Nutrition and Dietary Recommendations for Paralyzed Patients

Nutritional problems can be seen in paralyzed patients. Causes such as impaired swallowing function (dysphagia), weakness in the arm, memory and attention problems, communication difficulties, loss of appetite, depression, vision problems, dental problems may make it difficult for the patient to get enough nutrients. Recovery after stroke is delayed in patients with poor nutrition. Inadequate nutrition paves the way for additional problems such as muscle wasting, pressure sores, and infection. Good nutrition both accelerates the recovery of the stroke and reduces the risk of having a second stroke.

Solution of nutritional problems in paralyzed patients

Swallowing problems are detected and appropriate solutions are offered. Nutrition in the paralyzed patient can be provided by means of a tube that reaches the stomach from the nose or mouth (nasogastric/orogastric tube) or a surgically opened hole in the stomach skin (gastrostomy) if the swallowing function is impaired and the risk of food leaking into the lungs is high. Exercises are performed in swallowing rehabilitation, and if there is a problem in taking foods with a certain consistency, methods are taught to adjust the consistency according to the patient. Oral feeding is started in a controlled manner in patients whose swallowing functions improve and who are believed to be fed safely.

The diet program is created by the dietitian by determining the risk factors related to nutrition that predispose to stroke.

Another aspect of rehabilitation is to restore the patient’s skills such as eating, drinking and preparing food, accompanied by an occupational therapist.

In cases of nutritional deficiencies in paralyzed patients, a specialist physician or dietitian may recommend the use of oral nutritional support products (food). Food support can be given to very old and frail patients who cannot get the energy and protein that the body needs with a normal diet.

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Which foods are beneficial?

No single nutrient can meet the body’s every need. Therefore, a balanced and adequate diet is required.

  • Vegetables, legumes and fruits. Vegetables and fruits contain substances with antioxidant properties; these can reduce vascular damage. In addition, the potassium they contain helps to keep blood pressure under control. Folate, which is abundant in green leafy vegetables, can reduce the risk of stroke.
  • The fiber in fruits can lower cholesterol.
  • Various grain products such as whole wheat, oats, couscous, noodles. Foods containing fiber aid bowel movements.
  • Lean red and white meat, fish, eggs. Various dried fruits such as hazelnuts.
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese. Dairy products are rich in calcium and potassium.
  • Some medications can suppress the feeling of thirst. The patient’s communication difficulties and dependence on others for self-care activities can lead to dehydration. Don’t forget to drink lots of water.

Which foods are not recommended?

  • Foods high in saturated fat such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, rice, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fries, potato chips
  • Butter, cream, margarine, coconut oil, palm oil, mostly containing saturated fat. Saturated fats raise cholesterol.
  • Foods and drinks with added salt. Salt increases blood pressure. Do not add extra salt to food. It may seem unpalatable at first, but the taste sensors on the tongue get used to the low salt content in a few weeks. You can try different herbs and spices for flavor.
  • Sugary cola, juice, energy drinks, etc. Excess sugar damages blood vessels. Check the sugar content of the products you buy from the market and choose low-sugar ones.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for stroke.
  • Some drugs may interact with certain foods. If this is the case, your doctor will warn you while prescribing your medicine.
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