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Nutrition for brain recovery after ischemic stroke: an added value to rehabilitation



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Nutr Clin Pract. 2011 Jun;26(3):339-45. doi: 10.1177/0884533611405793.

Nutrition for brain recovery after ischemic stroke: an added value to rehabilitation.

Aquilani R1, Sessarego P, Iadarola P, Barbieri A, Boschi F.

  • 1Servizio di Fisiopatologia Metabolico-Nutrizionale e Nutrizione Clinica, Fondazione S Maugeri, IRCCS, Istituto Scientifico di Montescano, Montescano, Pavia, Italy.


In patients who undergo rehabilitation after ischemic stroke, nutrition strategies are adopted to provide tube-fed individuals with adequate nutrition and/or to avoid the body wasting responsible for poor functional outcome and prolonged stay in the hospital.

Investigations have documented that nutrition interventions can enhance the recovery of neurocognitive function in individuals with ischemic stroke.

Experimental studies have shown that protein synthesis is suppressed in the ischemic penumbra. In clinical studies on rehabilitation patients designed to study the effects of counteracting or limiting this reduction of protein synthesis by providing protein supplementation, patients receiving such supplementation had enhanced recovery of neurocognitive function.

Cellular damage in cerebral ischemia is also partly caused by oxidative damage secondary to free radical formation and lipid peroxidation. Increased oxidative stress negatively affects a patient's life and functional prognosis.

Some studies have documented that nutrition supplementation with B-group vitamins may mitigate oxidative damage after acute ischemic stroke.

Experimental investigations have also shown that cerebral ischemia changes synaptic zinc release and that acute ischemia increases zinc release, aggravating neuronal injury. In clinical practice, patients with ischemic stroke were found to have a lower than recommended dietary intake of zinc. Patients in whom daily zinc intake was normalized had better recovery of neurological deficits than subjects given a placebo.

The aim of this review is to highlight those brain metabolic alterations susceptible to nutrition correction in clinical practice. The mechanisms underlying the relationship between cerebral ischemia and nutrition metabolic conditions are discussed.



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