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Eating for Nerve Health
Nerves play an essential role in communicating with the brain and all parts of the body. If you experience nerve pain, it may impair your ability to perform simple daily tasks and impact your quality of life. Is there a link between diet and nerve health? Although research is somewhat limited, there may be certain foods that can support healthy nerve function.
- Nerve pain maybe be due to neuropathy or nerve compression. Neuropathy is nerves that have been damaged, often due to chronic medical issues such as uncontrolled diabetes. Nerve compression is caused by direct pressure on a nerve, which may be due to injury, repetitive stress or swelling, or due to autoimmune disorders.
- Chronic inflammation may contribute to nerve health. Eating foods that reduce inflammation and limiting foods that contribute to inflammation may support healthy nerve function.
- B12 is required for nerve development and proper function. A deficiency can cause nerve pain, numbness or tingling. Get your B12 levels checked.
- Lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep, and unmanaged stress may also contribute to nerve damage.
Foods to Choose to Protect Nerves
- Antioxidants – Include a variety of colorful fresh produce. Focus on dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli & cauliflower, along with berries and oranges. The more colors you eat, the healthier it is!
- Use herbs and spices – They can boost antioxidants. Ginger, rosemary and turmeric, garlic and onions. Herbs and spices will enhance flavor.
- Beverages – Black and green teas, along with coffee, are rich in antioxidants. Just be mindful of what you put in them.
- Healthy Unsaturated Fats – In moderation, choose foods rich in Omega 3’s such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. Aim for 2 fish meals per week.
- Fiber – Whole grains and legumes are excellent sources of fiber, with legumes also rich in magnesium. This mineral has been shown to reduce inflammation. Choose whole grains such as oats, brown rice and quinoa.
- B12 – This vitamin is vital to nerve health. Good sources are fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dairy products. Fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeast also contain B12, if you prefer non-animal sources.
Minimize Foods that May Harm Nerves
- Step away from processed and highly refined foods.
- Minimize added sugars.
- Keep saturated fats in check, which includes fat from animal products, palm oil and coconut oil. Avoid trans fats and oils that are hydrogenated.
- Limit alcohol, with no more than 1 drink for women and 2 for men daily.
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