Good nutrition is key to a healthy life.
But for individuals with spinal cord injuries, following a balanced diet and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is perhaps even more important.
Further medical complications can arise for those who have sustained a severe injury to the spine, if they have a lack of good nutrition.
One of the best ways to keep your body functioning as it should is to make sure you are eating a varied and healthy diet.
Poor nutrition over an extended period of time could lead to a higher risk of obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes and increased cholesterol.
It can also bring on neurogenic bowel and bladder problems.
This useful blog post by Epidural Stimulation Now offers an interesting insight into the best nutritional principles to follow after sustaining a spinal cord injury.
Below are some of the most important take-aways:
Good Nutrition For Life
What we eat affects how we look and feel as well as how our bodies work. A well balanced diet can help to reduce weight gain and improve our mood levels.
Eating well is even more important for spinal cord injury patients as the changes that occur following this kind of trauma can weaken every area of the body, not just the spinal cord.
A balanced diet, with foods that are rich in nutrients, provides energy and increases the function of the immune system to help individuals live a more productive and healthier life.
What Constitutes A Healthy Diet?
Below is a list of food groups that can help make up a healthy diet:
- Whole grain products
- Fruit – fresh or tinned
- Vegetables – fresh, frozen or tinned
- Lean meats
- Legumes – nuts and beans
- Low fat or non-fat diary products
The focus should not just be on what is consumed, but also eating habits. Individuals with a spinal cord injury should always speak to their medical professional before making changes to their diet.
But here are some important principles to consider:
Eat Smaller Portions
Food should be enjoyed where possible, but it is advised to eat smaller portions at more regular intervals than eating huge amounts of food in one sitting.
Some other good advice is to take time to eat slowly and without too many other distractions to aid digestion.
Eat Less Sugar
Foods that have a high fat or sugar content are also more likely to be higher in calories.
These types of food can be very instrumental in weight gain, especially if the individual is unable to exercise regularly.
Weight gain can lead to a variety of additional problems in those who have sustained a serious spinal cord injury.
Eat Foods That Are High In Fibre
Fiber is vitally important to help maintain a healthy digestive system. Fiber adds bulk to the stool making it easier to pass, which in turn can prevent problems like blockages and constipation.
Whole grain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables are all excellent sources of fiber that should take an important role in the individual’s overall diet plan.
Reduce Intake of Salt
Eating too much salt can have a detrimental a detrimental effect to an individual’s health. Some of the problems that can arise are heightened blood pressure and an increased risk of edema.
Drink Plenty of Water
Keeping hydrated is equally as important as eating well. The body needs a certain amount of water every day in order for it function properly.
Drinking at least 1.5 liters of water a day can also help to prevent common problems like constipation and urinary tract infections.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol has no nutritional value, but is high in calories. These are known as ‘empty calories’.
This means even the occasional tipple can affect your weight gain as well as the way you body absorbs the nutrients in your food.
Individuals with spinal cord injuries may likely be less able to burn off these empty calories due to a lack of mobility.
Eat Well, Feel Better
We all know that a healthy diet is vitally important the continued well-being of all individuals, not just those with a spinal cord injury.
However, a lack of mobility and the increased risk of certain medical complications arising following a serious injury to the spine means that extra care needs to be taken.