Nutrition and Your Foot Health

Eating healthyIt’s no secret that your food choices affect your health. Your body needs many nutrients to not only survive, but to thrive and be active. Eating healthy keeps your heart pumping, builds muscle and bone, and maintains your organs. It’s equally important for your foot health, too—though most people don’t think of that when they discuss eating healthily. Nutrition and foot health go hand in hand.

Your Food Choice Can Change Your Foot Health

Because your feet need nutrients and oxygen to function, and they are directly connected to the rest of your body, it only makes sense that the foods you consume have an impact on their health. They need protein for stronger muscles, calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, tons of minerals and healthy circulation for functioning nerves, and so on, just like the rest of your body. Choosing a balanced diet is just as important for your lower limbs’ health as exercising and conditioning.

It’s when you don’t eat healthily that this is most obvious. Unhealthy eating contributes to obesity, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, and even general inflammation and arthritis, all of which can have negative impacts on your lower limbs. Obesity stresses your feet and increases your risk for overuse injuries. Narrowed, stiffened blood vessels from peripheral arterial disease limit blood flow to your feet and can contribute to muscle cramping and foot ulcers. Diabetes can cause serious nerve pain and complications like ulcers or worse—a total foot breakdown. General inflammation can worsen painful problems in your feet, including arthritis, and certain foods even directly cause gout flare-ups.

Best Foods for Healthy Feet

So what can you do to improve your nutrition and foot health? First, focus on improving your diet in general. Most people do not get enough leafy greens and vegetables in their diets, which are packed with nutrients and vital minerals you need. Make sure you consume plenty of calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone density. Low-fat dairy products and many vegetables are excellent sources of calcium and many minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon are helpful, too—they decrease body inflammation. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains instead of simple ones, like white breads and refined sugars. Stick to lean meats over fatty ones, and look for alternate sources of protein like beans and legumes to supplement your diet, too.

Snacks to Skip

On the other hand, cutting out certain foods is important as well, particularly if you already live with conditions like diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or gout. Here are a few foods to cut back or skip entirely:

Alcohol – Alcohol is high in calories, decreases nerve functions, and is generally unhealthy. The more you cut back on drinking, the better your body, and your feet, will feel!

Refined sugars – Sweets in desserts, white breads, candies, and even refined grains in pasta and tortillas can raise your blood sugars sharply, so they should be kept to a minimum.

High fats – Fatty foods like chips, whole-fat dairy, and sweets can clog up your arteries and spike your blood sugars.

High purines – If you have gout, foods like red and organ meats, some types of seafood, and high-fat foods are packed with purines that can cause a painful flare-up.

Most people don’t consider how the food they eat impacts their foot health, but it does have a direct effect. The healthier you choose to eat, the better off your feet—and your whole body—will be. Don’t take your diet for granted! We do know it can be hard to make changes, but if you’re struggling with foot pain or conditions like gout or diabetes, our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. may be able to help you plan out what foods to eat and avoid. Make an appointment with us today through our website, or by calling (303) 805-5156 to reach our offices in Castle Pines, Parker, and Cherry Creek in Denver, CO.
Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC