Nutritional Therapy & Supplementation Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted on May 5, 2020

A patient suffering from a severe traumatic brain injury can go into a coma for unlimited periods of time. And even when they do regain consciousness, they have severe brain fog, memory loss, breathing problems, and are unable to eat, walk and talk for extended periods of time, which may be for several months.

Even after extensive rehabilitation, it is difficult to get back to normal activities, and feeding yourself also becomes a task that you need to relearn. Along with the trauma of the injury is the inability to absorb nutrients, especially proteins, which are required in large quantities for repairing and building new cells and tissues. 

Improving digestion and inflammation after TBI

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition common in patients with brain diseases and brain injuries that have been hospitalized and put on NSAIDs and antibiotics. In this syndrome, the increased permeability of the intestinal wall results in an inability to absorb many nutrients.

Nutrition and supplementation are of utmost importance in restoring the communication between the gut and brain in TBI patients. Three critical events following TBI, i.e., loss of normal energy production, oxidative stress, and long term brain inflammation, are the reason for an assortment of degenerative symptoms. Some doctors recommend a daily puff of marijuana to reduce these conditions.

Research has shown that that certain vitamins and minerals present in our diet can alleviate some of the long term consequences of TBI. 

  • Vitamin B3 found in white meat from turkey, chicken, and tuna,  
  • Vitamin D found in most dairy products, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel and
  • Vitamin E present in nuts, seeds, spinach, and sweet potatoes 

These vitamins are known to improve cognitive function following repetitive concussive brain injury.

Minerals like Magnesium and zinc get depleted following a TBI, supplementation with these minerals can reduce inflammation and reduce neuronal death, decreasing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Zinc and Magnesium can be obtained from nuts, seeds, tofu, wheat germ, and chocolate.

To reduce inflammation and aid digestion, packaged, and processed foods must be avoided. Sulforaphane available in a diet containing brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage turnip, and radish improves blood-brain barrier integrity, reduces edema, and improves cognition. 

Healing the inflamed intestine

Supplements that contain digestive enzymes like L-Glutamine, aloe vera, licorice root, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark are all known to heal the inflamed gut. 

Supplements that act as strong antioxidants and boost the immune system

Strong antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier include N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, high potency omega 3 fish oils, bioavailable turmeric, liquid resveratrol, and melatonin. These are efficient free radical scavengers and general antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the brain and gut.

Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and alpha-linoleic acids also show neuroprotective effects and are found in abundant amounts in flaxseeds, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts as also in fatty fish. 

Spore based probiotics, emulsified vitamin D, liposomal vitamin C, colostrum PRP, and high DHA fish oils help boost the immune system. Because of the fact that 70% of the entire immune system is found in the gut, these supplements also aid in improving digestion.