Vegan Diet May Reduce Diabetes Nerve Pain
A team of researchers suggests that following a plant-based, vegan diet may be as effective as medication for treating diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain, which is often caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels.
To conduct their study, the scientists put 17 overweight adults with diabetic neuropathy on a 20-week low-fat diet that emphasized fresh vegetables and high-fiber, complex carbohydrates such as beans and whole grains. The participants also attended weekly nutrition classes and took a vitamin B12 supplement, a nutrient that is important for proper nerve function, but found naturally only in animal products.
Results showed that compared with the control group of 17 adults who received B12 supplements but maintained their current, non-vegan diet, the group on the plant-based diet reported significant improvements in pain relief. Tests also showed improved circulation and nerve function. Plus, these study participants lost, on average, 14 pounds.
The researchers believe that this diet worked by allowing the body time to fix its nerve damage through increased insulin sensitivity and improved blood sugar levels. The team notes, though, that the new study was limited in that they could not determine which element of the low-fat, plant-based diet led to the improvements. For instance, it could have been the weight loss alone that was the key factor in neuropathy pain reduction.