Bowel health is extremely important after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Post SCI, your bowels may not function like they used to and nutrition becomes vital to help maintain bowel regularity. The Shepherd Center provides information about nutrition as a resource for maintaining a healthy bowel, such as making healthy food choices.
“A diet that includes fiber with adequate hydration is helpful to maintain bowel regularity and improve stool consistency.”
Insoluble And Soluble Fiber
The recommended fiber intake is 15-25 grams per day. Be sure to add the fiber slowly throughout the day instead of all at once. Try to add a mix of foods containing insoluble and soluble fibers.
“Insoluble Fiber can help with regularity by adding bulk to stool to help move stool through the gastrointestinal tract,” says Shepherd Center. Some examples of insoluble fiber include:
- Whole Grain foods- whole wheat bread, brown/wild rice, whole wheat pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetables, especially those with skins or peels
- Fruits, especially those with skins or peels
“Soluble Fiber can help with constipation and stools that are too hard or too soft by drawing water into the stool to form a gel,” says Shepherd Center. Foods containing soluble fiber include:
- Legumes- dried peas and beans
- Oats, rye, and barley
- Some fruits, especially apples, bananas, and berries
- Some vegetables, such as potatoes/yams, broccoli, and carrots
- Psyllium seed and most commercial fiber supplements
- Hydration is key to maintaining healthy bowels. Aim to drink 6-8 ounces a day, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
If you are experiencing diarrhea, it is important to stay hydrated and limit fiber until it resolves. On the contrary, if you experience constipation for more than five days contact your doctor.
Foods To Be Cautious Of
There are certain foods to be cautious of that can upset your GI tract. Be aware of these foods until you know how they will affect your body. These foods include fried or greasy/ high-fat foods, spicy foods. caffeinated drinks, alcohol and lactose.
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