When you think about nutrition, you always think about weight loss or heart health, never your feet. However, what you eat has a lot to do with how your feet feel and act.
Dr. Sherri Greene, a podiatrist in New York City says "When I explain to people that your feet are connected to the rest of your body, and what you put into you makes up your body, they're like 'Wow!' When they feel better after they change their diet, then they get it."
Certain foods can increase chemicals in your body that cause tissue inflammation. Inflammation in the feet can appear in your foot as plantar fasciitis, or heel pain. Foods such as refined grains, sugar, and trans fat in many baked goods and junk food, saturated fat in red meat, and omega-6 fats found in vegetable oils.
Other people may have increased levels of inflammation in their bodies due to chronic allergies to common foods like wheat. As well, eating too many foods that cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, like sweets, white flour, and pasta will also cause inflammation.
To reduce inflammation, you can make the following changes to your diet:
- Eat more omega-3 fats. Fatty fish like salmon, as well as fish oil supplements are good sources of omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation. Nutrition experts say there should be a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
- A general diet makeover. Following an overall healthier diet, like eating more green vegetables and other fresh plant foods, can provide anti-inflammatory benefits to your feet.
Two common conditions that affect millions of Americans' feet are peripheral artery disease and diabetes. Each of these conditions can harm your feet by damaging arteries that bring blood to your lower extremities. Good nutrition can also help protect your feet from these conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of PAD. A 2008 study in the Journal of Vascular Surgery specifically found that omega-3s were associated with a lower risk of peripheral arterial disease.
If you have diabetes, a healthy diet can help protect your feet from complications of that condition as well. In general, the NIH recommends a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, lean meats, and a limited amount of fats and sweets for people with diabetes.