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Tiger Woods’ Concussion: What kind of recovery can he expect?

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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.

Tiger's Concussion

Tiger’s Concussion

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.

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Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

  • Venus Kalami

    Hi Dr. Cate,

    In your book Food Rules (I have also read Deep Nutrition) I read something about a high sugar diet crusting up your joints thus causing popping, cracking, and grinding. I was wondering, if you’re stating that such cracking, popping, and grinding is the cause of a high sugar diet. I’m a dancer and am more flexible than the average Joe and dancers are quite notorious for cracking a lot. Is there any correlation between the two? Do dancers crack a lot because they are flexible or because of their diet or both? I used to eat quite a bit of fruit back in the day but that was basically the extent of my sugar consumption. I read both of your books a month ago and I have really taken your diet to heart but in addition I don’t eat grains or legumes, I also only eat meat if it’s made by my parents because 1.) I’ve been vegetarian (now mostly a flexitarian) for over six years and 2.) my parents throw a hissy fit when I don’t eat what they cook (which I understand). When I cook for myself my diet consists of eggs, nuts, yogurt, cheese (I recently bought raw cheddar from the farmers market), veggies, veggies, veggies, the darkest chocolate I can get my hands on (usually 85% dark and up), coconut, and fruits along with other things that I’ve probably forgotten. Back to the whole sugar-in-joints thing, my right hip also noticeably grinds when I turn it in and out (like when I’m sitting in a butterfly stretch), it also hurts during some stretches and I feel like it’s right up in the hip joint area as if the bones in my joint are grinding against each other, the grinding sensation doesn’t hurt, but I am convinced that the pain I experience in other stretches are related to the grinding. So basically, I’m wondering if all of this ties into my hip grinding/pain. I’m 18 years old (I don’t know if that matters or not) and other than seasonal and cat allergies, I don’t have any health problems. I would love to hear back from you seeing that I adore your books and recommend your lifestyle to anyone who will listen. Sadly, I’m greeted with skepticism since everything I recommend goes again “conventional wisdom”…not to mention that I’m young. Anyways, I appreciate your books, and I love this website and am truly astounded by how you respond to comments of those with questions. You are a fantastic individual and you are a blessing to many, that is for sure.

    Thank you!
    -Venus

    • Venus
      Cracking sounds can be due to connective tissue redundancies that are being snapped straight, and is not always a sign of inflammation. I would encourage you to get your hip examined by a practitioner with sports medicine/ortho training because there are several conditions that you would want to know about in order to continue your dancing career.
      Thanks for spreading the good word!

      • Matt

        I suffered a minor concussion and didnt pass out. suffered from head aches and dizziness for 4 days now – cat scan was fine. What drinks/teas would you recommend?

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