Going Gluten Free after stroke and avoiding inflammatory foods.
Shortly after I first experienced the side effects of Cerebral Hemorrhage in Feb 2012 I began to research what happens to the brain after a bleed and what I could do to help the recovery of my own brain without necessarily subscribing only to the narrow-minded approach of western medicine.
Now be reassured. I am not starting another campaign about the massive shortcomings of western medicine just wanted to pass on some things I discovered and wished I had been told early on by my doctors.Stroke amongst other things causes inflammation in the brain. To help your recovery reducing the inflammation will help. In the medical world where time is of the essence doctors use drugs to very quickly decrease inflammation as stroke patients may find themselves at serious risk of permanent disability or death if the inflammation is not reduced.
The drug I was prescribed is called dexamethasone and the list of negative side effects, are almost endless. I’ve listed them below so I can demonstrate my point easier.
In the 2 weeks I was on the drug I gained 7 kilos and experienced 21 of the side effects. The one question that kept coming to mind was how am I supposed to recover my brain health if I now have to deal with these new challenges? Oh and by the way one of the side effects which thankfully I didn’t experienced but highlighted in blue is a decrease in height. In height!
So now I become even more motivated to find a way to decrease the inflammation because while short term use of Dexamethasone is helpful even if it is somewhat risky, it most certainly can not be a long term solution as the rest of these side effects are going to kill me way before any brain hemorrhage.What to do? Start googling.
There are two types of inflammation. The kind we see when we injure our toe that causes external swelling and redness to the affected area and the kind that occurs on the inside of our bodies that is not visible. Inflammation that occurs inside our bodies can occur around our vital organs, inside our gut and bowel and inside our veins and arteries. The major cause of this type of inflammation is caused by fat cells that are being stored by our bodies instead of being used for energy.
Inflammation is an immune response and is beneficial when helping to heal our bodies. When inflammation becomes long term it can cause serious complications. Some of these complications include Stroke, Heart Disease several different cancers and so many other preventable diseases.
According to people that know better than me and the endless articles being published these days about food and how it affects our health, excess consumption of certain foods and sometimes certain combinations of foods, like high fat and high sugar foods lead to storage of excess fat cells around our organs and excess fat cells leads to the kind of inflammation that occurs inside our bodies and continual consumption of inflammatory foods and beverages will create inflammation that does not ever go away and slowly decrease the health of our cells and causes serious diseases.
If food causes inflammation, then how does this stop our brain from recovering from brain injury and which foods should we avoid helping increase our chances of recovery?
As well as inflammation some foods cause other side effects that may slow down the recovery of a stroke patient.
Here is a list of 4 foods that I am attempting to avoid after Brain Injury to give my brain the best chance of a speedy recovery. No matter how serious the injuries and no matter how bad the deficits everyone can benefit from a healthier diet which supports our cells to work optimally, and if you’re a carer for someone recovering from stroke this may be of interest to you as well.
caffeine is a tasteless chemical that is commonly found in
- Cocoa beans
- Soft Drinks including energy drinks
- Over the counter medications such as pain relievers,
- Over the counter diet pills,
Caffeine has no nutritional benefit whatsoever. According to Coca Cola Great Britain Caffeine is used to enhance the flavour of certain carbonated drinks such as Coca‑Cola, adding a slightly bitter taste, and is added for its alerting properties in energy drinks.
Some people believe that it is also used because of its addictive properties to keep you wanting more.
Caffeine side effects.
- Caffeine consumption may contribute to increased blood pressure;
People that experienced a stroke caused by high blood pressure may benefit from decreasing their consumption of caffeine and along with other medication it may help to reduce high blood pressure and potentially avoid another stroke incident
- Caffeine may cause insomnia;
If you are recovering from any kind of brain injury sleep is one of the critical components to recovery. Caffeine is a stimulant and avoiding caffeine will have a positive effect on your ability to achieve a better nights sleep.
- Caffeine may not be healthy for type 2 diabetics;
There are some studies that show an increase in blood sugar levels after the consumption of caffeine. As diabetes is a major cause of stroke it may be beneficial during recovery to avoid caffeine as combined with medication, avoiding caffeine may also contribute to help manage high sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients
- Caffeine may causes heart palpitations;
People that experienced a stroke after being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrilation may benefit by a reduction in caffeine consumption as caffeine is often associated with heart palpitations. According to www.uihealthcare.org Some people are sensitive to any amount of stimulant, but we began to see more caffeine-related palpitations when espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes became popular in the 1990s
- Caffeine stimulates, or excites, the brain and nervous system;
Although this side effect of caffeine may be beneficial for some people it may be counter productive for people recovering from brain injury. Stroke sufferers commonly complain of fatigue. After Stroke the brain is already working in overdrive in an attempt to keep all the bodys usual systems operating and will not benefit from further stimulation from other sources. In fact it may increase the symptoms of fatigue and foggy brain.
- Here is a great video on how caffeine affects our brain https://youtu.be/xq0scBg5XF4
Most of us already know the side effects of alcohol are there are so many that I wont list them all but the ones worth noting in relation to stroke recovery are listed. Many patients recovering from stroke will have to deal with these kinds of conditions just a result of their brain injury and our goal to recover would to hampered of these symptoms from occurring in the first place. You can see by the list below that alcohol consumption will magnify the effects of stroke and lengthen the recovery period.These Short-term symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption are identical to those that people experience after stroke;
- Slurred speech
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
- Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)
The Long-term side effects of excessive alcohol consumption cause several preventable diseases including Stroke;
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Sexual problems
- Permanent damage to the brain
- Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation
In an article published by the National Stroke Foundation of Australia “Many specialists recommend that people abstain from alcohol for a least one year after the injury (if not permanently)”.
Going Gluten Free after stroke
Gluten is defined as a mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains, especially wheat, which is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. Glutens effect on our body is being widely discussed of late and there is a growing body of work being done to research the effects of gluten on our brains?
According to the web site mindbodygreen.com there are 55 disease linked to gluten I will list the ones that are relevant to people recovering from Stroke.
- Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
- Migraine headaches.
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
If you have experienced a brain injury or Stroke you will know that some days the fatigue takes control of your body and can make it impossible to get things done.
The explanation I received and thought logical, as mentioned earlier, is that the brain is working overtime just to keep up with the normal tasks we ask of it. It is also trying to heal itself and at the same time relearn how to do things especially in the case of a deficit where for example a limb no longer works properly or speech is lost, or memory problems exist.
The extra amount of processing can be taxing on the person recovering and takes way more energy than those tasks did when we took them for granted prior to the Stroke, hence more bouts of feeling tired and often for longer amounts of time.
Since Gluten causes brain fog and feelings of fatigue going gluten free after stroke could also minimise the impact of fatigue on the recovering brain.
Remove processed Sugar from your diet entirely
(and don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners)This must be one of the hottest topics for discussion at the moment. Spurred on by seemingly never ending new research that is now pointing to the fact that Sugar causes a whole host of serious illness and that it is as addictive as some hard drugs like cocaine.
Recently I watched the Australian documentary called That Sugar Film and the purpose of the film was to find out what the side effects of the consuming the national average of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day would do to the hosts body. The sugars to be consumed, where to be found in only foods that were considered to be health and good for you and not from soft drink, confectionery, or ice cream.
The subject had been on a sugar free diet for 3 years and the results were staggering. As per the purpose of this article I will list the effects that sugar has on the brain and why it my be interfering with recovery from Brain Injury or Stroke
- A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.
- There are links between sugar and Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s is now referred to by some researches as Type 3 Diabetes
Artificial Sweeteners are no better.
- Artificial sweeteners may in fact cause an increase in sugar levels in the blood, increase the risk of diabetes and obesity
- Change the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut leading to depression and anxiety disorders
Here is a short youtube video that gives a good summary of the down sides of sugar https://youtu.be/sLaf1dV5AyE
So am I saying wake up tomorrow morning and throw out all of the food in the pantry? No.
We have been conditioned to eat the foods that are cheap to manufacture and that the corporations want us to eat. It’s been happening for generations and its going to take a little bit of time for you to come to terms with this kind of change.
I know from my own experience that dealing with all the extra challenges in life that a Stroke Patient can face sometimes doesn’t leave a lot of time and space to do other things especially changing ones diet.
However, I found that implementing these changes and cutting foods out one at a time over 3 year, has made it easy for me to adjust and introduce food to replace what I’ve stopped eating.
If you can’t do without chocolate, well you can’t do without chocolate and what I am saying here is not to go cold turkey with these foods, as success is less likely.
I reward myself with the occasional sweet and even the odd piece of chocolate. I will drink a decaf every so often, and have a mouth full of alcohol with the right meal. My biggest weakness is Gluten. I was practically raised on bread and all kinds of delicious Greek spreads as well as Vegemite. What I have done is dramatically reduced the amounts I consume.
As a bonus from making these changes I have lost over 10 kilos in three years without exercising and do not feel bloated like I used to.
To learn more about me visit billgasiamis.com follow me on Twitter and join in the conversation on facebook.
THIS BLOG POST IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION TO THE READERS AND EXPLAINS SOME OF THE THNGS THAT WERE BENFICIAL TO ME DURING MY OWN RECOVERY. THIS BLOG CANNOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR INDEPENDANT MEDICAL ADVICE. IN MATTERS OF YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK ADVISE FROM A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, BEFORE ACTING ON ANY OF THE INFORMATION YOU READ HERE