Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy or neuritis, is a condition caused by nerve damage that may result from illnesses such as diabetes, injuries, infections or exposure to various toxins. Common symptoms include tingling, burning and/or numbness and pain in the hands and feet. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy diet may help prevent or reduce symptoms of neuropathy for those at greatest risk.
B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that aid in the breakdown of foods during digestion. According to natural health expert, Andrew Weil, M.D., B vitamins are also required for healthy nerve function and may help those who develop neuropathy that's unassociated with a particular disease, such as diabetes. Valuable food sources of vitamin B include whole grain cereals and protein-rich foods, such as meats, poultry, fish, brewer's yeast, milk, eggs, legumes, potatoes and peanuts. If you experience peripheral neuropathy, incorporate a variety of vitamin B-rich foods regularly for best potential results.
Fruits and vegetables provide a valuable assortment of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants--nutrients known to support a healthy immune system and prevent infections and disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends a diet rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables for those who experience neuropathy. Fruits and vegetables may have a mellowing effect on blood sugar as well, which is particularly helpful for those who have or who are at risk for diabetes. Incorporate a variety of fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits into your diet on a regular, consistent basis for best potential results. Fruits and vegetables most likely to support a healthy immune system are those richest in antioxidants. Examples include cherries, berries, oranges, grapefruit, red grapes, kiwi, watermelon, tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, onions, brussels sprouts and bell peppers. If your extremity numbness is severe, keep pre-cut, ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables on hand to reduce stress and pain involved with food preparation.
Protein allows the body to build lean muscle tissue and contributes to tissue repair. The Mayo Clinic suggests lean-protein foods, such as poultry and low-fat dairy products, as important elements of a healthy diet for those with peripheral neuropathy. Foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fatty meat, whole milk, butter, cheeses and deep-fried or highly processed foods, may increase risk for heart disease, diabetes and other conditions and should be avoided. Incorporate a variety of lean protein sources into your diet--such as skinless white-meat poultry, legumes, low-fat milk, yogurt, tofu and fish--for optimum results. If you have diabetes in addition to neuropathy, lean protein foods are especially valuable. They have a mild effect on blood sugar levels. When you do consume high-fat foods, limit your portion size and do your best to make such consumption an occasional occurrence.