How our food choices affect neurochemistry and cognitive function.
Nearly 20 days after emerging from the Sago Mining disaster, lone survivor Randall McCloy began to awaken from his coma. Carbon Monoxide poisoning and brain hemorrhage topped a long list of injuries.
His emergence from the coma led to a lengthy recovery period and rehabilitation, which included the use of Omega-3 fatty acids to treat his brain injuries. After three months, McCloy was walking and talking.
Traumatic brain injuries can be marked by swelling and cell death. So far, studies in animals show fish oil has large potential for prohibiting cell death and triggering the brain’s own natural healing process and stimulating neuron growth. These are quite literally the building blocks of the brain. (See here.)
McCloy’s brain injury was unique in that his exposure to toxic gases while trapped inside the mine stripped myelin from his nerve cells. Myelin, which serves as the “protective sheath” around brain cells helps connect them to one another. McCloy’s neurosurgeon at the time, Dr. Julian Bailes believed “restoring his normal brain function was a long shot.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/19/health/fish-oil-brain-injuries/)
McCloy’s unorthodox treatment was based around extremely high doses of fish oil in an attempt to rebuild his brain, much the way a fetus in the womb builds its brain during prenatal growth. Considering that the brain itself is 30% fatty acids by weight, the simplest way to understand this experimental treatment is that the doctors were simply attempting to replace “ingredients” normally used in the building of a healthy brain.
While large-scale studies are still needed, there is strong data to suggest that Omega-3s can essentially “turn off” proteins that cause neuro-inflammation, while giving the brain its essential biochemical building blocks to re-build nearly all by itself.