Accidents happen, and it’s very common for children, adolescents, and adults to sustain a concussion. After a concussion, we at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights suggest seeking medical attention to ensure you can make a full recovery. You can do a few things to support recovery from home, including making a few adjustments to your diet. Here is a guide to the best (and worst) foods for concussion recovery.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a mild to severe traumatic brain injury that can occur in people of any age. Typically, people get a concussion from a bump, blow, or sudden jolt to the head or body. During the impact, the head and brain move back and forth, injuring the brain. Concussions can affect brain function, so assessing for symptoms after hitting your head is important. We can provide a concussion assessment at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights if you schedule an appointment at one of our offices.
There are a variety of symptoms that may occur after a concussion. You may not notice symptoms immediately, so it’s best to monitor the injury for a few hours or days. Some common concussion symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Mood swings
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating
- Sensitivity to noises and lights
- Blurred vision
- Mental fog
If you or your child is experiencing these symptoms after a bump or blow to the head, it’s important to seek medical attention to treat the concussion properly. A concussion can alter the chemicals within your brain, inflaming your brain tissues. Additionally, magnesium and zinc levels often drop after a concussion, which can explain the appearance of some common concussion symptoms.
What Foods Should You Eat After a Concussion?
Because the chemical and nutritional levels change in your brain after a concussion, eating certain foods will replenish your brain’s supply of nutrients and help the healing process. Ensure that you get the proper nutrition to help your brain heal as you rest at home so you can return to normal activity as soon as possible. Maintaining a regular diet while recovering is important since your body needs fuel to heal. Here are some foods to consider eating after receiving a concussion:
Water is one of the most important things to consume after a traumatic brain injury. Your brain uses water to digest and absorb all the other nutrients you consume. Drinking plenty of water during your recovery can help your body and brain make the most of the other nutrients you’re taking in. Water can also help regulate your temperature, which is important for post-concussion recovery.
It’s helpful to eat assorted fruits. Fruits contain natural sugars that your brain can use for fuel, and they have a plethora of healthy nutrients your body needs. Blueberries contain a high level of antioxidants, which can reduce the inflammation in your brain. Cranberries also help with this. Other fruits are great sources of fiber, which can help with digestion.
If you’ve been diligent about drinking your water, you can also sip on green tea during your recovery. Drinking tea can restore alertness, refresh your memory, and help you feel relaxed. This is a great way to avoid stress during your recovery from a concussion.
Pecans and Walnuts
Snacking on walnuts, pecans, or other nuts is another good choice. They contain antioxidants, just like fruits, but also promote brain function. The healthy fats in pecans and walnuts can help restore your brain to its former glory.
Another good food to eat after a concussion is broccoli. Broccoli is full of vitamin K, which can improve your cognition and memory. This is vital because a concussion could have lasting impacts on your brain function. Eating broccoli is one way to fight the injury and restore brain function.
You can even enjoy some delicious dark chocolate while recovering from a concussion. Dark chocolate is good for your brain, as it helps replenish the supply of magnesium. It’s best to find dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to ensure you get the maximum benefit.
Mackerel and Salmon
Consider eating fish full of healthy fats, like mackerel and salmon. These fish have omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate recovery. However, if you don’t enjoy eating fish, you can stick to walnuts, pecans, and chia seeds as an alternative.
Spices and Fresh Herbs
Since you’re trying to restore your brain’s supply of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, you can add spices and fresh herbs to your post-concussion nutrition plan. These provide an extra boost of the nutrients that your brain needs to thrive.
What Foods Should You Avoid After a Concussion?
Just as there are plenty of foods that can support healing, there are some that can delay or prolong your recovery. Some foods may even worsen your concussion symptoms, making a recovery more painful. Here are a few foods to avoid after a concussion:
The main thing to avoid after a concussion is alcohol. Even without an injury, alcohol interacts with your brain function. When you’re recovering from a concussion, you can worsen your symptoms by consuming alcohol.
Consider avoiding processed meat, such as salami or sausage. Foods containing processed sugar are also good to avoid, as they are high in saturated fat. Unlike the healthy fats in fatty fish, saturated fat can hamper your brain from recovering quickly. It’s best to avoid these foods until you’re feeling better.
Like alcohol, caffeine can negatively impact your brain’s cognitive recovery. It’s important to limit your intake of caffeine since it can interact with your digestion and appetite. Instead of drinking coffee, try drinking tea or lemon water in the morning to make the most of the nutrients you’re putting in your body during recovery.
Whenever anyone suffers from a blow to the head, it’s important to assess for symptoms regularly. Contacting medical professionals is the best way to learn how to treat a concussion. You can reach out to us at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights or visit our clinic if you think you or your child has sustained a concussion.