Posts Tagged diet

[WEB SITE] Nutritional Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury

A change in diet might alleviate some of the long term symptoms of TBI.

Posted Dec 22, 2017

 

You have just experienced a traumatic injury to your head; a series of changes are about to occur in your brain that will have short and long term negative consequences.  You just joined the ranks of 1.7 million other people living in the U.S. who experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year.  TBI is an alteration of brain function caused by external forces leading to loss of consciousness, temporary memory loss and alterations in mental state at the time of the injury.  

 

A study by the Mayo Clinic found that one-third of patients’ brains showing pathology and evidence of chronic degenerative diseases had participated in contact sports. The popular press has carried numerous stories about retired players of the National Football League who have a threefold increase in their risk of developing depression as well as a variety of worsening cognitive impairments.  Indeed, all athletes, especially young adults, exposed to repetitive concussions are at increased risk of developing cognitive deficits.

In the hours, days and weeks following initial accident a series of secondary biochemical changes develop that lead to a progressive degeneration within vulnerable brain regions. Many of these changes are also commonly seen associated with advanced normal aging and are thus rather well studied.  One of the initial changes involves a dysfunction of the mitochondria inside of the neurons of the brain.  Mitochondrial are responsible for energy production and are critical to the survival of neurons, which use a lot of energy. The injury to the mitochondria leads to a condition called oxidative stress where individual atoms of oxygen that we inhale become very toxic to the brain. Next, the oxidative stress induces brain inflammation which leads to an assortment of degenerative diseases, particularly during the years following the TBI event.  These three critical events following the TBI, i.e. loss of normal energy production, oxidative stress and long term brain inflammation, underlies the development of seizures, sleep disruption, fatigue, depression, impulsivity, irritability and cognitive decline. Although no effective treatments are available to alleviate these biochemical events in the brain, research has advanced sufficiently to understand how specific chemicals in the diet can target the negative effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.

A series of recent studies (Nutritional Neuroscience 2018, 21:79), conducted primarily using animal models, have discovered that adding certain vitamins and minerals to the diet might alleviate some of the long term consequences of TBI. I would never recommend taking mega-doses of any supplement, thus I have listed the dietary sources of these nutrients.  It is always most effective, and considerably cheaper, to obtain nutrients via their natural sources.  Supplementation with Vitamins B3 (found in white meat from turkey, chicken and tuna), D (most dairy products, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) & E (nuts and seeds, spinach, sweet potatoes) improved cognitive function following repetitive concussive brain injury.

Magnesium and zinc are both depleted following TBI.  Zinc supplementation for four weeks reduced inflammation and neuronal cell death and decreased the symptoms of depression and anxiety in rats following TBI.  Both zing and magnesium can be obtained by eating nuts, seeds, tofu, wheat germ and chocolate. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and α-linolenic acid were also shown to be neuroprotective in animal studies whether taken prior to, or after, the injury.  Thus, people who participate in contact sports might want to add these fats to their regular diet.  However, don’t waste your money on α-linolenic acid or DHA supplements; adequate amounts are easily obtained via a diet containing fatty fish, flaxseeds, canola oil, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, tofu and walnuts.

Sulforaphane was shown to improve blood–brain barrier integrity, reduce cerebral edema and improve cognition in a rodent model of TBI.  Sulforaphane can be obtained via a diet containing brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli sprouts, turnips and radish. Finally, enzogenol improved cognition when administered to TBI patients in a randomized, controlled study. Enzogenol is a water extract of the bark from Pinus radiate that contains high levels of proanthocyanidins. Once again, do not waste your money, proanthocyanidins are easily obtained by consuming grapes (seeds and skins), apples, unsweetened baking chocolate, red wines, blueberries, cranberries, bilberries, black currants, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios.

Interventional studies with natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories via the diet are becoming attractive options for patients with TBI.  Unfortunately, very few clinical trials to treat this neurological condition have been performed. Finally, because I have written so often about this topic in other blogs, I must also recommend a daily puff of marijuana which will reduce the consequences of oxidative stress and brain inflammation following TBI.

© Gary L. Wenk, Ph.D. is the author of The Brain: What Everyone Needs to Know (2017) and Your Brain on Food, 2nd Edition, 2015 (Oxford University Press).

 

via Nutritional Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury | Psychology Today

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[NEWS] Scientists can monitor brain activity to predict epileptic seizures few minutes in advance

 

Elizabeth Delacruz can’t crawl or toddle around like most youngsters nearing their second birthday.

A rare metabolic disorder that decimated her mobility has also led to cortical blindness – her brain is unable to process images received from an otherwise healthy set of brown eyes. And multiple times a day Elizabeth suffers seizures that continually reduce her brain function. She can only offer an occasional smile or make soft bubbly sounds to communicate her mood.

“But a few months ago I heard her say, ‘Mama,’ and I started to cry,” said Carmen Mejia, a subtle quaver in her voice as she recalled the joy of hearing her daughter. “That’s the first time she said something.”

Ms. Mejia realizes it may also be the last, unless doctors can find a way to detect and prevent the epileptic seizures stemming from a terminal disease called pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency (PDHD) – which occurs when mitochondria don’t provide enough energy for the cells.

A UT Southwestern study gives parents like Ms. Mejia renewed hope for their children: By monitoring the brain activity of a specific cell type responsible for seizures, scientists can predict convulsions at least four minutes in advance in both humans and mice. The research further shows that an edible acid called acetate may effectively prevent seizures if they are detected with enough notice.

Although the prediction strategy cannot yet be used clinically – a mobile technology for measuring brain activity would have to be developed – it signifies a potential breakthrough in a field that had only been able to forecast seizures a few seconds ahead.

“Many of the families I meet with are not just bothered by the seizures. The problem is the unpredictability, the not knowing when and where a seizure might occur,” said Dr. Juan Pascual, a pediatric neurologist with UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute who led the study published in Science Translational Medicine. “We’ve found a new approach that may one day solve this issue and hopefully help other scientists track down the root of seizures for many kinds of epilepsy.”

Debunked theory

The critical difference between the study and previous efforts was debunking the long-held belief among researchers that most cells in epilepsy patients have malfunctioning mitochondria. In fact, Dr. Pascual’s team spent a decade developing a PDHD mouse model that enabled them to first discover the key metabolic defect in the brain and then determine only a single neuron type was responsible for seizures as the result of the metabolic defect. They honed in on these neurons’ electrical activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG) to detect which brainwave readings signaled an upcoming seizure.

“It’s much more difficult to predict seizures if you don’t know the cell type and what its activity looks like on the EEG,” Dr. Pascual said. “Until this finding, we thought it was a global deficiency in the cells and so we didn’t even know to look for a specific type.”

Predicting seizures

The study shows how a PDHD mouse model helped scientists trace the seizures to inhibitory neurons near the cortex that normally keep the brain’s electrical activity in check.

Scientists then tested a method of calculating when seizures would occur in mice and humans by reviewing EEG files and looking for decreased activity in energy-deficient neurons. Their calculations enabled them to forecast 98 percent of the convulsions at least four minutes in advance.

Dr. Pascual is hopeful his lab can refine EEG analyses to extend the warning window by several more minutes. Even then, live, clinical predictions won’t be feasible unless scientists develop technology to automatically interpret the brain activity and calculate when a seizure is imminent.

Still, he said, the discovery that a single cell type can be used to forecast seizures is a paradigm-shifting finding that may apply to all mitochondrial diseases and related epilepsies.

Potential therapy

Dr. Pascual’s ongoing efforts to extend the prediction time may be a crucial step in utilizing the other intriguing finding from the study: the use of acetate to prevent seizures.

The study showed that delivering acetate into the blood stream of PDHD mice gave their neurons enough energy to normalize their activity and decrease seizures for as long as the acetate was in the brain. However, Dr. Pascual said the acetate would probably need more time – perhaps 10 minutes or more – to take effect in humans if taken by mouth.

Acetate, which naturally occurs in some foods, has been used in patients for decades – including newborns needing intravenous nutrition or patients whose metabolism has shut down. But it had not yet been established as an effective treatment for mitochondrial diseases that underlie epilepsy.

Among the reasons, Dr. Pascual said, is that labs have struggled to create an animal model of such diseases to study its effects; his own lab spent about a decade doing so. Another is the widespread acceptance of the ketogenic diet to reduce the frequency of seizures.

But amid a growing concern about potentially unhealthy side effects of ketogenic diets, Dr. Pascual has been researching alternatives that may refuel the brain more safely and improve cognition.

Frequent seizures

Elizabeth, among a handful of patients whose EEG data were used in the new study, has been prescribed a ketogenic diet and some vitamins to control the seizures. Her family has seen little improvement. Elizabeth often has more than a dozen seizures a day and her muscles and cognition continue to decline. She can’t hold her head up and her mother wonders how many more seizures her brain can take.

Elizabeth was only a few months old when she was diagnosed with PDHD, which occurs when cells lack certain enzymes to efficiently convert food into energy. Patients who show such early signs often don’t survive beyond a few years.

Ms. Mejia does what she can to comfort her daughter, with the hope that Dr. Pascual’s work can someday change the prognosis for PDHD. Ms. Mejia sings, talks, and offers stuffed animals and other toys to her daughter. Although her little girl can’t see, the objects offer a degree of mental stimulation, she said.

“It’s so hard to see her go through this,” Ms. Mejia said. “Every time she has a seizure, her brain is getting worse. I still hope one day she can get a treatment that could stop all this and make her life better.”

‘Big questions’

Dr. Pascual is already conducting further research into acetate treatments, with the goal of launching a clinical trial for patients like Elizabeth in the coming years.

His lab is also researching other epilepsy conditions – such as glucose transporter type I (Glut1) deficiency – to determine if inhibitory neurons in other parts of the brain are responsible for seizures. If so, the findings could provide strong evidence for where scientists should look in the brain to detect and prevent misfiring neurons.

“It’s an exciting time, but there is much that needs to happen to make this research helpful to patients,” Dr. Pascual said. “How do we find an automated way of detecting neuron activity when patients are away from the lab? What are the best ways to intervene when we know a seizure is coming? These are big questions the field still needs to answer.”

via Scientists can monitor brain activity to predict epileptic seizures few minutes in advance

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[Systematic Review] Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy – Cochrane Library

Abstract

Background

The ketogenic diet (KD), being high in fat and low in carbohydrates, has been suggested to reduce seizure frequency. It is currently used mainly for children who continue to have seizures despite treatment with antiepileptic drugs. Recently, there has been interest in less restrictive KDs including the modified Atkins diet (MAD) and the use of these diets has extended into adult practice.

Objectives

To review the evidence for efficacy and tolerability from randomised controlled trials regarding the effects of KD and similar diets.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Epilepsy Group’s Specialized Register (30 March 2015), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) via the Cochrane Register of Studies Online (CRSO, 30 March 2015), MEDLINE (Ovid, 30 March 2015), ClinicalTrials.gov (30 March 2015) and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP, 30 March 2015). We imposed no language restrictions. We checked the reference lists of retrieved studies for additional reports of relevant studies.

Selection criteria

Studies of KDs and similar diets for people with epilepsy.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently applied pre‐defined criteria to extract data and assessed study quality.

Main results

We identified seven randomised controlled trials that generated eight publications.

All trials applied an intention‐to‐treat analysis with varied randomisation methods. The seven studies recruited 427 children and adolescents and no adults. We could not conduct a meta‐analysis due to the heterogeneity of the studies.

Reported rates of seizure freedom reached as high as 55% in a 4 : 1 KD group after three months and reported rates of seizure reduction reached as high as 85% in a 4 : 1 KD group after three months.

One trial found no significant difference between the fasting‐onset and gradual‐onset KD for rates of seizure freedom and reported a greater rate of seizure reduction in the gradual‐onset KD group.

Studies assessing the efficacy of the MAD reported seizure freedom rates of up to 10% and seizure reduction rates of up to 60%. One study compared the MAD to a 4 : 1 KD, but did not report rates of seizure freedom or seizure reduction.

Adverse effects were fairly consistent across different dietary interventions. The most commonly reported adverse effects were gastrointestinal syndromes. It was common that adverse effects were the reason for participants dropping out of trials. Other reasons for drop‐out included lack of efficacy and non‐acceptance of the diet.

Although there was some evidence for greater antiepileptic efficacy for a 4 : 1 KD over lower ratios, the 4 : 1 KD was consistently associated with more adverse effects.

No studies assessed the effect of dietary interventions on quality of life, or cognitive or behavioural functioning.

Authors’ conclusions

The randomised controlled trials discussed in this review show promising results for the use of KDs in epilepsy. However, the limited number of studies, small sample sizes and a sole paediatric population resulted in a poor overall quality of evidence.

There were adverse effects within all of the studies and for all KD variations, such as short‐term gastrointestinal‐related disturbances, to longer‐term cardiovascular complications. Attrition rates remained a problem with all KDs and across all studies, reasons for this being lack of observed efficacy and dietary tolerance.

There was a lack of evidence to support the clinical use of KD in adults with epilepsy, therefore, further research would be of benefit.

Other more palatable but related diets, such as the MAD ketogenic diet, may have a similar effect on seizure control as classical KD but this assumption requires more investigation. For people who have medically intractable epilepsy or people who are not suitable for surgical intervention, a KD remains a valid option; however, further research is required.[…]

 

Continue —> Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy – Martin, K – 2016 | Cochrane Library

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[Quiz] 5 Things to Know About Diet and Epilepsy

©VesnaCvorovic/Shutterstock

Neurology Quiz: 5 Things to Know About Diet and Epilepsy

Jul 30, 2018

 

What are the main types of ketogenic diets and what advantages do they hold for epilepsy management? Take the quiz and learn more.

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[BLOG] Food for Brain: Cognitive Enhancement via Diet

by  | January 15, 2018

It is often said that we are what we eat. The food we eat is used not only to fuel our body, but also to build it. This applies to the brain as well. Food choices can influence our brain functions in both positive and negative ways. The right food may enhance brain functioning and ameliorate the cognitive decline associated with aging. In addition, some foods can improve our emotional status and prevent conditions like depression.

Lipids are good for brain—myth or reality?

It is a fact that some lipids, including unsaturated fatty acids, are necessary for brain developmentand functioning. This is not surprising if we consider that the brain is the second richest organ in lipids. Approximately 50–60% of the brain is made of lipids. But not all the fatty acids are equally good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring) and seafood are essential for the brain. These fatty acids constitute brain cell membranes. Also, they are main compounds of myelin, a fatty coat that insulates neurons (brain and ensures transmission of signals.

Omega-3 fats play vital functions in improving cognitive functions, providing proper neuronal communication and securing adequate attention. Interestingly, consumption of just one fish meal per weak is believed to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 60%. Human clinical trials showed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids might improve mood, cooperation and cognitive score in subjects with dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for neonatal development as well. A deficit in these fats in pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as in early childhood, may lead to conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Polyunsaturated (omega-3) and monounsaturated fatty acids also regulate the brain’s dopamine system. This is how they improve levels of dopamine and serotonin—the chemicals that make us feel happy. This is why diets with high fish consumption are associated with a low prevalence of depression. Cross-national analyses declared Japan as a country with the highest fish intake on the one hand and the lowest depression score on the other.

Apart from fish meals, walnuts (and nuts in general) are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They contain essential alpha-linolenic fatty acids that cannot be synthesized inside our body and need to be obtained from our diet. Flaxseed and flaxseed oils are other valuable sources of this fatty acid.  In addition to omega-3 fats, walnuts contain potential brain antioxidants—vitamin E and polyphenols.

Olive oil is an especially rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, with oleic acid as the main representative. Like omega-3, monounsaturated fatty acids help to improve cognitive functions and prevent age-related cognitive decline. These fats are also found in avocados. This is why avocado is commonly labeled as a brain superfood. It is assumed that eating just a quarter or half of a avocado daily can help maintain brain health.

Antioxidants: food for thought

Brain membranes are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that are highly susceptible to oxidation. The oxidation of fatty acids leads to changes in membrane structure that can jeopardize brain functioning. When fatty acids are oxidized, membranes are damaged or even ruptured. This makes the intake of nutrients into brain cells quite difficult. The lack of nutrients stops normal functions of brain cells and eventually causes their death.

Oxidation of brain lipids occurs when the production of free radicals is greater than their removal by antioxidants present in the body. Thus, the adequate intake of antioxidants can prevent oxidation of brain lipids and slow down the loss of brain functions. This is why berries and fruits with high antioxidant potential are often recommended as good foods for the brain. Some findings suggest that high intake of blueberries and strawberries can halt the onset of age-related cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years. What makes berries powerful antioxidants is the presence of polyphenols, chemicals that give color to these fruits. Berries can decrease aging-related vulnerability to oxidative stress. These decrease further manifests with improvements in behavior. Human trials in people with mild cognitive impairments suggested the positive impact of berries on verbal memory performance. Apart from combating oxidative stress in the brain, polyphenols can also improve microcirculation. By enhancing blood flow, polyphenols help the proper nourishment of the brain that is important for its functioning.

Another food rich in polyphenols (more precisely epicatechin) that is believed to enhance cognition is dark chocolate. It is assumed that by decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation, dark chocolate improves memory and confers neuroprotection. Still, human trials are required to establish if dark chocolate can be considered as a brain superfood.

Curcuminoids are phenolic compounds from turmeric (popular curry spice) that can enhance memory and protect from neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Although this opinion is mostly based on animal studies, it is likely that prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in India is very low due to the common consumption of curry.

A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as polyphenols and their subclass flavonoids, is assumed to suppress the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the foods containing all of these components is spinach. Spinach, like other leafy green vegetables, contains folic acid and vitamin K that are believed to help keep the brain sharp. Although vitamin K is important for producing myelin, the substance that insulates neurons, the effects of dietary vitamin K supplementation on the function of brain myelin have not been tested so far.

Other cognitive enhancers

Another possible brain stimulator representing one of the most popular drinks worldwide is tea. An interesting study in Chinese adults tracked the association between tea consumption and cognitive decline. The higher tea intake was associated with lower prevalence of cognitive impairments, suggesting that regular tea consumption may slow down cognitive decline. Interestingly, the association was most evident for black tea. The same study showed no association between coffee intake and cognitive status.

Extracts from herb Ginkgo biloba have been traditionally used for memory and concentration problems, but also for dealing with depression and anxiety. A recent meta-analysis found no impact of ginkgo on cognitive functions in healthy subjects, suggesting that the effects of Ginko may be rather minor. Nonetheless, some earlier studies showed that ginkgo together with ginseng may acutely enhance memory in a dose-dependent manner. Unlike ginkgo, human trials with ginseng showed that its consumption can improve working memory performance and mood in terms of calmness.

Although further clinical trials are needed to confirm the cognitive enhancement by many foods, it is evident that diet represents a promising tool for maintaining and improving brain health.

References

Muldoon, M.F., Ryan, C.M., Sheu, L., Yao, J.K., Conklin, S.M., Manuck, S.B. (2010). Serum phospholipid docosahexaenonic acid is associated with cognitive functioning during middle adulthood. Journal of Nutrition. 140(4): 848-853. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.119578

Terano, T., Fujishiro, S., Ban, T., Yamamoto, K., Tanaka, T., et al. (1999). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation improves the moderately severe dementia from thrombotic cerebrovascular diseases. Lipids. 34 Supplement: S345-S346. PMID: 10419198

Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 9(7): 568-578. doi: 10.1038/nrn2421

Joseph, J.A., Shukitt-Hale, B., Willis, L.M. (2009). Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. Journal of Nutrition. 139(9): 1813S-1817S. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.108266

Ahmed, T., Enam, S.A., Gilani, A.H. (2010). Curcuminoids enhance memory in an amyloid-infused rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience. 169(3): 1296-1306. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.05.078

Ng, T.P., Feng, L., Niti, M., Kua, E.H., Yap, K.B. (2008). Tea consumption and cognitive impairment and decline in older Chinese adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 88(1): 224-231. PMID: 18614745

Laws, K.R., Sweetnam, H., Kondel, T.K. (2012). Is Ginkgo biloba a cognitive enhancer in healthy individuals? A meta-analysis. Human Psychopharmacology. 27(6):527-533. doi: 10.1002/hup.2259

via Food for Brain: Cognitive Enhancement via Diet | Brain Blogger

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[WEB SITE] Top 3 Vitamins for Stroke Recovery

Top 3 Vitamins for Stroke Recovery (and Some Honorable Mentions)

During stroke recovery, proper nutrition is essential. A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight – which can help reduce your risk of a second stroke – and provide your body with the fuel it needs to heal itself.

These essential vitamins for stroke recovery can be found in supplements, or they can be found in whole foods – which is a much better way to go. We’ll cover how to do that at the end.

Important Note: Vitamins Can Interfere with Medication and Create Complications!

The purpose of this article is to inform you of vitamins that can help promote health and wellbeing.

We ABSOLUTELY recommend running new supplements by your doctor first because they can interfere with any medication you’re taking.

For example, ginko biloba is an herb that is widely used to help prevent ischemic stroke because it’s a natural blood thinner. Meaning, complications can arise if you’re already on blood thinning medication.

Be safe and be sure to run everything by your doctor. We cannot stress this enough!

Now, onto the top 3 vitamins.

1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

CoQ10 is powerful antioxidant that helps protect your tissues from the damage that toxic molecules, also known as free radicals, cause. Bodily stress caused by these free radicals is believed to play a role in many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, a precursor to stroke.

Supplementation with CoQ10 can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and therefore reduce your risk of a second stroke. Also, low CoQ10 levels have been associated with greater tissue damage to the brain during stroke.

CoQ10 can be found in most liver organs like heart, liver, and kidney… But if you’re not too keen on organ meats (and if you’re not, we don’t blame you) then you can also find smaller amounts of CoQ10 in spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.

2. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

This one is simple: Vitamin B3 can help you recover brain function after stroke. Sweet! And if that isn’t reason enough to love this B vitamin, it also helps boost ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which are typically very low in stroke survivors.

You can find vitamin B3 in tuna, chicken, turkey, and salmon. For some meatless options, you can also find vitamin B3 in peanuts and brown rice – just in lesser quantities.

3. Fish Oil

Fish oil is a great source of EPA and DHA – two omega-3 fatty acids that are excellent for a healthy brain.

Fish oil can help you in two ways.

First, fish oil can help lower elevated triglyceride levels, which are a stroke risk factor. Second, the DHA in fish oil helps promote healthy brain function.

This makes fish oil helpful for both stroke prevention and stroke recovery. Score!

Other Important Vitamins (and One Non-Vitamin)

Update: This article has become one of most popular! As a thank you for taking the time to read our blog, we added some honorable mentions.

Other important vitamins that can help boost stroke recovery are:

Omega 3’s are essential for healthy brain function because they’re an essential fat and, well, your brain is made of 60% fat! Vitamin B12 plays a strong role in both brain and nerve health while vitamin D plays a strong role in brain and muscular health.

Vitamin C can help boost your stroke prevention efforts – and your immune system!

Probiotics are interesting because they aren’t a vitamin or a mineral. Instead, probiotics are bacteria that comprise your microbiome, which consists of 100 trillion little microbes that live inside your gut. Your microbiome has a nervous system of it’s own called the enteric nervous system where it communicates with your brain through the gut-brain axis.

When this communication is impaired, all sorts of health problems can arise, including depression and impaired brain function.

It’s a thick topic and a recent discovery, so refer to this series for more information.

How to Get These Vitamins without Spending Tons of Extra Money

As you can see, many vitamins and nutrients play a vital role in protecting your health – and it can seem a little overwhelming. If you’re not too keen on going out and buying all these supplements, there’s actually a better alternative:

Eat a variety of whole foods every day.

The two keys here are variety and whole.

Whole foods are foods that most resemble their true form and are minimally touched by processing. When foods are processed, it can strip them of many essential vitamins and minerals.

For example, rice is a much better choice than processed white pasta; roasted vegetables pack way more nutrients than fried potatoes; and a blueberry/banana/yogurt parfait is much healthier than blueberry cheesecake.

When we eat a wide variety of whole foods, we’re much less likely to develop a deficiency because you have a higher chance of eating foods with the particular nutrients you need. The easiest way to do this: Listen to your body. It will tell you what you need.

Craving fish tacos?

You probably need the omega 3’s and vitamin D that fish contains. So go for it! But skip the processed restaurant version. Enjoy a nice home-cooked dinner with fish and other whole foods and your body will be satisfied and prepared to recover from stroke with all the resources it needs.

And if impaired hand function is keeping you out of the kitchen, here are some tips on how to cook one-handed after stroke.

We hope this article has helped you better understand how proper nutrition can take your recovery to the next level.

Related Reading:

via Top 3 Vitamins for Stroke Recovery – Flint Rehab

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[WEB SITE] Epilepsy and natural treatments: Can they help?

 

Epilepsy is a disease that disrupts the electrical activity of the nervous system, causing seizures.

More than 65 million people in the world have epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation estimate that 1 in 26 Americans will develop the disease during their lives.

Children are the group most frequently diagnosed with new cases of epilepsy. In the United States, 300,000 children under 14 are affected by the condition. Some may outgrow the disorder, but most will not. The number of senior citizens with epilepsy is also 300,000.

People with epilepsy have a range of treatment options, including alternative therapies.

The illness is a complex condition, however, and all alternative treatment options must be looked at carefully, to ensure they are effective.

It is essential to work with a doctor when making changes in treatment, as every epileptic seizure can cause brain damage, and the effects build up. So, any treatment must work to avoid seizures.

Causes of epilepsy

electrical activity in the brain diagram

Epilepsy is a complex disease that can disrupt the electrical activity of the nervous system.

Infections, which can cause scarring on the brain that leads to seizures, are among the more common causes of epilepsy.

Possible links between autism and epilepsy are also under investigation, as a third of children on the autism spectrum are also likely to have seizures.

In the over 65s, strokes are the most common cause of new seizures. Family history and brain injuries account for other cases.

However, the Epilepsy Foundation say the cause is unknown in 60 percent of people.

Eight natural remedies for epilepsy

People with epilepsy and their doctors are expressing growing interest in alternative therapies.

Although antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) help most people control their symptoms, these do not work for everyone. Furthermore, some people are concerned about the long-term safety of these drugs.

Complementary health practices for epilepsy, such as the eight natural remedies discussed here, are designed for use in combination with AEDs.

After talking to a doctor, and before beginning natural treatments, people with epilepsy should ensure they are working with a well-qualified and informed therapist.

Common complementary treatments for epilepsy include the following:

Medical marijuana

Cannabis sativa, or marijuana, as it is commonly known, has been used to treat convulsions for centuries. Today, it is attracting increasing attention from people with epilepsy, clinicians, and researchers.

Interest in the use of medical marijuana is particularly strong for the roughly 1 million U.S. residents whose seizures are not controlled by AEDs. Some families with young children, suffering from severe seizures, have moved to one of the 22 states where medical marijuana use is legal.

Charlotte’s Web is a strain of cannabis bred to contain high levels of CBD, a part of the plant showing promise against seizures. It is named after a child whose convulsions dropped from more than 300 a week to 2-3 a month with this treatment.

However, since broad-based, well-designed scientific studies have yet to prove the effectiveness of marijuana in treating epilepsy, doctors do not generally recommend its use.

Diet

The ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that may help to reduce seizures.

Diet is one of the earliest forms of treatment for epilepsy and is used with contemporary variations to make it easier for children and adults to adopt.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has had some success in reducing seizures in children who cannot tolerate or benefit from AEDs. It requires extensive commitment and monitoring.

The Atkins diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that is less restrictive and has shown positive effects.

Low glycemic index treatment (LGIT) is similar but allows for a targeted level of carbohydrate consumption.

Herbal treatments

Herbs are used for many illnesses by 80 percent of the world’s population. Remedies drawing on Chinese traditions have shown promise in treating epilepsy.

Some herbs, such as chamomile, passionflower, and valerian, may make AEDs more effective and calming.

However, ginkgo, ginseng, and stimulating herbs containing caffeine and ephedrine can make seizures worse.

St. John’s wort can interfere with medications and make seizures more likely, similarly to evening primrose and borage.

Caution is advised when working with all these herbs.

It is important to remember that herbs are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If any herbs are used, they should be researched and bought from reputable sources.

Vitamins

Low levels of the B6 vitamin have been known to trigger seizures.

Magnesium, vitamin E, and other vitamins and nutritional supplements, have been identified as either promising or problematic for treating epilepsy.

People taking AEDs are often advised to take vitamin D supplements to keep their systems in balance.

Along with vitamin B6, magnesium, and vitamin E, which have been found to be helpful in treating epilepsy, doctors have found treatment with manganese and taurine reduced seizures, as well.

Thiamine may help improve the ability to think in people with epilepsy.

Biofeedback

When AEDs do not work, some people have successfully used biofeedback to reduce seizures.

With the use of extensive training and a machine that detects electrical activity in the brain, the technique teaches individuals to recognize the warning signs of seizures, and train their brains to prevent a full-blown attack.

Relaxation

Stress and anxiety are both linked to seizures.

There are many different practices that people with epilepsy can follow on their own to help them feel calmer, relax their muscles, get better sleep, and enjoy a better state of mind.

All these actions taken together can help reduce seizures and make it easier for people to manage their epilepsy.

People should be cautious if trying meditation, as this can change the electrical signals in the brain.

Some essential oils used in aromatherapy, such as lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and ylang-ylang, have been found to be effective in preventing seizures when used with relaxation techniques.

However, the Epilepsy Society report that others may provoke seizures. These include spike lavender, eucalyptus, camphor, sage, rosemary, hyssop, and fennel.

Acupuncture and chiropractic

acupuncture

Acupuncture may help to reduce the stress of living with epilepsy.

While acupuncture does not seem to be helpful in preventing seizures, people with epilepsy find it can reduce the stress of living with the condition.

There is little evidence on chiropractic care, but it also may be among the natural treatments people with epilepsy find useful.

Education and avoiding triggers

Education and avoidance can have a big impact on quality of life for people with this condition.

Many of those with epilepsy find that their seizures develop in response to specific triggers. This is the case for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Learning how to avoid situations and stimuli that could spark a seizure can be very helpful. Some children may learn to avoid using video games in dark rooms, for example, or to cover one eye when exposed to flashing lights.

Do natural treatments for epilepsy work?

For many practices, there has not been enough study to give a definite answer to this question, one way or the other.

The following overview of the top natural treatments for epilepsy offers a quick summary of their reported effectiveness:

  • Diet: The ketogenic diet, usually prescribed for children whose epilepsy does not respond to AEDs, has been shown to cut their seizures by half and eliminate seizures completely for 10-15 percent of those studied.
  • Herbal treatments: Two studies of Chinese herbal compounds found them effective at reducing seizures in children and adults. But some herbs, such as St. John’s wort, can make seizures worse.
  • Vitamins: Many studies have linked low levels of vitamin B6, magnesium, and vitamin E to seizures. Treating people with supplemental doses helped reduce the frequency of seizures.
  • Biofeedback: Researchers in 10 different studies showed that 74 percent of people whose epilepsy could not be treated with medication, reported fewer seizures after they learned this technique.
  • Relaxation: Fewer seizures and a better quality of life were reported by children who took part in trials, according to research.
  • Acupuncture and chiropractic: Scientific studies have not found acupuncture to be effective for people with epilepsy. However, positive outcomes were reported for some children with drug-resistant epilepsy who tried chiropractic therapy.
  • Education: After learning more about epilepsy, coping strategies for it, and how to take medication, improved quality of life was observed for people of all ages with epilepsy.

Conclusion

Many reports on the effectiveness of complementary treatments for epilepsy come from personal experience, and from studies that are not considered conclusive.

Most importantly, people should always talk to their doctor before trying natural treatments to help ease their symptoms.

Source: Epilepsy and natural treatments: Can they help? – Medical News Today

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[WEB SITE] First-ever neuroscience conference to explore ultra-personal approach to brain health

For three days this week, Roanoke, Virginia, is the capital of the precision neuroscience world.

The first-ever scientific meeting to explore an ultra-personal approach to brain health — the Virginia-Nordic Precision Neuroscience Conference — opened this week at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

“The promise, hope, and opportunity for precision neuroscience is great — with the potential for realizing the brain and mind’s full potential, preventing disorders, and restoring brain health after injury or degenerative disease,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, who welcomed about 200 scientists on behalf of Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic. “It is also the responsibility of the scientific and medical communities to help define the real possibilities, differentiate hype from reality, and help focus the scientific enterprise and resource allocation on areas where the promise can be realized.”

More than 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system result in more hospitalizations than any other disease group, including heart disease and cancer.

“By understanding an individual’s genetics, behavior, education, habits, life experiences such as physical and psychological trauma — all the things that make people who they are — the neuroscientific community may be able to develop individually tailored plans for people to optimize education, health care, diet, exercise, and environments where they are likely to thrive cognitively, socially, and physically,” said Michael J. Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and the founding executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The collaboration grew from an idea developed by Friedlander and Tor S. Haugstad, a neurologist and neuroscience chair at Sunnaas National Rehabilitation Hospital in Oslo, Norway, worked to develop as the Norway/U.S. Neuroscience Collaboration, initially called NUNC. The effort has grown to include multiple universities in Norway as well as in several other Nordic countries, and universities and foundations throughout Virginia.

People respond to brain injuries differently, which is one of the motivations for further development of the precision neuroscience field.

“We may get two people in our department with very similar brain injuries, and one may be rendered with a low level of consciousness while the other can recover and return home to his family and work life,” said Haugstad, who also chairs the traumatic brain rehabilitation program at Sunnaas National Rehabilitation Hospital. “We need to discover at cellular and molecular levels why people respond so differently, and tailor treatment and rehabilitation to the specific person.”

The meeting, which will continue through Friday, is the first to bring the top minds of precision neuroscience from across the globe together in a think-tank setting to explore the challenges and promise of bringing personalized medicine to brain health and brain disorders.

“One individual’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, a traumatic brain injury, or various other neurological or psychiatric disorders will not be exactly like anyone else’s,” Friedlander said.

“From a business and health care point of view, clinical trials may fail because they target generic diseases that manifest very differently in different people,” Friedlander said. “If a drug or treatment doesn’t work in 75 percent of the people, it is considered a failure — but it worked in 25 percent. Should we forget about the 25 percent of people it helped and scrap potentially lifesaving therapies that may have cost hundreds of millions of dollars during a decade of development?”

By targeting groups of patients based on their predicted manifestations of a particular brain disorder, the success rate for finding new treatments will improve and the investment risk can be lessened, according to Friedlander.

“Essentially the pharmaceutical industry and investors de-risk their investments by having more precise, targeted therapies and tests that are more likely to be successful,” Friedlander said. “The treatment may be effective for 10 percent of people with a particular brain disease, but we can learn a lot about why those 10 percent may have benefitted based on their genetic composition and expression patterns and their life experiences. Then, we get back to work on a treatment for the next 10 percent, and the next 10 percent. It may not be one size fits all.”

Researchers will discuss innovations ranging from a Nobel prize-winning imaging system that visualizes the action of molecules within the brain, to the work of physician-scientists who are on the frontlines of health care delivery for brain injury, neurodegenerative diseases of aging, and brain developmental disorders.

In many ways, the conference has special meaning for the partner cities in Virginia and in Europe, Haugstad said.

“Roanoke is a city with a history of rail that, through innovation and spirit, is reinventing itself, and it is leading the way in precision neuroscience,” Haugstad said. “In Norway, a country that depends on oil revenue, the cities are changing much like cities in Virginia, by finding new ways to live and move forward. Together, we are very good partners.”

Source: Virginia Tech

Source: First-ever neuroscience conference to explore ultra-personal approach to brain health

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[TED Talk] Sandrine Thuret: You can grow new brain cells. Here’s how

Until recently, it was believed that adult brains simply didn’t grow new brain cells — what we developed as children was all we got. But now we know our brains can grow new nerve cells, in a process called neurogenesis, throughout our entire lives. Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret studies how we do that, and offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains grow — and why we should.

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[WEB SITE] Feed Your Body, Feed Your Brain: Nutritional Tips to Speed Recovery – brainline.org

A healthy diet during the recovery from a brain injury is highly beneficial. Scientists know that deficiencies in certain nutrients and chemicals can cause disruptions in brain functioning and the ability to think clearly. The brain uses calories to function. When someone sustains a brain injury, it is necessary to eat enough nutritional calories to help the brain function efficiently.

Nutritional Tips for Head Injuries

Eat small meals every three to four hours.

Keep small baggies of healthy snacks with you during the day to boost your energy, such as nuts, trail mix, apples, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and energy bars. Ask a member of your family or support group to make these for you and put them in a small cooler to take with you when away from home.

Balance small meals with a combination of protein, healthy fats and oils, and carbohydrates. Proteins include fish, lean meats, nuts, and eggs. Healthy fats and oils can be found in avocados, seeds, and nuts. Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fresh fruits, and grains. Avoid eating carbohydrates by themselves if you have blood sugar concerns. Many individuals report that sugar and chocolate increase headaches, so eat sweets sparingly.

Eat moderately. Do not overeat as it can cause you to feel sleepy.

Eat by the clock. If your brain/body signals are not working well, set a timer, watch alarm or a mobile phone to alert you that it’s time to eat.

Since weight gain is common following brain injury, this is another reason to stick to a healthy diet.

Try to eat around the same time every day. The body does best when it is on a routine schedule.

It is very important to eat healthy foods to help the brain function efficiently. Feed your brain with protein snacks throughout the day.

Grocery Shopping and Menu Ideas

Continue —>  Feed Your Body, Feed Your Brain: Nutritional Tips to Speed Recovery

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