Click here to jump over to Part 1 of this article.

Onwards, to the nitty-gritty! Your brain is comprised mainly of fat and water. Yep, you got a big ol’ lump of gooey goodness up there. Water is a pretty easy one: Drink it. (Recommended is about a gallon or so a day for an adult. Most people don’t get nearly enough.) Sooooo…What about the fat part? A lot of people have heard that fish is good for your brain. Brain food. In particular, what is good for your brain is the Omegas found in the fish, not actually the meat itself. Slightly misleading, but pretty much true. Fish is one of the only places to find these particular nutritious gems, so I hope you like seafood. If not, different fish oils are available in capsule form. I have 2 different kinds in my stockroom, so I know at least one place you can find them. Your body uses the omegas to do repairs and reconstruction on fatty tissue in particular, and naturally your brain has dibs. Over a period of time, the hippocampus (one of the 3 main areas affected by PTSD) can work on regaining mass, reforming connections and doing damage control.

Upshot so far: Drink plenty of water, and eat lots of fish or ingest fish oil. Naturally, if you are allergic to fish, don’t do that. I’ll research another way if someone needs it.

Next, stress associated with PTSD. Now THERE is a fun topic! Stress just never seems to stop building up these days. Some people handle stress very well, others don’t do that great. Interestingly enough, guess what? It’s nutritionally based! When your body undergoes what it considers “stress” (I say it that way because my stressor isn’t necessarily yours. For instance, I carry a gun, so NOT having it is stressful. On the other hand, pacifists could be stressed simply knowing a gun is in their general vicinity.) So, when your body encounters stress, it burns a particular mix of minerals to help combat it. Mainly, magnesium, a trace mineral that simply isn’t in some people’s diet for whatever reason. Guess who can’t handle stress that well? Usually…people who don’t have magnesium in their diet for whatever reason.

Now. People suffering from PTSD tend to have very LARGE triggers to stress, due to the mental, emotional and physical damage caused by the offending situation. Because of the shrinking of the hippocampus, they also have a hard time differentiating between PAST and PRESENT stress. A red car driving beside you could cause a panic attack, not because red cars are bad or scary, not because the driver currently beside you is doing anything wrong, but because it was a red car that side-swiped you, causing you to roll your vehicle into a ditch, which triggered the PTSD to begin with. (In this particular, soft-core example.) Thus, even though you aren’t in immediate danger NOW, your body responds to the remembered, and now perceived, threat and triggers an emergency state. Because of that, they tend to be in that extremely stressed state much more often than others, thus burning more magnesium in an attempt to compensate and keep an emotional and mental balance.

Upshot: This applies to everyone, but most especially those who have a hard time handling stress: Increase your magnesium intake. Leafy green vegetables, most nuts and seeds, beans, avocados, bananas, fish (again), dark chocolate (yay! From a nutritionist’s view though, don’t eat much.), there’s more.

Another component to your mental health (And thus particularly important to anyone suffering from PTSD) is the ability to fall into a deep, restful sleep. However, this problem is much more widespread, so I think I will focus on that another time. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece, and that you gathered at least one nugget of information that can help you and yours. Cheers!

Kyle Cheney

Kyle Cheney

Hello! My name is Kyle Cheney (Kouryuu), Nutritionist by day, dad and husband by night. One of the DoD Community Managers asked if I would be willing to talk a little bit about nutrition, to put a bug in the ears of my peers if you will, and it sounded to me like a great way to participate in the community and help my fellow dads to the best of my ability.
Kyle Cheney

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