Sunday, 23 July 2017

Is There A Direct Link Between Sugar In Foods And Neuropathy?

Today's post from (see link below) takes a look at the influence of sugar on your nerves and the possible link with neuropathy. Now for diabetics, or people prone to potential diabetes, reducing sugar content in your diet is a no-brainer but you will rarely read of a direct link between sugar in our food and nerve damage. My feeling after reading this is that there needs to be much more evidence than is here presented. Everybody will agree that there is clearly too much sugar in the foods we buy from the supermarket and our diets are clearly heavily sugar and salt based, creating cravings which lead to health problems later but whether the sugar in our diet leads directly to neuropathy, or whether this is the writer's strong opinion (to which he or she's entitled), is the question. You can safely say that we need to reduce our sugar intake, especially the refined sugars which are found in practically everything we buy. It's clearly not good for our overall health (along with excess salt), so the premise of the article is a sound one and you can only do yourself a favour by cutting down your sugar intake. Whether it's as simple as saying, too much sugar leads to neuropathy, possibly needs much more scientific evidence.

Neuropathy: The Sugar Connection
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff August 18, 2015

One of the most common calls I get as a nutritionist is, “Help! What do I do to stop the tingling in my hands and feet? Are there supplements that will help?” These clients are experiencing symptoms of neuropathy, or nerve damage. They are looking for a solution for the pain, maybe a medication or a supplement. For this problem, the solution may lie in what you put in your grocery cart, pack in your lunch or plan to order at dinner tonight.
What is neuropathy?

Technically speaking, neuropathy is a result of damage to a nerve or set of nerves. Your nerves send out messages from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. If they become damaged, that message does not make it to its destination. This can often lead to weakness, numbness, unpleasant and often painful sensations, usually in hands and feet. Damage to nerves can also manifest in restless leg syndrome, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel, migraine headaches and even Alzheimer’s. So, what is causing this nerve damage?
Neuropathy on the rise as your blood sugar rises

Damage to the nerves can be a result of several factors such as chemotherapy, exposure to toxins, alcoholism, traumatic injuries or a deficiency in B vitamins, but the most common cause of neuropathy is high blood sugars, often experienced by diabetic patients. Neuropathy affects up to 50 percent of patients with diabetes; so we know there is a strong correlation between high blood sugars and neuropathy. Whether you’re a diabetic or you’re simply eating cereal every morning for breakfast, your nerves are being damaged by the excess sugar in your blood stream.


When you eat carbohydrates, especially in processed forms (like bread, pasta, cereal and crackers), the carbohydrates break down into sugar (or glucose) which rushes into the blood stream and then to your nerves and causes your nerves to swell. When the nerve swells it cuts off the blood supply to the nerve and damages it, which can result in tingling, burning or numbness in the hands and feet. But as already mentioned, nerve damage can also cause migraine headaches, restless leg syndrome, carpal tunnel and Alzheimer’s.

Many people will say, “I’m not eating sugar for breakfast, I eat Raisin Bran cereal with skim milk and an apple.” As a nutritionist, when I hear this my brain is thinking: SUGAR! A breakfast like this turns into roughly 32 teaspoons of sugar which is almost ¾ cup! Imagine what is happening in your nerves after a high-sugar breakfast like this: swelling and nerve damage. The average American today consumes 53 teaspoons of sugar daily compared to the 1900’s when Americans consumed only two teaspoons per day! When we constantly expose our bodies to sugar on a daily basis, we are damaging our nerves little by little.


Dr. Richard P. Jacoby, author of Sugar Crush, explains how sugar impacts the nerves this way: “When you eat a diet heavy in processed foods full of wheat and refined sugar, your body is put on a glucose roller coaster. Because fiber has been stripped out of these products, the sugar inherent in all carbohydrates literally enters the blood stream in a rush. As your blood sugar spikes, most of the excess gets carried away to be stored as abdominal fat. While that’s happening, excess glucose still circulates throughout your body, attaching itself to protein and building up sorbitol in the cells, causing them to swell and compress the nerves.”
To relieve neuropathy, remove these foods from your grocery cart

Man-made carbohydrates come in all shapes and sizes. What is confusing is that we don’t recognize many of them as high-sugar foods. To keep your nerves healthy, remove these items from your cart:
Cereal, cereal bars, and instant oatmeal
Popcorn, cookies, chips and crackers (including whole grain varieties)
Soda, juice, sweetened coffee beverages and energy drinks
Pasta, bread, bagels and English muffins (including whole grain varieties)
Ice cream, candy, cakes and brownies

I know what you’re thinking…What am I supposed to eat? Keep on reading! We would never leave you without ideas on what to eat.
Add these foods to your grocery cart


Real carbohydrates from vegetables and small amounts fruit, real fats and proteins will keep your nerves strong and healthy. Here is what to add to your cart:

Vegetables in all shapes, sizes and colors (organic if possible)
Small amounts of fruit
Healthy fats including butter, heavy cream, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil
Grass-fed beef, organic turkey, chicken, pork, eggs and wild-caught fish
Small amounts of whole grain wild rice, brown rice and quinoa

Start tomorrow with breakfast! To prevent nerve damage, make our Crustless Spinach Quiche instead of eating a bowl of cereal and fruit. A serving of this quiche turns into only two teaspoons of sugar in your blood stream instead of the 32 teaspoons you’d get from eating cereal and fruit.

Even though you may be experiencing nerve damage symptoms (migraines, restless leg syndrome, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis), changing your diet can help to reduce your symptoms. Change your diet; change your pain level.

We love to hear from you! How have you changed your diet to experience less pain? For more information on this topic, listen to our podcast: The Sugar Connection to Neuropathy.

References DIABETES/METABOLISM RESEARCH AND REVIEWS: Diabetes Metabolism Research Review 2012; 28(1): 8–14. Jacoby, R. P. (2015). Sugar Crush. New York City, NY: Harper Wave.
About the author

This blog content was written by a staff member at Nutritional Weight & Wellness who is passionate about eating real food.

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