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What Foods Affect Neuropathy?

by
author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
What Foods Affect Neuropathy?
High-fiber foods help stabilize blood sugar. Photo Credit View Stock/View Stock/Getty Images

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy involves managing the underlying cause of the nerve condition, as well as eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and making dietary changes to prevent complications or aggravating your symptoms. Only your health care provider can determine the best course of treatment for you. Avoid making changes to an otherwise healthy diet without your doctor's permission.

About Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathy occurs when the network of nerves known as the peripheral nervous system transmits incorrect information from your central nervous system to your body. This can cause symptoms such as numbness or tingling sensations in certain body parts. In the United States, diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Inherited disorders, injury, hormone imbalance, kidney problems, cancer treatment or another underlying disorder can also cause neuropathy.

Carbohydrates

Because prolonged high blood sugar damages nerves, the first step is to control your blood sugar to prevent further damage if you have diabetic neuropathy. You must limit your carbohydrate intake to accomplish this. Many people with diabetes use the carb-counting method, which involves eating a set amount of carbs per meal. Around 45 to 60 grams per meal is a good starting point, according to the American Diabetes Association. Your doctor may recommend avoiding refined carbs and added sugars such as those in cookies, candy, pastries, ice cream and waffles until your diabetes is better controlled. Even then, you're generally encouraged to choose whole-grain foods, vegetables and fruits most of the time.

Gluten-Containing Foods

Celiac disease is a rare cause of neuropathy, according to a study published in the May 2007 issue of the journal "Muscle and Nerve." Celiac is a condition in which you have an immune system reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Researchers found that following a gluten-free diet led to significant improvements. Gluten is in many foods such as baked goods, flour tortillas, sauces, dressings, cereals, crackers and fried foods. Have your doctor test you for celiac disease if you have neuropathy with no apparent cause.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol abuse can cause neuropathy. Previously scientists weren't sure whether alcohol itself is toxic to nerves, or whether alcohol causes nutritional deficiencies that lead to neuropathy. The journal "Muscle and Nerve" published a review in 2011 that evaluated current evidence and concluded that alcohol is toxic to nerves when abused and can promote neuropathy. Your doctor may advise you to refrain from drinking to prevent further damage if you have alcohol-related neuropathy.

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