Food is indeed our medicine. Most illnesses are eased or totally healed if we understand food and the effects it has on the human body. Peripheral neuropathy is possible, especially for diabetics who fail in controlling their blood glucose level.
The result is a pain in the area where our nerves are damaged. This is uncomfortable and can be extremely painful. For this reason, we will take a look at some foods which can help us to feel less pain, and possibly heal peripheral neuropathy. We will call this peripheral neuropathy diet for the purposes of this article.
Healthy Diet for Healthy Nerves
It is indeed possible for us to feel better when we eat a certain way. Neuropathy does not have to spoil our day with pain and discomfort.
There is absolutely no reason to feel tingling, numbness and burning sensations because we are diabetics. The food we eat is important.
Here are some dietary tips to help to prevent and also to treat peripheral neuropathy:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and lean protein. The green leafy vegetables are a great option. The aim is to cut back on our starches and or eat whole foods which will reduce the possibility of having a dangerously high blood sugar spike.
- Eat omega-3 rich foods. This includes but is not limited to :
- chia seeds
- Reducing our sodium intake is a healthier choice for many. Too much salt can affect us negatively in a number of ways. Too much salt can lead to:
- elevated blood pressure
- constant urination which can rob us of a good night’s sleep, which will lead to other health issues
- being thirsty all the time
- our fingers and ankles swelling, or we could just feel bloated in the morning
- headache and a craving for everything salty become our new norm when we consume salty foods. It is said that too much salt in our diet could also lead to cognitive decline. Wow! I feel “Ital” at the moment.
- Avoid, or at least limit your alcohol intake is a plus for many reasons:
- It can lead to high blood sugar as it could impair our pancreas.
- Too much alcohol could shrink our brain.
- It can cause blackouts.
- Behavior changes are possible.
- Hallucinations are more frequent.
- Slurred speech is common.
- It could damage our liver and heart.
- Cancer can become a reality in our lives.
- Too much alcohol can lead to numbness and other diabetic complications. Please note that this is in no way a complete list, but it only spells “bad news.”
It is also a good idea to eat in an attempt to prevent or at least reduce inflammation. Please continue to the next section.
Eating to Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can also result in peripheral neuropathy. Yes, it makes a lot of sense to take a brief look at some of the foods we can and should eat to reduce or prevent inflammation, thereby preventing peripheral neuropathy and a host of other illnesses.
A diet rich in inflammatory foods can lead to damaged tissues, an impaired immune system and ultimately a number of chronic illnesses. We can do the opposite of eating inflammatory foods and consume foods that are less like to lead to chronic illnesses. Here are some tips:
- Eat at least five (5) servings of fruits and vegetables for the day in order to increase your antioxidant intake.
- Aim to eat foods that take a longer time to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These are rich in fiber:
- Ground flaxseeds are highly anti-inflammatory. About two (2) tablespoons on a daily basis do wonders. I like to add flaxseed to my daily grains taken in the form of porridge. Flaxseed and chia seeds are my “go-to” energy boosters. My pain is greatly reduced when I consume flaxseed. I purchase the ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Walnut is another plant-based food that contains omega-3 fatty acids.
- If you want to step away from a plant-based diet to prevent and cure peripheral neuropathy, then one option is consuming about 4 oz. of wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, or halibut. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and should be eaten about twice per week.
When all is said and done, the aim is for us to prevent or control diabetes. Once our blood sugar levels are within the normal range, then it is possible for us to avoid diabetic complications such as peripheral neuropathy.
The Best Diet for Blood Sugar Control
A high blood sugar level could lead to more serious and sometimes fatal issues. We must then make a greater effort to pay attention to what we are eating on a daily basis. Carbohydrates can be a culprit if we do not understand what we are eating and what we should eat.
The highly processed carbs such as bread, cereals, cookies, and candies are some carbs and sweets we should avoid if we want our numbers to be in the normal range. Others are soda, sugar, and syrup. These could be deadly for diabetics, and they could make others fall into the group of those needing to fight diabetes.
We should always aim for whole grains and unprocessed carbs. Some options in this area for us to eat are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green bananas
- Corn (I love hominy corn porridge. I eat it any time of the day)
- Quinoa to replace white rice
- Brown rice
Vitamins B and E for Peripheral Neuropathy
These vitamins are important for healthy nerves. For this reason, they are highly recommended for diabetics suffering from diabetic neuropathy. It is not uncommon for a deficiency in the group of Vitamin B to lead to peripheral neuropathy.
Vitamin B12 is needed to ensure that the nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy is temporary rather than permanent. For those of us wanting to keep our blood sugar in the normal range, we can get vitamin B12 from the following foods:
- Fortified cereals
Sometimes we need a little extra push we get from taking supplements. A deficiency in vitamin E can also result in peripheral neuropathy. Some vitamin-rich foods are:
- Wheat germ
- Whole grains
- Nut oils
- Sunflower seeds
Foods to Avoid if You are Experiencing Peripheral Neuropathy
I do not want to write extensively on what we need to avoid. I am afraid that if I spend too much time on this sub-topic, then some of those foods may stick in your brain and so we will not focus on what you should not eat. However, here is a list of some of the foods which are known to trigger peripheral neuropathy:
- Refined grains. Earlier I mentioned eating fortified cereals for its vitamin B12 content. I am generally not a fan of cereals. I prefer consuming whole grains. I choose a bowl of hominy corn on any given day over some dry cereal found on the supermarket shelves. Do bear in mind that refined grains will cause a horrendous spike in our blood glucose. That is not so with the whole grains.
- Too much sugar in the diet can cause our blood sugar to go out of whack. Note that it is lacking in nutrients and this can help us to arrive at the place of peripheral neuropathy. I love to eat extra fruits when I need that little “sugar push.” Some better food choices are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Fatty meats and dairy products can lead to inflammation and by and large they also increase the risk of diabetes. Inflammation is known as the cause of many illnesses and can result in pain just about anywhere in our body.
- White bread and crackers along with other pastries can also help to trigger peripheral neuropathy.
There is a healing trend. The top one (1) recommendation tends to be fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, etc. for almost all illnesses. It is a fact that if we have the information and we understand our bodies, then food can safely be our first medicine of choice.
Once we have diabetes under control, then it is easier to prevent and or treat peripheral neuropathy. This means we must make it a habit to consume foods that will not result in a spike in our blood glucose level. This is yet another call for us to consider consuming whole foods in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, and a little lean animal protein.
The fight to rid our society of diabetes is worth every time and dollar spent fighting. Diabetes can and should rightly be in our pass and we can totally erase the memories, but we must create new ones free of diabetes and the many possible complications. Yes, it is possible.
- “Best Peripheral Neuropathy Diet: Foods To Avoid.” The Foundation For Peripheral Neuropathy, www.foundationforpn.org/living-well/lifestyle/nutrition/.
- DoctorNDTV. “Consuming Too Much Salt Could Be Harmful: 6 Signs That You Are Consuming Too Much Salt.” NDTV.com, 26 June 2018, www.ndtv.com/health/consuming-too-much-salt-could-be-harmful-6-signs-that-you-are-consuming-too-much-salt-1873365.
- Holland, Ann Pietrangelo and Kimberly. “23 Effects of Alcohol on Your Body.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body#2.
- “8 Incredible Omega 3 Rich Foods: More Than Just Fish.” NDTV Food, 24 Aug. 2018, food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/8-incredible-sources-of-omega-3-foods-more-than-just-fish-1628557.
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