A diet for spinal cord injury should consist of nutrient-rich foods that protect cells, prevent damage, and promote growth.
Eating healthy will help prevent unnecessary secondary complications and ensure that your body is in its best condition.
Wondering if you’re eating the right foods for spinal cord injury recovery? Let’s find out!
The Best Diet for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery
After spinal cord injury, your skin, digestion, bone density, and weight may start to change.
To keep them as healthy as possible, you should eat foods that specifically target these areas.
Make sure to incorporate these 9 foods for spinal cord injury recovery into your diet.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
Add dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens to your diet for spinal cord injury.
They are full of magnesium, which the body uses to send oxygen to your nerves and muscles.
They also contain folate (vitamin B9) that helps produce and maintain cells.
Folate can help promote bone and neurological health, which is essential for spinal cord injury recovery.
Additionally, dark leafy greens are full of vitamins A, C, E, and K. They provide antioxidants that protect cells.
After spinal cord injury, you may experience a lack of control over your bladder and bowel movements.
Eating high fiber foods like dark leafy vegetables will help waste flow through the digestive tract easier.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries… you name it, they’re all excellent sources of antioxidants.
Antioxidants remove toxins and protect cells. This helps prevent further damage to the central nervous system.
Berries contain over 85% water. They help purify and increase blood flow.
Berries contain resveratrol that helps reduce oxidative stress and protect the spinal cord after injury.
3. Orange Vegetables
Orange vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin, and carrots are all great sources of vitamin A.
Their vibrant orange color comes from beta-carotene.
The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which keeps your skin healthy.
A study on rats with spinal cord injury suggests that beta-carotene may play a protective role against oxidative stress and neuroinflammation.
4. Oily Fish
Oily fishes like salmon and mackerel contain lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can protect nerves from injury and help promote regeneration.
Fatty fish also contains selenium and is one of the few food sources of Vitamin D, both of which help protect bone health.
Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts are highly nutritious and have various benefits for spinal cord injury.
Almonds are good sources of calcium, vitamin E, and magnesium. They also contain phosphorous, which is essential for forming and strengthening bones.
A common result of spinal cord injury is hypertension (increased blood pressure). Adding cashews and pistachios to your diet can help lower blood pressure.
If you’re not a fan of fish, incorporate walnuts into your diet. They’re full of healthy omega-3s.
All nuts are great plant-based sources of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Many spinal cord injury patients will need to reduce calorie intake due to physical inactivity. Nuts help satiate your hunger and keep you full, which will ultimately help you eat less.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are all great sources of calcium.
You need calcium and vitamin D to build and maintain healthy bones.
Calcium helps muscles contract and promote proper nerve function.
Getting ample amounts of calcium will help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to thin.
Dairy products also have high amounts of vitamin B12, which produces myelin (what protects nerve axons).
Beans are full of vital nutrients like fiber, protein, and folate to help promote spinal cord recovery.
They support digestion, lower blood pressure, and keep you full.
They’re ideal sources of protein that are low in fat for those who prefer a plant-based diet.
Beans are high in vitamin K, which contributes to bone health.
8. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are amazing sources of vitamin C. Think C for citrus.
Vitamin C helps with the healing process and promotes the formation of scar tissue.
It also plays a vital role in collagen formation, which is essential for healthy skin, bones, and connective tissues.
Hydration is key! Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day to keep your body running smoothly.
Water help purifies the body of toxins and prevents constipation.
The majority of your body is made up of water. When you get dehydrated, you’ll notice an adverse change in productivity, mood, and motor skills.
Drinking lots of water will help your body absorb minerals and nutrients.
Dehydration can directly impact your spine because the nucleus pulposus (the squishy substance that cushions the vertebrae) mainly consists of water. Without enough water, friction can occur and cause additional back pain.
A Balanced Diet for Spinal Cord Injury
A diet for spinal cord injury is a diet that anyone can benefit from.
By eating a variety of healthy whole foods, your body will be fully stocked with essential nutrients.
Foods for spinal cord injury should benefit your physical and mental health.
A healthy diet, body, and mind will lead to a happy recovery.
Refer to our article on essential vitamins to take for spinal cord injury to find out which vitamins are most effective for recovery.