BY APRIL DANIELS
Traumatic brain injury rapidly induces inflammation. This inflammation is produced both by endogenous brain cells and circulating inflammatory cells. Together they drive the inflammatory response — when damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling.
Even after the initial injury, a prolonged state of brain inflammation may linger for years. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can counteract long and short term inflamation.
The basics of an anti-inflammatory diet include: Eating more plants; whole plant foods have the anti-inflammatory nutrients that your body needs. So eating a rainbow of fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes is the best place to start.
Incorporating antioxidants; they help prevent, delay or repair some types of cell and tissue damage. They’re found in colorful fruits and veggies like berries, leafy greens, beets and avocados, as well as beans and lentils, whole grains, ginger, turmeric and green tea.
Eating Omega-3s; omega-3 fatty acids play a role in regulating your body’s inflammatory process and could help regulate pain related to inflammation. Find these healthy fats in fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as smaller amounts in walnuts, pecans, ground flaxseed and soy.
Eating less red meat; red meat can be pro-inflammatory. Are you a burger lover? Aim for a realistic goal. Try substituting your lunchtime beef with fish, nuts or soy-based protein a few times a week.
Eliminating processed foods; sugary cereals and drinks, deep-fried food, and pastries are all pro-inflammatory offenders. They can contain plenty of unhealthy fats that are linked to inflammation. But eating whole fruits, veggies, grains and beans can be quick if you prep ahead for multiple meals.
In addition to healing damage caused to the brain immediately following TBI, an anti-inflammatory diet also minimizes the potential for post TBI conditions such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, migraine, seizures, and thoughts about suicide.