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How Your Diet Can Affect Your Nerves

How Your Diet Can Affect Your Nerves

Most of us have heard the phrase “food is fuel.” However, much diet and nutrition advice focuses on weight loss and management. While maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for good health and physical performance, the food you eat affects more than just the size of your waist. 

From your brain and spine to the network of peripheral nerves that control your movements, your nervous system relies on your diet to perform at its best. At Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, our orthopaedic specialist Dr. David Dickerson and our team offer a range of sports medicine and pain management services at our office in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

How your diet can affect your nerves

Have you ever noticed that eating and drinking certain foods and beverages can affect your mood and either make you feel jittery or sluggish? Caffeine and alcohol are probably among the first to come to mind, but you might be surprised how other common foods affect your nerves, especially if you have diabetes and/or peripheral neuropathy. 

According to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, vitamin deficiencies and eating too many saturated fats (such as dairy products and red meat) can aggravate peripheral neuropathy symptoms and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the nerves that affect movement and sensation, most commonly in your hands and feet. High blood glucose from type 2 diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy, but other factors like alcoholism, celiac disease (gluten intolerance), and autoimmune disease like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are also risk factors.

Diet and inflammation

Highly processed foods high in sugar and saturated fats are generally bad for your health, especially if you already have underlying health problems like diabetes or heart disease. Poor diets may also be linked to chronic inflammation, which increases the risk for neuropathy-related conditions like diabetes and autoimmune disorders, along with other serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Keeping blood glucose levels (blood sugar) under control is key, especially if you have diabetes. Limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking are also very important factors in managing peripheral neuropathy, as smoking can affect blood flow to the extremities. 

If you have underlying health conditions, need to lose weight, or have any concerns about your diet and health, the best thing to do is consult with a doctor and nutritionist to find the right meal plan for your needs. A healthy diet involves eating the right foods and ensures you get enough of the essential nutrients and vitamins to avoid deficiencies that can negatively affect your nervous system.

For more information about neuropathy and how to improve your health and meet your fitness and physical performance goals, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

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