Food & NutritionThere are 2 main reasons why nutrition is a critical part for working on your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.  First, it is vital to provide your body the nutrients that it requires to maintain good nerve health.  That means you need to consider the nutrients that the nerve cells require as well as the transport system of the nutrients, namely your blood vessels.  The second reason why nutrition is critical for PN is driven by the fact that the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes.  So the approach to abating PN is to engage in a diabetic diet in order to attain and maintain normal glucose levels or blood health.

Factors like cholesterol levels and blood pressure are also key to reducing the pain and discomfort of PN and abating its progress.  These conditions are heavily influenced by nutrition.

Nerve Health

There are 5 key nutrients to maintaining nerve health.

Essential Fatty Acids: aids the transmission of nerve impulses and supports better blood flow which ultimately provides the nerves with more nutrients and oxygen through the blood.  The best natural food sources for EFA’s are fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, flaxseed, beef, and some vegetables like brussel sprouts and cauliflower.

Magnesium: is vital for nerve impulses, deficiency causes nervousness and irritability.  It is most potent when combined with calcium.  The best natural food sources for magnesium are green leafy vegetables like spinach and swiss chard, nuts and seeds like cashews and sunflower seeds and legumes like black beans and soybeans.

Calcium: works as a catalyst to help magnesium be more influential in supporting healthy nerve impulses. The best natural food sources for calcium are vegetables like collard greens and kale, legumes like soybeans and green beans, fish like salmon and sardines, dairy like plain yogurt and milk.

B-Complex: is essential in maintaining healthy cells in the body.  Some of the B vitamins like B1 (Thiamin) and B12 promotes healthy sugar metabolism and energy metabolism.  B2 (Riboflavin) is know to support healthy nerve function.  The best natural food sources for B vitamins are grains like whole grains and brown rice, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fish and poultry.

Lecithin: contains choline and is necessary for nerve impulse transmission from the brain through the central nervous system. It also protects and helps to repair nerves.  The best natural food sources for choline are fish like atlantic cod or salmon, dairy & egg products like milk, yogurt, cheeses and eggs, vegetables like brussel sprouts and broccoli, legumes like kidney or black beans.

Blood Health

Healthy blood means that you have that the body has the right amount of nutrients and oxygen in your bloodstream to maintain excellent cellular health.  Of course a lot also has to do the the way your body secretes hormones in your bloodstream in order for cells to absorb glucose at the right rate.  The main hormone for that of course is insulin.  Here are the key supplements along with the foods which contain each, to help get your blood health get up to par which will help to reduce the pain and abate the spread of peripheral neuropathy.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: is an antioxidant and is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and make energy for other organs in the body.  These processes help to reduce glucose levels in the blood which ultimately helps to abate the onset and progress of peripheral neuropathy.  The best natural food sources for ALA are vegetables particularly deep green and very colorful vegetables like broccoli and red peppers as well as organ meats in particular like liver, kidney and heart.

Acetyl L-Carnitine: is a naturally occurring amino acid.  Also known as ALCAR, the substance is known to influence neurotransmitters in the brain, help prevent neurodegeneration related to ageing through the preservation of the neurotrophin, nerve growth factor (NGF).  It is also essential in stimulating the mitochondria in your cells to use more glucose for energy production, thus lowering blood sugar.  Studies have shown that combining Alpha Lipoic Acid with Acetyl L-Carnitine provide the most impact on sugar metabolism. The best natural food sources of ALCAR are meats like beef and chicken, and dairy like milk and cheese.

Cinnamon: is a natural spice made by grinding the inner bark of some specific plants.  There are two types of cinnamon, cassia and ceylon. Studies have shown cassia cinnamon can reduce glucose levels in the blood by up to 20% if taken before each meal.  There are no natural forms of cinnamon other than using the spice directly.  There are however many processed foods that contain cinnamon as a flavor enhancer.

Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 in particular is known to have properties that help blood flow.  This is essential in order to have oxygen and other nutrients supplied to peripheral parts of the body like the feet and hands. This will help to prevent further damage to nerve cells due to high glucose levels.  The best natural sources of Omega 3 are fish like salmon and halibut, dairy like milk and yogurt, eggs, grains like flaxseed and whole wheat bread and cereals, vegetables like brussel sprouts and kale.

Iron: is essential in the production of red blood cells which in turn are responsible for carrying oxygen to the cells of the body.  The more oxygen the body can transport to the remote or peripheral areas like the feet and hands the greater the restriction on peripheral neuropathy from spreading.  Limited oxygen levels to the nerve cells is the number one cause of peripheral neuropathy so iron is a key element in the battle with peripheral neuropathy.  The best natural sources of iron are meats like beef, chicken and turkey particularly the liver of each, fish like tuna and shrimp, molluscs like  oysters and mussels, vegetables like spinach and broccoli, legumes like black beans and lentils.

Turmeric: is a spice which is related to ginger.  It is comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. It has similar properties as cinnamon does in terms of controlling glucose levels in the blood.  It is not quite as effective as cinnamon for glucose control however given its liver cleansing properties, it is a good alternative.  There are many other health benefits from turmeric, too many to mention here.  Since turmeric is a spice, one will not find it naturally occuring in any foods.  It is a major part of Indian, Indonesian, Pakistani and Afghan foods.

Vitamin D: is essential to maintaining good blood pressure.  It is called the sunshine vitamin because normal skin exposure to sunlight will enable the body to manufacture vitamin D.  Those who live in northern climates or those who restrict themselves from sunlight exposure are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.  It is also common that as we age the chance for vitamin D deficiency is greater even if one has plenty of exposure to the sun.  The best natural sources of vitamin D are fish like salmon and Tuna, dairy products like milk and yogurt, eggs particularly the yoke.  The number one source of naturally occurring vitamin D is from cod liver oil.

Vitamin E: is known to help in the formation of red blood cells along with iron.  This ultimately helps oxygen delivery to all the cells in the body. Vitamin E also helps to prevent the formation of blood clots.  Many of those who have high glucose levels in their blood are at risk of having damaged veins, arteries and capillaries.  These in turn are damaged to the degree that blood does not flow at the normal rate and in some cases the blood pools and causes blood to clot.  Vitamin E has properties that prevent clotting when blood is not flowing properly.  The best natural sources of vitamin E are nuts like peanuts and hazelnuts, vegetable like broccoli and spinach, fruits like mango and kiwifruit.

Summary

The condition of peripheral neuropathy is best controlled through diet if you believe your symptoms are due to high glucose levels.  A regular balanced diet is essential, the things that one needs to pay attention to are limiting the amount of carbohydrates with each meal and watching fats particularly saturated fats and trans fats and cholesterol.  The next sections can help one understand the relationship of balanced nutrition.

Controlling Glucose

Controlling Carbohydrates
Controlling Fats
Controlling Cholesterol
Controlling Blood Pressure