Concussions

April 26, 2020

Two nutritionists share how what you eat affects how well you can heal your brain. If you or someone you love has experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury or a concussion, listen in for this vitally important information.

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Cassie:

Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a registered and licensed dietitian. I'm in studio this morning with my colleague and cohost Leah Kleinschrodt. Leah is also a registered and licensed dietitian and her and I have a great topic today. We're going to talk about nutrition to help heal after a concussion, but before we get to that, I'd like to just spend a few minutes here at the top of the hour talking a little bit about habits. I think it's really important to consider our habits in terms of our eating habits and our lifestyle habits, both as we sit here in the middle of this current health crisis, and also think about habits as it comes into play when we want to heal our brain after a concussion. So on that note, I want to start with a quote from author Og Mandino. Now the avid readers out there have probably heard of Og Mandino before. Here's the quote I want to share: he says, "The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits." Isn't that powerful? So stop and think, what have your food habits been lately? We know at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, both from clinical experience and from reading the research, that eating real food: grass fed meat, lots of vegetables, butter, avocados, those real foods help to support a healthy immune system. So knowing that that is fact, it would make sense that the opposite is true as well, right? If you're eating a lot of processed foods and foods that are high in sugar and bad fats. I think of granola bars and cold breakfast cereal and we can't forget that what we're drinking can potentially be high in sugar and bad fats as well. Think of caramel frappuccinos or whatever your favorite high sugar coffee drink is. If these are the foods that have been the mainstay of your diet, these foods work to suppress your immune system. And I'm sure this list I'm about to give you next, you've all heard a couple of times, it's been all over the evening news. The medical experts have listed the following conditions as putting you at a greater risk for contracting the Covid-19 virus. So here goes that list: If you have type two diabetes, if you have heart disease, hypertension, if you have obesity, or an autoimmune disease, or if you're immunocompromised for any reason, all of these things heightened your risk for getting Covid-19. Now that might seem kind of scary, maybe a bit daunting, if you actually have one of these conditions, but on the upside you have some control. Here you have control over what you are choosing to put in your mouth day in and day out. And numerous studies show that there is an effect on our immune system if we're eating high sugar and a lot of processed carbs, especially if we have one of these preexisting conditions. The research is pointing towards the fact that likely high sugar foods suppress our immune system if we already have heart disease or diabetes or hypertension. So I want everybody to just pause for a minute now and really think about where your own health is at. Do you currently have any one of these risk factors of diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, carrying too much weight, or immunocompromised for any other reason? Because again, the research has found that eating the cakes and the brownies and the processed carbohydrates can potentially suppress your immune system, especially if you're already at risk.

Leah:

So Cassie, this stat really surprised me when I first read it, but did you know, and I'm sure we've mentioned this on the show before, but that nearly 75% of all processed foods contain hidden sugars added in them.

Cassie:

I'm not surprised at that, but I don't know that I could have pulled that statistic out of my brain. Wow, 75%.

Leah:

It's a huge number.

Cassie:

It is, and I think right away of the middle aisles of the grocery store, right?

Leah:

Definitely.

Cassie:

Because that's where most of the processed foods lie. So if you think that in general, about 75% of those foods in the middle aisles are gonna contain hidden sugars. I mean that said probably time to cut out processed foods and start shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store where you find the meat and the fresh vegetables and the healthy fats. Those are the foods that will support a healthy immune system. Remember, processed foods, whether they contain hidden sugars or not, they turn into a lot of sugar in our body. And sugar can decrease the function of our immune system. And it's not just us at Nutritional Weight & Wellness saying this. Dr Robert Lustig, who is a pediatric endocrinologist, you might be familiar with that name because he's been a guest on this Dishing Up Nutrition program in the past, or maybe you're familiar with him from his famous YouTube video called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth". This is what Dr Lustig says, "Sugar is addictive and it's the primary cause of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol problems, and diabetes." So again, Dr Lustig is right on board with us and he is a well-respected pediatric endocrinologist. So if you haven't asked yourself this already, I think today's the day to ask, is this the time to develop the habit of eating real food, real grass fed meat, real garden, grown vegetables, real fruit? And if there's any kids out there listening, fruit rollups do not count as fruit. We're talking about the organic strawberries and the apples and the pineapple. And then we can't forget the benefits of eating plenty of real natural fats. So think of butter and coconut oil, avocados and olives and nuts and seeds. Getting back to this thought about habits and the power of habits, I want to read another quote that I like from Og Mandino. This one's a little bit shorter. He says, "Only a habit can subdue another habit." Leah, what comes to your mind when you hear that quote?

Leah:

Yeah, that's a great question. When I first read that quote, I was thinking about how we work with clients at Nutritional Weight & Wellness and what tends to be a good route, especially when people are really looking to make changes and I think about making substitutions. Or maybe we call it the art of substitution. So a lot of people think, when they're thinking about coming to a dietitian or thinking about maybe experiences they've had in the past, or just the idea of seeing somebody to talk about their food, they tend to think of us as more of the food police. Like we're gonna take away all the foods that they love. That it's going to be very restrictive. That it's all about take away, take away, take away, and restriction, restriction, restriction. But what I really love to do with clients is try to reframe that a little and say, how can we substitute one thing for another? So it's a lot easier, I think for people to wrap their brains around to say, okay, I'm going to make a change, but it's not, I have to take things away. It means maybe I'm making a substitution and just making the next best choice. I stole this piece from Shelby, I heard her use it in one of our classes once, and I just, I used it with clients ever since. But how can you do what you're already doing but then make an upgrade the next time that you are in the grocery store? Or the next time you're looking for a new recipe? What could we, I ask this of clients of like brainstorming, what could we use in place of blank if we're trying to replace some of those high sugar foods, some of those more manmade fats, the refined oils. And one substitution, just one example of that, is people love their mayonnaise, but a lot of mayonnaise tend to contain those more refined processed oils that cause inflammation.

Cassie:

Yes. I'm so glad you said that. I just want to interrupt for a minute. Go look in your refrigerator. You out there listening. Read the ingredients on your mayonnaise because it probably has canola oil or soybean oil. Those are really processed bad oils.

Leah:

Yup, absolutely. So those, those terms, like you said just now, Cassie, like look at that mayonnaise jar. If it says soybean or canola are kind of the two big ones that you'll see in there, then it's like, okay, great. Next time we know we're not going to look for that kind of mayonnaise. Let's look for an avocado oil based mayonnaise or an expeller press, like a better, like a better oil in that mayonnaise.

Cassie:

Right.

Leah:

So you're just substituting one thing for another. So clients usually can get on board with that a little easier than saying, oh, we're just not going to do mayonnaise anymore.

Cassie:

Right. We're not taking away - we're giving you something in place. And oftentimes you'll find out what we replace your typical food with what we give you as a replacement is even more delicious.

Leah:

Absolutely. That's a win win.

Cassie:

Right, right. So I love that. I love your thinking. It's really about practicing the art of substitution. That said, I'm betting we have some listeners out there thinking, but with all of the current stress with this stay at home order. It has me heading straight to the cookie jar or maybe it's straight to the liquor store for beer and some vodka to make cocktails with.

Leah:

And I've heard wine from a couple of clients.

Cassie:

The liquor stores in my area have been so busy. It's scary. And I will say that Leah and I totally understand that when you're under stress, oftentimes that leads you to crave sugar and processed foods. When we come back from break, I want to explain what the real biochemical reason is for this and hopefully that can help you to make some changes.

Leah:

Yes. Great. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I promise we will get to our topic of the day traumatic brain injury and concussion, so just know if you have personal experience with this or a family member or a friend, please stay tuned because we will be sharing an eating plan to support bringing healing and we'll be right back.

Cassie:

Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just joining us, I'm Cassie Weness. I'm on air today with Leah Kleinschrodt and our topic is concussions. Even though we've been talking a lot about habits, we are going to get into concussions and how to heal after that type of traumatic brain injury. And I will tell you that the research shows that after you've had a concussion there are a lot of different nutrients which I don't think is surprising that you need to support brain healing. The first one that comes to my mind is water. And yes I do think of water as a nutrient. Water is so important on any given day, but especially when you're trying to heal the brain because our brain is made up of in large part water and fat. So we recommend drinking at least eight to ten eight ounce glasses of pure filtered water every day. And on that same vein, avoid the soda while you're drinking all that water, avoid the energy drinks, avoid the high sugar coffee drinks like the caramel frappuccinos and the macchiatos. And drink a lot of water. And another nutrient that I think is a must if you are trying to heal from a concussion is omega-3 fish oils or you might sometimes hear them called omega-3 fatty acids. Now if you break down those omega-3 fatty acids into their two active components, we have DHA and EPA. DHA is what makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain and it really plays a vital role in how well the cells in your brain function. So it makes sense that you really want to feed that in large amounts to your brain, right after a big blow to the head. And then that other active component of omega-3 fish oils that we call EPA has everything to do with reducing inflammation. And certainly the brain is very inflamed after a concussion. I have a couple of other anti-inflammatory supplements that come to mind that can be very helpful for healing. I will probably be sharing those a little later in the show. So do stay tuned.

Leah:

Yup. And Cassie, just before we move on back to our topic at hand, we do have a really nice article on our website, which is weightandwellness.com. Britni, one of our dietitians, wrote that a couple of weeks ago. It's called Nutrition to Help Concussions and I believe it was posted a couple of weeks ago, may even have been back in March, but it really lays out a lot of the things we will be touching on today, especially if you're more of like the reader kind of learner. It's a really nice article and she also talks about a different show that we did with dishing up nutrition with a kind of brain and concussion expert named Dr. Lewis. We had him on a podcast show back in 2016. So there's, we do have a couple other resources, if clients or people out there wanting to learn more about concussions and some of the protocols that we're going to talk about.

Cassie:

Thank you for bringing that up because especially if you have a loved one or you yourself has recently suffered a concussion, go to that article. So you go to weightandwellness.com click on articles. It's titled Nutrition to Help Concussions. I believe it was posted March 10th. And what I want you to especially look for in that article is Dr Lewis' omega-3 supplementation protocol for after a concussion. It's pretty intense, but it's tried and true. So definitely look into that if you are in need. Okay. So when we went to break, I was just mentioning that Leah and I both realize when you're under stress, for a lot of humans, it leads us to crave sugar and processed foods. And, as I said, as we went to break, there is a biochemical reason behind that. Stress reduces our feel good brain chemical that we call serotonin. So when we don't have enough serotonin, it lends us to be more apt to have cravings for sugar. Isn't that interesting? So think about the stress that you're under right now. If it is heightened because of this Covid-19 pandemic, that might very well be the reason behind those increased cravings, but that's not a green light to give into the cravings. At this stressful time, I think we really have to consider how the immediate pleasure of eating those cookies or those brownies or drinking the case of beer, we have to think about how that can negatively impact our long term resiliency to contracting the Covid-19 virus.

Leah:

Yeah. So now may be the time your call for action. This may be the time to get rid of the cookie jar, the potato chip bags, the frozen pizzas, the cocktails, all of that leftover Easter candy that may be hanging around in your cupboards, so that you are doing as much as you possibly can to support your own immune function. And here's just a quick little interesting observation about how powerful the draw of sugar is too many people. So during the 1930s back in that Great Depression era, the sales and the stock price of Hershey's candy company increased dramatically. So even in the great depression, the sugar sales were still through the roof as well as the sales for liquor. Well that kind of lines up with what we've been saying so far, Cassie.

Cassie:

Isn't that interesting? Same thing going on now. And so we can link it to stress. But the big difference is that today we are stressed out...you know, back in the thirties it was all about the economy. Certainly our economy is suffering today, but we also have this Covid-19 virus looming at every possible gathering every time we turn the corner. So we really have to be conscious about supporting our immune system in every way that we can. And if we're turning to the Hershey's candy bars and the liquor that is probably going to suppress our immune system, it's certainly not going to help support it. And before we get into our topic, I just want to bring it back around to that YouTube video I briefly mentioned earlier called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth". Again, this is a YouTube video that is done by the pediatric endocrinologist, Dr Lustig. It might be a really good time here as we still are under stay at home orders because of the pandemic to sit down with your kids or if you don't have kids in the house, it's certainly, you could just watch it. It's still very beneficial, but it's really informative for all ages. Sit down and watch it together. You'll get some really great information from a renowned expert that I think can help steer you away from the cookie jar because when we know better, we do better. Right. I know. I'm stealing that quote from someone. And now finally, let's get started on our discussion about nutrition to help heal after a concussion.

Leah:

Yeah, so there's a lot of information we want to try to cover in the next couple sections of the show. Information about concussions and traumatic brain injuries. We kind of wrap those into one package, but how nutrition really supports recovery for each of these. So I want to start just with some interesting statistics about the frequency of concussions. So the CDC reported that 9% of high school students have had one concussion, while 3% of students report having at least two concussions, and 2% of students reported having as many as four or more concussions. Now that just is kind of blows my mind.

Cassie:

Scary.

Leah:

Yeah. In the national institutes of health report that concussions are also a major health concern with our older population. And that surprised me actually when I first read that, but then I started reading a little bit more and we know thinking about our veteran population, the department of veterans affairs report that 12% of Vietnam veterans have had concussions and 22% of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan wars have also had concussions. So that started to make a lot more sense then. There's a whole lot of people, a whole population out there who have experienced traumatic brain injuries.

Cassie:

There certainly is. If we could take a tour into the brain, I want to talk about what's going on when that impact happens. If we could look deep inside the brain, do I have time to do that.

Leah:

We should probably actually do that on the other side of break. So hold that thought really quick. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and one of our favorite nutrients is magnesium. That's my favorite mineral out of all of them and following a concussion the levels of both magnesium and zinc plummet in the brain immediately after an injury.

Cassie:

Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you've been with us since the top of the hour, you know that our topic today is concussions. Now when we went to the last commercial break, the very first commercial break I mentioned omega-3 fish oils and how they are anti-inflammatory. And if you were really listening, you remember that I also mentioned there are some other anti-inflammatory supplements that can be really helpful when you're healing from a concussion. And so here's another one: vitamin D. This is another major anti-inflammatory supplement. I believe, I know all of us at Nutritional Weight & Wellness believe for brain healing, it is really important to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D and we know that most brain experts and most researchers in this area of brain health recommend maintaining a blood level of vitamin D that's between 50 and 80. Now I want to repeat that because that's a little bit higher than a lot of the doctors, a lot of the just family doctors out there are looking for. But if you have suffered a brain injury, certainly I would say you want to get towards that upper level of 50 to 80 when we're talking about a blood level of vitamin D.

Leah:

Cassie, just really quick before we jump back in, I may have gotten a little cutoff at the last break, but just magnesium and zinc. So you have mentioned omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D. I mentioned really quick that both magnesium and zinc are also crucial nutrients when we're talking about that post-concussion time period. So both magnesium and zinc drop after an injury to the brain. So having those nutrients on board, even if it's just short term, can be one tool that you can use to help that recovery process afterwards.

Cassie:

Great.

Leah:

Then you were about to, when we were going to break last time, about to jump into just as some of the anatomy or physiology of what happens in a brain injury.

Cassie:

Yeah. If we could get inside that brain when that concussion is happening and look at what's going on, I just want to take you on a little visual journey here, if you'll come along for a minute. So let's say you're seven or eight years old and you fall down a big flight of stairs and at the bottom your head smacks against the cement. If you can imagine that your brain is this soft tissue that's sort of floating inside of your skull and it's cushioned around the outside by spinal fluid. And the reason why it's so important to have that cushioning is that, as we all know, it is housed in our skull. But what you might not know is that the inner surface of that skull is really hard and has a lot of ridges. It even has some sharp bony edges. The brain being soft certainly needs some type of cushioning and that's why it's surrounded by the spinal fluid. But now let's go back to that scenario of you're young child. You fall down a long flight of stairs, your head smacks the cement at the end. As your body is falling, falling, falling, it's going forward. Then your skull comes to that immediate stop when it hits the cement. But the brain, that's kind of floating inside the skull, keeps on moving because of the inertia. It slams up against that inner surface of the skull. Remember that inner surface has ridges and sharp bony edges. Or we can think of what happens if you're a high school running back on the football team and you get tackled really hard. Your skull slams against the turf, the brain keeps on moving even though the skull stops and then the brain hits up against the inner surface of the skull where those sharp bony edges are. So you can imagine after this big blow to the head, there can be bruising. There's often damage to blood vessels. Sometimes there's damage to nerves. There can be cell death. There can be a reduction in blood flow within the brain. So nothing good happens when the brain slams up against the inner surface of the skull.

Leah:

That begs the question then of what are the symptoms of a concussion? Cause you don't ever see the brain rocking around in the skull, but you do, we do notice the symptoms or the repercussions afterwards. Some of those symptoms of a concussion...some are intuitive like headache or maybe balance issues, dizziness, memory problems, ringing in the ears. But there's others not so intuitive types of symptoms and that could just be overall fatigue, mood changes, sleep problems, more anxiety, focus and attention issues. There can even be GI disturbances like nausea, vomiting, things like that. In fact, over a period of weeks, potentially even months, a person who has experienced a concussion, they may become tearful, angry, irritable. They have trouble thinking. Their thoughts may get really dark. They can experience potentially some personality changes and so much more so. The research is pointing... it doesn't take a huge blow to the head sometimes for these things to happen. Sometimes it can be what doctors would term a mild concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury.

Cassie:

Absolutely. You're bringing to mind a high school football player that I had as a client back when I was in clinical practice at Nutritional Weight & Wellness whose mother and, I give her so much credit, put the dots together and brought him in to see me. He had had a couple of concussions during football and had always been such a cheery, positive person and now had become a really depressed teenager and she was pretty sure it was the concussions. We worked to heal that and I had a few other clients back when I was in clinical practice that had had concussions and each time one of my first questions for those clients was, okay, what type of nutritional advice did you get from your doctor as part of your concussion treatment, you know, right off the bat? And you can probably guess that every single time I asked that question, the answer was always I didn't get any nutritional advice. I think you know a lot of doctors as well as just a lot of general people still don't make that connection that food choices have a big impact on healing the brain after any type of traumatic brain injury. I think when you stop to realize that the brain is the most nutrient dense organ in the body, then it starts to make sense, doesn't it? That we really need to throw a lot of great nutrition at it to heal well after a concussion. So on that note, Leah, let's talk about what should we be eating to recover well after a concussion?

Leah:

That's a great question. Like you said, these are the questions that we really start to dive into. And the first one that comes to my mind, whenever there's any kind of injury, whatever the tissue may be in the body, that protein is really, really crucial. This is still the case for healing the brain as well. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we would recommend in terms of protein getting several ounces of protein at every single meal, so at least three to five ounces of protein at breakfast and maybe four to six ounces at lunch and dinner. And if we can, we love to sneak some of that protein in at snack. It may be like one or two, it may even be three ounces of protein at a snack as well. And what does that look like? I mean, we say ounces, not everyone has a scale or they're throwing their meat into a bowl and putting it on their food scale. Three ounces, that three to four ounce range of protein might look about the size of a deck of cards.

Cassie:

Great visual.

Leah:

Most people have a deck of cards at home. So I mean if you can visualize that or even pull out that deck of cards and just compare to what you're already doing, you can, you'll really get in the ballpark just doing that. The quality of the protein matters as well. And that's what we talk about a lot too at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is quality definitely matters. Grass fed meats, if you can. The wild caught fish of course. Organic meats, organic dairy products. If you have had a concussion, we want to make sure you're eating enough of that animal protein as soon as possible. So that's a variety of different protein sources: beef, chicken, pork are some of the big ones, especially at lunch and dinner. But think about eggs for breakfast. Think about yogurt and cottage cheese. Maybe for breakfast or for a snack. Fish, if you're a fish fan. Turkey. I mentioned before, sometimes there's some GI ramifications, some digestive ramifications after a concussion, so sometimes people lose their appetite or that nausea is preventing them from eating a ton at one time. That's where protein shakes can be really helpful. So maybe for a while you're even just making a couple of protein shakes just to get those nutrients in and especially get that protein in.

Cassie:

And we have some great recipes for protein shakes on our website.

Leah:

We have TONS of great recipes for those.

Cassie:

Yes and they're all delicious. Just make sure you're using a high quality protein and you can find some different options of those on our website as well. I'm wondering if some of the listeners at this point are thinking, really, why is it so important to take these extra steps to heal my brain. I've actually gotten this question before, can't my brain just heal itself? Why do I have to make a conscious effort? To that I say the body is an amazing machine. It does always want to regenerate or heal itself. But you know, if you've been eating the standard American diet, which is full of processed carbs and high sugar foods, that might be one reason why you really need to focus on extra steps for healing. I have another reason too, but I'm getting the signal from Leah, so I'll tell you that other reason on the other side of break.

Leah:

Great. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Your diet can either help healing from a brain injury or your diet can harm it. Every bite you take could either be helpful or harmful. Research from UCLA in 2015 showed that high sugar diets interfere with your brain's ability to heal from a traumatic brain injury. So your diet really is a crucial part of the recovery process. And again, it can either help or impair that healing process. So this may be another reason to make an appointment with one of our dietitians or nutritionists, whether you just had a knock to the head or whether it was 10 years ago at this point. Call (651) 699-3438 and we can set up a phone or video appointment to get you or a loved one on a brain healing plan and we'll be right back.

Cassie:

Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you or a family member has experienced even a mild concussion, there can be longterm consequences. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we've helped many individuals with concussions over the years to learn what is necessary to heal their brain and certainly this includes a nourishing eating plan for concussion recovery. If you're not already aware, currently due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we are not seeing any clients in person but we are seeing our clients or counseling our clients by phone or by video. If you're at all hesitant to schedule yourself or for a phone or video appointment, I just want to share with you what one of our long time clients told us recently. She recently had a phone appointment and afterwards she shared with us that she really wasn't sure about whether or not she should sign up for a phone appointment. She said, "I wasn't sure how effective a phone appointment would be", but she went on to say that "after spending an hour with my nutritionist on the phone, I thought it was just great. It was so helpful. In fact, just as helpful as an appointment in person" and that's the end of that quote. I encourage you to give it some thought. We have a great deal going on right now during the month of April. If you book a two hour initial consultation, you get $75 off the price, so if you want to learn more about that or ask some more questions or if you know that you do want to book an appointment, you can call the office today at (651) 699-3438 and I'm pretty willing to bet that you'll be glad that you did. You can also make an appointment with us online if that's more convenient for you and you can do that by going to weightandwellness.com. All right, back to our discussion right before we went to commercial, I was saying that I have taken the question several times over the years of why do I have to take extra measures to heal my brain? Can it just do it on its own. I do think that one of the things we have to consider is that a lot of people in this country are eating the standard American diet, which tends to be a high sugar diet. It tends to have a lot of fats in it, so we probably already have a bit of an unhealthy brain or an inflamed brain prior to the concussion. So that's one reason why we really need to ramp it up after that brain injury. But also consider this, concussions are a major cause of psychiatric illness. And as I was researching for today's topic, I found a statement from Dr. Daniel Amen that I want to share with you. You may have heard us mention his name in the past on this show. He's a well known psychiatrist. He's written several great books and this information I'm going to share with you right now comes from one of his more recent books called The Brain Warrior's Way. And in this book he writes, "Brain injuries are a major cause of drug and alcohol abuse. Brain injuries are a major cause of depression and anxiety. Brain injuries are a major cause of ADH symptoms, homelessness, and even sometimes suicide." So keeping those things in mind, I personally think you have to really do all that you can to heal that brain after a concussion because concussions can have such a huge negative impact on a person's mental health.

Leah:

Those are really powerful statements, Cassie. These types of things may show up right after that injury or it may take weeks or months for some of those signs to show up. So it's important just to keep that little tidbit in the front of your brain. You mentioned earlier that the brain is made up of water and fat. Those are the big building blocks of the brain. After a brain injury or a concussion, it makes sense that it's really crucial to feed your brain good fats. We mentioned some of those a couple of sections ago, but these fats that you would want to choose would be things like nuts and avocados. We mentioned avocado oil before. There's olive oil, there's coconut oil, the avocado oil mayonnaise, butter, ghee, different nut butters. So that could be peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter. They make nut butters out of almost anything these days, but these are the types of fats that are going to feed a lot of nutrients into the brain and get that brain working a little bit more quickly. If the brain has been damaged, whether it's a sports injury, you get checked into the boards in a hockey game, or it's from falling off a swing, or you take a hard fall. Here in Minnesota, we have to worry about the ice at least half of the year. Slipping on the ice is one way people get injured. So it's crucial to get some of those good fats in. But then also to take out the inflammatory fats because when you have that brain injury, your brain is already in a very vulnerable, inflamed state, so we don't want to add to it. We want to take that inflammation down. The fats that add to the inflammation are things like corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oils, cotton seed oils, safflower oil or sunflower oils. These oils, they're all inflammatory in nature. They're very processed, very refined, and they lack nutrients in there. So you definitely don't want to eat any of these inflammatory fats when your brain is already working in overdrive to try to take care of that injury.

Cassie:

Exactly and I'm so glad you pointed out those bad fats. People know the good fats to eat, but you can't continue eating the bad fats as well. You want to get out the corn oil, get out the soybean oil, the canola oil, the cotton seed oil. I encourage you, most of us have extra time on our hands these days. When this program is over, take some things out of the refrigerator, take some things out of your pantry or your lazy Susan, and read the ingredient list. Because most every one of you will find a handful of items or more that contain one or more of these fats. Once you've identified those products that you have that contain the bad fats, make a note on your grocery list to look for a different brand to practice that art of substitution, as Leah talked about earlier in the show the next time you get to the grocery store. I want to stress again that there can be a lot of long lasting negative effects of a concussion if you are not diligent about healing. And so a big piece of that healing includes eating real food. I have some more research here I'd love to share before the end of the program today. This research comes out of Norway and in this study the researchers looked at 106 soccer players who had experienced a concussion. And out of those 106, 81% of them had an impairment of attention, concentration, memory, and judgment. I think it's interesting to note that all of these are functions of the prefrontal cortex. Meaning a brain injury to your prefrontal cortex certainly can affect your judgment, your concentration. In fact, it can also negatively affect your impulse control, your ability to organize and to plan, and your ability to express your thoughts.

Leah:

Cassie, that makes a lot of sense to me. I've played soccer since I was nine years old and what do we do with the soccer ball when it's up in the air? You're heading the ball and, if you want the ball to go in the direction that you want it to go, you have to hit it with kind of that top front part of your brain, which is the prefrontal cortex.

Cassie:

Totally makes sense. I did not play soccer but when you explain it that way, yeah! And that repetitive hitting like that, it makes sense that that could damage your prefrontal cortex. As dietitians and nutritionists at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we have all read plenty of research on this topic of concussions. And because of that, we really understand how critical it is to make every effort possible to first of all, avoid a brain injury if you can. We're at the end. I'm going to turn it over to you Leah.

Leah:

Okay, thanks Cassie. So our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real foods. It's a simple yet powerful message that eating real food is life changing. So thank you everyone for tuning in this Saturday morning and have a safe and healthy day. Thanks for listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.

 

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