Inflammation is peripheral neuropathy’s best friend…which means it’s your body’s worst enemy. Chronic inflammation is one of the most common causes of nerve damage, and one of the best ways to beat it back is with an anti-inflammatory diet. Next time you’re feeling peckish, reach for one of these tasty snacks for a healthy dose of anti-inflammatory goodness.
Inflammation and peripheral neuropathy have a tendency to go hand-in-hand. It’s not exactly the only cause of peripheral neuropathy — there are quite a few of those, and they can come about in a number of different ways. But it is one of the main contributions to widespread nerve damage, and it’s most often brought about by something called an autoimmune response.
While inflammation is typically something that our bodies use to aid in the healing process after certain types of trauma or injury, it can sometimes run amok. And when it does, nerve damage follows, more often than not.
But here’s the exciting news. You have the power to fight inflammation, and you can do it with solutions that are as easy to deal with as just making sure to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and less of inflammatory foods. The foods we put into our bodies go a very long way towards influencing the way our bodies behave, especially on the interior.
Certain foods can be very helpful when it comes to cutting down on inflammation, which can offer some incredible relief from the aggravating symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Inflammation and Neuropathy: Enemies Forever
Your nerves are some pretty delicate little things. They come in varying degrees of relative thickness, but they’re all pretty small when it comes down to it. And the farther away they get from the central parts of your body (ie, your hands and your feet), the tougher it is to reach them with nutrients and reparative compounds, making them that much more susceptible to damage.
Inflammation, in most cases, is an immune response, which means it’s designed to heal your body when something’s gone wrong. In the event of something like trauma or injury, your immune system will send a bunch of antibodies and white blood cells to the site of the injury. Your blood acts as the delivery system for these compounds, and all that blood has to go somewhere.
The resultant swelling, redness, and rise in local temperature are what we commonly describe as inflammation.
However, when the inflammatory response continues due to a continuous bombardment of foreign invaders, like toxins, viruses, and bacteria, for example, inflammation runs amok. When inflammation remains present in the body for longer than it was designed to, it begins to cause cellular and tissue damage. In the case of peripheral neuropathy, it kills off your nerve endings.
Inflammation-Causing Foods to Avoid
Certain foods can either increase or decrease the amount of inflammation we have in our bodies. Foods that are known to trigger inflammatory responses in the body include:
- sweet drinks, loaded with sugar: artificial juices, sodas, and such
- lunch meats, cold cuts, and other types of processed meat
- fried foods (they’re especially heavy in inflammatory trans fats)
- bread, pasta, and other gluten-heavy items
- unnatural food additives and preservatives
- snack foods, treats, cookies, and other high-sugar treats
Anti-Inflammatory Snacks to Satisfy That Sweet Tooth
Look, we all need something sweet from time to time. Nobody’s going to fault you for craving a treat! It’s always best, however, to avoid refined sugars, heavily processed foods, and snacks that are stuffed with all kinds of additives and preservatives.
Instead, here are some healthy, inflammation-fighting options to help you put that sweet tooth to sleep.
1. Nut Butter on Dates, Apples…You Name It!
Nuts are a rich source of healthy nutrients that reduce inflammation…in addition to being a readily available, tasty, and pretty inexpensive option, when it comes time to get your snack on.
It’s actually pretty impressive how loaded up nuts can be with compounds that help your body cut back on inflammation. Healthy fatty acids (that help our bodies make that important myelin sheath), fibers that are good for digestion, antioxidants that help conquer free radicals, and those B vitamins you all know and love — all right there in your favorite nuts, like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and more!
Nut butter is a really tasty and easy way to get all the goodness from your favorite variety of nut, and it goes great paired with a nice variety of other natural inflammation-fighting foods.
Dip some dates in your favorite nut butter for those healthy antioxidants and even more of that fiber! Spead on a tart organic green apple. You can even spread some on almond flour crackers (make sure you grab a gluten-free option) for a bit of crunch.
2. Berry Medley Smoothie
Berries are a delightfully effective anti-inflammatory. It really just doesn’t get much better: they’re tasty, easy to transport on the go, and pair great with a number of other natural foods.
Another thing that’s great about berries? You can freeze them on up, blending them into smoothies for an antioxidant-rich snack that’s tasty and portable in surprisingly equal measures. Throw in some Greek yogurt and chia seeds, and you’re off to the races!
Savory Snacks for Healthy Nerves
3. Kale Chips
Please don’t say you haven’t tried kale chips yet! They’re not as “Whole Foods health nut” as they sound. Kale chips have almost no right being as delicious as they are, and they possess natural anti-inflammatory superpowers.
Kale is rich in a subset of compounds known as flavonoids, and when it comes to peripheral neuropathy, flavonoids are our friends. They’re very helpful to our immune system and can help contain autoimmune responses, like the kind that cause inflammation.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Not only are sweet potatoes great for helping your body to rid itself of inflammation, but they’re quick, easy, and a perfect complement to a healthy dinner (they make a great breakfast, lunch, or snack all by themselves, too). As if all this weren’t enough, they’re a solid source of fiber, to boot.
Sweet potatoes go great with just about any healthy meal and are so easy to prepare, it’s not even funny. An hour in the oven at about 350, and you’re all set — cut ‘em open and enjoy! Or replace your favorite trans fat chips for a batch of baked sweet potato chips by slicing them very thin and baking until crisp.
Reducing Nerve Pain Naturally With Simple Food Changes
As you can see, an anti-inflammatory diet isn’t really as dreary as it might sound! There are all kinds of vibrant flavors and delicious dishes that are not only enjoyable but helpful in battling inflammation that causes you discomfort. Do your feet hurt first thing in the morning? Are you having a hard time falling asleep with strange sensations in your legs? If so, think about your diet. What inflammatory snacks have you been eating? Time to make a switch.
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