Cultivating a healthy diet is vital for controlling blood glucose levels. The foods you eat, along with regular exercise, can help manage diabetes and diabetic symptoms, such as diabetic neuropathy. While you won’t have to completely alter you diet, opting for certain foods above others can go a long way in helping you maintain good health. This article explores the foods that are most beneficial for diabetic nerve health, as well as what foods to avoid.
The Effect Of Diabetes On Nerve Health
Diabetic neuropathy is an advanced symptom of diabetes that often involves nerve damage. It’s caused by low-level inflammation that can result in pain and numbness, especially in the hands and feet, as well as sexual and digestive issues, such as ulcers. Fortunately, as with any nerve disorder, eating a nutrient-rich diet can help delay the onset of advanced symptoms. If you suffer from the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, consult your doctor. Neuropathy Help can also help you navigate the medication and supplement options to better address your diabetic nerve health.
Best Foods For Nerve Health
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains should make up half of your daily grain consumption for a well-balanced diet. These include whole wheat, brown rice, corn, and oatmeal. Barley is particularly beneficial for diabetics because of its abundance of soluble and insoluble fiber. In general, whole grains contain complex sugars, which take longer for your body to break down, leaving you feeling full for longer periods and keeping your blood sugar levels better in check. They also promote healthy brain and nervous system. One excellent way to avoid a notoriously sugary American breakfast is by opting for a bowl of whole grain oatmeal with nuts and sugar-free yogurt.
2. Lots Of Colorful Fruits
You probably know how sugary the typical American diet can be. What if there’s a way to enjoy some sweetness as a diabetic without worrying about sudden swings in blood sugar? That’s where fruit comes in! High-fiber fruits, such as papaya and guava, are a great choice, as are apples. Berries and pomegranates are great options because they offer such a rich source of antioxidants. Always opt for fruits with a low glycemic index. Similarly, avoid drinking fruit juice as it contains all of the sugar and none of the healthy fiber of the original fruit. Sprinkling cinnamon or ground flax seeds on freshly cut fruit can help in regulating blood sugar levels.
3. Plenty Of Veggies
There’s a reason your parents always wanted you to eat your veggies. Pigment-rich veggies, such as carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, contain phytonutrients, antioxidants that protect the nervous and immune systems. Carrots are especially a great source of sweetness despite their low glycemic index. Regularly feasting on asparagus can keep your blood sugar in check and boost your body’s natural insulin production. Spinach, brussel sprouts, yams, and potatoes also provide plenty of healthy fiber, along with lipoic acid, an antioxidant helpful in fighting free radicals, which can damage healthy nerve tissue.
4. Foods Rich In Healthy Fats
While fats have historically gotten a bad name in popular Western nutrition, there’s a big difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Fats derived from vegetable sources that are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil, are more heart healthy. Similarly, any source of Omega-3 fatty acids promotes cardiovascular and central nervous system health. Some great sources of healthy fats include fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, and nuts, such as walnuts. Dairy products, especially yogurt and cheese, can provide healthier fats and plenty of protein; avocados are also a beneficial option.
Beans and other legumes are an excellent protein source for diabetics. They’re high in fiber and make you feel full for longer periods as it takes the digestive system a while to break them down. Try a tasty bean soup with barley and veggies as a satisfying evening meal! Meat substitutes, such as tofu, also pack that healthy legume punch, and are extremely versatile ingredients as well. If you decide to opt for meat as your main source of protein, make sure to pick lean meats.
6. Vitamin B-Rich Foods
Vitamin B is key to healthy nerve development in general, but Vitamin B-12, specifically, is an essential component in the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers. Unfortunately, it’s found mainly in animal products, such as organ meats, yogurt, milk, and clams, so vegetarians and vegans often have to rely on supplements.
7. Dietary Supplements
There are plenty of key nutrients that you can get from fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy sources of protein. If your diet is lacking in a certain nutrient, however, dietary supplements may be a good option. These vitamins have shown some effectiveness in combating the advancement of diabetic neuropathy. Always consult your doctor before using them to make sure they’ll not interact negatively with any medication you’re taking.
What To Avoid?
It’s easy to have an exciting and varied diet that promotes healthy glucose levels and protects your nervous system. There are some foods, however, that you should try to avoid. Trans fats and saturated fats are particularly dangerous, so fried foods should be consumed in moderation. Foods with high sodium and sugar levels should be avoided, as should sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks. Lastly, alcohol should be consumed in moderation as it may interact with diabetes medications and cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Try to limit your alcohol consumption to one or two drinks, and always drink with food to help you better manage your glucose levels.
Eat Healthy, Live Healthy
As you can see, a diabetic-friendly diet is not just healthy (as what many people believe); it’s also delicious! Eating an exciting variety of nutrient-rich foods will have you feeling much better, plus it will protect your neve health in the long run. Coupled with a healthy amount of exercise, the right diet can bring plenty of color, flavor, and energy to your life. In addition, you won’t have to worry about your nerve health deteriorating each passing day.