How Your Diet Can Radically Improve Peripheral Neuropathy

How Your Diet Can Radically Improve Peripheral NeuropathyWhile an estimated 30 million Americans suffering from some form of peripheral neuropathy, the causes of this condition range wildly between patients. Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy, with up to 70% of cases attributed to the disease, but other conditions, injuries, and lifestyle changes can lead to the nerve damage that causes tingling, numbness, and pain throughout the body. Those undergoing peripheral neuropathy treatment know that the best way to fight these symptoms is a combination of methods, including lifestyle changes you can make. One of the most powerful ways to improve peripheral neuropathy is to tailor your diet around the condition and make choices that have a positive impact on the body.

Blood Sugar and Nerve Health

Because diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, blood sugar is often crucial in controlling symptoms and maintaining nerve health. When your blood sugar is chronically elevated, like it often is with diabetes, nerves can become damaged and lose their ability to send proper signals throughout the body.

One of the best ways to keep blood sugar under control is to limit your intake of carbohydrates and to focus on only consuming nutritious carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables when you do have them. As part of your peripheral neuropathy treatment, your doctor may give you guidelines on the proper limit of carbohydrates for you to eat on a daily basis. Following these guidelines will help to prevent your neuropathy from worsening and allow you to avoid complications that are common with diabetes, such as foot ulcers.

Dietary Fats

Not only can the amount of fat in your diet impact nerve function, but the type of fats you consume can also be important. When your body has elevated levels of fat circulating in the blood, nerve fibers can suffer damage and cause or worsen neuropathy. The fat most likely to cause this is saturated fat, such as the fat found in animal products, which can raise LDL, also known as your bad cholesterol. Reducing intake of saturated fat can support nerve function and prevent further damage.

Some tips to lower your intake of saturated fat include:

  • Limit fast food and processed meats
  • Choose low-fat dairy options
  • Opt for lean cuts of meat
  • Bake and broil meat instead of frying it
  • When using oil, stick to olive, sesame, and walnut

Fish, Mercury, and Neuropathy

Fish is in general a healthy addition to your diet as it contains healthy fats that help your body to function properly, which is why it’s recommended for about two servings per week. However, for those with neuropathy, more caution may be recommended. Many types of fish are high in mercury, a toxin that can cause or worsen nerve damage when consumed at elevated levels.

Larger fish tend to live longer and accumulate more mercury than smaller fish. High mercury fish include king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, tuna, and grouper.

If you have neuropathy, focus on low mercury fish like cod, salmon, catfish, Pollock, haddock, tilapia, and trout.

Avoiding Alcohol

There are drinks and food to avoid by someone with peripheral neuropathy. For some people, a healthy amount of alcohol is part of their diet and serves as a way to relax at the end of the day or a treat when socializing. While this is not harmful to most people, alcohol can be toxic to the nerves, so those with neuropathy should avoid consuming too much as to not worsen their condition.

In addition to being directly toxic to nerve tissue, alcohol can also hinder the body’s ability to absorb vitamins B and E, which play an important role in nerve function. When your nerves are already compromised, it is recommended you avoid alcohol as much as possible.

Supporting Your Nerves Through Diet

One of the best ways you can independently support your peripheral neuropathy treatment is to adopt an eating style that is designed to help keep your nerves healthy. There are great vitamins for neuropathy, this includes eating a varied diet that allows you to get the proper amount of vitamin B6, B12, folate, thiamin, and vitamin E. This diet should include plenty of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains.

If you struggle to get these nutrients in through food, you may be asked to supplement them with vitamins to avoid a deficiency. These steps will not only improve symptoms of neuropathy that exist today, but also prevent worsening symptoms or complications in the future.