Neuropathy: The Sugar Connection

By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
August 18, 2015

neuropathy1.jpgOne 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.

Neuropathy_Hands-BloodSugarMonitor.jpgWhen 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.

Neuropathy_ToastAndJam.jpgDr. 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

Neuropathy_GroceryCart.jpgReal 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.

View all posts by Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff

Comments

Chris
How did you calculate that 32 tsp sugar (134g) from the cereal, milk and fruit? Using 1c nonfat milk (12g), 1c cereal (18g) and 1 med apple (19g) I only got 49g (10.8 tsp) sugars (USDA via Google)
July 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

admin

32 tsp of sugar is equivalent to 128 grams of carb (4 grams of carb turns into 1 tsp of sugar in your body). Most people eat at least 2 cups of cereal in one sitting and 2 cups of Raisin Bran is 92 grams of carb (23 tsp of sugar), 1 cup of skim milk is 13 grams of carb (3 tsp of sugar) and 1 medium apple is 25 grams of carb (6 tsp of sugar). 23+3+6=32 tsp of sugar total. I believe you were just counting the amount of sugar and not the total carbohydrates, all carbohydrates break down into sugar in your body. 

Lou
Still a fallacy. The body does not absorb all the nutrients you ingest. It also breaks foods down at different rates. The fiber in both the raisins and the apple slow down the release of sugars from those foods. Had the person used while milk instead the fat content would have slowed the absorption more. However the milk used still coated the stomach and reduce the stomach's ability to break down the foods further reducing absorption. This would cause gas in the intestines as the undigested fruits fermented later.
While the aspect is to get people to reduce refined sugar you are using scare tactics that don't work.
July 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

admin

It is well understood that excess sugars, especially those from processed carbohydrates, are related to some cases of neuropathy. If you want to read more from an expert in the field, we recommend Dr Richard Jacoby's book, Sugar Crush. In our extensive clinical experience, we have helped to educate clients to make dietary changes that gives them the power to reduce their pain and inflammation; not using scare tactics but empowering them to identify foods that do not serve their health.

Chris
OK, thanks; I was using 4.2 g per teaspoon,and it looks like you are using 4 instead; this would tend to inflate the number of teaspoons. No matter. This still seems a bit misleading: You claim that your quiche recipe only provides 2 tsp of blood sugar (equivalent to 8g carbs I suppose) and an analysis of your recipe shows 8.65g total carbs per 1/6 recipe (close enough), but for a portion that includes 1 egg, maybe 1/4 cup of cheeses total, and just over 3 oz (92g) vegetables. Very delicious I'm sure and certainly low-carb, but not really what I would expect to be a portion size for someone that would tend to eat 2 servings of raisin bran at a sitting.

I don't dispute the point you are trying to make regarding the link between neuropathy and blood glucose levels, but you need to better disclose the assumptions you are making in your comparisons.

If all carbs break down to glucose in the body regardless of source (and I don't dispute that, except for dietary fiber) why do you distinguish between "processed carbohydrates" and other types of carbs? Why not just promote a low-carb diet regardless of whether it is "processed" or not?
Corn on the cob, while certainly not "processed", is still high in sugar! And how does the organic/grass-fed angle affect glycogenesis?

Leaving out the 14g of dietary fiber in the 2c Raisin Bran and the 4.4g in the apple would reduce your total glucose to 111.6g or 28tsp (or 26.6, depending on your conversion factor) from the cereal breakfast.
July 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

admin

Thanks for the feedback, we appreciate it. 

Aj
This was very helpful! Thanks!
August 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

Luis
OMG no wonder everyone is dying in such a miserable way. Plz tell me does the tingly sensation mean that we are close to diabetes?
November 27, 2017 at 9:55 am

admin

It doesn’t necessarily mean that. There can be different causes for a tingly sensation. If it doesn’t improve from cutting out sugar I suggest you make an appointment with a nutritionist to help you figure out what the cause may be. 

Joshua
I’m starting to wonder if this is my problem. I have horrific pain on my spine between my shoulder blades and it shoots into my chest, ribs and even into my teeth. It’s like a rat is eating me from the inside. I’m healthy, I work out 3 days a week. When I was on a sugar cut I didn’t have the issues and Ive seen a handful of doctors, they don’t know what to think. The first time I felt it I thought I was having a heart attack.
February 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm

admin

Sounds very scary and painful! It's hard to say if what you were experiencing was neuropathy, but that is wonderful you've found relief from cutting out sugar. If you are struggling with continuing to cut out sugar I'd really encourage you to make a one on one appointment with one of our nutritionists who can help you with cutting it out for good.

Lynda Chisholm
Headaches burning feet-RA, B12,sugar in normal limits. I told Dr if I cut out sugar symptoms disappear. Within about 15 minutes of eating a biscuit feet burning goes on for hours. Dr couldn't explain why.
May 5, 2018 at 8:36 am

admin

We are happy to hear you have found symptom relief in cutting out sugar. If you need any assistance or help with individualized meal planning and ideas that are low carb and sugar to help you continue managing symptoms one of our nutritionists would be happy to meet with you in a one-on-one nutrition consultation.

Crystal
I believe refined sugar is what's causing the tingling in both of my legs below the knees. I'm 40 years old and healthy. I am on no meds. Last year I saw many doctors in which they had blood work done on me, an MRI, X-rays, etc and everything came back perfectly normal. Doctors didn't know what to think of this. I did what I could and created a healthy diet by cutting refined sugars immediately. Within days I noticed my tingling went away.

Well, I started back eating refined sugar and that's when the tingling started up again. Today is day 3 of my diet in reducing my refined sugar intake and already my legs are feeling much better. There is a connection (in my case) between the refined sugar and the tingling in my legs. I am able to eat simple sugars and haven't noticed any problems from doing so. Fingers crossed.
July 12, 2018 at 12:40 pm

admin

Crystal - it's so wonderful to hear that you have found relief in making diet changes and eliminating refined sugars. Amazing how the food we eat has such a strong connection to how we feel, we are happy to hear you are feeling better. If at some point you find you need some guidance in diet choices, contact us to make a one-on-one appointment with one of your Nutritionists in person if you live in the twin-cities or via phone or skype. 

pat
How long does it take for sugar to leave you body and how long does it take to see results in symptoms ?

Thank you!
July 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm

admin

When you eat sugar your body will utilize some for energy, if you eat too much sugar in one sitting the excess that your body can’t utilize for energy will get stored as fat. You should notice some changes within 2-3 weeks of eliminating sugar and many people noticing positive changes even within a week.

Patricia Sawchuk
I have peripheric neuropathy - confirmed by an electromyograph - from extensive chemo therapy. It grabbed my feet above all and the sensation of wearing "cement socks" is not painful so much as really irritating. I also also developed lumbar/sacral stenosis and recently underwent surgery for this which has been quite successful. But the socks remain. Believe me: after the hits and misses...the believe or not want to believe... the sugar thing has finally gotten through my thick skull. I am a Zoner, but in the infrequent "falls", I do get the sugar usually in the form of bread or pasta. Sugar in ANY SHAPE OR FORM is POISON for anyone with my problem. I might add that I am 71 and have been teaching Fitness for 36 years - and still teach. Nutrition without sugar can be fantastic...I love cooking and have experimented with sugar-less foods for years. But it only take ONE "cheat"...to go back to Square One!!
August 19, 2018 at 5:30 am

admin

We are happy you are finding relief of these terrible symptoms from eliminating sugar glad you have found something that works well for your body.

Laura
Can you give me an idea of what to eat if I am vegan? I am experiencing horrible pain in my feet and I used to eating carbohydrates along with vegetables and fruits meaning I eat gluten free crackers gluten free bread sometimes corn tortillas stuff like that. Are you suggesting I cut those all out? I'm certainly willing to cut out all refined sugar like desserts to see if it will take the pain away but I'm not sure what else to do to adjust my diet? I usually eat seeds and nuts and beans for protein.
September 5, 2018 at 11:53 pm

admin

Food choices definitely make a difference in how you feel. Something you might want to try is to see how your foot pain changes when you pair any carbohydrates with healthy fats. The fat works to help those carbohydrates break down slowing versus turning into sugar rapidly - thus spiking blood sugar and increasing inflammation. For a snack, you might try some celery sticks and a small apple with 2 TBSP nut butter. At meals, your could put half of a sliced avocado and an olive oil dressing over a mixed green salad or top any roasted veggies with coconut oil. Often this beneficial fat will help to reduce that pain from chronic high blood sugars. The pain could also be related to vitamin or mineral deficiencies, therefore you may consider meeting with one of our nutritionists (via phone or in-person) to put together an individualized plan based on a more extensive look at your health history.

Dawn
I started on my own a week ago the Keto diet. I knew nothing about the diet being a help with neuropathy. I cheated 3 days a small item. Not realizing till today I ate 3 cookies and my neuropathy is killing me. I found this article and now I’m convinced that your findings are correct. I’m not cheating again if it helps with the aweful pain.
September 16, 2018 at 12:25 pm

linnea
I was experiencing terrible nerve pain in my feet to the point where I was not able to sleep for days at a time. It was also starting in my hands, face, and legs. Three days after cutting out sweets, my nerve pain stopped completely. It has been over a year now, and it has returned very mildly only when I have cheated on a couple of occasions. I have not needed to cut out carbs to maintain health, but I do eat less fruit and make sure to have it with protein. Thank you for helping me to understand what is going on in my body.
September 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm

admin

We're so glad we could help you with your nerve pain! It's amazing what power real food has to heal our bodies.

Michele Hennessy
WOW!!!! I started experiencing neuropathy several years ago ... I've gone through several tests and NOTHING has shown a cause for it. Approximately 1 year ago in an attempt to lower my cholesterol I began eating more vegetables and fruit and the neuropathy all but disappeared . I shared this with my Specialist ( along with my thoughts that it could menopausal related ) and they didn't make a link. I have noticed a definite connection between my sugar intake and the neuropathy pain. I ate candy ( movie night with a friend) and the pain was intense. I THANK YOU FOR VALIDATING WHAT I KNOW IS TRUE FOR MY BODY !!!
October 5, 2018 at 1:03 am

admin

Wonderful that you have found a way to manage your painful symptoms!

katie burton
Omg I cannot believe Joshua commented, I have tingly in my upper back and spine and have done for a few months and now it is turning to pain, I have been trying to get information on the internet about what it could be as it has started to become worrying, I have a very high sugar diet which I am ashamed of but seem to be addicted but maybe this is the push I need to know that it may be affecting my nerves in my back!!!
October 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

Lorraine
I need help , I am a diabetic and both of my feet are burning tingly real hot feeling or ice cold feeling 24/7. I know what I need to do but I’m so addicted to carbs I really struggle with food . I need good muffin / cookie recipes so I don’t feel deprived. Drs want me on insulin but I’m not wanting to . How do I stop that carb/ sugar craving? It’s taking over my life now for a long time and I’m sick of it!!
October 24, 2018 at 12:18 am

admin

Here are some great resources on sugar addiction:

Food Addiction - What's the Cause & How to Overcome It

6 Strategies to Kick Your Sugar Habit

Why Can't I Stop With One?

2 Reasons Why You Can't Give Up Sugar

We'd also encourage you to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist so they can customize a plan that is right for you to kick your sugar habit.

Michael Scott
Thanks for this. You are a real help. Though I'm not diabetic, I suspected the neuropathy symptoms I was experiencing were worsened by sugar. I appreciate the info and have severely reduced my sugar intake.
November 3, 2018 at 11:08 am

admin

How great that you have found relief in reducing your sugar intake. We are always so glad to hear that the information we share helps people make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. 

Rick
Thank you for the info. I experience nerve pain in my feet after I eat sugar and I did not know why. I am have been tested and I am not a diabetic nor a pre-diabetic and did not know why I had the pain. I realize now what is going on with my body. Thanks again
November 17, 2018 at 12:16 am

Laura
I don’t have diabetes but with the 2000+ cal a day in soda cannot be helping (I burn ~5000 cal/day creating body heat). At worse the placebo effect could come into play. We are on our own for our own solutions so thank you for bringing this to my awareness :)

Anyone curious, or ppl with full body( good luck on your journey)but here is the longer version
November 30, 2018 at 11:58 am

admin

We are glad you found this article helpful. If ever you are looking for individualized guidance on cutting back on soda you can set up a one-on-one counseling session with one of our nutritionists in person if you are in the twin-cities or via Skype or phone if you live further away. 

Mark Gobble
For the past several years inhad symptoms of nuropothy. My big toe felt swollen and my thigh would go numb. Ive been on keto. But i cheat occassionally. I staryed intermittjmg fasting. M sugar was at 160. When i starhed this change. Before. K ate spagjetti and chips. That was my vice. I looked up my symptoms but i always ignored nuropothy because, well i was not diabetic. I weighed 300 and i dropped 35 lbs by fastimg and keto and exercising. Then I got planter fiaciitis. Inwe t to the doctor amd was diagnosed with nuropothy. My feet feel lime I am wearing socks. A bunch of socks. My A1c was 5.8 and this is me fasting and doing keto. But i figure i cheated skme with doritos and beer this summer. The muropothy js spreading fast now. It ks in both feet and it is extreme after a workout or at the end of a day. I habe always been active and now I am scared. My planter fiaciitis is extreme as well after a full day. I am now on full fledged keto and i dont eat chips anymore but i feel lime it is not helping. When i look at chips i say do i want quick satisfaction or do i want to feel my feet? My feet swell or feelswollen amd my heel becomes so tender i cant walk. This is bad because one of my 3 jobs is a manaher for a valet company. I have to run. I also teach school and drive for uner. Driving hurts. I did fast and them eat doritos. Could the blood sugar fluctuations seveloped my nuropothy? What. An i do? Is this reversable? The pain is from my planter but the full mimb feeling in my feet is annoying. Help!!!!
December 2, 2018 at 7:43 pm

admin

It sounds like you’ve already made a lot of great changes, but you still have inflammation in your body. I would highly recommend making an appointment with one of our nutritionists to come up with an individualized eating plan and to see if there is anything else that could be contributing to your neuropathy. I would make sure you’re eating enough food. That is the case for some people who do intermittent fasting and/or keto is they’re not getting enough food.

Patrick
I had bi-lateral PE’s 2yrs ago. My Hematologist discovered that I have a hereditary thing called Factor 2 which can cause blood clotting. I have been dealing with nerve sensations for over a year. Comes and goes. From tingling in my legs, quick sharp needle pains,to a wet drip sensation running down the leg. Also get tight neck muscles and the pain in the upper mid of back that radiates to the front as someone else had mentioned. I suspected maybe the blood thinners I’m on caused it but now I’m rethinking that. Chocolate is my weakness. Turns out I made cookies today and had more than I probably should of. (Correction delete probably). I tend to eat lots of carbs. I almost daily have a breakfast biscuit in the morning. Lunches are usually sandwiches, sometimes I have either a burger or a burrito. While my choices aren’t the healthiest I suspect the neuropathy is being triggered by the sugars. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. Looks like it’s time for a lot of changes to see if the sugars are in deed causing the neuropathy. Thanyou!
December 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

admin

We sure love to hear that we have helped others make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. We hope that you find relief soon and that cutting sugar and carbs helps you to feel better. If you feel you would like more guidance in making these changes you can set up a one-on-one appointment with one of our Nutritionists in person if you live int he twin cities or via phone or skype.

P
Helpful article. I had a large waldorf salad two days ago. Today i had a piece of cheesecake as a snack. Both times no sugar blues reaction. But a little while ago i woke up with a lightning storm in one foot. So i looked for a clue on the web.
December 25, 2018 at 4:02 am

admin

We are always glad to hear that the information we share has made a difference in how someone feels.

Sir Fandango Morialy
You may find a lot of high carb vegans will dispute that this will work, and may say carbs are not the enemy, and fat is the problem.... They can say this all they want, they are completely wrong or are lucky enough not to suffer from high blood sugars yet!
Its perfectly possible to go low carb on a vegan diet. But beware of sunflower oil and palm oil. When heated these become highly carconegenic, and turn mostly into bad trans fats. Good article BTW.
December 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Terry
I am diabetic, have had carpel tunnel surgery so I know the difference between the tingling I now feel and what I felt before surgery, it is way more intense now. My question is the higher my sugar is the more behind my neck tingles, it runs from shoulder to shoulder, can this also be neuropathy.
January 10, 2019 at 1:51 pm

admin

It sounds like you know exactly what we mean when we say "sugar aches". Perhaps you would want to try our recommendations for 4-6 weeks to see if that tingling sensation in your neck subsides. It would be an interesting comparison for you to see how you feel on a nutrition plan that balances your blood sugars. If you need some additional support, feel free to contact our office to set up an individual consultation with one of our nutritionists. They would be able to help you put together some balanced meal and snack ideas to help reduce sugar and processed foods from your diet.

David McKnight
I 've been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy for the past 12 years and I just increased my love of raisin brand with milk. I had no idea it had this much sugar. I will have to find a nutritionist. I am told I do not have diabetes. My pain is in my feet (mostly in my great toes).
March 16, 2019 at 5:48 pm

admin

Sugar can be hidden in so many places one of our Nutritionists would be happy to help you to work on eliminating that sneaky sugar from your diet and help you to manage your neuropathy symptoms in a one-on-one nutritionist appointment in-person, via Skype, or Phone. 

Carla
Can a very high sugar diet cause neuropathy without causing diabetes? I have a long history of eating way too much sugar (and remaining thin), have not been diagnosed with diabetes, but do have peripheral neuropathy. (I also have refractory coeliac disease (CD), fructose malabsorption, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).)

Neurodiagnosticians seemed to focus on only diabetes or alcoholism as causes, denied that coeliac disease could contribute, and seemed completely unaware of EDS. (Subsequently, I found neurologist-written articles in their own medical journals that connected both CD and EDS to peripheral neuropathy.)

Still, because I have a tendency to eat a whole pack of cookies in one go, or a whole litre of ice cream at once, I keep wondering whether my bad habits contribute as much to my neuropathy as CD and EDS. And because I have gorged on sweets for decades (I'm 62), and not developed diabetes, I wonder whether high sugar consumption can cause an over-production of insulin, leading to peripheral neuropathy.

Thank you for helping me understand all of this.
March 25, 2019 at 7:08 am

admin

Yes, neuropathy can be caused by too much sugar without causing diabetes. However, it sounds like your neuropathy could be related to your intestinal health and other health conditions. It’s difficult to say without knowing more about your health history. I would recommend making an appointment with one of our nutritionists to get a more individualized approach.

Pam
I am finding your articles so interesting, linking both sugar and gluten consumption with neuropathy. I've been working with a functional medicine doctor, firstly on my diet (elimination diet) and also with a lymphatic drainage massage therapist. The numbness in my toes has not subsided so I am quite worried about what could be causing it. I did recently slip off the "gluten" and "sugar" bandwagon, eating some cookies and pizza crust for maybe the last two weeks, I can say that my numbness increased horribly these past few days. I pray that it goes away! I need my feet! Could a short duration of consuming a bit of gluten and sugar cause these increased symptoms?
April 18, 2019 at 10:48 am

admin

I think it is great that you are finding relief from symptoms with your elimination diet. To answer your question, yes even one meal with gluten or sugar will increase your symptoms. Both gluten and sugar are inflammatory and especially so for you. I would go back to eliminating gluten and keeping sugar intake as low as possible to start healing again.

JIm
Hey, just stumbled onto this page and have been reading everything including the comments. For a couple of years I have had numbing and tingling of feet if I spend a lot of time on them. A few months ago I started having pain in the arches of my feet if I am on them a lot also. Last week I started cutting carbs a lot out of my diet. No cereal, bananas, apples, and most everything with carbs. I hardly get hungry now and my feet haven't been numb and tingling at all. Also the last couple of days the arches of my feet have not hurt at all. It just dawned on me today the low carb diet could have helped me with this. That is the reason for searching for something on carbs and pain and found your web page. I am not diabetic but I am 70 years old and a little overweight. Could I possibly be on the right track? Thanks, JIm
April 28, 2019 at 7:19 pm

admin

It sure sounds like you have found a great solution to your pain and numbness. Try to continue the same low sugar and low carb diet and track your symptoms. We are always so glad to hear that we have helped others make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. 

Mihaly Varju
Fructose or fructanes have a different metabolism than glucose. Excess fructose can cause systemwide toxicity in the body. Cut all fructose (part of table sugar and fructanes), and as your body clears this toxin, your poisoned nerves get releived.
June 14, 2019 at 11:47 pm

admin

Yes, glucose and fructose are metabolized differently.  If either are consumed in excess they can cause problems to the health of our body.  Thank you for your thoughts.  We love to hear from our readers.

Denise
This article has helped me to realize how much I need to change my eating habits in order for me to become a more healthier individual. I’m currently experiencing the tingling sensations throughout my right arm and hand. I know that because I consume a considerable amount of refined sugar on a daily basis it has contributed to this situation. In the past I was concerned that I could be diabetic. Fortunately, my blood tests so far haven’t came back showing any signs of diabetes.
June 22, 2019 at 7:49 pm

admin

We are glad to hear this Article helped you. If you would like further individualized guidance feel free to set up a one-on-one Nutritionist appointment in person, by Skype or phone.

River Jordan
I am very in tune with changes in my body and look for personal answers when things go wrong. I've been a type 2 diabetic for many years, well controlled with medication, exercise and diet, but I do cheat. Lately I've been experiencing extreme pain in my lower extremities that seemed different than my spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis symptoms. I'm damn near paranoid of addictive medication so I have been mostly muscling through this and looking for answers. I began to realize that my most horrible pain follows consuming food with a lot of sugar. I tested it again and found it to be true. I've been reading and finding that it is in fact true. No amount of sugar is worth being in misery over. I plan to fight for the best possible quality of life by continuing my active lifestyle and watching the sugar content of what I eat. It's been a few good days, not perfect, but no mind bending pain. Hope everyone figures out what works best for them to find relief from the pain of diabetic neuropathy. I know there will be bad days out of my control, but to the extent I can control them, I will.
July 14, 2019 at 2:15 am

admin

We are glad to hear that you are finding such pain relief by eliminating sugar. If you need any help in making these edits to your diet one of our Nutritionists would be happy to help. You can make a one-on-one Nutrition consult by phone, Skype, or in person if you live in the twin cities. 

Hans Sander
Any comments on this. I had a spinal cord stroke which left me paraplegic and after 5 years the neuropathic pain is worse than ever. I don't get any exercise and haven't given any thoughts to sugar. Do you think it might help to exclude it?
August 4, 2019 at 4:08 am

admin

Minimizing sugar intake and focusing on real-food carbohydrates could absolutely help your neuropathy pain! Excess sugar acts like sandpaper on our sensitive nerves, causing chronic inflammation and pain. Give it a good go for six weeks – what’s the worst that could happen?!

Alex Bernth
When I eat too much sugar I feel my face start to tingle & slightly burn. Doesn’t really hurt but that’s my side effect from the nerves being damaged. I’ve been dealing with this for 10+ years and didn’t realize it was damaging my body.
August 12, 2019 at 2:07 pm

admin

It's a good connection to make, glad we could help. 

Jack Stone
I am getting a tightness in both lower legs that radiate up to my knees with intermittent tingling. No weakness just the tightness. I recently went on a homemade chicken soup diet with low calorie additions. I was on a poor diet previously for many years. I’ve been on the diet for about five days. Could this diet change be affecting this feeling? The Tightness is consistent But gets better throughout the day. Thank you
September 9, 2019 at 4:05 pm

admin

It’s possible the recent change is contributing to this. It’s difficult to know without knowing more about your health history. Maybe you aren’t eating enough, I’d recommend getting three meals per day and at least one snack.

Colleen
Does a cheat day or two...or vacation eating set you back and undo the work you’ve done in quitting sugar...I can tell after a dessert, not a true big deal, but have a full day of treats on a holiday I feel crappy but knowing I’m able to go back to regular eating, does this hurt in long run?
October 12, 2019 at 10:46 am

admin

When it comes to blood sugar control and reducing pain, a "cheat day" is really only slowing the healing process. Often times, more pain and more sugar leads to more cravings for sugary treats; so it really is best for those with chronic pain to eliminate sugar completely.

Laura
I have been eating up to 10 peanut butter cups every night for over a month . I have been eating sweets, pie, donuts, ice cream, you name it for years. Since I started the peanut butter and chocolate nightly, my feet and legs burn to stand. I burn all over like my nerves are inflamed. Meds, don't help. I am in horrible neuropathy and sciatic pain. I had no idea it is the sugar but the time line makes sense. I have been living on sugar for years, no diabetes at all, I am thin and eat a lot of fish, steak, chicken, and good protein. Just lack vegetables. All this suffering that has me unable to walk for the last couple of weeks and all the nerve pain from neuropathy for several years may be due to what I eat. I'm stopping the candy now. I will work on the rest now. How soon will I be able to stand without the burning pins and needles ? Thanks for the info, this may change my life, to walk, drive, clean, live without the horrible burning,. Please let this be the solution todyending my widespread nerve pain. I am so desperate for relief. All the pain meds don't work. Please contact me and give me some hope. I am done with the candy. Thanks, Laura
October 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm

admin

So sorry to hear you are dealing with such discomfort. We know that the way we eat can really affect the way we feel. Eliminating sugar and processed carbs can make a major difference in the pain and inflammation in our bodies. Eating a balanced diet of Protein, Vegetable carbs, and healthy fats will help to further your healing. In August we did a podcast “Foods & Supplements for Neuropathy” you can listen to here. If you would like more individualized one-on-one assistance you can always set up an appointment with one of our Nutritionists in person if you live in the twin cities, or via skype or phone.

Susan Sims McCreary
I have this in my lips and if I touch anything sweet to my lips the burning process starts all over. I had no idea what it was until I found this. Now to kick the habit of sugar and other foods that are bad for me.
October 28, 2019 at 9:08 pm

admin

In August we did a podcast Foods and Supplements for Neuropathy which may help provide you with more information on both foods to eliminate and foods to add into your diet. If you would like more individualized guidance a one-on-one nutrition appointment might be a great fit for you.

Daniel
Hello, very interesting information, I'm hoping my situation sounds familiar as I'm really losing my mind here. Facts regarding my situation. I'm 43 year old Male, now with a average build, around 2016 I started to experience what I thought was a sexual side effect of medication, turns out after going to multiple doctors, my whole body had a loss of sensation, not focusing on 1 part but actually affecting my whole body. Everything from my scalp to my toes and everything in between. Now in 2018 I had a umbilical hernia repair done , 2 weeks later I felt like I was dying, after months of more doctor visits a wonderful rheumatoid arthritis doctor figured out I had massive food allergies that were causing neurological symptoms. I lost about 100 Lbs and look fantastic and everyone always compliments me. But here still as of today November 2019 I'm still same if not more numb full body. I think after reading this I haven't tried cutting out coffee which is the only caffeine I consume but I do use a ton of sugar , also I eat a ton of raisins and craisins and sanpellagrino juice drinks. I have a nutritionist who said I have low vitamin b1 and I've been taking b1 but no different. I'm looking for guidance here , obviously I'm a man and what's got me worried and bothered is my overall health and sex life with my wife. I'm losing touch with everything because I can't feel... any help greatly appreciate
November 22, 2019 at 7:43 am

admin

It sounds like you have some quite complicated issues and symptoms going on. It would be best if you set up a one-on-one appointment with one of our Nutritionists who can provide you with individualized help.

Bruce Hood
I have perifial NEUROPTHY in my feet and I am beginning to get it in my hands . I take Gabapentin and Tramadol for pain . Sometimes I take Hydrocodone when the pain gets worse . I have got in a bad habit of eating 2 Little Debbie cup cakes in the morning with sweetened coffee . I am not diabetic . I need a SUGAR FREE diet .Only problem is I like bread , potatoes and pasta . I do like vegetables of all kinds and I eat a lot of read meet . I love chicken and pork to .
December 11, 2019 at 5:50 pm

admin

We'd definitely recommend eating the Weight & Wellness Way, which is a balance of protein, healthy fat and vegetable carbohydrates. 

MiMi
Please go get a meter and test your blood sugar. Test in am before you eat. Then test in 2 hours after your meal. If you get a reading of under 100 before your meal and under 140 after then consider yourself lucky
December 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Suze
Hello
I have diabetes that has been extreme well controlled through diet. I'm now on vacation in Costa Rica and have spent 6 days eating all sorts of carbs that I normally don't eat. I assumed it would be ok to do this, but beginning yesterday I've experienced horrible numbness, tingling, and itching on the top and outside of one thigh. Could this be due to my change in diet and could it happen so quickly? If so, can I eliminate these sensations by just going right back to my healthy eating habits? How long will it take before this sensation goes away? Thank you!
February 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm

admin

Thank you for your inquiry.  It is certainly possible to have a reaction to the increased carbohydrate consumption.  However, because it came on so suddenly and seems isolated, my thoughts go to a possible insect bite or reaction to a plant you may have brushed up against.

If it is from the amount of sugar you have consumed, once you begin ridding it out of the body, your symptoms will disappear.

I recommend increasing water, eating plenty of vegetables and sitting in the sauna to increase detox out of your body.

Lombard
So everything you described in the article happens to me but I have gastroparesis and nerve damage to my stomach. My body does not digest food properly so absorbing the sugar/nutrients right away seems like it wouldn't happen so quickly that my hands would get tingly/numb that quick.
May 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

admin

Thank you for your comment, due to your unique situation we'd highly encourage you to make a phone or video nutrition counsultation appointment ($75 off right now) to get one on one support from a nutritionist, https://www.weightandwellness.com/counseling/

Bill
I started the zero carb diet which Dr. Jacoby is on 3 weeks ago because I have PN in both feet. I have read his book Sugar Crush and follow Plan A (zero carbs) with his prescribed vitamins strictly. I have experienced great improvement with pain and am wondering how long improvement could continue? Also, what are the different symptoms that I could experience as I continue my strict zero carb diet? Is it possible to get total victory (no pain or numbness going forward? I have lost 10 pounds already and am now 6'1" and 180 pounds. I'm feeling very good overall as well. Your thoughts please.
June 6, 2020 at 10:04 pm

admin

We’re thrilled that you are noticing such great benefits from cutting out the sugars and following Dr. Jacoby’s plan! My understanding is that Dr. Jacoby’s Plan A is a ketogenic-style diet, which many people can continue on indefinitely if they continue to feel good. You are still eating some carbohydrate in the form of low-glycemic vegetables and some dairy products, but you are mostly eating high-quality fat and proteins.

The amount of pain resolution seen will differ from person to person, and will depend on various factors like what caused the neuropathy in the first place and how much damage the nerves had sustained up to this point. If you are feeling good and continuing to see benefits from your current eating plan, by all means, continue forward! If you start to feel less energized, have trouble sleeping, changes in digestion, more irritability of moodiness, or decreased exercise performance, then that may be a good time to follow up with a nutritionist/dietitian.

Bill Orndorff
Thanks you for your input and support. Great work you are doing!
June 8, 2020 at 1:20 pm

admin

Thank you for reading and your kind words.

Keveewevee@aol.com
One year ago in June of 2019 I didnt even know I had feet. I got a bug bite and left foot / ankle swelled. Went to walkin medical car. Gave me script for 12 days of Bactrim. Infection went away within 5 days and swelling went down. Felt very itchy on ankle for a while. Wintin 5 days of ending meds (Bactrim) both feet went numb starting with toes, then behind toes and over about 4 to 5 days I went full numb feet. Then numb became numb + pain. What was my cause if you had to guess? I still have numb feet. Blood work turned up glucose at 100, (8 hour fasting) total Cholesterol at 232 (high) LDL at 161 and B12 was off the scale due to me popping supplements. I have my first EMG this week.
June 9, 2020 at 8:30 pm

admin

One of the side effects of Bactrim is itching, if this occurs it is recommended that you notify your doctor.  I don’t know if this could be related but it is worth noting.  

I would highly suspect whatever bit you has led to the neuropathy.  There are documented cases of neuropathies occurring after an insect or spider bite.  

Neuropathies can also occur when Vitamin B6 is high, on the other hand high vitamin B12 is not known to cause neuropathy. 

Both diabetes and elevated serum triglycerides are also associated with peripheral neuropathy, usually this occurs once the conditions are chronic or long standing.

maejohnston42@gmail.com
Very interesting!
June 27, 2020 at 4:47 am

curshelle Vann
I am experiencing everything that you're talking about with numbness in my arms hands feet and legs. I want to know buy me eating the real oats oatmeal. The one that you have to season yourself is that good for me.?
July 18, 2020 at 12:58 am

admin

Oatmeal (even if just the real oats) is a high carbohydrate food, which can cause inflammation in the body, even leading to numbness and tingling in the extremities. If you were to consume oats I would recommend keeping it to 1/2 cup portion and balancing it out with an animal protein and a healthy fat like nuts or butter.

To get to the bottom of your symptoms of numbness I would suggest meeting (virtually or in person) with one of our nutritionists or dietitians for further support!

Maztergee
I haven't touch cane, refined, or any sort of sugar in sooo many years,, I've just started getting the tingling, numbness feeling in legs, hands, feet, arms since I took a quercetin supplement :\
August 6, 2020 at 1:09 pm

admin

It is an uncommon side effect of quercetin. I would recommend discontinuing it if you haven’t already and avoiding it.

Sofia
Hey. I get this tingling and burning feeling on my face ,arms,eyes,feet and scalp whenever i eat too much sugar. I've had this problem like some months ago when i ate too many chocolate bars. But the feeling went away after a day. And now like 1 and half days ago I ate too much chocolate pudding and I also ate donut and snickers and then crisps. Right after my yoga exercise i got this burning tingly feeling on my arms and face. So I stopped eating sugar. And the symptoms have lessened. It's been 2 days since I have eaten all those sweets. I feel better now after stopped eating sugar. But the symptoms sometimes come back when I get anxious. So my question is will the burning and tingly sensation go away if I stop eating sugar?
September 6, 2020 at 2:59 am

admin

It is possible that if you give up sugar your body will be able to heal and the burning and tingling will completely go away. It's hard to say without knowing more about your individual health history. I would suggest making an appointment (virtual or via phone) with one of our nutritionists. https://www.weightandwellness.com/counseling/

eric
thank's for the opportunity and possible future advise.
2.5 - 3 month ago i resided to change my diet, get rid of eggs, dairy, red meet and rest of processed food i used to eat a lot.
as i did it, almost at the same time i start feel numbness in foot and tingling
and chronic fatigue. today i take eggs, dairy, rad meet back in moderation.
as for sugar i take 2tsp with tea 2 3 times a day.
after all the tests my family doc. prescribes only B12, neurologist gave to me 100% perfect.
What do you think. Thank you very much. Eric
September 11, 2020 at 11:15 am

admin

I would recommend getting an animal source of protein at each meal (dairy if you tolerate it, beef, chicken, fish, seafood, lamb, turkey, eggs if tolerated). I'd also suggest reducing your sugar in your tea. Just in your tea you're getting 16-24 grams of sugar each day. If you're still experiencing the neuropathy after those modifications I'd suggest making a one on one appointment with one of our nutritionists or dietitians.

elizabeth
I suffer from PN in my feet and legs. I have never been a big "sweets" person but do eat breads, steel cut oatmeal and potatoes. I am underweight and am concerned that a low carb diet will drop my weight further. Can you provide any advice? Finally, thank you so much for educating the public on nutrition-based interventions. (By the way, I am 93 years old but still walk a mile a day and drive to exercise class.)
October 10, 2020 at 4:14 pm

admin

Depending on how much of these items you are eating and how frequently, it could be too much carbohydrate (which breaks down into sugar in the body), which will irritate the nerves. Even a single slice of whole wheat bread affects blood sugar more than eating 1 Tbsp of straight sugar! You could experiment with trading out the bread and steel cut oats for root veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, parsnips, or rutabaga (1/2 cup serving size per meal). Add in as many non-starchy veggies as you’d like. And then fill up the remainder of your plate with proteins like eggs, meats, and fish, and healthy fats. If you feel like you need additional or more detailed guidance on this, I recommend you schedule a consultation with one of our counselors so they can create a specific plan for you.

aley22166@yahoo.com
Please may you put me on your mailing list.
thank you and
Kind regards
Cheyne
November 1, 2020 at 2:00 am

admin

It looks like you should be on the list!

Kelly
While it does seem true that for many, sugars or high carbs can increase pain and neuropathy. Having said that, the advice seems inconsistent to say the least, and alarmist at times:

"A single slice of whole wheat bread affects blood sugar more than eating 1 Tbsp of straight sugar!

That's only true if someone eats the bread without any FAT, which as you suggest in other replies, helps to minimize blood sugar spikes.

Also, no mention or suggestion of checking one's B12 levels or thiamine levels, both of which can be lowered by high sugar diets and both which have been shown to reduce and/or resolve neuropathy.

Lastly, how does one explain the millions of people who have a (gasp!) sandwhich for lunch, and even oatmeal for breakfast -- and never suffer from neuropathy?

Perhaps it's the other things they eat, or the other things they do which help lower their sugar levels?
November 7, 2020 at 7:19 pm

admin

Everybody utilizes carbohydrates differently and some individuals can tolerate more carbohydrates with no negative effects. We aren't claiming that eating oatmeal and bread will cause neuropathy for everybody. The article is pointing out that all carbohydrates turn to sugar and because of that people are getting a lot more sugar than they realize. Eating a high carbohydrate diet over time can cause elevated blood sugars which can contribute to many health conditions including neuropathy. 

Kelly
Thanks for your reply, and some clarification. The key is 'everybody utilizes carbohydrates differently'. The question we all should be asking is why? Are there other factors?

Interestingly, diabetes was healed/reversed with a high sugar/starch diet back in the 1940's - 1950's. Here's one link:

https://deniseminger.com/2015/10/06/in-defense-of-low-fat-a-call-for-some-evolution-of-thought-part-1/#kempner

A google search will turn up more info for anyone interested. But you're right...we're all different. Thanks again.
November 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm

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