Nutrition and Nerve Health (written for a Chiropractor client)

Nutrition and Nerve Health

You may not think much about your nerve health but healthy nerves are imperative to have a perfectly functioning body and nutrition plays a very important roll in this. Luckily food is delicious and we all love to eat so taking care of your nervous system is much simpler than one would imaging and pleasurable as well. There are many foods, which are rich in nerve supporting nutrients.

There is no part of your body that does not involve the nervous system and we have three types of nerves:

  1. Autonomic nerves that make the parts of your body that are involuntary or partially involuntary function
  2. Motor nerves which control your movements
  3. Sensory nerves which are in control of all your senses from the skin and muscles allowing you to feel pain, pleasure and other sensations
  4. Nerves that are in charge of all your thoughts, memory and language

We also have two different parts to our nervous systems:

  1. Central nervous system. This system contains the spinal cord and brain
  2. Peripheral nervous system. This system is made up primarily of nerves and these nerves form bundles of axons that connect your central nervous system to all the other parts of your body. Your peripheral nervous system also consists of the autonomic nervous system comprising the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates involuntary functions, motor neurons, mediating voluntary movement and lastly the centric nervous system, which controls the gastrointestinal system.

The nervous system contains nerve cells or neurons that have the ability to send messages very rapidly to other cells. The nervous system also contains other special cells called glias, which provide your body with metabolic and structural support.

One of the causes of nerve disease is nutritional deficiency. Be sure your diet consists of plenty of fresh organic foods that contain vitamin B-6 and B-12 and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. If you have gastric bypass surgery take extra care of what you consume and have it monitored on a regular basis to make sure your body is absorbing the nutrition it needs by your medical professional. Make an effort to prepare healthy meals and if you are a woman consume no more than one drink per day and two for men.

Note- if you have diabetes make sure your blood sugar levels are always regulated.

Vitamin supplements that may help to heal nerve damage are as follows:

  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) helps to maintain normal nerve function and helps to coat the nerve cells. If you have a diet high in sugar, fat, alcohol you may be lacking the enzyme that converts GLA.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids not only help nervous system tissue after damage or trauma but they also help your nervous system function well and repair itself. In the case of spinal cord injuries these fatty acids can help protect you from them because it has neuro-protective qualities.
  • Vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 (those that suffer nerve damage from diabetes can particularly be helped by taking vitamin B complexes). Consult your medical professional regarding the dosage of B vitamins as taking more than the daily recommended dosage could actually cause nerve damage.
  • Vitamin E cannot only help to prevent nerve damage but can actually help to heal it. If your body has problems absorbing this vitamin you can actually suffer nerve damage because of this. Vitamin E also aids in slowing nerve damage produced by diabetes, helps the eyes by fighting free radicals that can cause nerve damage in the eyes. It may take months for the benefits to show so be patient and consult with your medical professional on the amount of the supplement to take as too much of vitamin E can have negative side effects.

Foods and or supplements rich in these vitamins are as follows:

  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Beet greens
  • Canola oil
  • Cooked spinach
  • Cooked Tuna, wild salmon, salmon, halibut, swordfish, herring
  • Edamame
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Flax
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified soy products
  • Hemp oil
  • Lean cooked beef such as rib, sirloin steak, filet steak and rib eye
  • Lean, cooked, sirloin pork
  • Mustard greens
  • Omega-3 enriched dairy foods
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Plant oils
  • Shellfish
  • Spinach
  • Sun dried fruits such as prunes, apricots and raisons
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sustainable Seafood
  • Swiss Chard
  • Swiss cheese
  • Turkey and chicken
  • Turnip greens
  • Walnuts
  • Wild Rice

When your body is nervous and stressed the central nervous system has a hard time using the nutrients it needs so try and be aware of your stress levels and find healthy ways of keeping them under control.

Other causes of nerve diseases are as follows:

  • Abuse of or withdrawal from prescription and non prescription drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Brain tumor
  • Cancer
  • Compression/trauma (such as injury to the head and spinal cord)
  • Congenital problems
  • Diabetes
  • Electrolyte problems
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Heart failure
  • Infections of the brain or membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord
  • Infectious disease
  • Motor neuron diseases
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathies
  • Psychosis, depression and anxiety disorders
  • Respiratory failure
  • Toxic substances and drug side effects
  • Vascular disorders

Common Symptoms of Nervous System Disorders are as follows:

  • Confusion or rare changes in behavior
  • Double vision, loss of vision, dimness, or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Speech problems
  • Tingling, numbness, weakness or the inability to move part of, all of or half of your body
  • Unsteadiness or dizziness, inability to stand or walk

One of the wonderful benefits of keeping your nervous system healthy is you will be less likely to get diabetes. Eating poorly causes problems such as excess fat and glucose, which are symptoms of diabetes. The older you are the more at risk you are at getting diabetes and nerve damage from the diabetes.

How does your medical practitioner check you for nerve damage? Here are some of the following methods:

  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Checking your feet
  • Checking your heart rate
  • Checking your response to changes in temperature
  • Checking your response to vibrations
  • Testing your muscle strength
  • Testing your reflexes

Acupuncture is a natural option to treat the pain and discomfort associated with nerve diseases. That in combination with a diet rich in foods that provide the nerves with the nutritional support they need to function at their optimal level or to help in repairing themselves.

Acupuncture uses needles inserted into your body at certain anatomical points, which have electrical properties that affect neurotransmitters in the body. Being one of the oldest medical practices in the world, acupuncture originated in China more than 2,500 years ago.

Sometimes instead of needles heat (moxabustion), suction, impulses of electromagnetic energy or friction are used. Electroacupuncture where electrodes are placed onto the needles is often used in cases of the types of nerve damage that cause loss of motion, pain and sensation problems because it helps to promote nerve growth. It can also be used in chronic neuropathy, neuralgia, in any peripheral nerve. Moxabustion is helpful in cases of tingling, fatigue or spasms by helping to break the fluid congestion and inflammatory cycles that interfere with nerve activity. Another type of therapy used in acupuncture is a device called the plumb blossom needle. It is a tiny hammer with blunt metal ends that when tapped against the skin promotes sensory nerve regrowth in small areas. This process can also reduce pain from inflammation.

 

Sources:

  1. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/complications_nerves
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervous_system
  3. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/5-foods-high-in-omega-3.htm
  4. http://www.acupuncturewell.com/2013/03/acupuncture-nerve-damage/
  5. http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-Bphp
  6. http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B12.php
  7. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/complementary_and_alternative_medicine/acupuncture_85,P00171/
  8. http://www.livestrong.com/article/263690-vitamins-that-help-repair-nerve-damage/
  9. http://www.livestrong.com/article/490323-foods-high-in-gamma-linolenic-acids/
  10. http://www.livestrong.com/article/508599-nutrition-for-nerve-regeneration/
  11. http://www.webmd.com/brain/nerve-pain-and-nerve-damage-symptoms-and-causes?page=3
  12. http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/nervous-system-problems-topic-overview
  13. http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/nervous-system-problems-topic-overview
  14. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=111
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