The term brain damage, or brain injury, refers to the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Roughly 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which may result from a jolt or blow to the head. Although foods aren't known to cure or solely treat brain damage, a nutritious diet may enhance healing and support medical care in managing your symptoms.
Nuts, Seeds and Vegetable Oils
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, meaning it supports your body's ability to resist and heal from infections and disease. In a study published in "Neurorehabilitation and Neurological Repair" in 2011, researchers examined the role vitamin E may play in the resistance to oxidative stress, which often stems from traumatic brain injuries. Rats were fed a typical diet supplemented with 500 IU/kg of vitamin E or without vitamin E for four weeks before experiencing a mild brain injury. Rats that consumed vitamin E showed less oxidative stress compared to rats that did not. Top sources of vitamin E include wheat germ oil, almonds, almond butter, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and safflower oil. For added wellness benefits, replace saturated fat sources in your diet, such as butter and high-fat cheese, with nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene and lycopene. Foods high in antioxidants clean your brain from substances known as free radicals, which cause deterioration, according to YourFamilyClinic.com. They can also help reverse memory loss and restore balance and coordination. Fruits and vegetables particularly rich in antioxidants include berries, cherries, raisins, grapes, prunes, tomatoes, leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli and squash.
Whole grains contain all nutritious parts of the grain. As a result, they provide more antioxidants, fiber and protein compared to refined grains. Eating too many simple carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar, can damage brain and body function by causing sharp blood sugar increases. To guard against these risks, consume whole grain foods, which affect your blood sugar mildly. Nutritious examples include 100 percent whole grain breads and cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, pearled barley and air-popped popcorn.
The oil in cold-water fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- healthy fats that play an important role in your brain's ability to recall information and function normally, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. They may also help reduce inflammation. Fish particularly high in omega-3 fats include salmon, mackerel, halibut, flounder, lake trout, sardines and herring.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Traumatic Brain Injury
- "Neurorehabilitation and Neurological Repair"; Vitamin E Protects Against Oxidative Damage and Learning Disability After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats; Aiguo Wu; July 2011
- YourFamilyClinic.com: Foods and Vitamins That Help Brain Development and Repair Damage
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids