I am going to start out by saying this: this post has been one that has been on the forefront of my mind for quite some time now.. yet, it has been hard to find the courage to write it. God works in really mysterious and undeniable ways, which is why I have found myself sitting down at my computer typing the words to follow.
Rico and I were talking last week, I think Saturday (the irony), about how I need to write a post educating my readers (especially those who have loved ones that play in the NFL) about the reality of “brain health.” After some conversation we decided that maybe now isn’t the right time. It’s scary. It’s easier to ignore. Blah blah blah. I know, I know.. you probably feel like the guys are educated about this at work, and that movies such as Concussion (still haven’t watched, don’t plan to any time soon) have taught you everything that you need to know– but the truth is, there is still a lot for us to learn about the reality of head trauma, especially in the years following a career in the NFL. It is scary, it is undeniable, and it is one of those things that ignoring the reality won’t change the outcome. One of my greatest fears is that R spends all of these years living his dream, only to find himself years after suffering from the consequences. I literally pray before every kick off “Lord, protect Ricardo, from the top of his head, to the bottom of his feet”, every. single. game, because after all, this is my reality, this is my real life– this is my husband, the father of my children, the man who has a mind that stimulates me to think in ways that I never have before and causes me to laugh harder than anybody else can..and I want to protect him, I want him to live his dreams, live out his career, and live the rest of his life as he deserves to live it– with the same sharpness of mind.
A dear friend of ours has been experiencing the consequences of head trauma (which has been heavily referred to as CTE) in the NFL firsthand (with her husband, and father of their multiple children) over the course of the last year, and I can’t lie, it has been devastating to watch from the outside. It has literally forced R and I into conversations (that if I am being honest, otherwise probably wouldn’t have happened). I have been so inspired and moved by the way that my friend has handled this situation, and it has led me into a lot of deep conversations with her– ranging from things such as “what do you wish you would’ve known during his career that you know now?”, “is there anything that you have learned that people currently playing can do to prevent the downfall in the years following”– and being the strong woman that she has proven herself to be, she has taken it upon herself to not play the pity card (as she VERY well deserves to play while she watches life around her change in ways that she never could have dreamed), but to educate herself and have the difficult conversations with those that she loves who have loved ones who play..one of those people, being me. A, if you are reading this– thank you for inspiring me, challenging me and pushing me to not only be a wife that is supportive, but a wife that takes it upon herself to learn and do what I can do on the home front to help protect my husband and family. I love you.
As I mentioned above, God works in mysterious ways, and apparently He wanted this post to be written, He wanted these words to be shared, because during Sunday’s game after making a massive hit, R was taken off the field and to the locker room and evaluated for a concussion. Yup, can’t make this stuff up. His team is amazing and they are incredibly proactive about head trauma with their players, which I am so thankful for, and R has been getting evaluated and treated daily. As scary as this stuff is, the good news is that there are things that you can do at home to help protect your brain– before trauma, during trauma and following trauma. I know this may be different from the content that you typically find here, but I felt selfish keeping this knowledge to myself and my family, and even though this makes me so uncomfortable to talk about, it is important.
You guys know that I love to cook, and I am truly fascinated by the health benefits that certain foods hold– I once read that the food we consume either feeds or treats disease, and that kind of changed my life forever. Many of you don’t know, but I planned on being a doctor. I did my undergraduate studies in Health Sciences and then went on to get my Master’s in Public Health, with a focus in Epidemiology and Community Health. Although I do not make a paycheck, or currently work in any of the above fields, I have taken it upon myself to implement the knowledge learned in school into the life of my family and those around me. I’ve heard through the grapevine that some call me “granola and crunchy”… but little do you people know, that is one of the greatest compliments that you can pay me. So, thanks. On that note, be prepared when you come to my house and ask for sugar for your coffee and I reply “sorry, I don’t have sugar, but I do have agave.” Embrace the agave, or bring your own sugar. You’ll thank me someday.
Below are some of the foods that are staples in the diets of my family. Mostly, because they are healthy and delicious and also because they are proven to have brain health benefits.
- Avocados: help to prevent blood clots in the brain (stroke), and help to improve cognitive function.
- Beets: reduce inflammation, help rid blood of toxins and have been shown to boost blood flow to the brain.
- Coconut Oil: suppresses cells that are responsible for inflammation, can help with memory loss.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: helps to fight against ADDL’s (proteins that are toxic to the brain and feed Alzheimers Disease). It is best to be consumed at room temperature (think in salad dressing), not for cooking– as I have mentioned before, high temperature cooking is better with Avocado Oil.
- Salmon: one of the most nutritious, brain food friendly options out there. Salmon is loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids– helps with reducing brain fog and improved memory. Some studies have recently shown that children that are fed Salmon are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD by improving their focus. Some of these same fatty acids have been shown to prevent cancer and kill tumors.
Below are some of the supplemental things that I refer to as “staples” in R’s routine
- Nerium International EHT Brain Formula: 20 years of research by Princeton professor Dr. Jeffry Stock, led to the development of EHT. Our friend that I speak of above first mentioned this “miracle brain pill” to us back in June, and R has been taking it daily ever since. As you guys know if you follow along at all, I am very slow to endorse anything without seeing first hand the benefits, or “what makes this worth it.” Having said that, I will give anything a try that is proven to make a difference in our health. Having said all of this, R will not probably go a day in his life without taking EHT, during his days playing football and following, and truth be told, once I am no longer pregnant (I am sure it would be fine, but I am slow to introduce anything new) I believe that I will do the same. Dr. Stock’s research suggests that the EHT extract helps to keep neural connectors healthy and strong. Flash back to High School science, neurons are responsible for transmitting information and as we age, suffer head trauma, concussions, etc, these connections weaken and become unhealthy– which then leads to memory loss, delayed reaction time and lowered mental alertness. Obviously, this EHT pill isn’t proven to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease– but, what I will tell you is that it helps. If you wish to purchase EHT, you can do so through the Nerium website, or through Amazon– both are linked at the bottom of this post so that you can read more.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): The truth is, so many things that I have learned as of lately I can attribute to R being a professional athlete. People out there are so quick to assume “what kind of guy” a professional athlete is, and let me just tell you– 9/10 society is SO insanely wrong. These men are educated and progressive and I learn a lot about the “not so talked about” health world just from being around Rico and his teammates. Being a professional athlete gives you access to things and services that the average person doesn’t think twice about– after all, their body’s are their machines, and their machines must function at the highest level, ALL THE TIME– which leads me to HBOT. HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room, or “tube” where the air pressure is raised to 3x higher than normal air pressure. Obviously, then your lungs are able to transport more pure oxygen to your blood which then carries this oxygen throughout the body which helps to fight bacteria, stimulate growth factors and stem cells, which promotes healing. Not only is HBOT amazing for athletes, it is amazing for just about anybody else. The amount of time needed in the room/tube depends upon the injury that you are trying to treat. Some can be “treated” with one session, where others may take far more. We have friends that swear by an hour of HBOT each night, and others who sleep their full night sleep in theirs once a week. We are looking to purchase our own “tube” for our house in the very near future due to the amazing benefits.
This post took a lot for me to write. It caused me to really step out of my comfort zone. I can write up recipes and talk about skin care and motherhood all. day. long…but, talking about something that is so real for so many people isn’t easy. I don’t know if I chose my words correctly, and I truly hope that I didn’t offend, or take brain trauma “too lightly” (that wasn’t my intention at all). My intention was to write from my heart with the hopes of educating all of the other families out there who’s husbands, boyfriends, loved ones, step onto a football field. Living your dream comes with a price, but as far as I am concerned for my husband, post career brain damage doesn’t have to be one of them. As I mentioned above, none of these things are proven to “cure” anything– but, doing nothing, isn’t helping either. Take matters into your own hands. Stop being naive. Know that small steps today can make all of the difference down the road. and. as always, I am here for further conversation about any and all of what I wrote about in this post. Love you guys, thanks for reading.