We all know that it's important to eat healthily, but if you’re living with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy, a well-balanced diet is more than just a nice idea — it’s essential to your health and well-being.
A good diet will help you manage your diabetes and other health conditions so that you can enjoy a higher quality of life. An unhealthy diet? Well, that’s more likely to exacerbate symptoms and contribute to the development of dangerous health issues.
That said, it’s not always easy to get the nutrition you need to stay healthy and happy — and that’s where supplements come in. If you’re wondering how to use dietary supplements for diabetes and neuropathy, keep reading below.
Why diet matters if you have diabetic neuropathy
It’s no secret that an unhealthy diet is not the key to unlocking your best, healthiest self. But just how dangerous and damaging can it be if you are a man or woman with diabetes? The truth may surprise you.
Maintaining a good diet is an integral part of managing diabetes — and proper diabetes management is an absolute must for anyone who wants to prevent or slow down the progression of diabetic neuropathy. Here’s why.
Diet and your nerves
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs when blood glucose levels are allowed to fluctuate out of control. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you manage your blood sugar, which can, in turn, help prevent nerve damage and manage any symptoms you currently have.
Diets high in fat, sugar, and carbs can increase blood glucose levels. High blood sugar levels damage nerves, nerve signals, and blood vessels — and the result is often neuropathy. So, it’s easy to see why making healthy food a habit can be beneficial in the long run.
What does a healthy diet look like?
You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: a healthy diet consists of a balanced mix of whole foods that provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Not sure what to include in your diet? Here’s a brief overview:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes and other lean proteins
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy products
- Good fats
Diabetics are also often advised to avoid:
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats
- Foods with high cholesterol
- High-sodium foods
- Processed foods and refined grains
- Foods that are high in added sugars
Unfortunately, even if you make the right food choices, sometimes you need a little extra help getting the right nutrition. That’s where dietary supplements can be useful.
5 dietary supplements for diabetes and how they can help you
A healthy diet is essential to help combat neuropathy and manage painful symptoms, but dietary supplements may also prove useful for some people. Here are 5 of the most common dietary supplements for diabetic neuropathy.
1. B vitamins
Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 may all play a role in alleviating or treating neuropathy symptoms.
- B1 — Also known as thiamine, vitamin B1 is thought to help with inflammation and pain.
- B6 — This vitamin can help protect nerve endings to prevent damage to the nerves.
- B12 — Vitamin B12 is essential, so much so that a deficiency can cause or exacerbate neuropathy.
Sources of B vitamins include whole foods such as dairy products, seafood, certain vegetables, and fortified grains.
2. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC)
While more research is needed to understand to what extent ALC can positively affect neuropathy, it’s generally believed that ALC can help reduce pain, stimulate nerve regeneration, and combat neuropathy symptoms. When used as a supplemental treatment in the early stages of diabetic neuropathy, this amino acid may also help prevent neuropathy from developing or worsening.
ALC is found in animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy.
3. Alpha-lipoic acid
This antioxidant helps prevent oxidative stress, which can lead to nerve damage and death. It may also aid in lowering blood sugar levels, making it easier to prevent and manage diabetic neuropathy.
Alpha-lipoic acid is available in oral supplement forms and can be found in red meat, brewer’s yeast, and whole foods such as broccoli, spinach, and other green vegetables.
4. Fish oil
Supplemental fish oil functions as an anti-inflammatory and may help reduce pain caused by neuropathy. Some studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help slow the progression of neuropathy or even reverse it in some cases.
Fish oil can be obtained from whole food fish and seafood sources such as salmon, oysters, sardines, and anchovies. Omega-3s can be found in some seeds (such as flaxseed) and some oils (such as canola oil).
Derived from turmeric, this antioxidant has become a popular treatment for inflammation. It may also have a positive impact on neuropathy pain, as some studies have found.
Diabetes and dietary supplements: A last word of advice
If you’re considering adding a supplement to your diet, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, never introduce any additional vitamins or supplements to your diet until a healthcare provider has approved them. While all of the supplements listed above are generally safe to use, they may interact with other medications you’re taking.
Second, remember that supplements are just that — supplements. As good as natural supplements may be for your neuropathy, it’s still important to participate in other pain management options as prescribed by a doctor.
Additional neuropathy pain management methods
Looking for other simple and non-invasive treatments for diabetic neuropathy pain? If so, why not consider a pair of diabetic socks?
Here at Viasox, we’re proud to distribute some of the best fancy diabetic socks in North America. Made from ultra-stretchy, soft fabric, our socks apply gentle pressure to your feet and legs to help combat neuropathic pain and discomfort.Shop with us online today to access a wide range of non-binding diabetic socks and compression socks in every color, pattern, style, and length imaginable.