Mealtimes for children living with cerebral palsy (CP) can be particularly challenging due to issues with their muscle tone, movement, and/or motor skills. These difficulties may make it difficult for them to feed themselves, chew, and/or swallow safely, and can even lead to digestion-related issues such as gastroesophageal reflux and constipation. As a result of not receiving adequate nutrition, children with CP may experience poor growth and/or malnutrition.
Maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet can have many benefits for those with cerebral palsy, including improved muscle strength, reduced spasticity, and better swallowing. To make sure individuals with CP live a happier and healthier life, we provide helpful diet tips. From high-protein meals to easier-to-eat options, our diet recommendations will ensure proper nutrition.
Furthermore, if the patient’s condition is very severe and if you’re looking for an effective and safe alternative treatment you can opt for cerebral palsy stem cell treatment in India. The treatment of cerebral palsy using stem cell therapy is currently in its early stages of research, but there is promise in this approach as stem cells are used to replace or repair damaged tissue.
However, before understanding the diet management plan for cerebral palsy patients, let’s know the feeding issues that the patient might experience.
List of Some Common Feeding Problems with Cerebral Palsy
It is likely you are aware that cerebral palsy is a disorder that impacts muscles, including facial muscles. Your child might experience difficulties related to the following:
- Opening their mouth
- Difficulties in chewing and swallowing the food
- Closing the lips when the fork is around
- Issues in breathing when their mouth is full
- Choking and aspirating (When food or liquid enters the airway) can be common concerns while eating.
Your child may also experience gastrointestinal disturbances related to eating such as:
Foods That Must Include in a Cerebral Palsy Diet
Due to oral motor impairments, digestion problems, and reduced physical activity levels, children with cerebral palsy have a higher risk of malnutrition. To ensure neuroprotection and healthy development, we will examine some food items to incorporate into your child’s diet.
Eggs: Consuming eggs are a popular dietary staple for people with cerebral palsy due to their high protein and choline content. Protein helps promote muscle growth and tissue development, an important consideration for individuals with cerebral palsy who may have weakened muscles from limited mobility. Choline is a nutrient that produces acetylcholine, a powerful neurotransmitter linked to mood, memory, and more.
Avocados: Avocados provide an ideal option for those with cerebral palsy who have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Their nutrient-dense, high-calorie content helps meet the nutritional needs of people with CP despite any chewing or swallowing difficulties they may experience.
Dark and leafy green foods: Leafy greens are an important part of a healthy diet, but especially for those with cerebral palsy due to the high levels of vitamins K and B. These vitamins help brain development, regulate behaviour, and maintain strong bones. Additionally, B vitamins boost mood and help create essential neurotransmitters.
Whole grains: Eating whole grains is beneficial for individuals with cerebral palsy since they can help digestion and improve blood flow. Prebiotics, found in oats, brown rice, wheat, rye, barley and quinoa can foster healthy bacteria in the gut.
Salmon: Eating salmon is beneficial as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help nerve cell functioning and nourish brain development. Additionally, it contains vitamin D which is essential for cell growth and communication.
Olive oil: Including olive oils in diets for individuals with this condition is a great idea due to its healthy fat content as well as its high levels of polyphenols, and antioxidant-packed micronutrients. These polyphenols are helpful in promoting neuroprotection, as they can scavenge for free radicals, inhibit lipid peroxidation, and provide anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger: Ginger root has been highly valued for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It may help with digestion, circulation, immunity, and even cognitive performance due to its rich content of antioxidants. Moreover, it can stimulate better blood flow to the brain, enabling neurons to absorb more oxygen and other essential nutrients.
Greek yoghurt: This can offer a beneficial solution for children with cerebral palsy, as it contains essential nutrients for bone and muscle strength. High amounts of calcium promote strong bones and nerve function, while the protein in Greek yoghurt can help cells to grow and repair muscles.
Necessary Nutrients for Kids with Cerebral Palsy
It is important that children with cerebral palsy meet their dietary needs, which may differ from other kids. Those needs involve both the required nutrients and recommended foods. Below are some of the nutrients that are essential for children with CP:
Calcium: People with cerebral palsy often have low bone density, so it is essential for them to consume foods and drinks that contain calcium. Examples of such foods include
- dairy products,
- leafy green vegetables,
- fish, and
Iron: Iron is important for red blood cell production and children with CP may be at increased risk for anemia due to limited mobility or poor nutrient absorption. Good sources of iron include
- beans and
- fortified cereals
Vitamin D: Children with cerebral palsy (CP) can be especially prone to a Vitamin D deficiency, as they may not be exposed to as much sunlight as their peers. However, this essential nutrient, which supports the body in absorbing calcium, can be found in various sources, such as
- fatty fish,
- egg yolks,
- beef liver, and
- certain cheeses like cheddar and Swiss
Protein: Food high in protein is an essential part of the diet for children with Cerebral Palsy. Not only will it help with the growth and repair of tissues, but it can also help reduce muscle weakness and spasticity. Nutrient-packed sources of protein include
- beans, and
Phosphorus: This nutrient is beneficial to bones and teeth, two areas of the body that can be affected if your child has cerebral palsy. This mineral can be found in various foods including,
- whole grains,
- beans, and
- vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
Fiber: Adequate fiber intake may help promote regular bowel movements in children with CP, which can help with constipation. Good sources of fiber include
- whole grains and
Creating an individualized plan is key to ensuring the best health outcomes for those living with Cerebral Palsy. A qualified dietitian can provide tailored advice and guidance on how to best meet their particular needs and preferences. To ensure success, it is important to follow the advice and tips provided.
However, for the cerebral palsy treatment in Delhi, if you choose Stem Cell Care India, you’ll know that we utilize ethically sourced stem cells that have been administered to a range of patients with positive outcomes. If you would like to explore the potential of our adult stem cell-based therapy for treating cerebral palsy in children, get in touch with us.