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  • Writer's pictureAlison Cowell

Digestive advice for wheelchair users

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

NB:This following information offers general advice for people who are unable to stand up and leave the wheelchair, but individual needs and circumstances may differ.

The scale of your immobilisation and/or paralysis will directly affect the function of your digestive organs. They are responsible for absorbing all the nutrients from the foods you eat. So, before you even think about your food, it’s important to make sure that your digestive system is performing efficiently.

A common symptom experienced by those in a wheelchair is constipation, simply due to the fact that peristalsis (the wave-like motion that moves food through your digestive tract) does not take place. Eating foods that break down more easily is therefore beneficial.

Lack of exercise means that calories don’t get burnt off as quickly as they should, so weight gain becomes an issue for many.

The following foods take account of the issues highlighted above and should suit most people (but does not take account of individual intolerances or separate needs as noted earlier)



· Mostly low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods such as brown rice, buckwheat

· Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Amongst the best fruits are pears, peaches, pineapples, apricots, bananas and red grapes. Non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and spinach are good choices.

· Fish - at least 3 times a week

· White meat

· Whole grains, seeds and nuts – chewed thoroughly!

· Salads are a welcome addition and should include seeds and beanshoots and sprouts

Limit intake of:

· Red meat (it is VERY hard to process!)


· Alcohol

· Caffeine

· Processed foods (i.e. lots of additives, preservatives and colourings)

· High fat foods

· Sugary foods, including honey and syrup

· Food additive 320 (butylated hydroxyanisole)

Helpful Supplements

  • Zinc (25mg)

  • Chromium (500mg)

  • Omega-3 (with at least 800mg of both EPA & DHA, check the label on the product)

  • Chelated Magnesium (500mg)

  • Vitamin B6 (100mg)

  • Vitamin B12 (120mcg)

  • Co-enzyme Q10 (150mg)

Beneficial Herbs

· Kava kava

· Siberian ginseng

· St John’s Wort (but not if you are taking anti-depressants or oral contraceptives)

As noted earlier, everyone is different, so it is beneficial to have a personal health and nutrition assessment to get specific advice for your individual needs including medical conditions, digestive health, hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders etc.

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