Yearly, 1.6 million to three.8 million circumstances of gentle traumatic mind damage (MTBI) associated to sports activities are estimated to happen within the U.S.1 Concussions are one instance of an MTBI. They happen when a bump, blow or jolt to the top or physique causes the top and mind to maneuver forwards and backwards quickly. The jarring motion can stretch and harm mind cells whereas additionally resulting in chemical modifications within the mind.2

The Nationwide Soccer League is well-acquainted with concussions, because it’s estimated that 0.41 of them happen throughout each NFL sport.3 For these not concerned in aggressive sports activities, concussions could happen as a consequence of falls,4 automobile accidents or different accidents.

As the risks of concussions, particularly repeated ones, have grow to be well-known, analysis into their causes and results has elevated, with one research exhibiting that the majority concussions and repetitive head influence exposures amongst faculty soccer gamers happen not throughout video games however throughout preseason coaching and soccer practices.5

This has prompted requires prevention methods and schooling, as concussions have severe implications for long-term neurological well being. Jay Cutler, a former quarterback who performed within the NFL for 12 seasons with the Bears, Broncos and Dolphins, is now dealing with the repercussions of repeated concussions; he’s sharing the pure choices he’s turning to for hope of restoration.6

Repeated Concussions Can Result in Mind Illness

Persistent traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive mind illness that was as soon as believed to have an effect on primarily boxers however is now recognized to happen in all forms of contact sports activities and the navy7 — any exercise that results in repeated concussions places you in danger. In response to the Concussion Legacy Basis:8

“In CTE, a protein known as tau misfolds and malfunctions, causes different proteins to misfold, and units off a sequence response the place this malfunctioning tau slowly spreads all through the mind, killing mind cells. CTE has been seen in folks as younger as 17, however signs don’t usually start showing till years after the onset of head impacts.”

Early signs, which can start as early because the affected person’s 20s, embrace temper and habits modifications, progressing to:9

Issues with impulse management


Temper swings




Issues with sleep

Quick-term reminiscence loss


Impaired judgment


CTE doesn’t sometimes happen after one or two concussions. Most people affected have had a whole bunch or hundreds of blows to the top, together with not solely concussions but in addition many lesser impacts that don’t trigger “full-blown” concussions, however which regularly are the most important issue.10 Cutler suits the outline of these most prone to CTE and has said, “CTE, it’s coming sooner or later.”11

“I’ve broken sufficient issues and mind components and coronary heart and every thing in my life, if I make it to 80, or something after that, I’ll be completely satisfied,” he stated … “I might say undoubtedly my reminiscence isn’t the identical because it was 5 years in the past.

The quantity of concussions I’ve had are in all probability within the double digits. It’s gonna catch as much as me sooner or later. I’m simply attempting to delay it as a lot as potential.”

Omega-3s and Low Sugar for Mind Well being

Realizing his danger of mind illness is excessive, Cutler is being proactive in doing all he can to guard his mind well being. “Making an attempt to chop sugar. Heavy quantities of fish oil have been tied to well being within the mind,” Cutler stated.12 Certainly, each day sugar consumption impairs spatial reminiscence and inhibits neurogenesis within the hippocampus, a mind space concerned in studying and reminiscence processes.13

Animal research have additionally proven {that a} high-sugar weight-reduction plan tends to change inhibitory neurons within the prefrontal cortex,14 the place decision-making and impulse management are centered. Other than impaired impulse management and the shortcoming to delay gratification, this alteration may additionally improve the danger of psychological well being issues.15

So, reducing down on sugar is a clever transfer on Cutler’s half. Even in the event you’re in any other case wholesome, with out Sort 2 diabetes or glucose tolerance, consuming an excessive amount of sugar, and the associated larger blood sugar ranges it causes, has a destructive impact on cognition, probably by inflicting structural modifications in areas of the mind related to studying.16

Including in omega-3 fats can be clever, as omega-3 fat are important to your mind. A research within the journal Neurology discovered “older girls with the very best ranges of omega-3 fat … had higher preservation of their mind as they aged than these with the bottom ranges, which could imply they might preserve higher mind operate for an additional yr or two.”17

As well as, older adults with reminiscence complaints who consumed docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alone or together with eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), had improved reminiscence.18 EPA and DHA are two forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Low DHA ranges have been linked to reminiscence loss and Alzheimer’s illness, and a few research counsel degenerative mind illnesses could doubtlessly be reversible with ample DHA.19,20

When it comes to mind trauma, particularly, DHA could assist the mind resist oxidative stress whereas preserving membrane homeostasis and performance after damage. College of California at Los Angeles researchers steered that dietary DHA could “counteract broad and elementary features of TBI [traumatic brain injury] pathology which will translate into preserved cognitive capability.”21 As well as, omega-3 fat could also be useful for concussions by:22

  • Decreasing organic markers of mind damage and mobile apoptosis
  • Defending towards lowered plasticity of neurons and impaired studying when used previous to a concussion
  • Sustaining genomic stability and mobile homeostasis

Whereas Cutler talked about fish oil, the best sources for EPA and DHA embrace cold-water fatty fish, like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies. If you don’t eat these fish regularly, take into account taking a krill oil complement. You may study extra about why krill oil is preferable to fish oil within the infographic under.

krill oil vs fish oil

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Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) for Mind Damage

Cutler can be utilizing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) to assist protect his mind well being — one other stable possibility. NAD is an important signaling molecule23 that’s additionally believed to play an vital function in longevity. That is partly as a consequence of its function as a vital substrate for sirtuins,24 that are enzymes associated to wholesome ageing, in addition to its function in DNA restore.

NAD modulates vitality manufacturing and plenty of enzymes and in so doing controls a whole bunch of processes in your physique together with the survival of cells and vitality metabolism. NAD is influenced each day by what you eat, train ranges and extra, and likewise declines with age, resulting in modifications in metabolism and an elevated danger of illness.25

NAD depletion is widespread in circumstances of neurodegeneration and concussions.26 In a mouse research, intracortical administration of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a precursor to NAD, helped shield towards central mind damage.27 Cutler stated:28

“I’m doing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) remedy. I’m doing it via IVs now. NAD is in all of the cells in your physique, the mitochondria, the vitality that pushes every cell to operate.

As you grow old, you lose NAD. So I’m doing NAD remedy, which, at a core stage, helps every thing in your physique. I’ve observed that that’s undoubtedly helped me. Something I can do nowadays, I’m attempting to become involved in.”

A research is underway in faculty soccer gamers to find out if NR supplementation (750 milligrams a day for 12 weeks) impacts the degrees of NAD within the mind.29 If the outcomes are favorable, it might pave the best way for NR for use as a preventive software for managing sports-related concussion and TBI.30

Concussions Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Even in the event you’re not knowledgeable athlete, the repercussions of a concussion will be vital. Many individuals don’t search medical consideration after falls or different blows to the top, but it surely’s vital to be looking out for concussion signs, which might final for days to months:31

Unable to recall occasions previous to or after successful or fall

Seems dazed or surprised

Forgets an instruction, is confused about an task or place, or is uncertain of the sport, rating, or opponent

Strikes clumsily

Solutions questions slowly

Loses consciousness (even briefly)

Reveals temper, habits, or character modifications

Headache or “strain” in head

Nausea or vomiting

Stability issues or dizziness, or double or blurry imaginative and prescient

Bothered by mild or noise

Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy

Confusion, or focus or reminiscence drawback

Feeling off or “not proper”

Since extra head accidents after a concussion can result in vital damage, keep away from actions which will additional injure your mind. Kids and teenagers, as an illustration, shouldn’t return to sports activities till the concussion is absolutely healed. You’ll want to get satisfactory sleep within the aftermath and keep away from strenuous bodily or psychological exercise. Chances are you’ll must take extra frequent breaks throughout work or education.32

Extra Pure Methods for Concussions

Should you’ve had a concussion or know somebody who does, “The Concussion Restore Guide: A Sensible Information to Recovering From Traumatic Mind Accidents” by Dr. Dan Engle, board-certified in psychiatry and neurology, could assist. Amongst his high methods for repairing neurological operate in case of injury like a concussion are:

Flotation remedy, which induces sensory deprivation; with out environmental stimuli, your mind has extra vitality to place towards recuperation

Omega-3 fat

Vitamin D

Melatonin, significantly in the event you’re having points with sleep


Pulsed electromagnetic discipline remedy

Transcranial direct present stimulation


Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), which entails publicity to high-pressure oxygen at totally different concentrations inside a strain chamber, has additionally proven promise for enhancing mind damage33 and different neurological circumstances.34 Traumatic mind damage is certainly one of solely 15 circumstances for which U.S. insurance coverage firms pays for HBOT.35

In case your concussion signs are extreme or persistent, it’s best to search medical help, and remember the fact that your mind should be recovering for months and even years following a concussion.36 Due to this, methods to optimize your brain health in each the brief and long run shall be useful.