SCIO Community Magazine
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Illustration of the human brain filled with healthy food.

Nutrition for Cognition

The prevalence of concomitant traumatic brain injury (TBI) in people with spinal cord injury is estimated to be nearly 40 percent (Budisin et al 2016). So, for many of us, taking care of our cognitive health is equally as important as preventing and managing the secondary health issues associated with our SCIs.

A 2016 study (Kennedy 2016) demonstrated that B vitamins, eight of them represent a group of essential dietary micronutrients that work closely together at a cellular level and are absolutely necessary for every aspect of brain function. Moreover, research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this year emphasizes the detrimental effects of processed food on brain function (processed foods are items that have limited whole ingredients and often contain artificial colours, flavours and additives).

To help support your brain function, here is a list of healthy foods that contain B vitamins to try and include in your daily diet. Equally as important, is a list of highly processed foods to avoid:

B Vitamin Foods

  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Legumes (eg. chickpeas, 
    black beans)
  • Lentils
  • Salmon
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Spinach

Highly Processed Foods to Avoid

  • Refined sugar
  • Cakes/cookies/pastries/donuts/crackers
  • Pop
  • White bread/pasta/rice
  • Hot dogs
  • Fried foods
  • Corn oil

Salmon, capers and sun dried tomatoes

Brain Boosting Recipe

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Season salmon fillets with salt.
  2. When the oil is hot, add salmon fillets flesh side down (skin side up). Sear for about 4 minutes on medium-high heat. Then, flip the salmon fillets to the other side (skin side down). Sear for another 4 or 5 minutes on medium heat until salmon is flaky. Remove salmon from the skillet.
  3. Empty skillet, add remaining olive oil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and minced garlic. Then add capers. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Add fresh spinach. Cook, stirring until the spinach wilts, for a couple of minutes. Season with salt if needed.
  5. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the salmon.
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