Neuropathy, or neuritis, is experienced by approximately 20 million people in the United States, including 8 percent of those aged 56 and above. As with many diseases, what you eat can have a huge impact on the pain of neuropathy and the extent to which it develops. The best approach to nutrition is from two angles: foods you should avoid and foods you should include.
Foods to avoid for neuropathy recovery
- Gluten – Gluten may make the symptoms of neuritis worse if you have a gluten sensitivity or illness such as celiac disease. Anything that includes any type of standard flour made from wheat (white flour included) will contain gluten. To avoid this inflammatory substance, choose gluten-free options.
- Refined grains – There is another reason to be wary of the bread and grain group: refined grain of any sort is high on the glycemic scale and will, therefore, spike your glucose. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar count is critical to treating diabetic neuropathy and to general health. When you do eat grains, choose whole options, such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread.
- Sugars & additives – Nutrition typically does not come in the form of additives.
Eating too many of these empty calories can cause malnutrition and nerve pain. Set aside dessert items and processed foods for densely nutritive foods such as fresh produce and whole grains (despite the above concern with gluten).
Dairy products and high-fat meats should be strictly limited. The saturated fat that they contain leads to a higher risk of various chronic diseases, and it exacerbates inflammation. Instead of highly fatty protein foods (e.g., beef and pork), choose ones that are lower in fat (e.g., fish and poultry). If you think that means less protein, that is not the case: 100 grams of beef contains 20 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein, while the same amount of chicken contains just 8 grams of fat and 30 grams of protein.
Alleviate neuropathy with these foods
These foods, on the other hand, will help you experience symptoms less frequently and with mitigated intensity:
- B12 – As we age, we tend to have lower quantities of B12 in our systems. Deficiency in this nutrient can cause neuropathy. Supplementation could be helpful; you can determine your need by checking your levels through your physician. Foods that are strong in B12 include eggs, lean meat, fish, and poultry.
- Veganism – Despite those high-B12 meats, a diet consisting of plant-based foods can be powerful in reducing pain and other neuropathy symptoms. When two neuropathy groups in a nutrition study supplemented with B12, and one group used a vegan diet (no meat, eggs, or dairy), the plant-based participants showed better readings for A1C and cholesterol; better quality of life; and reduction in symptoms, including pain.
- Fruits & veggies – When you have neuropathy, it will help your body to get strong doses of antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. All these elements, which will help ward off illness, guard against infection, and otherwise boost your immunity, are available in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Focusing on your diet and supplying your body with better nutrition can have a major impact on neuropathy. However, you may need more than dietary changes to achieve the results you need.
At Atlanta Medical Clinic, our groundbreaking treatment protocol not only helps relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy but also works to restore the function of damaged nerves. See our multidisciplinary approach.