Thursday, February 9, 2012

Post Concussion Nutrition

I've recently taken an interest in trying to read everything I can find in terms of nutrition that is brain based and that lead me down the road into looking into potential nutritional therapies for post concussion rehabilitation.

The definition of concussion has changed.  Old timers, would say you weren't concussed unless you were knocked out.  With that definition,  I myself have experienced one concussion.  Playing rugby at chiropractic school I got knocked out.  I don't remember waking up that morning and getting ready to play or actually playing.  My first memory is eating pizza two hours after the match.

The new definition by some standards is taking a hit where you see stars, get temporarily woozy or have a vision disturbance.  Playing football from ages 12-22, with this definition, I've had who knows how many.  I remember taking a hit in 8th grade where the top half of my vision went black for two-three minutes.

My roommate in chiropractic school was involved in what is called a double concussion.  Getting a concussion while under the effects of a first concussion.  This is highly deadly and lead to his retirement from the sport of rugby.

 Just as a muscle can have different grades of strain, I think we will find a way to grade concussions, from mild to severe.

Coming out of concussion, many athletes describe it as being in a brain fog.  Thinking clearly is harder, reading can be difficult.  Short term memory and working through complex tasks seem fatiguing.  Sounds a little like a symptoms of dementia.  That lead me into reading about nutrition for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS.

First, there are no hard guidelines.  There still is not a lot evidence for nutritional therapy for concussion There are however a lot of clues on what we know about the brain and what research is doing with brain degenerative type diseases.  The following list shows promise and if for some reason I ever experience a concussion again, I will increase my intake of the following supplements.

Coconut Oil. This is a promising supplement to add into daily supplementation.  There are some pretty interesting videos on YouTube showing how this is helping people battle Alzheimer's.  Outside of breast milk, coconut oil has the highest concentrations of MCT (medium chain triglycerides)  these fats are processed by the liver and don't need bile from the gall bladder.  Instant energy.

Fish Oil.  Fish oil has what is called DHA/EPA in it.  This is the good stuff.  Our bodies don't produce this, so this is a required supplement.  Dr Barry Sears, inventor of the Zone Diet, has recommended up to 15 grams following brain trauma.

Creatine Monohydrate.  Creatine is no longer just for putting on a little extra mass.  Funny thing happened on the way from the weight room to the research lab, creatine is brain food!  It may give the brain instant shot of energy to help the cells heal correctly.

Choline.  Add in pasture raised egg yolks.  Choline plays an important role in neurotransmitter function.  It also seems to be an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Curcumin or Turmeric.  This is a super powerful anti-inflammatory.  Bring that inflammation down.

Blueberries.  A power antioxidant.  Superfruit.  Eat them by the cupful.

Melatonin.  A natural sleep aid.  Initially, sleeping may be all you want to do.  It may then get hard.  Regardless, quality sleep is important.  Melatonin is now starting to be recognized as a powerful antioxidant.  This is a bit of a reach right now, but I think in the next few years, it may show to be very interesting player.

Zinc/Magnesium.  I like this as a combo.  This seems to be an agreed upon supplement for concussion.  25mg/400mg respectively.

Water.  You should already be drinking half your bodyweight in ounces, but if you are not, start.

Walk.  Slowly start to get the aerobic system involved.  You don't want to bring on any symptoms from the concussion, but even getting the heart rate elevated slightly will help.

Limit calories.  Limit saturated fat.  Avoid at all costs, MSG and Aspartame.  This is my best effort into putting together a small cookbook for post concussion nutrition.  If you have any more information to add or research you know of, please contact me.


Lori Tsutsui said...

Thanks for doing the research on this.

Unknown said...

J, can you recommend some resources for Alzheimer's research? Nutrition and anything else, really. Thanks. Loved this piece, some things to keep in mind as my boys get older and more aggressive in their sports. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I really enjoy reading your blog. I have one question regarding the Post Concussion Nutrition. What is the reason for avoiding saturated fat post concussion?

Anonymous said...

Aren't MCT saturated as well?

Jason Ross said...

Also Jack Kruse is a neurosurgeon that has a blog that I read through. Great material.

Jason Ross said...

The saturated fat was on several sights, but don't give direct answers. I believe they say limit it, because the outcomes seem to be better with limited calories with more of a protein based diet.

Also saturated fat is a long chain, while coconut oil is medium chain. The MCT skips the gall bladder, LCT has to go through a few more steps to use. So more energy required and doesn't get past Blood Brain Barrier.

Kate Dunkin said...

Great post! I was actually doing research on chiropractic school when I came across your blog. I'm happy I did because this was very interesting and informative. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Anonymous said...

Appreciated the to the point article. I'm currently recovering from concussion and having difficulty reading on a computer. Very helpful !

Anonymous said...

Vision problems are common after concussions and TBI's. There are Optometrists that specialize in neuro-optometric rehab that help folks who have had concussion or traumatic brain injuries. For a list of doctors, check out NORA.

You may benefit from a computer lens called Bluetech.

Anonymous said...

The saturated fat causes inflammation as well so you don't want that post concussion.

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Silvia Jacinto said...

Life is a battle, if you don't know how to defend yourself then you'll end up being a loser. So, better take any challenges as your stepping stone to become a better person. Have fun, explore and make a lot of memories.

Alica John said...

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that.
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