A well-balanced, nutritious diet is good for your health from head to toe – literally! What we eat not only affects our overall well-being, but the health of our feet, too. In fact, we can tell a lot about your health and nutritional intake from a simple foot exam. What you’re eating can very well be exasperating or even causing your foot condition, but the good news is, if that’s the case, relief may be as simple as changing your diet!
Your Feet and What You Eat
There are several foot conditions that are directly affected by food choices and can present tell-tale symptoms:
An enlarged big toe – Gout. This painful form of arthritis is the result of too much uric acid in your blood, and the most common reason for that is a diet high in purines. Avoid seafood, organ and game meat, gravy, beer, and sweetened beverages. Good choices include water, non-fat dairy products, fruits and veggies, peanut butter, and eggs.
Cracked heels or Swollen ankles -- Obesity. Eating a diet high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugar not only causes health problems, but leads to weight issues as well. When your feet are tasked with carrying your weight and that load becomes excessive, chronic inflammation can occur, and pressure placed upon a strained heel pad can lead to cracks, or fissures, in the skin. Switch to lean meat, fruits and veggies, low-carb and low-fat options, as well as unsweetened beverages.
Foot Cramps -- dehydration and deficiencies. Muscles cramp up when you are dehydrated and do not have enough potassium, magnesium, and calcium in your diet. Seek out foods like bananas, cheese, and of course, drink plenty of water!
Stress fractures and broken bones – Osteoporosis. Bones can weaken over time but also because of inadequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet. Don’t skimp on those dairy products!
Wounds that won’t heal – Diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause diabetic problems and this condition can wreak havoc on your feet! Because high glucose inhibits blood flow, healing nutrients struggle to reach wounds. Nerves can also be damaged and this combination can lead to dangerous complications including ulcerations, gangrene, and amputation. Learn how to manage your sugar intake and symptoms will improve. Other signs to look for:
- Numbness -- Nerve damage
- Lack of Hair – Poor circulation
Strategies for the Sweet Tooth
Limiting sugar or cutting it completely from your diet is highly beneficial, but can be hard for many people, especially those who love sweets! Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there – you just have to look for them! Read labels and beware of imposter ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose. Instead, look for words like “unsweetened” and “no sugar added.” Remember that complex carbohydrates eventually turn to sugar, so avoid eating too many carbs. Finally, remind yourself why you’re trying to cut sugar in the first place – for your health! A great book to read for motivation is Sugar Crush: How to reduce inflammation, reverse nerve damage, and reclaim good health.
Overall Health and Nutrition
In general, a diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products is best. Stay away from processed foods, trans and saturated fats, and foods high in sodium and sugar. It will help keep you healthy and your feet healthy, too! For more information, to schedule a foot exam, or for help with a foot condition, just dial (916) 961-3434 to reach our Carmichael, CA office and we’ll be happy to help.