What role does diet play when it comes to the health of your feet?
March is National Nutrition Month and with half of Canadians (52%) over the age of 20 living with a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to reducing those numbers.
The food you eat not only affects your waistline, but your diet also has a direct link to your foot health.
Extra weight means extra pressure on the joints and bones of your feet. Several foot conditions, such as flat feet, hammertoes and bunions can be made significantly worse by carrying excess weight.
A stress fracture in the foot is often the first sign of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by the loss of bone tissue. It can develop unnoticed over many years without any signs or symptoms. For that reason, calcium is essential during growth years to build up reserves and later in life to maintain bone quality. Calcium rich foods include dairy products, sardines or salmon with bones and green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Vitamin D is also vital to improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium or vitamin d from your diet or lifestyle, talk to your doctor about taking supplements.
Inflammation is a factor of several foot conditions including plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and gout. There are many common foods known to encourage inflammation such as the refined grains, sugar, and trans fats in many baked goods and junk foods; the saturated fat in red meat; and the omega-6 fats found in many commonly used vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower oils.
Eating more green vegetables, plant based foods and omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, can provide anti-inflammatory benefits to your feet and overall health.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when plaque made up of fat and cholesterol builds up in the arteries restricting blood flow to the arteries of the legs and feet. Because the legs and feet of someone with PAD do not have normal blood flow—and because blood is necessary for healing—seemingly small problems such as cuts, blisters, or sores can result in serious complications.
A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium and rich in omega-3, fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease.
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet but a healthy diet can help to prevent future complications.It is important to avoid sugars and starch while maintaining a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables and lean meats to help keep blood sugar levels under control. For more diet and nutrition advice, visit the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements or making any major dietary changes.