Charcot-Marie-Tooth and Diet

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited progressive disorder characterized by damage to the peripheral nerves. These are involved in transmitting nerve signals from the brain to the muscles to control movement, and sensory information from the rest of the body to the brain. The damage caused by the disease results in muscle weakness and loss of sensation, among other symptoms.

Weight gain can be a serious issue in CMT, as weakened muscles and fatigue can make it difficult for patients to keep active. Being overweight can cause additional issues that can worsen the symptoms of the disease. This can include straining weakened muscles and joints further and making it more difficult to move around, resulting in further weight gain. It can also increase the risk of diabetes, which can cause further damage to the feet, as well as the heart and lungs.

Consuming a healthy and balanced diet alongside a tailored exercise plan can play an important part in managing weight. Each patient is different, so ideally these should be discussed with a doctor or nutritionist to determine the best plan.

Healthy diet in CMT

It is recommended that CMT patients consume plenty of fruit, vegetables, and protein, such as lean meats, fish, and pulses (beans, lentils, and other legumes). Three small portions of dairy a day, especially reduced-fat versions, are also important.

Where possible, salt, fat, and sugary food and drinks should be minimized. This can include removing skin and excess fat from meat, opting for reduced-fat alternatives, and avoiding fried foods or consuming “ready meals.” Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake can improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue.

Replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates that take longer to be broken down and release nutrients for longer can help. This could include replacing processed-flour goods with unprocessed grain products, such as bread, pasta, and rice.

Eating breakfast not long after getting up can also be important, as this kick-starts the metabolism and can help burn calories faster. Eating smaller meals with regular healthy snacks in between, rather than large meals, can also help reduce fatigue.

Nutrition to boost muscle recovery

Exercise can be difficult to sustain with CMT, as the muscles and joints are weakened and take longer to recover following exercise. Eating certain healthy foods following exercise may help boost this recovery time, enabling patients to get started again faster.

These have not been tested in clinical trials for CMT patients, but include:

  • Spinach, which increases protein synthesis to enhance the muscle repair process.
  • Pineapple, which contains two enzymes, bromelain and papain, which reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response to damage that can cause heat and swelling in the muscles following exercise and can slow down muscle repair.
  • Eggs, which are high in protein.
  • Green tea, which contains antioxidants and may help protect the muscles against damage during exercise and boost metabolism.


Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.