Keep the energy alive!

This is one of those things that most people get annoyed hearing about because most of us have difficulty accepting the fact that our brains can weaken from incidents of trauma, disease and/or aging.

Its been said that brain development is similar to muscle development-it needs to be nurtured, restored and repaired whenever necessary.

While this is a difficult issue to think about, the bottom line is that our entire bodies require the essential foods that assist with keeping us both strong and cognitively aware of the world around us.

Canada’s Food Guide suggests that the following easy tips will assist with a healthy and nutritious diet profile:

1. Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. Go for dark green vegetables such as broccoli, romaine lettuce and spinach. Go for orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

2. Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Enjoy vegetables steamed, baked or stir-fried instead of deep fried.

3. Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

4. Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day. Barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, wild rice, grain breads, oatmeal and whole wheat pasta.

5. Have 2 cups of milk each day for adequate vitamin D. Skim, 1% or 2% is recommended. Drink fortified soy beverages is you do not drink milk. Select low fat milk alternatives such as yogurts or cheeses.

6. Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often. Eat at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week. Choose fish such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout. Meats should be lean and poultry should have skin removed. Use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching for reduced fat options. Luncheon meats should be low in sodium and fat.

7. Unsaturated oils such as canola, corn, flaxseed, olive peanut, soybean and sunflower can be used sparingly for cooking, salad dressings, margarines and mayonnaise.

8. Drink water regularly! Add some lemon, lime, cucumber or orange wedges if desired. Eating out? Say yes when offered water or order water to drink with your meal.

9. Unfortunately most of the treats that many of us like to eat go against the healthy food guide’s principles so it is suggested that you contact them at to review some healthier options when eating out or making a snack.

10. Various online nutrition articles suggest that some foods rich in antioxidants can assist in restoring brain function. Berries, apples, grapes and spinach are all noted for assisting in the areas of memory loss, balance and co-ordination. Omega-3 fatty acids also assist in improving brain function. Salmon and herring are rich in Omega-3, as well as walnuts. Also found in these foods is vitamin B-12, which promotes positive mental health.

Looking for a dietician or nutritional advice? Contact Eat Right Ontario at 1-877-510-5102.

Looking for a specialist in nutrition and medical exercise options? Contact Ms. Helen Roussos at


  1. Following a brain injury, individuals who exercise are typically less depressed and report better quality of life than those who don’t exercise.

     A safe and effective exercise program can play a very important role in the rehabilitation process following a brain injury.  Regular physical activity can help improve your balance and coordination, reduce reliance on assistive devices, and enhance your ability to do daily activities and thus remain independent. 

     The key is to determine what type of exercise is best for you and to follow a program that accommodates and addresses your special medical concerns.

    Range of motion exercises are a type of physical therapy that keeps the joints mobile and functioning. Range of motion exercises can be done by the individual, or with help from physical therapies in a method known as passive range of motion. Range of motion exercises help maintain strength and can be separated into short or long term goals.  Such exercises as simply extending and flexing the forearm or the lower leg help to maintain muscle tone and functioning ligaments and tendons that enable you to gradually regain strength or function of the limb over time.

    One may recover from a traumatic brain  injury (TBI) more quickly if they exercise. As “The New York Times” reported in 1997, TBI patients who exercise are “significantly less depressed, better at cognitive thinking and physically healthier” than those who do not. Neuropsychologist Wayne Gordon indicates that patients who maintained their exercise routine had to display discipline, focus and motivation – attributes that carried over to the rest of their rehabilitation.

    In one of his studies, A sample of 240 individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) (64 exercisers and 176 non-exercisers) and 139 individuals without a disability (66 exercisers and 73 non-exercisers).

    It was found that the TBI exercisers were less depressed than non-exercising individuals with TBI, TBI exercisers reported fewer symptoms, and their self-reported health status was better than the non-exercising individuals with TBI. There were no differences between the two groups of individuals with TBI on measures of disability and handicap.

    In conclusion, the findings suggest that exercise improves mood and aspects of health status but does affect aspects of disability and handicap.

    Getting Started

    -Talk with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program and ask for specific programming recommendations.
    -Take all medications as recommended by your physician.
    -The goals of your program should be to improve cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength and endurance, improve flexibility, and increase independence, mobility and ability to do daily activities.
    -You may find that it is easier to focus on your exercise if you avoid busy, crowded locations.
    -You may need to do some exercises such as cycling or walking with a work-out buddy if you have difficulty with balance or with finding your way throughout a community.
    -Choose low-impact activities such as walking, cycling or water exercises, which involve large muscles groups and can be done continuously.      
    -Start slowly and gradually progress the intensity and duration of your workouts. -If your fitness level is low, start with shorter sessions (five to 10 minutes) and gradually build up to 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days per week.
    -Perform resistance-training and stretching exercises two days per week.
    -Take frequent breaks during activity if needed.
    Exercise Cautions

    -Avoid exercises that overload your joints or increase your risk of falling.
    -Begin each exercise in a stable position and monitor your response before proceeding.
    -Reduced motor control in your limbs may restrict your ability to do certain exercises.
    -Exercise equipment may need to be modified to accommodate your specific needs.
    -Always wear protective headgear when cycling or doing any other activity in which a fall is possible because the rate of a second head injury is three times greater after you have had one head injury.
    -Don’t hesitate to ask for demonstrations or further explanations about how to perform exercises properly.
    -Your exercise program should be designed to maximize the benefits with the fewest risks of aggravating your health or physical condition.

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