Column: Nutritional Therapy For Concussions

August 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

[Opinion column written by Agathe Holowatinc]

After the long weekend that was, with all the fabulous celebrations, family gatherings and Non-Mariners, I thought it might be helpful to share some nutritional therapy guidelines for recovery – you know, just in case you managed to hurt yourself on a boat or something!

Agathe Holowatinc Bermuda August 2020

Optimal Concussion Recovery Through Proper Nutrition

  • Continue your normal caloric intake – this is not the time to decrease food intake
  • Take Omega 3 fatty acids every day; try Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend and take it daily – get it at Rock On the Health Store on Front Street and keep it in your fridge – or a good quality fish oil, and/or raw walnuts]. These good fats and oils enhance brain function, combat inflammation and normalize hormone levels, among all their other benefits. And if the brain is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, it is much harder for the brain to heal itself. Additionally, research has shown that after concussion, there is a decreased amount of the omega-3 DHA in the brain tissue – you need to be replenishing that!
  • Maintain, if not increase, your protein intake – healthy sources include plant sources like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, almond butter, cashew butter, other nut butters, tahini, green peas, pistachios, beans, hemp seeds, spinach [avoid peanuts and soy]; and healthy animal sources include locally caught fish or wild caught fish from away [not farmed], grass fed beef and chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, grass fed/organic dairy – Tucker’s Farm goat cheese is really excellent quality and local [avoid pork, conventional dairy and meats that are not organic because they cause acidity in the body and inflammation, which you do not want]. Protein serves a vital role in cell and tissue production and repair. Your brain needs repairing, so give it the right tools to repair itself.
  • Following a concussion, levels of magnesium and zinc in the brain immediately drop – two crucial repair tools that the body utilizes. Magnesium lowers inflammation and helps rebuild/repair neurons. Zinc has been shown to help improve mood and cognition. In addition to protein, eat magnesium and zinc rich foods which include:
  • Magnesium-rich foods:
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Leafy greens, esp. spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens
    • Avocados
    • Nuts/seeds
    • Quinoa
    • Take a supplement like Calm
    • Check this list for more [it’s a very basic site but we use it]
  • Zinc-rich foods:
    • Tahini [all sesame seeds/products]
    • Chickpeas
    • Oysters, all shellfish like mussels etc.
    • Lamb [Go for New Zealand grass-fed lamb]
    • Beef [Joyce Farms brand or other organic, grass fed]
    • Lentils
    • Cashews
    • Quinoa
    • Shrimp
    • Take a supplement, but try your best to get Zinc Picolinate as it’s the most bioavailable version [check People’s pharmacy]. Always take zinc supplements on a very full stomach because zinc causes nausea on an empty stomach
    • Check this list for more.
  • Take turmeric. Get some organic turmeric and toss it into your veggies/meat dishes or smoothies. This is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse known to increase neuron communication and decrease inflammation. Note: to activate the medical ingredient Curcumin, you need to take turmeric with a healthy fat like coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, etc. and black pepper.
  • Keep up antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, D and E. Vit C can be supplemented but you know where this is found in foods – citrus, dark leafy greens, berries, bell peppers. The other two vitamins are found in fish, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens.
  • Blueberries and grapes – try to get organic with these [frozen would be great]. These are both fantastic sources of the powerful polyphenol called resveratrol.
  • Dark chocolate may be beneficial too as it is known to be neuroprotective.
  • Hydrate! Make sure your water intake is sufficient and feel free to enjoy coconut water with all of it’s electrolytes!
  • Avoid: caffeine, processed sugar [use honey, stevia or maple syrup instead], processed foods, alcohol, smoking, food colouring, conventional meats and dairy.

A few lifestyle tips:

  • Reduce screen time
  • Limit exposure to bright lights and loud sounds
  • Avoid unnecessary movement of your head and neck
  • Rest

Following these guidelines is especially beneficial the first few weeks of recovery. This advice should be considered as only a part of the whole concussion management strategy. It is essential to give the body its best chance at healing by providing it with healthy sources of nutrients, but don’t neglect rest and other important instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Also, if you want to kick start your health after the holiday weekend then try one of my 1-on-1 Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching Programs, a few individual sessions, or request a FUELLED customized detox meal plan.

Nutrition sessions are partially covered by Colonial Medical extended health insurance plans [your first visit is totally covered by your insurance, follow-up sessions are an $80 copay, up to 6 sessions in a calendar year], with BF&M and Argus likely to follow suit very soon. Contact me at coach@fuelledlife.com to inquire or to setup your session today.

Wishing everyone who might be hurting today a complete healing and recovery. Kiss kiss on your head.  That’s it from me this week. Feel free to share this with someone you care about. Have a healthy and happy week!

- Agathe Holowatinc is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, co-founder and director at FUELLED Bermuda Ltd., published author, health food private chef and health industry entrepreneur. She is a passionate advocate of real food, holistic approaches to health and communicating big ideas in a simple way. Visit fuelledlife.com or call or WhatsApp on 532-0426.

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