There is a common idiom which states, “You are what you eat.” Most people understand this to mean that the foods you consume affect your body, especially when it comes to weight management, heart health, and other direct effects that the components of the food items (fats, calorie count, etc.) have on your body. Every food that an individual puts into their body affects all aspects of the body. This includes your feet!
When you are experiencing foot, heel, toe, or ankle pain of any kind, that can have a severe effect on the rest of your body and make every activity you attempt to do extremely difficult. The foods you consume are one of the various elements which can increase your risk factors for serious foot pain.
Whether you are an infant or a senior citizen, the foods you consume directly affect your body, including your feet. Depending on the types of food you eat, these effects can be positive or negative. Foods such as saturated fat, trans fats, sugar, and refined grains may all contribute to conditions causing foot pain.
It is essential for your overall health and your feet that you are eating a healthy diet. Avoiding foods that can increase inflammation for conditions such as gout and rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis or foods known for restricting blood flow throughout the body will positively impact your foot health.
To better understand how foods can cause foot pain and affect your overall foot health, let’s look at some of the most common conditions which can be impacted by the foods you consume. These include inflammation, excess body weight, and chronic diseases.
Chronic conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis are often accompanied by inflammation. It is one of your body’s defense mechanisms designed to stop the growth of abnormal cells, promote healing, and tell the proper cells to fight off viral and bacterial infections. Eventually, if inflammation persists for too long, the mediators recruited to protect healthy cells end up destroying them.
For individuals with the types of chronic conditions mentioned above or plantar fasciitis (pain in the thick band of tissue across the bottom of the foot – the plantar fascia), the inflammation can lead to serious foot pain.
To discourage the increase in inflammation within your body, doctors recommend avoiding eating foods with sugar, refined grains, saturated fat (red meat), trans fats (baked goods and junk food), omega-6 fats (vegetable oils, sunflower oils, and other oils), salt, alcohol, and gluten (wheat, barley).
Because your foot and ankle structure on both legs provide your body with its foundation, that means that they also bear the brunt of your weight. Your feet are designed to support you, which is why there is a clear support structure in place through the ankles and leg muscles. However, they can only withstand a certain amount of pressure caused by your body’s weight.
Suppose the foods you consume, your lifestyle (regular exercise), and your medical conditions have contributed to excess body weight. Reducing the extra weight from your body can significantly impact your feet and seriously reduce the discomfort you may feel, such as heel pain or arch pain. In that case, it can have serious negative effects on your feet.
Conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and various issues are affected by the consumed foods. In the case of osteoporosis, the condition is characterized by progressive bone loss and comes with an increased risk of fractures, especially in the feet. Consumption of foods rich in Calcium and vitamin D such as full-fat dairy products (though these have ample saturated fats), green vegetables, bread, juices, and fatty fish can reduce the risk of these fractures.
Diabetes, which deals with blood sugar levels, can also affect your feet. Patients often have skin changes, nerve damage/nerve pain, and neuropathy in the feet. All of these symptoms can contribute to burning pain, tingling, and weakness in the feet. Controlling diabetes means creating a healthy diet of lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and a small number of grains.
With peripheral artery disease (PAD), doctors compare the blood pressure in the feet with the blood pressure in your arms to determine the quality of blood flow. If a patient has PAD, they may experience common symptoms, including discomfort in feet muscles and severe pain or tingling in the feet or toes. As with other conditions, reducing the number of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium in your diet can reduce the risk of PAD and its symptoms.
As we have discussed, certain foods increase the risks of particular conditions known for affecting your foot and ankle health. Whether you want to reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of a stress fracture, or improve your overall health, changing your diet is one of the best ways to do so.
Here are some of the best foods to consume to prevent foot pain that doctors typically associate with serious conditions:
It is also best to discuss your health plan with your family physician and an experienced podiatrist to ensure your foot pain is reduced.
If you are a resident in Utah County who is experiencing severe foot and ankle pain, you may be feeling the effects of a poor diet. Contact our skilled podiatrists at Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute to discuss how food can negatively impact the health of your feet and the treatments for your foot conditions. Call us at 801-756-4200 today to make an appointment!