When most people think about nutrition and health, they typically think ‘weight management’ or heart health. Rarely is the topic of diet associated with your feet though. Diet does play an important role in our overall health and affects different parts of our bodies, our feet included!
What we eat can affect inflammation in the body. Which in turn is a risk factor for many chronic conditions.
Generally, inflammation is a defence mechanism in the body that helps stop growth of abnormal cells, promotes healing of injured tissues, and signals cells to fight off viral and bacterial infections. However, when inflammation persists, it can affect healthy tissue and potentially cause it to become damaged and possibly trigger disease.
Inflammation is a common cause of foot pain associated with different types of inflammatory arthritis. It can also strike the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, causing the painful condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Many common foods are believed to encourage inflammation. Refined sugar and carbohydrates to name the two worst offenders. People may also develop increased levels of inflammation in their bodies due to chronic allergies to common foods. For example, wheat or dairy.
To reduce inflammation, it is advised that people eat more omega-3 fats. Fatty fish such as salmon, as well as fish oil supplements, are good sources of omega-3s. Most people’s diets provide far more omega-6s than omega-3s, so a fish-rich diet can address this imbalance.
A healthy diet with anti-inflammatory benefits must also include green vegetables and other fresh plant foods, while trying to eliminate things like refined grains and sugary treats.
Nutrition and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of progressive bone loss and is associated with an increased risk of fractures. One of the first signs of the disease is often a stress fracture in the foot. Increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D can decrease the risk of a fracture, as can other lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, which forces our body to bear stress as well as weight, making it stronger.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are among the best dietary sources of calcium. It’s important to remember that for some people, these products can also potentially cause inflammation. Green vegetables are also a source of dietary calcium.
Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna. However, the most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight. This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer, so you don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the colour of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.
Diabetes and Your Foot Health
Diabetes can cause many types of foot problems. From skin changes to nerve damage, diabetes symptoms may include burning pain, tingling, or weakness in the feet.
According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 1 out of every 3 people with diabetes over age 50 also has peripheral artery disease. These conditions can damage arteries that bring blood to your lower extremities.
A healthy diet is one of the keys to controlling blood sugar levels and managing your diabetes. A diabetes diet, like any healthy eating plan, means eating fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and moderate amounts of whole grains and healthy fats.
Your Weight and Your Feet
Your feet bear the weight of your entire body. It should come as no surprise that being overweight can lead to foot problems. Excess body weight increases one’s chances of a variety of painful conditions in the feet.
A healthy diet and exercise will affect your weight positively and help avoid conditions affecting the feet.