Nutrition has a profound impact on one’s physical, spiritual and mental health: this is particularly relevant for someone living with a disability. Good health starts with a healthy digestive system. However, many health conditions, such a spinal cord injuries, significantly hinder one’s digestion, absorption and elimination functions. This in turn can contribute to the development of a host of common and recurring secondary health complications such as; cardiovascular disease, pressure sores, osteoporosis, neuropathic pain, constipation, bladder infections and obesity. Furthermore, many prescribed medications, while necessary, can deplete the body of nutrients and/or cause negative side effects. As a result, proper digestive function is further inhibited, thus increasing the risk of secondary health issues. It is these secondary health issues that often prevent people with spinal cord injuries or other mobility impairments from being employed, living independently and participating fully in society. As individuals living with altered, and sometimes-compromised systems, we need to ensure that our bodily functions are functionally to their best potential so we can live to our best potential.
Joanne Smith is a graduate of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, holds a degree in psychology from York University, as well as a diploma in radio & television broadcasting from Seneca College. Joanne has dedicated her career to raising awareness of the issues concerning people with disabilities. As a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she specializes in providing optimal nutritional health for people with neurological injuries (both spinal cord & brain injuries) and has spoken on this topic at conferences across Canada and the United States. Her expertise in the disability community comes from her personal experience of living with a SCI for over twenty five years, as well as her years as host and producer of two national television programs that focus on in-depth stories about Canadians with disabilities. Joanne co-authored Eat Well Live Well with Spinal Cord Injury, the first nutrition book dedicated to addressing the unique needs of people with SCI. Additionally, she writes nutrition columns for New Mobility, PN, Sports n’ Spokes and Outspoken magazines in Canada and the USA. Joanne is also involved with spinal cord injury and nutrition research studies with Universities in Canada and the USA. Her dedication to raising awareness and improving the lives of Canadians with disabilities led to her receipt of the King Clancy Award in 2006, induction into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2007 and being honoured with the Gabriel Award in 2008.