents like that, food can have a massive effect on our health across a variety of conditions.
The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent model of a diet across nearly any condition you can name, including concussion/mTBI. This approach has been heavily researched and proven to be a health-promoting and generally anti-inflammatory diet.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
– Michael Pollan.
Legumes And Squash Seeds
If you have a history of heart disease, or would just prefer to avoid meat products altogether, there are alternatives to meat. For example, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils can provide the zinc you need to recover from brain injury.
In addition, seeds like squash seeds and flaxseeds have also been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This makes them an all-around great food to add to your diet plan for head injury.
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If Needed Try An Elimination Diet
If youve cut out processed foods but still experience symptoms of inflammation, you may need to go a step further.
Finding the right anti-inflammatory diet for you is a matter of personalization and finding the foods that trigger your inflammation, Zumpano explains. The best way to start is by trying an elimination diet and slowly cutting out potential trigger foods one by one.
Food sensitivity tests can help identify which foods increase your bodys antibody response, too, which may be helpful if you cant seem to determine a culprit on your own.
Walnuts And Pumpkin Seeds
Certain types of seeds such as walnuts and pumpkin seeds are also rich sources of omega-3. For instance, walnuts contain around 2500 mg of omega-3 per serving. In addition, walnut skin is packed with antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and promote brain recovery.
Pumpkin seeds contain good amounts of omega-3 as well, but they also are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Research indicates that too much omega-6 can actually increase inflammation, something that individuals should avoid during their recovery from a brain injury. Therefore, consume pumpkin seeds sparingly.
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Cathepsin B Activity Assay
Brain cathepsin B activity was measured 2h after trauma using a fluorometric assay kit, as described by the manufacturer . Briefly, tissues were washed twice in ice-cold phosphate-buffered saline and then homogenized in extraction buffer, as described by the manufacturer. After 10-min incubation on ice, the extract was centrifuged at 10,000 g for 5 min, and 50 Î¼L of supernatant was mixed with an equal volume of 2 Ã reaction buffer and 2 Î¼L of substrate in a 96-well microplate. Plates were kept in the dark at 37 Â°C for 1 h, and fluorescence was recorded using a FLUOstar Optima plate reader . Protein concentration was determined by the bicinchoninic acid assay method . Cathepsin B activity was measured in triplicate and was expressed as fluorescent units/mg of protein. For the determination of enzyme activity, we isolated the region of trauma for analysis.
Diet And Brain Inflammation
Continually eating the wrong things can lead to general health problems, youll probably get sick more often, feel lethargic and youll eventually get brain fog. You know that feeling when you just cant focus, youre forgetful, and you just dont have any energy? Thats brain fog, and it can be an early sign of brain inflammation.
Inflammation occurs in your body when the cells of your immune system group together to fight an infection, usually seen in the form of redness and swelling.
Inflammation can be caused by or associated with the following:
- Bacterial or viral infection
- An allergic reaction to external factors such as perfumes and cleaning products
- An unhealthy gut
- Eating too many highly processed, high sugar and high salt foods
If the inflammation continues for long enough, it becomes the standard state for your body, and the condition becomes chronic. Chronic, or sustained inflammation has been linked with brain and Central Nervous System conditions such as Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease and multiple sclerosis.
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How Do I Plan And Prepare Meals
The effects of brain injury can make shopping for and cooking food difficult, especially if memory or planning skills are affected. Here are some top tips:
Find and save simple recipes that you can regularly return to.
With a meal plan in place, you can add your ingredients to an online shopping order or make a list to take with you to prevent you from forgetting items when you get to the store.
If you experience fatigue, plan your shopping around the times when you generally feel more alert, and when the supermarket is less busy.
When cooking, make extra portions and freeze them in sealed containers. Label each container with the contents and date it was prepared.
If you have problems with taste and smell, pay attention to use-by dates as you may find it difficult to know if food is unsafe to eat.
Avoid under-eating or over-eating by having meals at regular intervals and dont skip breakfast!
Check the label. Clearer labelling has made it easier for consumers to know whats in their food. If youre struggling to read or understand the labels, dont be afraid to ask someone. You can always use your Brain Injury Identity Card to start the conversation.
If you experience a loss of appetite, set an alarm to tell you when its time to eat, and speak to a dietitian for advice on getting all the nutrients you need.
Tissue Preparation And Analyses
After 48 h, 14 days or 30 days on the diets following induction of mTBI, animals were deeply anesthetized and euthanized by decapitation for removal of brain tissues, liver and the collection of plasma and sera. Blood was transferred to Sarstedt monovette serum and EDTA plasma tubes and immediately placed onto ice, or until plasma was separated by centrifugation . Following blood collection, brain and liver tissues were harvested and snap frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at â80Â°C until analysis. DHA and EPA concentrations of plasma, liver, and brain frontal cortex tissue were determined by GC/MS methods as previously described . For the analysis of neurotrauma biomarkers, an ultrasensitive single-molecule array technology was used to measure T-tau, GFAP, UCH-L1, and NF-L levels in plasma. To quantify vitamin D levels in serum, a rat Vitamin D ELISA, which measures 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and D3 , Ltd., Salem NH Cat No. 38-25DHU-E01), was used.
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