Diabetic neuropathy diet is investigated in the latest issue of the Nutrition & Diabetes Journal. It suggests that plant-based diets reduce the painful suffering of diabetic neuropathy.
Nerve pain and numbness in the extremities are a common problem for diabetics. Foot pain is most common, and lack of feeling can cause diabetes sufferers to injure themselves. In fact, this type of pain is most commonly caused by diabetes. It happens as high blood sugar levels damage the vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the hands, feet, and other parts of the body.
The new report describes how:
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy occurs in up to 60% of individuals with type 2 diabetes and is associated with significant morbidity, including gait disturbances, amputations, anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life. The condition manifests with damage to the terminal branches of peripheral nerves and usually first affects small fibers that are responsible for translating pain, light touch and temperature. As neuropathy progresses, large fibers responsible for reflexes and muscle tone are affected, leading to balance and gait problems. Most patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy present with pain, numbness, or abnormal, spontaneous or induced sensations in the lower extremities. Pain occurs in 15–30% of cases.
The diabetes study, A dietary intervention for chronic diabetic neuropathy pain, is a randomized controlled pilot study. As such, it does not seek to recommend specific diets at this stage. Rather, it proves the concept that appropriate diet changes can improve life for diabetics.
The diet tested was vegan. Subjects refrained from eating animal products, and limited fat intake to 20-30g per day.
The diet focused on vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. Example meals included oatmeal with raisins, pasta with marinara sauce, vegetable stir-fry with rice and lentil stew.
After 20 weeks, the researchers analyzed clinical outcomes, and various patient questionnaires. The results show that the group following the vegan diet had better improvements in pain scores than the control group, and lost weight. Because there was no intention in the study to investigate cause and effect, we do not know if improvements are due to nutritional aspects of a vegan diet, or due to weight loss. We do know that diet can be effective in reducing diabetic pain. This diabetic neuropathy diet research has laid the foundation for further research into more specific diet improvements to ease diabetic pain.
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