Nerve damage leads to neuropathy, a medical condition that challenges patients in performing tasks in their daily life. The damaged nerves make life painful. The burning sensation or numbness of the body part obstructs every activity of the patient. However, one can heal their damaged nerves through the consumption of certain foods. Yes, it may not be a magic trick that heals the nerves in a day, but these foods can considerably improve your condition.
Before proceeding to the list of foods, let us get to the roots of the causes of nerve damage, to understand it better.
How are nerves damaged?
There are numerous reasons that can cause one to have damaged nerves. However, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most common cause of nerve damage is diabetes, while the other reasons are the following:
- Kidney disease
- Hepatitis C
- Autoimmune disease
- Metabolic disease
- Deficiency of vitamins, especially vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
- Poor blood circulation
Once the nerves are damaged, they send false signals to the brain generating burning sensation, tingling, numbness, or stabbing pain. There are a large number of medical solutions to damaged nerves. However, most of the solutions are short-term.
Nutrition can be chosen as one of the solutions for the prevention and remedy of damaged nerves. There are a few food items that can help you deal with neuropathic pain.
Foods that can heal damaged nerves
Foods having anti-inflammatory properties and are abundant in certain vitamins can relieve you from the pain experienced due to damaged nerves. You can easily nourish your damaged nerves with these foods. There are also supplements from which you can get the same nutrients. But what’s better than fresh food?
1. Leafy and green vegetables
You can rarely find anyone who was not forced to eat green leafy vegetables in his childhood. For a good reason; leafy and green vegetables have been known to improve eyesight due to the rich Vitamin A content. But did you know that these vegetables can save you from sleepless nights due to neuropathic pain? Green and leafy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and spinach contain vitamin B. This nutrient is essential for nerve regeneration and also improves nerve functions.
Spinach, broccoli and kale are rich sources of alpha-lipoic acid, another micronutrient for improving nerve function. Moreover, food containing alpha-lipoic acid is an effective measure for lowering blood sugar levels. According to a study in 2017, alpha-lipoic acid effectively improves nerve conduction and prevents oxidative damage of nerves.
If you want to be free of neuropathic pain, eating green and leafy vegetables can help you out. But you have to consume them religiously every day.
Ginger is a common kitchen item that offers loads of medical benefits. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can ease the pain due to damaged nerves. Moreover, it serves as an excellent source of gingerol, which exhibits healing ability.
Due to its pain-relieving property, ginger oil is used for reducing pain due to cramps, neuropathy, and more. Several forms of this kitchen item can be used to flavor foods. It can be incorporated into your everyday diet just by adding a bit of ginger to your cooking.
Turmeric is an age-old spice that is known for its medicinal benefits. Be it chasing away the common cold or mending a cut, this kitchen item always comes to your aid. Turmeric is rich in curcumin which contributes to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is due to this antioxidant that turmeric can help heal damaged nerves.
Instead of popping an over-the-counter painkiller, you can incorporate turmeric into your meal planning. After a few weeks, you will surely notice how effective turmeric is as a pain-relieving tool.
The most intriguing fact about turmeric is that you can consume it in so many ways. You can just pour in a teaspoon of turmeric into your curry, dissolve it in milk and drink it, or you can make a healthy turmeric tamarind drink.
Caviar is the eggs of fish from the sturgeon family. It is used as a garnish or appetizer. Caviar is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for smooth nerve functioning, as well as damaged nerve healing.
Even though you will rarely find caviar in your local stores, you should not skip a chance to consume it if you find it.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Potassium and magnesium play an essential role in nerve conduction and functioning. Pumpkin seeds are rich in potassium and magnesium. Thus, it is needless to say that a regular dose of pumpkin seeds in your diet plan can improve your nerve health. These micronutrients have the power to calm down your excited (damaged) nerves and strengthen them.
Pumpkin seeds are often roasted and seasoned. You may have them as an evening snack or just as a topping on your salad.
Flaxseeds have become popular in the last decades due to their health benefits. They contain a large variety of amino acids, most importantly, omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, regular consumption of a little flaxseed can ease your damaged nerves and help them to recover. Moreover, it contains potassium and magnesium, which helps in nerve creation and quick healing.
You may use the grounded form of flaxseed as a seasoning to your salad. This is an easy way to include this plant-based food into your diet.
7. Chia seeds
Just like flaxseed, chia seeds have become people’s favorite for their health benefits. It has been adopted as a breakfast food for many. Chia seeds are rich in potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, it potentially helps in healing damaged nerves.
As chia seeds do not have a flavor of their own, you can blend it into any food or smoothie. However, if you experience low blood pressure, it is advisable to avoid daily consumption of chia seeds.
Walnuts are a popular source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids repair the myelin sheath and thus promote the faster recovery of the damaged nerves. In addition, walnuts are rich in antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation. In short, you should include walnuts in your diet plan to get relief from the numbness or prickling due to damaged nerves.
You can eat 3 or more ounces of walnuts daily to notice the difference in just two weeks.
The legume family has a wide range of variety that helps in the recovery of the damaged nerves. Green peas, Brussel sprouts, and beans have high vitamin content, specifically vitamins B1 and B12. These vitamin complexes have significant roles in nerve health.
Don’t be surprised if your doctor may prescribe you vitamin supplements. Vitamins, especially vitamin B complex, are essential for healing nerve damages. But if you can, try to incorporate legumes as one-fourth of your lunch meal.
Soybeans serve as a great source of micronutrients that benefit the human body. It has a considerable amount of iron and calcium essential for the proper functioning of our body. Moreover, soybean can be a boon for you if you are looking for ways to relieve yourself from neuropathic pain.
Soybeans are rich in vitamin B2, which plays a significant role in healing damaged nerves. Therefore, do not forget to include soybeans while planning your meals.
Whey is popularly known for its protein content. But you will be amazed to know that whey is used not only for muscle building, but also for making your nerves healthy. Whey is a source of amino acids such as L-glutamine and L-tryptophan. These amino acids can heal your damaged nerves faster.
Moreover, if you are looking for a way to reduce your alcohol consumption for your nerve health, whey can help you here as well. It helps to calm down your nerves, as well as your withdrawal symptoms.
12. Fortified cereals
Cereals and whole grains fall in the ‘no-no’ list for patients dealing with neuropathy. However, fortified cereals get a green signal in helping to heal nerve damages. What makes the difference is that fortified cereals are rich in vitamin B.
As said earlier, vitamin B has a positive effect on neuropathic pain. Moreover, this micronutrient helps in promoting faster and better recovery of damaged nerves. However, you must monitor the amount of fortified cereal intake. Excess of fortified cereals can result in nerve damage and neuropathic pain.
13. Low-fat dairy
Low-fat dairy products can help you battle your damaged nerves. How? Low-fat dairy products contain an amino acid called Acetyl-L-carnitine. This amino acid acts as an antioxidant in the body and is responsible for the creation of healthy nerve cells. Moreover, it can raise the body's energy levels and significantly reduce pain due to damaged nerves.
The recommended dosage of this amino acid is 3 grams daily for 8 weeks. The effect on nervous health is exhibited in 12 weeks. According to a study in 2016, Acetyl-L-carnitine significantly improved the health conditions in neuropathy.
Fish, especially those having low-mercury content, can be consumed to heal damaged nerves. Salmon, sardines, tuna, cod, herring, anchovy, and mackerel are rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids which are responsible for nerve functioning.
Fish is one of the most effective ways to heal nerve damage. However, one should beware of the high content of mercury in some fish, which may lead to neurotoxicity.
The recommended dosage of low-mercury fish is two servings per week.
Chicken is rich in vitamin B6. Why is B6 important? Vitamin B6 is essential for our body to effectively absorb vitamin B12, which plays a significant role in nerve damage recovery. In addition, vitamin B6 helps in maintaining blood sugar. It is crucial to keep sugar levels within limits for diabetic neuropathy patients.
However, you should not eat chicken daily. An excess of vitamin B6 can lead to an adverse effect on your nerve health. You must consult your doctor or dietician to decide on the proportion of chicken in your diet.
Chamomile is a renowned herb that has exhibited medical importance for centuries. Chamomile is rich in antioxidants. It effectively reduces inflammation and neuropathic pain. Moreover, chamomile is known for lowering blood sugar levels, as well.
If you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy, you can sip chamomile tea daily to keep the pain at bay and blood sugar within limits. Chamomile essential oil can be helpful when you are experiencing neuropathic pain.
Quinoa is a popular pseudo-cereal that has gained broad appeal due to its health benefits. It serves as an excellent source of potassium. As potassium is responsible for the conduction of messages through nerves, it is essential to maintain a proper level of potassium in our body. Quinoa is an ideal source to serve this purpose.
While whole-grain cereals may lead to an adverse effect on damaged nerves, quinoa serves as a nutritious alternative.
Fruits are a must in your diet if you want to heal your damaged nerves. Fruits contain loads of antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation. Fruits are essential nutrient suppliers for the proper functioning of the body and to promote recovery of the damaged nerves.
Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, shallots and grapes contain a flavonoid called quercetin. According to a study, quercetin has exhibited anti-inflammatory properties that help to deal with neuropathy.
If you want to heal your damaged nerves sooner, you should not miss eating at least one fruit daily.
Water is rightly compared to life. It is this magical fluid that ensures our well-being. A well-hydrated body has a lesser risk of muscle spasms and neuropathic pain. Water is responsible for circulating all the nutrients in our body. Therefore, you cannot heal your damaged nerves if you do not monitor your water intake.
You must not forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. Never fail to do this!
Meal planning is something that can be your savior in the long run. You must keep the following items in mind when planning your meals.
- Include food items that control blood sugar level
- Eating foods with antioxidants is most significant
- Avoid processed and packaged foods
- Monitor your caloric intake
We have provided a short list of foods that you should take to help heal your neuropathy. However, you should also be aware of foods that are not good for neuropathy. You can take a look at this article for more information. To heal the damaged nerves, it is crucial to plan balanced meals and not skip meals. An hour of exercise can add to the effort of recovery of damaged nerves.
There is more than one treatment for damaged nerves. But you should not ignore the chance of healing your damaged nerves with the help of nutrition. The food items listed above offer you an excellent opportunity to recover and regenerate your nerves. Planning your meals ahead of time can help you in balancing nutrition and food intake.
Damaged nerves do not necessarily mean the end of the world. There are ways you can avoid neuropathic pain. Proper planning of what to eat and what not to eat can help you heal your nerves and get rid of neuropathic pain. These small changes in your diet can affect your quality of life significantly. These food items are just the remedy to your damaged nerves that can help you win the battle with neuropathy.