Diet, Exercise and Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage and some people have no symptoms associated with the nerve damage but others’ may be plagued by persistent symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and even loss of feeling. This can occur in all parts of the body and every organ system.

Although we do not know the exact cause of diabetic neuropathy it is speculated that chronic hyperglycemia can reduce the amount of oxygen delivered to nerve cells and speed up the progression diabetic neuropathy. (1)(2)

You may be wondering how to reduce your blood glucose in an attempt to stave off nerve damage. Increasing physical activity is a wonderful way to utilize glucose in the blood, slow the progression of neuropathy or even regenerate some nerve fibers. Participants in a study conducted by the University of Utah were put on an exercise program including aerobic and resistance training for 30-90 minutes per week with additional activities to be done at home, the degree of intensity was customized to that persons’ baseline level of activity and after 1 year saw regeneration of nerve fibers. (3)

In a position paper the American Diabetes Association recommend that persons’ with type two diabetes do not follow diets that are low in carbohydrates. Yes, it is true that the total amount and the type of carbohydrate eaten impacts blood glucose.  However, complex carbohydrates are an especially nutritious source of water-soluble vitamins and fiber. (4) The National Academy of Science Food and Nutrition Board recommends that a person should get 45-65% of their daily calorie intake from carbohydrates-that is about 130 grams. (5)

Along with encouragement to get active and eat nutritious sources of carbohydrates, continue to count grams of carbohydrates or use diabetic exchanges, test your blood sugar and adhere to medication guidance provided by your physician.



  1. Prevent Complications. (2016, September 27). Retrieved June 06, 2017, from
  2. Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathies). (2013, November 01). Retrieved June 06, 2017, from
  3. Singleton, John R., et al. “Exercise increases cutaneous nerve density in diabetic patients without neuropathy.” Annals of clinical and translational neurology1.10 (2014): 844-849.
  4. Sheard, N. F., Clark, N. G., Brand-Miller, J. C., Franz, M. J., Pi-Sunyer, F. X., Mayer-Davis, E., . . . Geil, P. (2004, September 01). Dietary Carbohydrate (Amount and Type) in the Prevention and Management of Diabetes. Retrieved June 06, 2017, from
  5. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved June 06, 2017, from


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This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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