Whether it is for muscle retention, recovery or wound healing; high-quality, whole food plant based food is all you need. The Sit Smart Diet is the first evidence-based diet that gives doctors, dietitians and patients the tools to really use nutrition as a medicine to prevent and treat the most serious and common chronic conditions in spinal cord injury. In the book, stubborn food myths are debunked and is given a clear understanding what true science tells us about what healthy food exactly is for wheelchair users – and what is not.
A whole food plant based diet is in every way superior for wheelchair users.
New way of thinking
One of the myths refuted in the book is the myth of increasing animal protein intake in wound healing and repair. Research shows that tight glycaemic control and blood sugar monitoring is a key factor in wound healing (Matthew Endara, et al. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, oct. 2013; O’Sullivan JB. Et al. J Med Sci, March 2011), and that a plant based diet is most effective (Michelle McMacken and Sapana Shah. J Geriatr Cardiol, May 2017).
Tight glycaemic control is a key factor in wound healing.
In my work I notice on a daily basis that when it comes to protein, it is still extremely difficult for both patients and dieticians in rehabilitation centers and in hospitals and nursing homes to stop automatically equating protein with meat, dairy, fish and eggs. Many dietitians often mistakenly assume that animal protein intake must be increased for wound healing and recovery (which unfortunately is still often a recurring pattern in rehabilitation centers).
And as a wheelchair user you probably have been brain washed during your rehab yourself that you should eat mountains of chicken, beef and dairy for muscle retention, recovery and wound healing. But that is outdated, incorrect and is not supported by science at all. On the contrary: a whole food plant based diet is superior for wheelchair users in every way.
High blood sugar increases the risk of pressure ulcers and infections, inflammation and poorly healing wounds.
High blood sugar increases the risk of pressure ulcers
Poor wound healing is a major problem for the majority of wheelchair users. You have probably had to deal with it yourself, or perhaps you are currently suffering from it: wounds that take months to heal (if they already do). This problem is not only so serious due to bad blood circulation. Science shows that poor wound healing is, besides that, mainly a matter of disrupted blood sugar metabolism (Li C, DiPiro ND et al. Spinal Cord, 2016), and that high blood sugar increases the risk of pressure ulcers and infections, inflammation and poorly healing wounds (Y Szlachcic & J Krause et. al, Spinal Cord 2016). If you can consistently maintain healthy glucose levels, you’re more likely to avoid wounds and heal faster should a wound occur.
If you can consistently maintain healthy glucose levels, you’re more likely to avoid wounds and heal faster should a wound occur.
Better wound healing? Keep your blood sugar in check!
It is important to know that stabilizing your blood sugar, through the right nutrition, promotes wound healing.
Leave food that causes a rapid rise in your blood sugar (also called “high glycemic food”) such as:
- Soft drinks, fruit juices
- Donuts, cakes, cookies, candy
- Milk, yogurt, custard, cheese
- Meat (all meat, so including chicken)
- Breakfast cereals, wheat crackers, rice crackers
- Wheat bread, wheat pasta, white rice, potatoes
- Potato chips, fries, mashed potatoes
- Vegetabe oils high in omega-6: sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, rice bran oil
Animal protein and wound healing: a bad combination
Eating animal protein (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) also causes high blood sugar levels and increases the risk of insulin resistance (Bahar Azemati, Sujatha Rajaram et. Al. Curr Dev Nutr, April 2017). Instead of speeding up wound healing (as is usually still claimed), it has been shown to actually disrupt the healing process. A meat- and dairy-free diet improves blood sugar metabolism and lowers your blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby significantly reducing your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Michelle McMacken and Sapana Shah. J Geriatr Cardiol, May 2017).
“GO” foods for an accelerated recovery
- Oatmeal porridge
- Flax seed crackers
- Hempseeds, walnuts, almonds
- Avocado, olives
- Quinoa, amarant, buckwheat
- Beans, lentils, green peas, chickpeas
- “Natto” (fermented soy beans)
- Sweet potato
- Broccoli, cauliflower
- Spirulina, chlorella
- Seaweed, nori leaves
- Soy, tempeh
- Nutritional yeast
- Green smoothies
The Sit Smart Power Bowl
This is an example of an ideal Sit Smart Diet lunch or meal for recovery: low glycemic, packed with high-quality vegetable proteins, non-starchy and starchy vegetables and healthy fats. And everything in the right proportions. A super protein-rich, nutritious, satiating meal that caues no blood sugar spikes and is therefore very good for better wound healing.
LUNCH / DINNER
Ingredients (2 persons)
- 1 broccoli sprout, in florets
- ½ pack of quinoa
- 1 tbsp vegetable stock
- ½ cucumber, in cubes
- 1 bell pepper, in strips
- 2 hands of olives
- 2 hands of walnuts
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 small can / jar of black or brown beans
- Hand of radish, sliced
- Hand of lettuce
- Place the sweet potato with peel (without aluminum foil) for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees. Or boil, in a small layer of water, for a maximum of 15 minutes.
- Remove the skin and cut into cubes.
- Boil (or steam) the broccoli until al dente in 10 minutes.
- Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package with 1 tbsp vegetable stock.
- Now plate up your dish, just like the picture above.
- Season with some salt and pepper and sprinkle with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For more blogs about maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a wheelchair user and free receipes, go to my personal website The Sitting Chef.