5 Power Nutrients to Boost Recovery from Brain Injury
A healthy diet is crucial for a healthy brain, but in those with TBI, a well-balanced diet boosts brain performance and helps revert damage. Following a brain injury, many patients experience brain fog, confusion, headaches, mental fatigue, lethargy, difficulty with recollection and concentration, and more. Being deficient in specific nutrients can disrupt brain functioning and exacerbate cognitive symptoms. Thus, it is essential to feed your brain enough good nutrient-laden calories to keep moving forward.
Nutrition comes in various forms — vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. Mood regulatory brain chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, are also influenced by your diet. Eating food high in serotonin will help with reducing anxiety, while foods high in dopamine and norepinephrine increases mental alertness and helps you think more clearly. Symptoms of depression, which is a common side-effect of those suffering from TBI, can also be avoided or controlled through diet.
Here are five best brain recovery nutrients to recover from a TBI:
- Vitamin E: This vitamin is an antioxidant that protects the brain from damage caused by oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. A high plasma level of Vitamin E also delays and prevents cognitive decline. Low levels of this vitamin have been shown to increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Vitamin E can be found in almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, wild salmon, and trout.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: This is one of the best nutrients you can take during your TBI recovery process. Our brain is almost 60 percent fat, with 50 percent of the fat being omega-3 fatty acid — EPA and DHA. Found in salmon, mackerel, and sardines, these fatty acids play a prominent role in preserving the brain’s elasticity and rebuilding cells. They also facilitate communication between the brain cells, improve memory, and alleviate depression. DHA, in specific, has been shown to protect against brain injury effects and speed up the recovery process after TBI.
- Niacinamide: The brain requires niacin, or Vitamin B3, for energy production and proper functioning. It plays a significant role in the chemical reactions performed by mitochondria to generate cellular energy. Inadequate niacin can cause, or exacerbate, brain fog which is something a lot of TBI patients experience. Niacin deficiency can also cause dementia and psychosis. Vitamin B3 can be found in tuna, chicken, beets, mushrooms, dairy, nuts, and lentils.
- Zinc: This mineral plays a significant role in tissue repair and regeneration. It also reduces neuroinflammation. Those with mild TBI usually have low blood serum levels of zinc, possibly because it’s needed for immediate repair. Zinc deficiency increases cell death at the site of cortical injury and exacerbates TBI-associated oxidative damage. This mineral is naturally found in liver, eggs, red meat, shellfish, legumes, hemp seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, dairy, and whole grains.
- Magnesium: This is another mineral that’s depleted following a brain injury. In a normal state, magnesium inhibits glutamate and increases cerebral blood flow. Inadequate magnesium triggers an influx of glutamate and calcium in the postsynaptic neuron, a significant contributor to neuronal degeneration and cell death. Keeping your magnesium levels up boosts energy, promotes healthy sleep patterns, protects brain cells, and alleviates depression symptoms. This mineral can be found in green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate.
We hope this article has given you some ideas about what to include in your diet in order to speed up your recovery following a TBI. It’s recommended that you consult with your physician to figure out which food is best, and safe, for you based on your specific needs and medical history.