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Eat Your Way to Less Neuropathy Pain

Eat Your Way to Less Neuropathy Pain

Peripheral neuropathy is a painful condition marked by nerve damage, and it plagues 20 million people. 

However, neuropathy disproportionately affects those who have diabetes — about half of them suffer with neuropathy symptoms. The condition typically affects a person’s legs and feet, but it can also impact the arms and hands.

Fortunately, the stellar and caring podiatry team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers has extensive experience caring for people who have diabetes, because proper foot care is critical for them. 

Our team is fortunate to include Dr. Jonathan Cutler, who has served our community as podiatrist and board-certified foot and ankle surgeon for nearly three decades. His commitment to offering the most innovative treatments reflects his long-term investment in his patients’ well-being and mobility.

Neuropathy: a significant problem for those living with diabetes

Your peripheral nervous system encompasses the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord, and if you live with diabetes, high blood sugar levels are thought to make your nerves less able to send important signals. 

It also compromises the walls of your capillaries (small blood vessels), whose job is to send oxygen and nutrients to your nerves. 

These problems lead to numerous uncomfortable symptoms that can become debilitating:

When you live with diabetes, the numbness neuropathy causes can make you unaware if you sustain a small injury on your foot, like a cut or a blister from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly. 

If the injury gets infected, the situation can quickly become life-threatening. Your tissue can die (gangrene), which can lead to amputation. 

As with many health conditions, what you choose to eat can either improve or exacerbate your neuropathy symptoms, and your podiatrist can recommend changes to improve your neuropathy symptoms. 

To ease neuropathy pain, muscles weakness, numbness, and that “pins and needles” sensation, try incorporating these changes.

1. Concentrate on the ‘rainbow plate’

Focus on eating many different fruits and veggies, which are colorful and full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other great things. Bright orange carrots, for example, are high in beta-carotenes, which convert to vitamin A — essential for a well-functioning immune system, good vision, and resilient skin.

Try to get 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This might sound like a challenge, but snacking on fruit a couple times a day, enjoying a big salad for lunch, and including a couple vegetables with dinner can have you hitting that goal in no time. 

2. Aim to eat whole grains

Choose options like whole-grain bread instead of spongy processed options, brown rice, and oatmeal for your meals. Highly processed products have actually had the good stuff — germ and bran — removed in the refinement process, which doesn’t help you!

Not only are whole-grain foods more satisfying and make you feel fuller for longer, they help regulate your blood sugar. 

3. Take it easy on sodium

Keeping your sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams per day helps lower your risk for both high blood pressure and heart disease, and diabetics are more at risk for both conditions than non-diabetics. 

Be aware that sodium is snuck into many pre-packaged and processed foods like spaghetti sauces, bread, and cheese. It’s also helpful to branch out into using more herbs and spices when you cook. They add just as much — and more interesting — flavor to dishes as salt.

4. Be aware of fats

Choose sources of fat like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish, which contain good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats like butter, meats like beef, lamb, and pork, and fried foods.

5. Monitor your sugar intake

Try to cook without added sweeteners, avoid prepared baked goods, and concentrate on drinking water that is flavored with lemon as a beverage as opposed to sugary sodas. 

A startling fact is that a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola® has a whopping 39 grams of sugar. Your blood sugar levels will go haywire if you gulp that down quickly. 

6. Eschew alcohol

Either limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether, since alcohol is toxic for nerve tissue.

You and your South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers provider are a team, working together for your foot health — which extends to improved overall health if you're diabetic. 

In addition to lifestyle practices like eating a healthy diet, your podiatrist can counsel you on caring for your feet and offer neuropathy treatment options, including wound care, custom orthotics, and nerve decompression surgery, as well as help with diabetes management. 

Call the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office that’s most convenient to you and schedule a visit with us, or request an appointment online. There’s a doctor on call 24/7 so we can help whenever you need us.  We’re in Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, and Belle Grade, Florida. 

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