Changing Your Diet for Your Foot Health

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

New Year’s resolutions are in full swing.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, though. Resolutions just aren’t that effective. In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, about 80 percent of resolutions made over the new year are in the dumpster by February!

The reasons for this can differ from person to person, but much of the time we are simply overwhelming ourselves. We try to make change happen immediately, which is hard for us humans, and it’s all too easy to feel discouraged.

So maybe, when thinking about making things better for yourself this year, don’t frame them as resolutions. Instead, gradually factor in some good changes and give yourself time to adjust.

One category where you can often make slow, effective changes is in your diet. If you suffer from certain types of foot pain and problems, what you eat can actually have an effect, and switching your diet up may help!

(And, as an added bonus, the rest of your body tends to benefit as well!)

Below, we’ll focus on a few conditions and how changes in diet might provide some help. Results will not always be the same for everyone, of course, and you should consult your primary care physician if you have any questions on whether certain changes in diet are best for you.

What you eat effects your foot health

Prepping for the Future

Even if everything feels A-OK right now, it pays to keep an eye turned toward the future. Your bone health may play a big factor in your life as you age, especially in your feet and ankles.

Osteoporosis can weaken your bones later in life, but a bone-healthy diet can be part of a good plan to slow or prevent the progression of this condition.

Calcium is the big headline-grabber when it comes to strong bones, and for good reason. Everyone needs a supply of calcium for bone health to replenish that which is naturally lost by the body.

However, calcium does not work best alone. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently, and makes a great team with the mineral. This is a big reason why you always tend to see “Vitamin D Enriched” milk!

Milk and other dairy products (such as yogurt and cheese) are a good source of both nutrients, but not everyone prefers it or is able to handle it well. And besides, it’s not good to rely on any one food for a supply of any nutrient!

Other good sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, almonds, beans, and figs. If you’re looking for more vitamin D, turn to salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Also, get some sun (whenever it’s actually out)!

If You Suffer from Inflammation

Research suggests that diet can have a significant effect on inflammation in the body. In the feet, inflammation can be a symptom of various forms of arthritis (including gout) as well as plantar fasciitis.

Avoiding certain foods can help reduce inflammation in some cases. Foods you may want to experiment cutting back on include refined grains, sugar, and trans fats. Saturated fats, such as those found in red meats, are also worth reducing.

Foods that lead to spikes in blood sugar may also increase inflammation. White flour, pastas, and various sweets could be on your list of reductions.

Something you should consume more of in your diet is omega-3 fats. These are found best in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, and can also be consumed as a supplement if fish isn’t really your thing. Omega-6 fats are more common in our diets, but are more likely to contribute to inflammation.

If Your Circulation is At Risk

Healthy circulation is essential to your feet.

It is already more of a challenge for your heart and blood vessels to supply your feet with the nutrients and oxygen they need, due to how far away they are on the body. Reducing circulation further increases risks of nerve damage in the feet as well as increased trouble in healing from injuries.

Both diabetes and peripheral artery disease (PAD) can damage our circulation, and often work hand-in-hand to do so.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, following the dietary guidelines you have been given should trump any other advice you receive (including all of what you’ve read here, if it goes against it!).

Reducing your risk of PAD, however, can include limiting your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium. A healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, and our old friend omega-3’s is recommended.

Making the Changes

You might have seen some running themes in these suggestions: more vegetables and fish acids; less saturated fats.

When it comes to many conditions, whether in the feet and ankles or elsewhere in your body, good diet recommendations tend to be effective across the board. This is a big plus. It makes things easier to remember in most cases!

The harder part, naturally, is making the changes you need. Unless you’re being ordered to make all changes immediately, your best route is to wean yourself off the things you should avoid by gradually replacing it them with better options. Doing so can help make the process feel a whole lot less miserable and leave you less likely to set yourself up for failure.

Again, and we can’t stress this enough, major dietary changes are something it is always best to discuss with your primary care physician, especially if you have a condition such as diabetes.

When it comes to foot and ankle issues, however, we hope you talk to us! Massapequa Podiatry Associates can help you get to the root of your problems and recommend a treatment plan that fits best with your individual needs. They involve lifestyle changes, yes, but may also include advanced treatments such as laser therapy or Tenex.

We wish you the best of luck in all your plans for 2019. If you need our help, simply call us at (516) 541-9000 or fill out our online contact form.

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