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Nutrition and Hydration are Key after Brain Injury (mTBI)/Concussion

Nutrition after Concussion:

Good nutrition is essential in maintaining our behavioral and physical health. Proper nourishment aids in the recovery after a concussion by helping with symptom management.

While much is still unknown about the exact relationship between nutrition and brain function, we know that when a part of the body is injured, the current belief is that specific nutrients may improve healing and help one feel better overall. The same is true for brain injury.

While the research is still growing, dietary adjustments may help to offset an ongoing inflammatory response and reduce your symptoms related to your concussion.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoiding pro-inflammatory foods (red meats, refined sugars, white bread and pasta, artificial sweeteners)

  • Replacing them with healthier options such as fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish (salmon, mackerel, herring)

  • Adding healthy fats (coconut oil, flaxseed, nuts, avocados, whole eggs)

When a concussion occurs, the brain requires extra energy (i.e., nutrition) as it works to heal the injury.

Hydration after Concussion:

Water makes up more than half of a child's body weight and is needed to keep all body functioning correctly. After a concussion, children will be more susceptible to dehydration, especially when they are just beginning to exercise again, out in the hot sun, or high humidity. Staying hydrated can help with symptom management and may help prevent spikes in headaches.

  • Drinking a variety of fluids throughout the day – not just when you are is thirsty.

  • Drinking 8-12 glasses of non-caffeinated fluids per day will adequately hydrate one, resulting in urinating about 5-6 times a day.

  • Add natural flavors to water to improve taste, such as lemon or lime.

  • Drinking smoothies or caffeine-free protein shakes that include various fruits and vegetables will provide nutrient-rich protein and hydrating fluids.

  • Avoiding caffeinated and high sugar drinks (coffee, tea, iced tea, and most sodas). Consuming these beverages may worsen headaches.

Additional Concerns after Concussion:

With a concussion, your child’s appetite may decrease. Here is how you can help:

  • Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. If hunger triggers your headaches try eating frequent small meals.

  • Offer small, frequent meals every two to three hours throughout the day instead of three large meals.

  • Provide power snacks, such as fruit, 100 percent real fruit juice, smoothies, and trail mix (dried fruit, nuts, dark chocolate).

  • Limit processed foods and foods high in refined sugar.

  • Ensure you get plenty of healthy fats such as (salmon, nuts, coconut oil, avocados, whole eggs).

  • Try to eat 7-10 different colors of fruits and vegetables each day.

If you think you or someone you know has sustained a concussion and need help finding the right care, visit Concussion Concierge at The Untold Foundation.

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