Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dietary Treatments for Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the medical term used to describe nerve damage caused by diabetes. The most common symptom of this condition is numbness in the hands and / or feet. Neuropathy can also affect other nerves in the body, including those associated with the digestive process. Diet can play a major role in the prevention and control of neuropathy. These are some of the basic dietary protocols you can follow to prevent and control the problem.
  1. The most important thing is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as is possible. To do this you should limit your intake of sugars and fats, eat smaller meals but eat them more often, control your intake of carbs and consume lots of fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
  2. With diabetes, if the blood sugar level drops too low symptoms of sweating and shakiness act as warning signs. In the case of neuropathy, the warnings may not appear. Be sure that you do not skip or delay meals and check your blood sugar levels more frequently to prevent the occurrence of hypoglycemia.
  3. Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect the severity of neuropathy and cause severe numbness, tingling sensations and pain in the feet and hands. While increasing the intake of red meat, fish, dairy, poultry and eggs can increase the B12 levels, it is best to consult your doctor before making and major changes to your diet.
  4. Consumption of alcohol is dangerous for those with neuropathy. It is just empty calories that do no good and can lower your vitamin B12 levels and increase the symptoms of neuropathy. When combined with the use of insulin, alcohol intake can cause hypoglycemia. If you must have a drink, limit your consumption and ensure that you snack while drinking.
  5. Avoid the consumption of refined or “white” grains like while pastas, bread and rice. The refining process removes the outer husks which are full of fiber and B vitamins which help to fight neuropathy. Ingestion of white grains leads to fluctuations in the blood sugar levels and increases the symptoms of neuropathy. Replacing the white grains with whole grains such as brown rice, breads and pastas will serve to combat the signs of neuropathy. However, many people have trouble digesting gluten, the protein that is found in wheat. This can lead to an increase in the symptoms when rye, wheat, barely oats etc. are eaten. If the consumption of grains causes you problems, ask your doctor about testing for gluten sensitivity.
  6. A lot has been written about the benefits of Omega fatty acids. Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish (especially mackerel and salmon) can help to alleviate neuropathy pain. The same is true of vegetable oils that are high in Omega-6 acids such as sunflower, corn and safflower oils.
  7. Lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is helps to turn blood sugar into energy. Healthy people have large amounts of the fatty acid in their bodies, but in the case of those suffering from neuropathy, the levels are usually very low. Consult your doctor to see if you can benefit from taking a Lipoic acid supplement.
Dietary control will not completely remove the symptoms of neuropathy. But with sensible eating the pain and discomfort that the condition causes and impact it has on your lifestyle can be controlled. Common sense in planning your diet, the advice of your doctor and a reasonable amount of exercise can help to reduce the discomfort and pain and improve the quality of life.

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