Neuropathy Diet and Nutrition: How to Get Started

You Know That A Healthy Neuropathy Diet Can Make All the Difference in Your Quality of Life with Peripheral Neuropathy. But Do You Know How to Implement This Change in the Best Way?

If you’re been reading for a while, you know that we discuss a healthy neuropathy diet as one of the primary ways to improve your health immediately and over time.

Unfortunately, many neuropathy patients struggle with this lifestyle change. When you are accustomed to processed foods, which typically contain lots of salt and sugar, learning to enjoy leafy green vegetables and other staples of the neuropathy diet can be a challenge.

But it’s well worth it. You’ll begin feeling better overall within a matter of days, and a neuropathy diet offers control over your symptoms which can have both physical and emotional impacts.

So many of the neuropathy patients we see in our clinics are suffering from chronic GI problems—irritable bowel, ulcers, and so on. Those things complicate neuropathic pain and certainly detract from quality of life. They can be precipitated by stress, but often a very poor diet is also to blame.

Here’s why we advocate whole foods for a neuropathy diet. Whole foods simply contain more things that your body needs to heal from neuropathy: vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and water.

Ideally, your neuropathy diet will contain local fresh farmer’s market produce whenever possible. You’ll also want to learn how to flavor and season your food primarily with spices rather than salt.

As with any significant change in your health regimen, talk with your neuropathy specialist about how to begin incorporating a healthy neuropathy diet into your lifestyle in a gradual way.

Looking for a neuropathy specialist who is highly trained in all aspects of treating and managing neuropathy, including a healthy neuropathy diet? Click here to find a neuropathy expert near you.

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Self-Treatment for Neuropathy Symptoms: A Supplement, Not a Substitute

There’s A Lot Neuropathy Patients Can Do At Home to Supplement Their Doctor’s Treatment Plan, But Don’t Think You Can Handle It All On Your Own.

We talk a lot about self-treatment for neuropathy and chronic neuropathic pain. But I want you to understand the difference between effective home treatment and dangerous stalling that can make your neuropathy worse.

I’ll be straightforward: if you are experiencing neuropathy symptoms like tingling, numbness, chronic pain, fatigue, and balance or movement problems, you absolutely need to be under the care of a trained neuropathy clinician. Neuropathy is often a degenerative condition that will get worse over time when not treated adequately.

The worst thing you could do for your neuropathy symptoms is to try to handle it all on your own through self-care based on what you’ve read on the Internet.

I am all for complementary forms of treatment like yoga, massage, and so on—but be aware that “complementary” means that you should use them in conjunction with effective medical treatments, not instead of medical treatment. That goes for vitamin supplementation as well.

If there is only one thing I can convey about self-treatment, it is this message: When it comes to neuropathy, it is absolutely vital to get early treatment in order to reduce or minimize your neuropathic pain. Ignoring it, self-medicating, or attempting to handle it on your own is NOT a good long-term health strategy.

Remember, home care and self-treatment strategies (like a health neuropathy diet, moderate exercise, and supplements) are intended to work WITH your neuropathy clinician’s treatment plan. The idea is to build a holistic treatment plan for neuropathy so that everything you do, in the doctor’s office and at home, is supporting your long-term health goals and improving your quality of life right away.

Read more about how to treat neuropathic pain in our neuropathy “owner’s manual”: I Beat Neuropathy!

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4 Gentle Exercises for Reducing Neuropathy Symptoms

You Can Reduce Neuropathy Symptoms Through Appropriate Movement, Even If Exercise Usually Tends to Be Painful.

Even if your neuropathy symptoms leave you feeling like it’s impossible to exercise…

There ARE ways to get moving and stay active while supporting your neuropathy treatment needs.

Your doctor will tell you that gentle, appropriate exercise will help you maintain a healthier weight, improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones, manage your blood sugar levels, and even help to ward off depression and anxiety.

The best exercise for reducing neuropathy symptoms is focused on gentle, fluid movement that isn’t jarring or overly taxing. Here are a few types of gentle exercise that you may want to consider as part of an overall treatment plan for neuropathy symptoms.

  • Stretching is a basic but essential way to keep your body limber despite neuropathy symptoms. Try to develop a self-directed program of stretches that you do each day before getting out of bed as well as a few stretches to help you unwind before bed.
  • Tai Chi is a type of martial art that involves very slowly and deliberately working each of the muscle groups in your body. It is considered a very gentle form of exercise that can also improve your circulation and improve mood.
  • Some types of yoga are appropriate for people with neuropathy symptoms. Look for a class or video that is called “gentle” or “restorative” yoga. You don’t need to be particularly flexible or limber to participate in yoga and can move at your own pace.
  • Swimming or a gentle version of water aerobics are both great movement choices for anyone who has difficulty or pain from walking. The support of warm water can help to loosen up your body and support your joints, as well as reducing pressure on your feet.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before undergoing any change in your activity level.

For more tips on reducing neuropathy symptoms, see our neuropathy owners manual: I Beat Neuropathy!

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Diabetic Neuropathy May Not Respond to Traditional Treatment Approaches!

A General Doctor or Nutritionist May Be Giving You Outdated Diet Information When It Comes to Managing Diabetic Neuropathy.

You’ll see that I have been mentioning diabetes frequently on this blog. That’s because it is unfortunately such a common precursor to developing symptoms of neuropathy.

And diabetic neuropathy can be painful and difficult to treat. It is frustrating for both doctors and patients!

What seems to be the case is that in general, diabetic neuropathy is not being treated aggressively. Diabetes patients are being told that they should lose some weight and get some exercise. But “some” isn’t good enough when it comes to diabetic neuropathy.

What’s worse, you may have been given specifics about a diabetes diet from a nutritionist, but if you look closely, that diet still contains too many grains and fruits.

With diabetic neuropathy, you will need to keep carbohydrates at an absolute minimum—even “healthy” carbs. Most people with diabetic neuropathy should be restricting carbs to 15 g at one meal.

Of course, talk with your doctor before undergoing any significant health lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. These changes will require you to adjust any medications you are taking for diabetes control, especially insulin. It is dangerous to change your diet or activity level without consulting your doctor.

It’s also important, of course, to be your own best health advocate. Management of your diabetic neuropathy is within your control. The ideal is to work with a trained neuropathy specialist who can tailor your diabetic neuropathy treatment to your own specific health needs and lifestyle. A neuropathy clinician will be interested not only in your lab numbers but in the details of your quality of life and be looking to help you improve on that drastically.

To find a diabetic neuropathy expert in your area, click here.

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Neuropathy Treatments and Too Many Choices

Choosing Your Neuropathy Treatments Specialist is the Most Important Step Back to Wellness.

The first step to choosing effective neuropathy treatments is the hardest. That’s because it may feel that the path of treatment is entirely up to you.

Unfortunately, many general practitioners, oncologists, and other doctors are just not trained with a specialty background in neuropathy—leaving patients to research on their own to try to understand their treatment options.

This is a confusing process that is made worse by the fact that neuropathy isn’t just a single disease. It’s a condition with many individual factors. Your experience of neuropathy is unique in the context of your entire medical history and specific symptoms.

And that is why there are so-called neuropathy treatments or “cures” out there that just will not work for most people…. because they are a blanket approach to a very individual problem.

When it comes to neuropathy treatments, the most effective path is one that uses multiple effective treatment components in a way that is uniquely tailored to your needs.

For that reason, the first step and the very most important step, before looking at any specific neuropathy treatments for your symptoms, is to find a highly trained neuropathy specialist who will do a thorough assessment in order to create YOUR unique treatment plan.

This plan will probably involve addressing any underlying conditions that aggravate neuropathy, such as diabetes, as well as components of lifestyle and diet changes, appropriate medications, and state of the art therapies like laser light therapy.

Note that medication was not the first item on that neuropathy treatments list. That’s because neuropathy specialists understand that medication is not a cure-all for neuropathy symptoms, and sometimes can actually impair your quality of life due to side effects.

The most important thing you can do for your health today is to talk with a NeuropathyDR® clinician. Click here to find a neuropathy specialist in your area.

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Everyday Toxins That Aggravate Neuropathy Symptoms

Take These Steps Today to Minimize Your Exposure to Harmful Toxins That Make Neuropathy Symptoms Worse.

Most people picture toxins on a huge, catastrophic level, like nuclear waste. Unfortunately, our everyday lives are full of potential toxins that exist in our food, air, and water, some of which can live for days or longer in the fatty tissues of our bodies. This is a significant issue for those who are living with neuropathy symptoms, which can be made worse by exposure to toxins.

It’s also important to understand that these toxins tend to accumulate over time, so small amounts of toxin exposure can lead to significant negative health effects.

Some of the toxins we’re talking about here include antibiotic residues in water, chemical residues on your food from the use of pesticides, and hidden household pollutants like radon gas.

The good news is that you can take steps right away to begin reducing your exposure to harmful toxins that can make neuropathy symptoms worse.

Start by using a filter for your drinking water. Depending on your needs and preferences, you could choose to use a pitcher with a built-in filter that you change frequently, or a whole-house filtering system that will provide filtered water from every tap.

We also recommend filtering your food, so to speak, by avoiding processed foods and selecting organic produce whenever possible. Growing vegetables for your own use is a wonderful alternative to buying them, although you’ll need to avoid using commercial pesticides in your garden. Chemicals that kill insects tend to be very bad for your body, too! Consider using non-toxic spray soap to deter insects instead.

Speaking of growing things, no matter how much you enjoy having a perfectly green and manicured lawn, we urge our patients not to use commercial chemicals to enhance lawn growth or color.
You can also choose to use “green” cleaners around your home. But don’t assume that anything with the word “green” on the label is a good idea—you’ll need to read the label. Better yet, do an Internet search to learn about using very basic materials like vinegar and baking soda to clean your home. You’ll save money in addition to knowing that harsh chemicals in your home aren’t aggravating your neuropathy symptoms.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reducing toxins in order to reduce neuropathy symptoms. For more information about a healthy lifestyle to support treatment of your neuropathy symptoms, take a look at our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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Chemotherapy Neuropathy and What You Can Do About It

Chemotherapy Neuropathy is One of the Least Well-Known Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, But You Can Take Action to Minimize Its Effects.

We’ve all heard about the classic side effects of chemotherapy for cancer treatment: hair loss, nausea, disrupted digestion. But did you know that a common side effect, which is rarely discussed, is tingling or numbness in the extremities?

This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy or Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN), can be unpredictable, and it can severely impact your quality of life. What’s more, sometimes chemotherapy neuropathy will subside and eventually disappear months or years after your treatment is over, but sometimes the nerve damage lingers well after you are believed to be cancer free.

Some of the typical symptoms of chemotherapy neuropathy in the hands or feet include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Shooting or “electric” pains

For many patients, chemotherapy neuropathy is so bad that it keeps them from functioning normally during the day or even sleeping at night.

So, what can you do to combat chemotherapy neuropathy?

Your oncologist or other physician may have prescribed medications to help manage the symptoms of your CIPN. But there’s so much more that you can do beyond simply taking drugs and hoping for the best.

Complementary and integrative therapies have been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating chemotherapy neuropathy for many people. You might have heard of these as a broad category called CAM, for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

If chemotherapy neuropathy is an issue for you, some of the complementary therapies you might consider are:

  • Supplements like alpha lipoic acid (B12) that can ease symptoms
  • Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
  • Specific herbal supplements to strengthen nerve health
  • Massage therapy aimed at cancer patients
  • Gentle exercise, as recommended by your physician

Be sure that you talk with your oncologist before beginning to use any kind of supplement or alternative treatment, to make sure that it will not interfere with your primary cancer treatment.
For more information about nerve health and chemotherapy neuropathy, we recommend the “neuropathy owners manual,” I Beat Neuropathy!

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Neuropathy Treatment 101: Scheduling Time for Self Care

You Might Be Surprised at How Vital Self Care and At Home Changes Can Be for Successful Neuropathy Treatment.

With all the complexities of the typical neuropathy treatment plan, it is shocking how often a critical element of success is left off—and that’s self care.

Like many others, you might think of self care as indulgent or silly. Things like bubble baths or spa days might come to mind.

But when we talk about self care as a component of neuropathy treatment, what we mean is the very basic and vital aspects of taking control of your own health on a day to day basis.

The fact is, you’re not doing all you can do for your own neuropathy treatment success if you’re not scheduling time EVERY day for self care.

Some key aspects of self care for neuropathy treatment include:

  • Appropriate exercise that meets your health goals
  • Following a beneficial neuropathy diet that eliminates common neuropathy aggravators, such as caffeine and wheat
  • Meditation, prayer, or another meaningful spiritual practice
  • Relaxation, including guided visualization, yoga, massage, etc.
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as acupuncture
  • Neurostimulation using home care tools recommended by your NeuropathyDR® clinician

Naturally, these types of self care neuropathy treatments are not a cure for your neuropathy symptoms. In fact, there is no known cure for neuropathy. But what these self care remedies do is to reduce your symptoms as much as possible and enhance your quality of life overall.

While there is a place for medication and surgery in some cases, there are so many less intrusive ways to treat neuropathy, including basic home care and self care neuropathy treatment.

Your most effective neuropathy treatment plan begins with a thorough assessment and diagnosis by a qualified neuropathy treatment specialist, followed by regular in-office treatments with the high-tech options appropriate for your specific medical condition, as well as daily self care.

Click here to locate a highly trained neuropathy treatment clinician near you!

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Neuropathy Treatment Doesn’t Have to Be Invasive and Expensive

Do You Know Your Neuropathy Treatment Options? Keep Reading to Find Out What You Might Be Missing.

We recommend that patients think twice before agreeing to invasive neuropathy treatment options.

That’s because there are effective treatments for neuropathy that are simple, common sense, and noninvasive to support your healing rather than disrupt it.

Unfortunately, many doctors today are too quick to prescribe drugs or surgery for neuropathy treatment—before other neuropathy treatments that are equally (or more) effective have even been tried.

It doesn’t make sense to immediately jump to medications with serious side effects, or surgery that requires its own period of recovery afterward. Why not start with treatments for neuropathy that are gentle, supportive, and build your health over time? These can include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Appropriate exercise, modified to your needs
  • Dietary changes to supplement the nutrients that help you heal
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Laser therapy

In fact, this philosophy also could apply to many of the secondary conditions experienced by patients with neuropathy. Treatment for depression, insomnia, and chronic pain related to neuropathy can and should be supportive, not destructive.

The fact is, you will have to be your own best health care advocate in order to receive appropriate neuropathy treatment. That’s because your insurance company may not recognize some of the basic noninvasive modalities as “medically necessary.” However, you may be able to argue in favor of saving money, as medications and surgeries are certainly more expensive over time than the kind of neuropathy treatment options I’m suggesting.

Of course there is a place for medication and surgery. I’m simply suggesting that neuropathy treatment should first and foremost address your everyday lifestyle and overall health needs, and consider more radical interventions only when they are clearly needed—not as a default response. This is why it’s so important in your neuropathy treatment to rely on a highly trained neuropathy specialist who can customize your neuropathy treatment for your specific needs.

Click here to find a NeuropathyDR® specialist in your area.

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Why You Need Folic Acid to Combat Peripheral Neuropathy

Vitamin B9, AKA Folic Acid, is a Key Supplement for Maintaining and Improving Nerve Health When Dealing with Peripheral Neuropathy.

You may know that folic acid helps to prevent birth defects, which is why it’s one of the key ingredients in prenatal vitamins.

What you may not know, however, is that folic acid is a vital nutrient for people with neuropathy and chronic pain. That’s because a folic acid deficiency can directly influence the development of peripheral neuropathy.

Why is folic acid so important for those with neuropathy?

It has to do with the role of folic acid in the body. This supplement, which is also known as vitamin B9, is essential for repairing damaged cells in the body. It feeds DNA synthesis, and it’s needed for preventing anemia (a condition involving a lower than normal quantity of red blood cells).

An abnormally low level of folic acid in the body can also cause fatigue, depression, and mouth sores.

For all of these reasons, folic acid is one of the essential nutrients that should be checked by your neuropathy specialist in a routine evaluation, along with vitamins D and B12, especially if you’re over 50 years old.

Also, don’t rely on self-diagnosis for folic acid deficiency. This is important to understand because if you took a folic acid supplement without first testing for B12 deficiency, you could be masking one problem while trying to provide self treatment for another. The other reason to avoid self-diagnosing is that some vitamin deficiencies can have serious consequences for your nervous system, and it’s best to begin your neuropathy treatment with a thorough examination by a trained neuropathy specialist.

Be aware that you’re unlikely to experience a folic acid deficiency if you are following our recommended neuropathy diet. That’s because the diet includes an abundance of foods that are natural sources of the B vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fresh fruits. However, it’s vital to store and prepare your food appropriately in order to avoid breakdown of key vitamins before the food is even ingested.

You can find neuropathy nutritional supplements such as our Neuropathy DR Metabolic Support Formula at the Self-Guided Care Store.

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