When it comes to treating nerve damage, you might be surprised at how addressing seemingly unrelated issues can have an effect on your Neuropathy. A prime example is your digestive health. On the surface, it’s hard to imagine how poor digestive health could negatively affect your neuropathy – but dig a little deeper and it becomes quite clear.
How Does My Digestion Affect My Neuropathy?
Your digestive system is important for obvious reasons – it takes the foods you consume and helps your body absorb the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and thrive. When your digestive system isn’t performing at top notch, your body’s ability to digest and absorb these important vitamins and nutrients is diminished.
One of the vitamins that this affects is B12 – a critical vitamin for your nerves. B12 is already facing an uphill battle in your system as it has notoriously poor absorption rates. In other words, it has a difficult time making it into your system/blood stream. Poor digestion can make the barrier to entry even more difficult.
When you take into account the poor absorption rates of B12 plus the widespread digestive problems caused by the typical American diet – it’s no surprise that an estimated 47 million Americans don’t get enough B12. This lack of B12 can both cause neuropathy and/or make existing nerve damage worse.
Why B12 is Critical for Your Nerves?
Vitamin B12 is the protector of your nerves. It plays an important role by both repairing and building up the protective layer around your nerves (known as the myelin sheath). Without a sufficient reserve of B12 in your system – your myelin sheath will weaken, exposing the nerves to potential threats. If your nerves were already in poor shape, the myelin sheath will be unable to repair itself and the damage may spread.
10 Tips for Improving B12 absorption
Cut down on high fat foods
Eating too many high fat foods slows down the digestive process, making it more taxing on your digestive system. While you shouldn’t eliminate fat completely from your diet (getting some fat is actually good for you), you should limit your fat consumption.
Eat lean meats
A great way to cut down on fatty foods is to consume lean cuts like pork or lower fat meats like chicken or turkey. These are also higher in protein content, which is a building block for a healthy diet.
Eat more fiber
Fiber helps things move along in your digestive tract – reducing instances of constipation. Staying regular is an important part of maintaining a healthy, fully functioning digestive system.
Limit consumption of bloating foods
You’ve most likely experienced uncomfortable bloating after eating a certain meal. Watch out for foods with lots of sodium, starches, artificial sweeteners, and certain carbs (FODMAPs). Carbonated beverages are also known to cause bloating.
Eat on a schedule & don’t rush it
Sticking to a schedule and taking your time while eating can make your digestive system’s job easier. Chew your food fully as opposed to scarfing it down quickly!
Limit habits like smoking, drinking, or drinking too much caffeine
Besides the various negative health outcomes that can result from these bad habits, they can also disrupt the proper functioning of your digestive system.
Drink lots of water
Your digestive system relies on water to help things run smoothly. Water helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber so things can keep moving along. Without enough water, the process is slowed – placing a greater burden on your digestive system.
While you don’t have to hit the gym and do hardcore workouts, exercising for 20 minutes a day increases your blood flow, stimulates your gastrointestinal tract and can speed up digestion. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce your risk of digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Cope with stress constructively
Stress and anxiety can have an adverse effect on the digestive system, causing it to work harder and faster than it should. Find ways to constructively cope with stress from relationships, work, etc. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness techniques are a great way to manage your stress.
Probiotics are tiny microorganisms that are similar to those found in your gut. They help your gut maintain the right amount of healthy bacteria and promote good digestive health. You can get probiotics through both diet and supplements. You may want to try a two-pronged approach by getting them from both sources for the best results.
Follow these 10 tips and you can drastically improve your digestive health and simultaneously improve your chances of B12 being absorbed into your system. So while it may not have seemed obvious before, now you can see how your gut health is so closely linked to the health of your nerves.
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