Healthy Foot Blog/Peripheral Neuropathy/6 Lifestyle Changes to Manage Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

6 Lifestyle Changes to Manage Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Although peripheral neuropathy is one of the most complex disease processes that I treat, I have learned over the 2 decades of helping patients manage it that there are distinct steps that can reduce symptoms and improve your life while continuing to find solutions.  I want to give you 6 steps today: 

  • You Are What You Eat: When managing peripheral neuropathy, I recommend we start with improving the nerve health.  I call this process the Neuropathy Foundation. One of the important steps of this foundation is appropriate nutrition - how you eat!  To optimize your nutrition, you can start with decreasing sugars, eliminating processed foods and increasing fruits and vegetables.  Although there is much more to this, just those four changes will have drastic results!
  • Water Is The Elixir Of Life: Don't underestimate the power of proper hydration, another important step in the Neuropathy Foundation. Approximately 60% of the adult body weight is water.  Water is also the pathway to provide nutrients, energy and health to all the tissues in the body.  Improved hydration will improve blood flow, decrease toxins and facilitate proper cellular function.  It is for this reason that we recommend drinking 10-12 cups of water a day. Note: No other fluid counts towards this number, especially not juices, soft drinks, energy drinks or alcohol.
  • Every Change Begins With A Single Step: One of the most powerful influences on nerve health is exercise. As you exercise, the blood flow improves throughout the body (especially to the nerves), the cells of the body increase their ability to function (mitochondria, the power plants for the cells, double or triple) which improves the nerve cell function as well, ability to manage weight improves (lowering the risk factor of obesity) and the mind is more capable of dealing with the symptoms (dopamine, adrenalin and anandamide release to the brain during exercise creates a pleasure sensation).  My recommendation is to exercise 20-30 minutes a day for 4-6 days a week.
  • Eliminate Toxic Substances: Did you know that we are constantly exposing our bodies to toxins and dangerous substance?  As we reduce these substances, the body is more able to prevent nerve damage, improve nerve health and even initiate repair.  Although you can't eliminate all toxic exposure in our modern environment, you can eliminate excessive sugars (including artificial sweeteners found to be toxic like aspartame), alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and most highly processed foods.  
  • Your Body Achieves What Your Mind Believes: Many individuals I work with underestimate the true power of the human mind! But studies have shown the simple change of a positive over a negative mind will improve overall health.  When it comes to peripheral neuropathy, the mind can also decrease the perception of pain (known as the Pain or Brain Neuromatrix) and assist in the management of pain. There are actually individuals that have learned to suppress the sensations of the body and can withstand painful stimuli without reaction.  I am not asking you to just "deal with it" or saying that "if you just had a stronger mind you wouldn't hurt," but what I am saying is that we should use the mind to RELEASE the neuropathy symptoms. Some ways to do this include: Prayer, Meditation, Self-Hypnosis, Visualization, Happiness and Gratitude. 
  • ​ The Rejuvenating Superpower of Sleep: Although I commonly joke with my children that "Sleep is Overrated!", the body needs sleep!  During sleep our body resets (like shutting off a computer to fix an error), or body repairs and our cells are able to recoup the necessary energy for the upcoming daily activities.  This is no more important in the body than for the brain and nervous system. When you decrease the amount of rejuvenating sleep you get, the peripheral neuropathy will get worse.  Most studies recommend 6-8 hours of sleep a night.  Although your sleep needs may vary from this, it is important to find your ideal and work to normalize around that ideal!

Although there are other habits and practices that will help with your peripheral neuropathy, these 5 lifestyle changes have been key to helping form a powerful foundation for nerve health.  

​If you would like help creating your Neuropathy Foundation, I would be happy to help!


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