Are the keto, or low carb ways of eating, beneficial diets to combat neuropathy? We think so. Lowering your carbohydrate intake could help you reduce your neuropathy symptoms, and many of the similarities between the low-carb lifestyle and diabetic nutrition speak to it. Let’s jump right in!
Nutrients Needed for Best Neuropathy Outcome
If you have these below nutrients and foods regularly in your diet, you’ll have some happy metabolic and nervous functions.
Daily Recommended Values & Whole Food Sources:
- 1.3 mg Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) | Green beans, whole grains, spinach, fish, bananas
- 1.1 mg Vitamin B1 (thiamine or benfotiamine) | Pork, berries, legumes, lean meats, nuts, soy milk
- 2.4 mg Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin) | Milk, fish, eggs, shellfish
- 500 mg Choline (formerly known as b4) | liver, egg yolks, beef, chicken breast, fish, broccoli, soy, dairy, cauliflower
- 600 IU Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) | fish, liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, milk, yogurt, orange juice, cheese, tofu, oatmeal
- 14 mg Vitamin B3 (niacin) | Sunflower seeds, tuna, poultry, potato, cottage cheese, liver
- 5 mg Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) | Organ meats, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms
- 1.1 mg Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) | Eggs, dark green vegetables, fish, grains, lean meat, mushrooms
- 400 mcg Vitamin B9 (folic acid) | Green leafy vegetables, citrus juice, legumes, tofu, tomato juice
- 15 mg Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) | wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts
- 90 mg Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) | acerola cherry, rosehip, pepper, guava, blackcurrant, mustard greens, kale
- 30 mcg Vitamin B7 (biotin) | Soy products, egg yolks, fish, organ meats, cheese, yams
- 600-1800mg Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) | spinach, broccoli, tomato, yams, brussels sprouts, organ meats, rice bran
You may recognize many of these from Dr. Philips’ e-book, What You Can Do at Home for Your Neuropathy. Much of these healthful, whole foods can be found in ketogenic and diabetic diets- and you’ll see they’re also low in the glycemic index!
The Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) is a number from 0 to 100 assigned to food, representing the rise in the blood glucose level two hours after consuming that food. A food is considered to have a low GI if it is 55 or less; high GI if 70 or more, and mid-range GI if 56 to 69. Once diagnosed with diabetes, most doctors will share a food pyramid with their patients, and also urge them to follow a plan that carefully watches GI of foods so that blood sugar levels can be stabilized. While this is primarily assigned to diabetics, eating low GI foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and support your body’s functions.
The diabetic diet previously looked like this.
You can see that there are quite a few breads and starches in this pyramid. However, the new diet pyramid has been moved around so that non-starchy veggies become the staple component of health. And, if you compare the chart we shared at the beginning, the new pyramid focuses on low GI impact foods.
Keto Diet Basics
The Keto diet is very similar! When it comes to keto, short for ketosis, the focus is low carbohydrate and high fat. You could say it’s a more extreme version of the new diabetic diet. Those who prescribe to the keto diet praise it for the ability to keep them feeling full throughout the day, have more energy, and of course, weight loss. Ketosis is when the body migrates to using fat stores for fuel instead of glucose.
Ketosis is not to be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, which is bad, and deadly if not managed expediently. (You can read about the differences here: Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis: What’s the Difference? ) In studies, people with Type 2 diabetes lose weight, need less medication, and lower A1c when following the keto diet. In many, because they switch (through keto) to mono- and poly-unsaturated fat as a fuel source, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are reduced as well, WITHOUT the use of statin drugs!
Pros of Limiting Your Diet to a Low Carb or Keto Diet
Lowered blood sugar | More whole foods in your diet | Omega 3s! | Lowered cholesterol | Lessened inflammation | Losing weight means less physical pressure on your nerves!
Bonus: we found this article- Keto may contribute to myelin regrowth of the nerves!
Cons of Limiting Your Diet to a Low Carb or Keto Diet
Kidney stones (if you don’t manage your water and fiber intake well and support with potassium 2) | Can become hypoglycemic (blood sugar TOO low) | Eating saturated fats can increase heart disease risk | Constipation (you need to be eating high fiber) | Gallstones, liver & kidney problems (prevent with high fiber, healthy fats)
Eating whole foods is the best thing you can do for your body, even if it’s difficult for you to exercise! Whole foods are full of nutrients your body needs for proper nerve function. Eating with a focus on minerals and nutrients that are complex to digest and convert to sugars helps your body immensely. For those with neuropathy, managing to get all of the DRV of nerve support vitamins is crucial, and by eating natural sources of it, blood sugar levels will lower, inflammation will decrease, and therefore so will a contributor to your neuropathy. Once you’ve got your diet figured out, the next step is to re-educate your nerves- and the first place you should look is with the ReBuilder®.