When you’re in a wheelchair, key nutritional considerations have to be factored into your long-term health and fitness.
A wheelchair user tends to have a higher risk of certain health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. A wheelchair user also has a higher risk of bowel disorders and pressures sores. Attention to nutrition can reduce those risks.
Targeting nutrition to meet health and lifestyle demands can be a powerful tool for achieving fitness goals and preserving health. Wheelchair-specific nutritional considerations include:
- Fiber – Determining the right fiber balance is essential. Fiber is important for healthy bowels, but for a wheelchair user, too much fiber can be problematic. That’s because it doesn’t move through the system as quickly when you’re sitting.
- Protein – This nutrient is essential for tissue repair. You should increase your protein when you’re dealing with pressure sores or other wounds. Some doctors also recommend higher levels if you’re transitioning into full-time wheelchair use, as often upper-body strength needs to be bolstered to accommodate this new lifestyle.
- Antioxidants – This group of nutrients, which includes vitamin C, is important for healing and overall health. Vitamin C helps to promote collagen production, which is essential for tissue repair.
Although you may become more sedentary in a wheelchair, you might also find yourself expending more calories just getting around. You may have trouble keeping weight off, or you may actually have a problem keeping it on. Match your calorie count to your activity level. Try to consume useful calories, as opposed to empty junk-food calories. Drinking water is good for bowel function and overall health. This is especially important to remember here in Arizona, where it’s so easy to become dehydrated.
Finding the right nutritional balance to support health and fitness goals often requires professional advice from a variety of sources. Consulting your physician, your nutritionist and the experts at Power Mobility and Lifts can help you shape an active and healthy lifestyle.
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