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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



6 steps to improve your gut following a brain injury

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Many people live with an undiagnosed brain injury for years, or even a lifetime. For me it was a year before I was given a formal diagnosis of a diffuse axonal brain injury. (Even though my initial scans showed a bleed at the base of my brain, the doctors still didn’t say I had a brain injury. They just gave the impression that because the bleeding stopped without surgery it was nothing to worry about.) Whilst my progress has been good, my gut is beginning to complain about it all.

The brain and our gut are actually very closely linked. For example, all you have to do it think about what yummy food you’re going to have for dinner to make your stomach release it’s juices in eager anticipation. Also this is why we say “listen to your gut” when we are referring to intuition. Feeling nauseous about something or experiencing butterflies in your stomach, are all because of what your brain is thinking.

But recently I have found something even more weird is going on. Usually they said it takes around 2 hours for your stomach to digest your food. But I can find that around this time I get bloated and a few more hours later the clamps start. Finally, around 10 -12 hours after eating a meal, I vomit it back up and (apologises if this is this too graphic) you don’t need to be a scientist to know what food I had eaten earlier. Basically my stomach hadn’t even tried to do anything with it. (I’d fire that lazy good for nothing if I could!)

Whilst I am having this investigated and nothing has been confirmed yet, I can’t help but suspect my brain injury is playing a part in this. Where I had the bleed on my brain, it irritated my spinal cord. This meant for months I had to try to retain my internal organs how to work because they sort of forgot. So now I think my gut has taken a backwards step.

Anxiety, depression and stress all can have a detrimental effect on your gut’s behaviour. However, I am better on all these fronts than I have been for years. My car accident which caused my brain injury, happened 3.5 years ago. In that time I lost my career, many friends, my mum died in a tragic accident, my dad struggled with Alzheimer’s and bowel cancer, finally passing away last October. So right now I’m feeling much more stable after surviving all of that.

However chronic stress can cause inflammation, leading to autoimmune disorders. I’m wondering if this has now happened to me. So I have been looking into what I can do to make things a little easier on my gut whilst I wait for a formal diagnosis.

6 steps to help stressed guts

  1. Probiotics – These are the good bacteria that help break down your food into energy. They are found naturally in yogurt and other fermented products. Or you can top up with pills.
  2. Sesame seeds – They are rich in an amino acid call tyrosine, which is great for the hormones in your brain. It has a balancing effect on most of them, but give your “feel good” hormone, dopamine, a real boost.
  3. Vitamin B6 – This vitamin helps reduce stress hormones and can treat mood disorders like depression. A great source for this is Shiitake mushrooms.
  4. Reduce the amount of processed food you eat – Unfortunately they often contain a lot of artificial sweeteners which our bodies struggle to cope with. I have always been guilty of having too much of these and so I will have to change that now.
  5. Move away from gluten – If you have irritable bowel syndrome, gluten is a no go area. This is because it can cause bloating and constipation. But even if you don’t, it can affect the area of the brain that deals with your balance and coordination. So either way try to limit it if you can.
  6. Healthy fats – Over the years we have got used to being told to stay away from fats. But that’s not the whole story. It turns out that saturated fats can be good for us, so go for olive oil, avocados, and nuts. They can help memory function as well as being an anti-inflammatory.

A brain injury can affect a person in so many different ways, and it can be a changing situation as we develop. I know I need to do more to look after myself now, but I know I can do this.

If you want to know more about the connection the gut and the brain, you can read an interesting article by Psychology Today here.

Have you found your gut behaves differently following your brain injury? What steps have you taken to help your digestion?


9 replies on “6 steps to improve your gut following a brain injury”

Oh, Michelle, I don’t have a brain injury, but I sure have an angry gut. I’m so sorry you are dealing with both (on top of so many other tragedies). I wish I had some advice for you, but the gut is so persnickety, what works for me may not work for you. Much trial and error, unfortunately, is what many people need. All the best to you – hope you find your answers soon.

Thanks Karen. Yes even the doctor warned me how difficult it is to get to the bottom of the problem when it’s your gut. I’m just going to have to make a note of what happens and after I’ve had what to try to see any patterns.

I have cerebral inflammation from toxic mold exposure and a bunch of AIs, so my gut is pretty messed up. Aside from following various detox protocols, I am now GF 99% of the time and can say that has made the biggest difference as far as diet goes. One easy thing you can is get HLA testing to see what you might be vulnerable to and whether or not gluten is potentially problematic.

I’m sorry you have been affected by toxic mold, that sounds really nasty. But thanks for the advice that’s really useful.

I had an illness causing a brain injury 5 years ago. In the past 18 months, 4 members of my close family have suffered serious illnesses requiring them to be in hospital . The stress affected my guts, with acid causing bleeds in my stomach lining. It’s as if my brain under stress sends my stomach into panic mode.

Yes I feel my brain is doing the same thing to my guts.
I’m so sorry the last 5 years have been so difficult for you and your family. I hope things improve for you all.

Not just me then! 18 years after a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and craniotomy this is one of the most annoying problems I’ve been left with. That and the dizziness seems to be made worse by the very hot weather we’ve been having too. I’ve only just discovered your blog and can identify with so much of it. Some things improve over time, but I’ve not managed to find an answer to my mercurial digestive system at all!

Hi Barbara, and thank you for sharing your experience here. I think we all can take some comfort from knowing that others can appreciate what we are going through.

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