Foods That Aggravate Peripheral Neuropathy


Is My Diet Making My Neuropathy Worse?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which nerve damage triggers a burning, tingling or numb sensation in your hands and feet. The specific cause can be difficult to pinpoint, but contributing factors include vitamin deficiencies, traumatic injuries, diabetes, chemotherapy, alcoholism, infections, kidney disease, tumors and exposure to poisons.


Many common foods that people are eating daily (and in large quantities) can actually worsen the damage to peripheral nerves, as well as, the symptoms of neuropathy.  Here are a few of the foods that will actually exacerbate your peripheral neuropathy.



If you have a gluten allergy, which is also known as celiac disease, consuming gluten can trigger and worsen your symptoms. Fifty percent of adults with celiac disease do not even know that they have this autoimmune disorder.  Celiac disease, as we mentioned, is an allergy to gluten, however, many people without celiac disease have a sensitivity to gluten.  As a matter of fact, 18 million people in the U.S., currently have Gluten sensitivity.  Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease can cause or increase tingling, numbness and other neuropathy symptoms.


What is Gluten?  Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Common sources include most breads, cereals, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries and all foods containing white, wheat, cake or baking flour. Suitable alternatives include rice, potatoes and oatmeal, corn and rice-based cereals and breads clearly labeled “gluten-free.”


Refined Grains

Refined grains are high-glycemic, meaning they have a dramatic impact on your blood sugar. According to the Neuropathy   Spiking blood sugar raises inflammation throughout the body.  Chronic inflammation can both cause peripheral neuropathy or worsen the damage to the nerves, resulting in increased pain and diminished function.


According to the Diabetes Association, glycemic control is the No. 1 strategy for preventing the progression of neuropathy associated with diabetes, or pre-diabetes, which is one of the most common causes.


To improve the glycemic impact of your diet, replace refined grains and products — including white and wheat bread, enriched pasta, white and instant rice, low-fiber cereals and processed snack foods, such as pretzels, potato chips and crackers — with whole grains. Nutritious options include oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and millet.


Added Sugars

Added sugars, such as cane sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup, add sweet flavor, but few nutrients, to foods. Similar to refined grains, they are high-glycemic and may interfere with blood sugar control. In addition, diets rich in added sugars are associated with poor nutrient intake.


To guard against nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to neuropathy symptoms, choose nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, instead of sugary snacks most often.


Common sources of added sugars include regular soft drinks, candy, milk chocolate, sugary cereals, pancake syrup, jellies, frozen desserts and commercially baked cakes, cookies, pastries and pies.


Bad Fats

Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates. Fats are necessary to fuel the body with energy and to assist in processesing certain vitamins and manufacturing hormones.  The problem comes in when we consume a diet that mainly consists of bad fats vs. good fats.


The worst type of dietary fat is Trans Fat.  Trans fats are commonly listed on labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils.  Trans fats raise inflammation in the body, increase bad cholesterol (LDL), contribute to insulin resistance and harm small blood vessels necessary for delivering nutrients to your peripheral nerves.


Saturated fats (prevalent in fatty meats and dairy products) have often been given a bad rap, however there are more research studies – including one study from Harvard  Health  Publications -that show a diet with a moderate amount of saturated fat from fruits (Avocados, coconut oil) have extensive health benefits to the cardiovascular system.  Further studies also show that a small to moderate consumption of animal saturated fat, also contains health benefits..  For enhanced wellness,  eat moderate amounts of healthy fat sources, avocados, nuts, seeds and coconut oils and Ghee.



Dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten. It causes inflammation in a large percentage of the population.  People who already suffer from peripheral neuropathy have damage to their nerves.  Introducing more inflammation can set the nerves on fire and ultimately increase the pain and symptoms from neuropathy.  Inflammation caused by the consumption of dairy can also result in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea and worsen autistic behaviors.

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The food we eat gives our bodies the “information” and materials it needs to function properly. If we don’t get the right information (nutrients), our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines.  In short, what we eat is central to our health.


“Nutrients are the nourishing substances in food that are essential for the growth, development, repair and maintenance of body functions. If your diet is nutrient deficient, your health will decline.  How do we become nutrient deficient?  Simply by eating a diet of fast foods, junk foods, or processed foods with very little whole foods.  Also by consuming regular beverages like soda, coffee, energy drinks, sugary drinks and alcohol which deplete essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamin B1, B6, B12, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, etc.)


In other words, nutrients give our bodies instructions about how to function and then provide our body with the tools to carry out the appropriate functions to maintain health.  So, it is vitally important to remember, ” Food acts as medicine, to maintain, prevent, and treat disease.”


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