Food for the brain was at the forefront of the latest Brainwaves session on Thursday 27th June, presented by Sian Riley from Red Pepper Nutrition. Sian is an experienced Dietitian who prioritises the social and psychological aspects of food to provide effective dietary changes for her clients.
Sian discussed the importance of nutrition in acquired brain injury rehabilitation and how nutrition can have a significant impact upon a client’s physical, as well as mental health, when dealing and recovering from a neurological condition.
Importance of Nutrition in ABI Rehabilitation
Throughout her presentation on ‘Food for the Brain’, Sian used the metaphor ‘my body is a temple’ to highlight the importance of looking after the body, and how rehabilitation can significantly affect the way the body works. She informed the audience that rehabilitation often begins in a state of malnutrition, which can be caused by a lack of good nutrition. Malnutrition can cause decrease in mobility and an increase in dehydration, choking and aspiration. Poor nutrition can impact on the client’s quality of life and their joy of eating, as well as increasing the chance of catching pneumonia.
Sian discussed how nutrients such as protein, amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals are all important when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Poly unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids that are pro-inflammatory (such as Omega 6) and anti-inflammatory (Omega 3) are important to protect and repair of the brain.
Sian also highlighted how to recognise malnutrition, including the MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool) score, dietetic assessments, clinical history, assessing dietary intake and a loss of lean body mass.
Food is Complex
The presentation also highlighted how food is a complex process that involves a variety of nutritional, psychological and social aspects. For instance, food can be considered as social, as it is consumed at celebrations, shared in communities or families and is sometimes seen as a way of showing love. Nutritional needs include a balanced and varied diet including a range of protein, fruit and veg, and fibre.
However, nutritional needs can also lead to psychological issues. Food can bring enjoyment and pleasure to people, but for some, such as ABI clients, it can also bring guilt and shame. There is a risk of becoming controlling over different types of foods, body image issues, and disordered eating. This is where a dietician, such as Sian, would be able to advise on the best practices for a client so they can take a healthy control of their diet and fall back in love with food again.
Prioritising nutrition for acquired brain injury
Nutrition is the foundation of health and rehabilitation and even though it may not seem simple as it is a way of life, the simplicity of a varied, balanced diet will provide clients with independence, empowerment and improve their quality of living. Sian advised that it is important to prioritise nutrition when dealing with clients who have acquired brain injury, and it is beneficial to intervene with a client’s diet to educate them early, in order to eliminate further damage to the body.
Thank you to Brainwaves
After presenting, Sian Riley added: “Thank you Brainwaves for the opportunity to present about the importance of ‘food for the brain’ for optimal health and rehabilitation. June’s Brainwaves training provided a great opportunity to raise awareness, discussion and collaboration of nutritional issues in rehabilitation.”
She added: “The multidisciplinary training of Brainwaves is so valuable to ensure we are working together to get the best outcomes for our clients, and I look forward to future Brainwaves sessions.”
Sian is currently re-presenting the content of the presentation on her Twitter. If you’d like to find out more about Food for the Brain in ABI Rehabilitation, please follow Sian Riley at @RedPepperNutri
Brainwaves was formed by Colin Green of Physio Matters Neurological Ltd and Louise Sheffield of Active Case Management Ltd to provide interdisciplinary training sessions for professionals working in brain injury rehabilitation. Sessions are free and held every 2 months at Hollinwood Business Centre in Oldham.
Open to therapists, case managers, social workers, support workers, lawyers and anyone working in the field of acquired brain injury, Brainwaves shares informal clinical training. This covers clinical topics such as HCPC audit process, insight after brain injury, serial casting, hydrotherapy, and many more.
The next free Brainwaves event is on Thursday 29th August with Lead Orthotist, Conor McDaid from Great Gait who will be discussing ‘Making Strides in Orthotic Decision-Making’. The session will run from 11:00am – 12:30pm.
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