Awareness of concussion—mechanics, symptoms, lingering effects, etc.—has increased greatly over the past few years, culminating in the recently released movie Concussion starring Will Smith as the doctor who uncovered the long-term devastation concussions can have on professional football players. As with most health issues, prevention via better equipment, education and sports regulation is a major focus, but protection of the brain is a growing field of interest. This is where nutrition can play a role.
With this in mind, new research looked at 474 football players drinking protein-rich chocolate milk after each practice and game had improved cognitive and motor test scores compared to those not drinking the milk. Researchers concluded specific nutrients in the milk contributed to the improvements. “Our milk provides 20 grams of protein and five grams of undamaged BCAAs per 14-ounce serving—naturally. We use no supplements and no preservatives—it is fresh chocolate milk,” said Richard Doak, co-founder of Fifth Quarter Fresh.
BHERI and its founder Retired Army Colonel Michael Lewis, M.D., have focused on omega-3s, specifically DHA, to help recover from mTBIs/concussions. Calling DHA the “bricks of the brain,” Lewis is working on ways this omega-3 can help rebuild the injured brain. While advances in acute care, including surgery, have helped treat serious TBIs, there hasn’t been as much progress on treating mTBIs and concussions. This drove the development of BHERI’s Omega-3 Protocol for Brain Injury, which represents the current best knowledge of omega-3 supplement science and clinical research on mTBIs and concussions. Some recent scientific publications back the use of omega-3s in mTBIs and concussions. The researchers cited DHA’s structural importance to the brain, as well as its anti-inflammatory properties as mechanisms potentially at play in the many benefits to AD and mild cognitive impairment reported in several research studies. Further, they discuss the current knowledge of concussion biomechanics and resultant cellular and metabolic consequences, and how omega-3 have shown potential protective mechanisms on the cellular and neuronal levels.