Tiger Woods recently had a single car accident–a nasty one. Reports say he was out for as long as six minutes when his wife found him. When a doctor hears that a patient has suffered a brain injury severe enough to alter consciousness, they get concerned. Loosing consciousness altogether suggests a significant insult to the brain.
With an injury like that, I would tell a patient to expect between six weeks and six months of after effects, including headaches, irritability, and concentration deficits. This can be frightening and frustrating for both patient and the people they live and work with. In rare cases, these problems can persist for years.
That’s the scary news.
The good news is most people do make complete recoveries after this kind of head trauma. But recovery isn’t automatic. As with any injury, you have to give your body a chance to heal. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, advises head-injured patients to appreciate the power of sleep to allow the brain to heal.
Rest gives your brain time to repair. But it also needs the raw materials to rebuild. That other half of the brain injury recovery equation depends entirely on what you eat.
What foods does a recovering brain need?
- Quality fats and proteins
- Antioxidant rich fresh herbs and vegetables
The brain is composed almost entirely of fat and proteins. What Tiger’s brain needs right now are quality fats and proteins like those found in eggs from free-ranging chickens (with access to insects–high in long-chain omega-3 fats which concentrate in the egg), raw fish, and bone stocks. Fresh vegetables (notice I’m not saying “fruits and vegetables”) supply the vitamins and antioxidants that prevent those delicate omega-3 fats from breaking down.
What foods harm an injured brain?
- Sugar and carbohydrate rich foods
- Vegetable oils (soy oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil)
- These impair the formation of new membranes and synapses
What Tiger needs to avoid are high sugar and high carbohydrate foods including juices, fruits, breads, pasta, potatoes, and all the other “white” stuff, along with vegetable oils that have been deodorized and refined (and so are full of fats that can damage nerve cell membranes)
So here’s my advice, Tiger: Follow Dr. Taylor’s advice and get plenty of rest–more than you think you need. And please eat plenty of quality, brain-building foods. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling like yourself again. Your brain wants to give you a full recovery, but it needs your help.