23 Apr Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Prevented?
Diabetic neuropathies, a number of nerve disorders found in diabetic patients, carry several misconceptions especially about their treatments. To sum it all up, diabetic neuropathies can indeed be prevented, first through diet, exercise and weight loss, then through the judicious use of medications if that becomes necessary.
The first line of defense against any type of neuropathy is diet, because the main cause of most neuropathies is diabetes, a disease characterized by high levels of glucose, or blood sugar in the bloodstream. These blood sugar anomalies develop over time as the body stops producing enough insulin or becomes insulin resistant due to high carbohydrates in the diet, especially simple sugars which can be found in much of the modern human diet such as donuts, ice cream, and high fructose sugar that is included in many packaged products.
Insulin is the hormone which regulates the glucose level and resistance to it or low production of insulin allows higher levels to be present in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance, unlike nerve damage due to neuropathy, is reversible, and can be cured by diet and weight loss. As the glucose levels drop, far less insulin is required and the body senses this, reducing the insulin produced. Over time, this effect produces a normal level of glucose in the bloodstream and a steady level of the insulin hormone.
Eliminating most simple carbohydrates can be accomplished by eating whole fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods as much as possible. An occasional donut or slice of cake is not a problem at all, and can be one of the pleasures of life, but a constant barrage of the high sugar levels included in these products is very detrimental to the human body and can cause nerve damage, or neuropathy over a period of time. Complex carbohydrates, from vegetables especially, do not cause the rapid buildup of glucose.
Since obesity is a primary cause of high levels of blood sugar and consequent diabetes, weight loss is an important tool for eliminating diabetes and reducing the effects of neuropathy. Remember that losing weight and keeping it off is a way to prevent neuropathies. To lose weight, as always, the patient must burn more calories than they consume. This involves eating fewer calories and consuming nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly, even if it’s only a moderately paced walk.
Exercise also has benefits beyond just burning calories. Building muscle through weight bearing exercise has the dual advantages of creating more muscle to burn calories even when the patient is just sitting, and helping to support the bones. This is the key to long-term success in preventing neuropathies because the benefits of the exercise go far beyond the exercise itself. Also, aerobics build lung capacity and increase the heart’s efficiency, both of which help improve the symptoms of motor neuropathy and prevent further deterioration if the disease is already present.
To sum it up, neuropathies can be prevented using common-sense solutions that build up the muscular and support systems of the body, reducing blood sugar present in the bloodstream, and turning towards a healthy lifestyle. All in all, one should take steps to control diabetes in order to treat neuropathy. Prevention of neuropathy is very important because the disease and any resultant nerve damage is not reversible.
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