Dr. Neal Barnard with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and a team of researchers believed the same diet that is effective for stopping and even reversing type 2 diabetes and reducing insulin needs and comorbidity incidence (other risk factors) in type 1 diabetes might be helpful for reducing symptoms of neuropathy (severe nerve pain and decreased sensation). This was the first study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and diabetic nerve pain. If you have, or know someone who has, diabetic nerve pain you understand how intense this pain can be and how much it impacts quality of life.

They randomized patients with both type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy to two groups. One group was shown how to eat a low-fat, plant-based diet. The diet eliminated animal foods, restricted fat intake to 20-30 grams per day, and focused on fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

Results showed that the intervention patients reported a significant improvement in pain. 81% of patients in this group reported complete remission of burning pain and improved sense of touch. The other 19% reported some improvement in symptoms. Electrochemical skin conductance in the foot worsened in the control group but stayed constant in the intervention group, indicating that the diet may have slowed nerve function decline.

Crane M, Sample C. “Regression of diabetic neuropathy with total vegetarian (vegan) diet.” J NutrMed. 1994;4:431-439