by James Heuer
After a Traumatic Brain Injury, metabolic changes affect the brain’s recovery. It is not uncommon for inflammation, changes in energy, gastrointestinal tract function, and insulin resistance to occur within a TBI patient’s brain. It is crucial for the victim of a TBI to treat with enteral nutrition, meaning the nutrition passes through the intestines, within a 48-hour time period after the injury occurred to prevent such changes from worsening.
Glutamine has been proven to shorten the span of time spent in the hospital after brain injury, reduce the chance of muscle tissue loss, and decrease the infection rate. The essential neuroprotective benefits the brain needs to heal are found in vitamins D and E, niacin, zinc, and magnesium. Fatty acids help reduce inflammation, promote brain cell survival, and help the brain recover overall.
Having a high-fat diet and being overweight can make the effects of a TBI more prevalent, so it is necessary to stick to a healthy diet of balanced meals. A healthy diet is the key to increasing your brain’s potential after a traumatic brain injury.
Along with a healthy diet, doctors advise avoiding alcohol when you are recovering with a TBI for the first couple of years. And if you choose to drink, then doctors suggest moderation to avoid further injury .
The following vitamins are an essential key to brain health:
- Vitamin B-1 helps metabolize glucose (the primary energy source) and also promotes growth and muscle tone. Vitamin B1 is found in grain products, pork, nuts, seeds.
- Vitamin B-12 protects our nerve cells and maintains an outer coating referred to as the myelin sheath on the cells. If you are B-12 deficient, nerve damage and impaired brain function can occur. Vitamin b-12 is found in milk, meat, and eggs.
- Folic acid reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as prevents blood build- up. Folic acid is found in broccoli, peas, wheat, and asparagus.
- Vitamin B lowers the risk of mental symptoms such as irritability, trouble sleeping, and emotional instability. Vitamin B is found in grains, meat, and fish.
- Vitamin A provides protection against infection, aids in bone and teeth formation, helps smooth skin, and promotes growth and repair of body tissue. Vitamin A is found in eggs, orange and yellow vegetables and fruit, and cod liver oil.
- Vitamin E supplies oxygen to the brain, slows down the aging process, provides nutrition for cells, and prevents blood clots. Vitamin E is found in plant oil and leafy green vegetables such as spinach.
- Vitamin B-6 helps with the metabolism of carbs and fats, maintenance of healthy skin, and support for the nervous system. Vitamin B-6 is found in pork, poultry, peanuts, oats, and bananas.
The damage that occurs after or as a result of an initial TBI creates secondary brain damage. A more recent option to aid TBI victims is Nutritional Therapy, which is used to alleviate the outcomes from the brain damage. Nutritional Therapy can help TBI patients get the nutrients they need in a conveniently-planned way. Nutritional Therapy often starts in the hospital through an IV of vital nutrients, typically within 24 hours after the TBI occurred. If an IV is not needed, the next step is to address any nutritional deficits through supplements or a specialized diet plan. Nutritional therapists can map your personalized plan and best way to access the supplements.
A brain injury alters the balance of ions and chemicals in the brain. The imbalance that occurs creates free radicals (unstable molecules) that inflame the brain tissue and cause decreased blood flow and even more destruction of neurons. Within a nutritional therapy program, the brain can get the extra energy it needs to heal itself.
James A. Heuer, PA, is a personal injury attorney helping individuals with TBI after suffering one himself. He is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.