Do I have to change my diet after a spinal cord injury?

By 28 January, 2019 Health

In 2020 the spinal cord injury will be considered one of the 5 main causes of disability according to WHO data. A spinal cord injury marks a turning point for the patient because it is a life-changing condition for which a balanced diet should be followed.

Why should we watch what we eat?

There are several reasons but we would like to highlight the following two:

  • To control body weight. After a spinal cord injury, our body burn less calories and the energy use will be reduced. Therefore our diet should be adapted both in terms of quality and quantity.
  • To avoid unhealthy habits for a better physical and psychological condition. It is recommended to follow healthy habits such us avoiding smoking or drinking alcohol.

What will we achieve?

After a spinal cord injury, the muscle and bladder control is totally or partially lost.

The recovery is not an easy process and the time needed for it will depend on the severity of the injury. Factors such as familiar environment, the patient’s character and his/her ability to get over the injury will also define this process.

Regardless of all of the above mentioned, a spinal cord injury usually comes along with some physiological complications such as intestinal and urinary problems. These complications can be easier to cope with if we have healthy eating habits.

Urinary Complications

Bladder palsy may sometimes arise caused by the spinal cord injury or, in other words, the patient lacks of bladder responsiveness and has to be catheterised.

When catheterization is involved, drinking water and keeping a good hygiene is very important.

Eating red fruits such as blueberries is also strongly recommended since they have antioxidant properties which help avoiding infections such as E.coli.

Intestinal complications

It is quite common to lose control of the intestinal functions after a spinal cord injury and to have problems such as constipation, haemorrhoids or cholelithiasis. However, an appropriate and healthy diet by eating enough fibre and drinking water may help avoiding these problems.

Sores appearance

Skin sores or pressure ulcers are quite common in patients with a spinal cord injury. However, keeping hydrated and eating enough protein will help to have a smoother and healthier skin.

Tips for a healthy diet

Our diet should be varied and balanced. It is essential to eat protein, vitamin A, C and B.

To sum up, it is very important to watch what we eat for both maintaining our weight and favouring the correct functioning of our body organs after a spinal cord injury.

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