In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month and National Nutrition Month, both observed in March, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) hosted a virtual program on March 17 focusing on nutrition therapy after a cerebral lesion – brain-damage.
Located at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), NICoE is a Center of Excellence within the Department of Defense due to its diverse capabilities and overall mission to provide care to service members and families facing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health. conditions.
Ruth Clark, Registered Dietitian at NICoE, led the discussion on nutritional therapy after brain injury. She explained that following an anti-inflammatory diet and increasing antioxidant intake has been shown to benefit both mental and physical health.
A dietitian who has served diverse populations for nearly two decades, Clark said some people with mild brain injury may experience changes in their eating habits and develop eating disorders. She said a mild brain injury can cause someone who may have been active before the injury to develop a sedentary lifestyle and gain weight or, conversely, show a lack of desire to eat.
“I see it from both sides, [and some people] tell me, ‘I’ve lost my appetite’ and they’re underweight,” Clark said.
She said these are some of the reasons it may be necessary to refer someone with a mild brain injury to a registered dietitian like herself.
Clark explained that a dietitian can formulate individualized meal plans because everyone is different. Plus, a registered dietitian is aware of evidence-based recommendations “because there’s so much misinformation out there,” she said.
“The military is very prone to fad diets for quick results, the consequences of which can worsen over time and be dangerous,” Clark added. “Nutritional assessments can reveal unhealthy habits.”
DIETARY CHANGES FOR BETTER HEALTH
Dietary changes can help improve mental and physical health, including impacting chronic pain, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, diabetes and fatigue, Clark said. She added that people with poor diets are not only at increased risk of developing chronic diseases and physical problems such as diabetes, pain, heart disease and obesity, but poor nutrition also puts a person at risk. a risk of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and trouble sleeping. .
“One of my main goals when working with people who have a history of brain damage is to try to get them to move away from the Standard American Diet (SAD),” Clark said. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), SAD is low in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy oils. It is high in red meat, high-fat dairy, processed and fast foods, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, salt, and calories. “The American food supply is saturated with calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food and drink choices,” Clark added.
“We focus a lot on inflammation because after brain injury, oxidative stress and inflammation lead to prolonged effects of brain injury,” she said. Oxidative stress and inflammation are interactive and play a critical role in ischemia/reperfusion injury in the brain.
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
Recent research published by the US Department of Health and Human Services regarding the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, an anti-inflammatory diet, shows that it may slow cognitive decline with aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.
Getting started with an anti-inflammatory diet includes:
• Include fruits and vegetables with every meal
• Reduced consumption of red meat
• Increase fish consumption
• Consume dairy products only several times a week
• Increase consumption of whole grains such as quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice
• Eat fresh fruit for dessert and save ice cream or cookies for special occasions
Foods that should be avoided or reduced include:
• Added sugars: sodas, candies, ice cream, table sugar and many other sugars
• Refined cereals: white bread, pasta made from refined wheat, etc.
• Trans fats: present in margarine and various processed foods
• Refined oils: soybean oil, cottonseed oil and others
• Processed meat: processed sausages, hot dogs, etc.
• Ultra-processed foods
Nine foods Clark recommends people eat regularly include:
• Green leafy vegetables
• Fruits, especially berries
• Olive oil
• Whole grains
BENEFITS OF ANTIOXIDANTS
Clark explained that antioxidants, which include vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, counteract oxidative damage caused by certain foods and stress caused by brain damage. She said foods high in antioxidants include:
• Vegetables: artichoke hearts, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes
• Nuts: walnuts, almonds, flax seeds
• Fruits: berries, tart cherries, grapes
• Whole grains: rolled oats, quinoa
• Dark chocolate
• Tea: green, black, white, oolong
She added that anti-inflammatory spices that are healthier substitutes for salt include paprika, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, sage and cumin.
Clark said a sample menu for an anti-inflammatory diet might be:
• Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries, nuts and oats
• Lunch: whole grain sandwich with roast chicken and vegetable soup
• Dinner: baked chicken or turkey, roasted vegetables and quinoa
Another example of a diet can be:
• Breakfast: eggs with fruit
• Lunch: vegetable soup and vegetable wrap
• Dinner: grilled salmon served with brown rice and vegetables
She added that people shouldn’t eat meals within two hours of going to bed and nighttime snacks should be high in protein and low in carbs. She also said alcohol and caffeine consumption should be reasonable.
Clark stressed that hydration is key, explaining that “dehydration can make symptoms like headaches and fatigue worse.” Above all, people should drink water and reduce their consumption of sodas and sugary drinks. “Men should drink at least 13 cups of water per day (104 ounces) and women should drink at least nine cups of water per day (72 ounces).” She recommends people drink at least half their body weight in ounces of water daily.
SET SMART GOALS
Clark explained that some research shows that the harder people try to diet, the more weight they gain in the long run. “Extremely restrictive diets are very difficult to sustain over the long term.”
Rather than trying restrictive diets, Clark encourages people to set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Here are some examples of SMART goals:
• “Starting Monday, I will drink water instead of one of the sodas I drink at work. After a month of sticking with it, I’ll think about reassessing or adding a new goal.
• “From next week, I will eat fruit every day for breakfast. I’m going to do this for three weeks. Then I will decide if I want to continue or add another goal at that time.
• “Starting tomorrow, I won’t eat after 8 pm. Only water until I wake up the next morning. I’m going to do this for three weeks and see if it makes any difference to my weight or my sleep.
“Nutritional interventions can improve mental and physical health. Working with a dietitian can improve long-term outcomes and the success of lifestyle interventions,” Clark concluded.
|Date posted:||28.03.2022 14:03|
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