8 Foods That You Should Avoid if You Have Peripheral Neuropathy

Much like many other health conditions, peripheral neuropathy can be controlled using proper diet and nutrition as a tool. One of the best ways to manage peripheral neuropathy symptoms is to manage any medical conditions that put you at risk. This can include controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes or controlling alcohol intake if that is linked to a health problem. Effective neuropathy treatment is often paired with dietary guidelines that can protect your health. In addition to this monitoring, general nutrition advice is often good for the body and helps to prevent illness from becoming a problem. Read on for a list of foods that may be problematic if you already suffer from peripheral neuropathy.


It is becoming more common now to acknowledge gluten allergies, gluten sensitives, and celiac disease as problematic, and this is especially true for those with peripheral neuropathy. Common sources of gluten include any food with white, wheat, cake, or baking flour as an ingredient. Gluten is also found in some unexpected foods like traditional soy sauce, so it is important to read product labels and look for items marked gluten-free. Consuming gluten when your body cannot properly digest it can lead to inflammation, which worsens the nerve inflammation seen in peripheral neuropathy patients.


As a neurotoxin, alcohol has the potential to damage your nerves. Even a healthy person who drinks too much can begin experiencing symptoms such as numbness, pain, and tingling in their hands or feet, known as alcoholic neuropathy. When this occurs, a person’s peripheral nerves have become damaged by the exposure to alcohol, leaving them unable to transmit signals between the body, spinal cord, and brain properly. This can compound already existing nerve problems.

Added Sugars

While it is generally accepted that added sugar has negative health effects, this can especially be true where peripheral neuropathy is concerned. Eating food with a lot of added sugar will increase your blood sugar levels, which can lead to damage in the nerves and the blood vessels that feed nerves. There are safe alternatives like stevia and other artificial sugar, or you can satisfy your sweet tooth with the natural sugars in fruit!

Refined Grains

Processed grains have a high glycemic index, meaning they can also increase blood sugar. Controlling your blood sugar is actually the best thing you can do to prevent peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes, so this can be important. Improving the glycemic impact of your diet is an important measure to take. You can achieve this by replacing refined grains with whole grains whenever possible.

Trans and Saturated Fats

Known as “unhealthy fats,” these can be found in most fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. When consumed in excess, these fats lead to inflammation and increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, both of which exacerbate peripheral neuropathy. Instead, you can replace fatty protein sources with more lean options or grass-fed proteins. Eating a moderate amount of heart-healthy, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, monounsaturated fats like avocados, and some medium-chain saturated fats like coconut oil can all be good alternatives.

Salty Snacks

Foods with a high sodium level can be particularly problematic as the amount of salt can restrict blood flow, contributing to numbness as a symptom of peripheral neuropathy. Potato chips, cold cuts, and fast food are all particularly high in sodium and should be avoided whenever possible. Anything processed or canned is also likely to contain a lot of sodium and can be considered risky.

Heavy Metals

Certain foods increase the risk for elevated levels of unsafe metal in the body, most commonly mercury. Mercury is found in many popular fish that are regularly eaten, due to the presence of mercury in the oceans. Eating a large amount of this fish will lead to an accumulation of the heavy metal in your body, so being cautious about the type and quantity of fish you eat is crucial. Focusing on healthy fish oils and fish with shorter lifespans can be beneficial to health, so it is important to balance your seafood consumption.

Produce with Pesticides

When buying fruits and vegetables, look for items marked as organic or otherwise indicating they have not been treated with pesticides. These are often made of dangerous chemicals, designed to keep the produce looking better for a longer period of time and increasing their shelf life. While this is helpful for a grocery store, you want to avoid eating produce that has absorbed these chemicals, as they can increase the toxic load on your body and worsen inflammation.