Neuropathy is a chronic condition that results from damage to or compression of the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. It is a common condition which currently affects about 20 million Americans. There are several treatments options that exist for neuropathy, including conservative treatments such as lifestyle alterations to help alleviate or improve neuropathy symptoms.
A healthy diet can go a long way for patients living with neuropathy. Below we will discuss some food choices that may be helpful when dealing with neuropathy symptoms. Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare provider about your dietary restrictions before implementing changes.
Pain, numbness and tingling are just a few symptoms commonly experienced by those battling neuropathy. When determining which food to incorporate into their diet, these patients should focus on foods with anti-inflammatory properties. When looking at what foods to avoid, one should limit their intake of starchy foods and foods high in sodium. This is because excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can slow down blood flow and lead to nerve damage.
Foods to Incorporate
Lean Protein- lean proteins such as fish and poultry can keep blood cells and nerves healthy because they are high in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 helps support the central and peripheral nervous systems. It also ensures efficient nerve-impulse transmission. Fish, such as salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which can assist with healing the nerves.
Vegetables– Leafy green vegetables are not only full of fiber and other nutrients, but contain magnesium, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, all of which are vital for nervous system function. Magnesium also works to calm the nerves, which may be helpful for those battling neuropathy.
Nuts– Consuming nuts such as cashews, almonds, and walnuts are all helpful in aiding nerve function because they are rich in Vitamin B. Nuts also keep you fuller longer because they contain healthy fat, which can help prevent overeating. It is very important for neuropathy patients to watch their weight and sugar intake; nuts can be a great snack to incorporate.
Whole Grains– Brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat or sprouted grain breads are an excellent choice because they are high in fiber, which helps with inflammation.
Foods to Avoid
Grain products with Gluten: Those with neuropathy should consider avoiding refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pastas, pizza, crackers and other snacks. Recent studies have shown a link between gluten sensitivity and nerve pain, so it’s best to stick to unrefined carb choices listed above.
Salty Foods: Foods high in sodium, such as potato chips, cold cuts, and frozen prepared meals can be an issue for neuropathy patients because high levels of sodium can lead to restricted blood flow, which may cause a flare up of symptoms.
Sugary Snacks: Snacks or desserts such as ice cream, cookies, candy, and even excess fruit consumption should be avoided by neuropathy patients. High levels of blood sugar impact nerve damage especially in those with diabetic neuropathy.
Sticking to a diet recommended by your physician may help alleviate neuropathy symptoms. To learn more about our neuropathy program and the treatment options we offer, please click here.