What is diabetic neuropathy and why should you be concerned about it? According to experts, diabetic neuropathy is a group of disorders that mainly damages the nerves of about 60% to 70% of all people with diabetes. When left untreated, this condition can lead to several serious medical complications including the loss of a limb, urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. Surely, you wouldn’t want to experience any of these, would you? Well, to be honest about it, you don’t have to worry about a thing – especially if you are adhering to the dietary guidelines of the Mediterranean diet.
Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy
There are several types of diabetic neuropathies. Among these are the following:
- Peripheral neuropathy. Considered as the most common type of diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy may cause pain, a tingling sensation in the hands and feet or the loss of sensation in the arms, hands, legs and feet of affected individuals.
- Proximal neuropathy. This causes pain in the buttocks, thighs and legs and leads to a general weakness in the legs.
- Autonomic neuropathy. This triggers significant changes in the sexual response as well as in the bowel and bladder functions of affected individuals. It can also affect the nerves that aid in the proper functioning of the eyes, heart and lungs and may likewise cause hypoglycaemia unawareness.
- Focal neuropathy. This may affect any nerve group in the body.
Diabetic neuropathy often manifests its symptoms in diabetic people who have been battling with the disease for about 25 years or more. However, the symptoms can also be observed in people who are overweight and those who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
When left untreated, these conditions may lead to the onset of digestive problems (alternating bouts of severe diarrhea and constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, gastroparesis), urinary infections and urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness in women), and excessive or highly reduced sweating. It may even result to the loss of a limb and/or hypoglycaemia unawareness, a condition that can have some very fatal consequences.
Diabetic Neuropathy and the Mediterranean Diet
So, what does the Mediterranean diet have to do with all of these and how can it help prevent diabetic neuropathies? Well, perhaps you know that good nutrition is the foundation of better health, right? Needless to say, nutrition plays an even more important role when you are suffering from an illness or any other medical condition.
As such, people with diabetes should really be more conscious of their diet. They should always try to keep their blood glucose levels within a safe range or else, their symptoms will gradually worsen over time. To help you achieve this goal, here are some suggestions that you may find useful:
- Avoid eating foods made with refined carbohydrates. Such foods may trigger dangerous spikes in your blood sugar level. It will also be in your best interest if you will avoid sugary drinks as well. For best results, go for foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates instead.
- Increase your vitamin B intake. The B vitamins play an essential role in keeping your nerves healthy so make sure you add enough whole grains, vegetables and high protein foods into your daily diet.
- Get moving. According to the American Diabetes Association, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day can help keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels under control.
- Say no to alcohol. It will really be a great help if you will stop drinking alcoholic beverages. Go for mineral water and 100% natural fruit juices instead to maintain proper blood sugar level.
- Stop smoking. This will only make you more susceptible to diabetic neuropathies.
If you noticed, these dietary recommendations are also the very same foundation by which the Mediterranean diet is based upon. This only goes to show that adhering to a Mediterranean-type diet can be very helpful in preventing and managing the symptoms brought about by diabetic neuropathy. Now, isn’t it high time for you to consider changing your diet? Think about it.
Go the Mediterranean diet to live a healthier life,