Healing a Broken Brain Through Functional Nutrition with Cavin Balaster – EP070

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Seven years ago, Cavin Balaster sustained a two-story fall. He was diagnosed with diffuse axonal injury (DAI) and given less than a 10% chance of regaining consciousness beyond a vegetative state. Cavin did wake up, but he suffered from severe brain fog, double vision and a number of serious infections. He could not eat, walk or talk for several months. How did Cavin repair his broken brain? What role did functional nutrition and neuro-optometry play in his recovery?




Today, Cavin is a speaker, educator, blogger and author of How to Feed a Brain, his account of the role nutrition played in healing his brain. He also hosts an award-winning blog and the Adventures in Brain Injury podcast, where he shares what he learned in the process of recovering from TBI with the intention of helping families, practitioners and survivors of all kinds.

On this episode of Ali Fitness, Cavin shares his story of recovering from a traumatic brain injury, walking us through the nutrition and leaky gut protocol he used to heal. Cavin discusses his experience with a functional neurologist as well the garden analogy he uses to explain how the food we eat impacts the brain. Cavin speaks to the emotional side of trauma, describing what inspired him to change his mindset and pursue his current path. Listen in for insight around the role of neuro-optometry in influencing neuroplasticity and get Cavin’s recommendations around nutrition and supplements that protect the brain!

Topics Covered

[2:09] How a brain injury changed Cavin’s life

  • Ran sound equipment rental company in NYC
  • Fell from rooftop water tower, sustained DAI
  • Positively affect more lives in greater way
[4:11] The steps Cavin took to heal his brain

  • Started to regain clarity with nutritional protocol
  • Heal leaky gut to allow for absorption of nutrients
[8:31] Cavin’s experience with a functional neurologist

  • Applied knowledge of neuroplasticity to heal brain
  • Bring in safe modalities based on anecdotal evidence
[13:28] How Cavin established a nutrition protocol

  • Determined by trial and error
  • Further study encouraged by Alex Vasquez
[15:43] Cavin’s garden analogy for the brain

  • Neurons = plants (86B)
  • Thoughts = seeds
  • Attention = sunlight, water
  • Roots nourished by food we eat
[17:44] The nutrition protocol that worked for Cavin

  • Paleo template with right produce, proteins and fats
  • Nutrients from food (e.g.: sea vegetables for iodine)
[20:02] Cavin’s nutrition and supplement recommendations

  • Variety of vegetables (switch between dulse and kelp)
  • Organ meats or organ meat capsules
  • Fish oil (up to 6g DHA)
  • CoQ10
[24:22] Cavin’s insight on neuro-optometry

  • 12 cranial nerves in brain bring info to/from body
  • 4 of 12 dedicated to vision (eyes window to brain)
  • Exercises stimulate certain areas of brain
  • Prescription lenses make profound difference
[30:08] How Cavin navigates the emotional side of trauma

  • View negative thoughts, pain as weeds in garden
  • Give attention to flowers want to grow
[33:00] What inspired Cavin to heal and move forward

  • Finding purpose, meaning in circumstances
  • Friends and family played major role
  • Impromptu presentation at IFM conference
[39:32] Cavin’s best advice for Ali Fitness listeners

  • Exercise is beneficial to brain but don’t overdo
  • Protect brain with high dose of DHA, Omega-3
  • Enjoy life and do so sustainably

Learn More About Cavin

Feed a Brain

Adventures in Brain Injury


How to Feed a Brain: Nutrition for Optimal Brain Function and Repair by Cavin Balaster

Dr. Alex Vasquez


Organ Meat Supplements

Dr. Deborah Zelinsky

The Institute for Functional Medicine

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