“Tell the truth! Tell the truth!” says Dr. Bennet Omalu in the film Concussion. Dr. Omalu, portrayed by Will Smith is a pathologist who, during his research, discovers the hidden truth about brain damage in relation to contact football. While it may just be a movie, Concussion is based on a true story, and Concussions are real injuries that need to be taken seriously.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that results in a temporary loss of normal brain function that can include: memory loss, confusion, headaches, nausea, and other cognitive difficulties. Often a concussion is a result of a collision with the head whether that be contact with someone else or with the ground. When such trauma occurs to your skull, the brain inside your skull may become jarred or may have moved around inside your skull. This can lead to the tearing of the nerves connected with the brain which can lead to a variety of cognitive and emotional difficulties, depending on the region of the brain connected with the trauma and with the severity of the injury. Depending on the severity of the trauma, the concussion can be mild, with the symptoms resolving after mere minutes, or the concussion can be severe with symptoms (including loss of consciousness) lasting months and even years after the injury. For those that continue to struggle with concussion-like symptoms for extended periods of time, a healthy diet and focused nutrition can play dividends in drastically improving your life and putting you back on track. Don’t worry! It can get better!
Your brain is the control centre of your body. Everything goes through your brain, and you would be unable to function without it. Think back to all your innermost feelings. Don’t worry, you don’t need to share them. Everything you’ve ever thought of, and everything you hadn’t thought of involves your brain processes. Even simply being able to read this blog right now is in thanks to your brain. Your brain is your friend, the one you never knew you had. Your brain does so much for you and checks up on you regularly. You just can’t see it or talk to it or text it or hang out with it at the mall. Think of a city. A city is complex. In a single city, there will be thousands of roads that can take you anywhere, highways that will lead to different cities, and bridges that cross between different sections of the city. Within the city itself, there will be apartments, homes, vehicles, businesses, restaurants, police stations, people, and much more. The city is held together by those who live and use it and it functions properly according to the rules of the city. Day after day goes by with the city functioning as it is supposed to, and no problems arise because of it. Now imagine what would happen if a large earthquake occurred in the city. Roads would be shattered, and bridges collapsed. Chaos would fill the streets, and people would begin to panic as they attempt to find a way to restore harmony.
Such a scenario is not much different from when you get a concussion. Your brain’s balance becomes disrupted; nerves and certain areas of the brain may or may not function as they’re supposed to. When such trauma occurs, it can cause chaos within the brain. When the symptoms of a concussion do not get better or you continue to feel the symptoms weeks, months, or years after the injury, then it may be necessary to receive additional support and treatment.
How Can Nutrition Help With a Concussion?
We’ve all been there. You woke up in the morning. You had to wake up the kids, get them ready for school, and then hurry on your way to work. You were so busy that you didn’t have time to pack a lunch for yourself. Now it’s noon, you’re on your lunch break and you have nothing to eat. Fortunately for you, there’s a Mcdonald’s across the street. While it’s ok to have a guilty pleasure (we all have one), a healthy, nutritional diet can be critical if you’re dealing with the symptoms of a concussion. Maintaining and focusing on nutrition can significantly help your brain, and ultimately the quality of your life. Let me explain. If you’ve ever seen what a brain looks like, then you’ll know that it essentially looks like a large glob of fat with many ridges. Of course, your brain is much more complex than just some fat, and it has so many components and processes that are significant in maintaining the functionality of your body.
As mentioned by Nutritional Weight & Wellness, your brain is made up of about 70-80% fat. Your brain, while it is small in comparison to the rest of your body, actually uses up 20% of your body’s energy. That’s a huge number when considering the brain only takes up 2% of your body’s weight. So, what does this mean? Essentially, in simple terms, this means that the brain needs a lot of nutrients and protein for it to thrive and function at its best. When a brain injury such as a concussion has occurred, it is even more necessary to avoid those Big Macs and turn to a healthier diet. This means nutrition becomes critical in healing your brain and maintaining it so that it is working at full capacity.
What foods should you eat and which to avoid?
Since a traumatic brain injury (TBI) such as a concussion causes inflammation in the brain, it is important to reduce that inflammation. This means, of course, eating foods that will help with the inflammation. Eating foods that are rich in natural fats such as flaxseed, krill oil, avocado, walnuts, grass-fed butter, fish, and coconut oil will all help in healing brain trauma. Simultaneously, digesting foods heavy in natural fats also boost brain functioning so it’s an added bonus! Additionally, having a large diet of lots of vegetables will also help. By eating lots of vegetables, you are increasing your intake of antioxidants which has been shown to decrease cell death. Conversely, foods that are unhealthy for a damaged brain may be more challenging to avoid. In our world today, it is much easier to find and eat foods that are heavy in carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar. While these types of foods may be okay to consume occasionally, such as with your infrequent Big Mac run, if you are suffering from the effects of a concussion, it can be much more important to avoid such foods. Avoid sugary snacks, simple carbs, or anything high in saturated fats. By doing so, and by moving to a healthier diet, the inflammation in your brain will surely go down, and you will find yourself with a better mindset and a healthier brain.
What Else Can You Do?
Besides improving your nutrition and focusing on healing the trauma to your brain, there are a few other ways of healing. One of these is with nutritional supplements or what are known as Nutraceuticals. There are a variety of nutraceuticals that can support and aid your brain and to ensure that you are receiving the necessary vitamins you need. Taking vitamins such as omega-3 fish oil pills or B vitamins can pay dividends in reducing brain inflammation. Additionally, if you want to know more about how to improve your nutrition, or to improve your lifestyle choices, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that need not be taken lightly. It’s critical that you treat your brain, as you would treat any other injury so that it can heal and so that the symptoms can be lessened or relieved. If you have any questions or want to know more about how to treat your brain, we encourage you to get in touch with our Elumind client care coordinator. She would be more than happy to chat with you and get you on the right track with receiving the proper care you need.
Elumind Centres for Brain Excellence is an integrated mental health centre offering solutions that can help you with your mental/brain health needs. To start your journey, book your FREE 15-MINUTE PHONE CONSULTATION. We are here for you.