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Spinal Cord Injury: Dietary Issues - Topic Overview

People with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) may have special nutritional needs, such as needing protein to prevent pressure sores or increased fiber to help with bowel care. A registered dietitian can help you plan a diet to meet your nutritional needs.

  • Fiber helps move stool through the intestines. Better movement in the intestinal area may make your bowel management program easier. Eat 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day. Foods high in fiber include whole-grain foods (such as bran cereals or whole wheat bread), fresh fruits, dried or stewed fruits (such as prunes, raisins, or apricots), and raw or root vegetables (such as carrots, turnips, or potatoes).
  • Fluids keep the stool soft and can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney or bladder stones. They also keep mucus watery and easy to cough up, which can help prevent lung problems. Water is always the best choice for fluids. Try to drink 8 to 10 glasses of liquid [8 fl oz (250 mL) each] every day. Check with your doctor, since your bladder program might affect how much fluid you can drink.
  • Protein contributes to tissue and muscle growth and helps prevent their breakdown. So protein can help prevent pressure sores and help them heal more quickly. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are the best sources of protein. Other sources include legumes, nuts, and milk and milk products.

You may want to limit how many high-fat foods you eat, as these types of food may make it harder to control your bowel program.

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For more information on a healthy diet and weight, see the topics Healthy Eating and Weight Management.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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