Food intake. It’s something that’s vital to one’s health. You simply can’t get around the fact that the human body needs nutrients to survive and you can’t get those just from vitamins. They come from eating and eating well.
A balanced diet is a must for anyone and everyone, but it’s especially important when recovering from a concussion.
Common belief has been that concussions heal themselves usually within days to weeks and in only very rare cases, months or years. However, this belief is starting to change in the medical world, the sports world, and in the public eye.
Whether the concussion was mild or severe, it can still lead to debilitating physical and mental health issues as well as pain lasting much longer and for many more people than previously thought.
According to Easy Health Options:
“Concussions and traumatic brain injury, or TBIs, affect over a million Americans every year. The vast majority are relatively mild, not requiring hospitalization. However, even in these mild concussions, over 75% will develop chronic pain, problems with memory and attention, irritability, and other neurocognitive issues that interfere with school, work, and family life.”
– Dr. Terry Wahls
I sustained a head and neck injury of my own over the summer. My concussion was mild, but the pain and health problems that ensued were not. Since then I have been battling headaches, dizziness and nausea which makes it difficult to live a normal life, let alone eat a normal diet.
Easily digestible foods like toast and oatmeal became my two closest friends for several months. This helped somewhat in keeping the nausea at bay. I mean, who wants to have a big, juicy steak when they’re feeling super dizzy?
After trauma occurs to the brain, it’s not uncommon to experience a loss of taste or smell. This can make it even tougher to maintain a healthy appetite during recovery.
According to brain injury and PTSD site, Brainline.org there are many reasons this can occur, including injury to the nose, face and head.
The olfactory nerve brings the sensation of smell from your nose to the brain. Since this nerve passes from the nose to the brain, it is at high risk of injury when there is trauma to the head.
– Dr. Brian Greenwald
Healing My Head Diet
After working with a functional neurologist, I learned that a diet rich in healthy fats and one that avoids grains is ideal for optimum brain health.
Essentially, I attempted to follow a Paleo diet. The basics are straightforward, but were tough for me initially because I had been eating a diet heavy in grains.
Here’s what was recommended to me:
Good Brain Foods
- Lean Protein (grass-fed and pasture-raised beef, poultry, eggs, wild-caught fish)
- Fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil)
- Seeds and Nuts (almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds)
- Vegetables (fresh not canned or frozen spinach, broccoli, kale, carrots)
- Fruits (berries such as blueberries, raspberries, apples)
- Dairy (Greek yogurt, grass-fed butter, hard cheeses such as Sharp Cheddar, Havarti, Parmesan)
Bad Brain Foods
- Grains (oats, wheat, breads, cereals)
- Fried Foods or Processed Sugar (candy bars, French fries)
- Farm-raised Fish
- Alcohol (not really a food but still worth a mention)
- Caffeine (coffee, soda pop, chocolate)
Personally, I have found it best to eat small but frequent meals that are full of vitamins and nutrients rather than processed sugars and fried foods. For me to recover, I know that pairing low-intensity physical activity with a nutritious diet is also important.
Balanced and mindful eating is key to living a healthy lifestyle. This advice goes for children, teens, and adults of all ages. In particular, those suffering from post-concussion syndrome or other chronic illness need to pay close attention to their diets and daily calorie intake in order to heal their bodies and brains.