You are what you eat. Or rather, the state of health throughout your body is a direct result of what you eat. Because of the association between diet and disease, most people think that the foods they consume only affect the primary organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys, liver, eyes, etc. They tend to think less about how nutrition affects other important parts of the body, such as the feet.
The health of the bones in the feet is very important to the whole body. This is because one-quarter of the bones in the body are found in the feet and ankles. The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. You need to protect these bones from conditions that can affect them adversely. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a gradual loss of bone and increases the risk of fractures. It is normally diagnosed after a fracture occurs.
What you eat can greatly help in preventing and protecting your feet from this condition. One of the ways you can do this is by eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Good sources of calcium and vitamin D include sardines, leafy green vegetables like collard greens and spinach, orange juice, soy milk, cereals, beef liver, egg yolks, and fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon. If you aren’t lactose-intolerant, dairy sources like low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese can be beneficial.
Avoiding Inflammatory Foods
Foods rich in refined grains, sugar and trans fats found in baked and junk foods, saturated fat in red meat, Omega-6 fats in used vegetable oils such as corn, soybean and sunflower oils can cause inflammation. This can manifest in your foot as plantar fasciitis – a disease condition that causes a stabbing pain in the tissue along the bottom of your foot and heel. It is common in older people, as well as those who are always on their feet.
You can also get inflammation by eating foods that cause your blood sugar to rise fast such as white flour, sweets and pasta.
To combat inflammation, one of the best things you can do is to switch to a more plant-based diet. This is a diet where most calories come from whole, plant-based foods (not necessarily vegetarian or vegan). So, instead of a meat- and starch-heavy diet, you would consume more vegetables (Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, spinach and watercress), nuts (walnuts, chia-seeds, hemp seeds, almond and flaxseeds), fruits (cherries, blueberries and strawberries), whole grains, fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel) and healthy oils. In addition to reducing inflammation, a plant-based diet can help reduce cravings for better weight management.
Feeling all the Feels
Most diabetic patients experience problems in their foot. This includes diabetic neuropathy. It occurs when a nerve is damaged, which results in swelling and inflammation. The patient experiences numbness, tingling and burning sensations in the foot. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises diabetic patients to eat a diet high in beans, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and a few fats and sweets.
At Houston Foot and Ankle Care, we treat and correct foot problems that require our expertise. However, there is a lot that every patient can do to improve their individual outlook, in all areas of prevention, management and recovery. Nutrition is one of the simplest areas where you can exert a lot of positive influence in your outcome.
Remember that pain is not normal. The presence of pain, or the loss of function or mobility is a warning sign that should be seen by an experienced Houston podiatrist like Dr. Gabriel Maislos. You can call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment. We accept most major medical insurance, and offer same-day and next-day appointments.