There’s no doubt that the food you eat affects your health, and in many cases, food can even act as medicine for certain conditions. If you’re living with neuropathy, you know that nerve pain can be debilitating. Making dietary changes can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain, and that includes cutting foods out of your diet that can make the pain worse.
Experts recommend keeping a food and pain journal so that you can look back and find patterns in your diet that seem to be associated with greater pain. This will help you determine which foods may be making your neuropathy symptoms worse.
Here are four ingredients that are known to worsen nerve pain. Try cutting these out of your diet to improve your symptoms.
Monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, is a major culprit when it comes to nerve damage and resulting pain. The glutamate in MSG can cause further damage to the nerves and make the pain worse. Look for MSG on food labels, and avoid anything that contains it. Also look for glutamic acid, yeast extract, and sodium caseinate, which are other names for MSG.
An artificial sweetener commonly found in diet soda, aspartame interacts with neurons in your body and heightens your perception of pain. Research shows that eliminating diet soda and anything else containing aspartame can reduce and even eliminate chronic pain.
Excessive alcohol is associated with the development of neuropathy. It contains toxins that damage nerve tissues, and it reduces your body’s absorption of essential nutrients that are crucial to protecting the health of your nerves. If you’d rather not eliminate alcohol from your diet completely, try keeping your alcohol intake to just one glass of wine, cocktail, or beer a day to prevent worsened pain and nerve damage.
Sugar is added to scores of foods you find on the grocery store shelves, including things you wouldn’t even think needed sugar. All of this added sugar adds up to greater pain. That’s because sugar causes inflammation in your body, which increases nerve pain. Cut the obvious contenders–pastries, candy, and soda–from your diet, and read food labels to determine whether there’s added sugar. And remember: If you have diabetic neuropathy, managing your blood sugar is the most important way to slow or prevent nerve damage.
Cutting foods out of your diet that can worsen nerve damage and intensify pain is well worth the trouble of reading labels and making substitutions. A healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will go a long way toward reducing inflammation and improving your overall health for better pain management.