Peripheral neuropathy, also sometimes called neuropathy or neuritis, occurs as a result of nerve damage. It is a common complication of diabetes and it may also be a result of infections or injuries or it may develop due to exposure to certain toxins.
Typical symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include pain and burning or numbness and tingling in the feet and hands. A balanced and healthy peripheral neuropathy diet may help your symptoms if you suffer from peripheral neuropathy and if you are diabetic, a healthy peripheral neuropathy diet can play a major role in preventing the disease by helping to manage your blood glucose levels.
Including B vitamins in your peripheral neuropathy diet helps your body metabolize or break down food during the process of digestion. They are water-soluble, and the nerves depend on them to work properly.
According to some natural health experts, these vitamins are helpful in preventing peripheral neuropathy in people who are not at risk for the condition due to other medical conditions, like diabetes.
You can find B vitamins to include in your peripheral neuropathy diet in foods that contain protein, such as poultry, fish and eggs, peanuts and potatoes, legumes and brewer’s yeast. They are also found in enriched whole grain cereals, so also include these in your peripheral neuropathy diet as a source of B vitamins.
Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruit are an essential part of a peripheral neuropathy diet because they contain many minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. These nutrients support the immune system’s effort to fight off disease and infection.
Diabetics should include vegetables with lunch and dinner daily and fresh fruit with every meal as a part of their peripheral neuropathy diet. Fruit juices should be avoided, as these have high concentrations of fructose which can cause blood glucose too rapidly rise.
The fiber in fresh fruit and vegetables helps to slow digestion and regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates. The better your blood sugar is controlled by your diabetic regimen, which includes your peripheral neuropathy diet, the less your risk of diabetic complications like peripheral neuropathy.
Look for vegetables and fruit with vivid colors to include in your healthy peripheral neuropathy diet. Tomatoes, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, bell peppers, cherries, oranges, berries, red grapes, watermelon and kiwi fruit are all good choices for preventing peripheral neuropathy. If your hands and fingers are painful and numb, making the preparation of fresh foods difficult, purchase pre-cut vegetable and fruit and keep them available as a quick and convenient snack to add to your peripheral neuropathy diet.
Your body depends on protein to repair tissues and to build muscle, so you need to add sources of lean protein to your peripheral neuropathy diet.
Trans-fats found in fatty sources of protein can increase your risk for complications like heart disease and aggravation of diabetes due to increased levels of blood cholesterol. Avoid full-fat dairy products and cheese and fatty cuts of meat. On a peripheral neuropathy diet, meats should be prepared by baking or roasting rather than deep-frying.
Choose skinless poultry, fish or lean cuts of beef and pork. Switch to low- or non-fat milk products to help control your risk of other health complications like obesity.
Foods to avoid on a peripheral neuropathy diet
Some foods contribute to peripheral neuropathy or can aggravate the symptoms. They should be avoided on a peripheral neuropathy diet. Other factors that contribute to peripheral neuropathy include:
- Traumatic injuries
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Excessive intake of alcohol should be avoided on a peripheral neuropathy diet
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy in these conditions includes management of the underlying condition, dietary changes, and sometimes medications and physical therapy. Your doctor is your best source of information if you have one of these conditions.
In people who have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, eating a food that contains gluten can make the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy much worse. Gluten is found is white and wheat flour, and in almost all cake flour, cake mixes and in many kinds of cereal. It is also in many products that don’t contain wheat. Read labels carefully, looking for the words “gluten-free.”
Grains that have been refined can raise the blood sugar very quickly. Controlling blood glucose levels is the most important factor when it comes to preventing peripheral neuropathy and decreasing the risk of other diabetic complications. Try to replace as many refined grains as you can in your peripheral neuropathy diet with whole grain products. These lessen the impact on blood sugar levels.
Avoid empty calories, like those contained in sugar-sweetened foods. On a peripheral neuropathy diet, replace empty calories with foods that have natural sweetness like vegetables and fruits. Increase the flavor of foods with spices like cinnamon and vanilla. This can help prevent your risk of peripheral neuropathy.
Full-fat dairy products and fatty meat products, like processed meats, contain saturated fats. These can cause an inflammatory response to occur in the body, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and peripheral neuropathy. To decrease your risk of peripheral neuropathy and protect your health, consume only lean protein and healthy fats.