“You are what you eat.”
Okay, this common saying isn’t exactly true. But it is true that your diet makes a huge difference. Eating healthy foods and balanced meals keeps your whole body fitter, more energized, and more effective. That includes not only things like your brain and heart and lungs, but your feet, too!
Feet and ankles, sadly, are often overlooked when it comes to all aspects of health care and maintenance, including diet. Yet your feet are your foundation, and the task they have to accomplish each day—getting you up, moving, and accomplishing your daily activities—is massive.
Your diet affects your feet both directly and indirectly—or in other words, what you eat can both have a direct impact on foot health, or can lead to secondary conditions that make feet more vulnerable. Consider the following examples.
- Certain foods, especially refined sugars and trans fats, increase inflammation throughout the body, including the feet. That could be a contributing factor to inflammatory conditions such as plantar fasciitis, the most common form of heel pain.
- Poor diet is a major contributing factor to system conditions such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and peripheral artery disease. These conditions are especially brutal on your feet and can cause them to lose their sensitivity to touch or pain, reduce their ability to fight off infection or close wounds, and ultimately contribute to infections that may lead to amputation.
- Obesity comes with many health risks, including the feet. When you walk, your feet have to absorb an impact force that can actually equal several times your own body weight. The heavier you are, the more pressure you put on your feet, which can lead to overuse injuries or progressive foot deformities such as collapsed arches.
- Diets that are poor in calcium and Vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that leads to weakened, brittle bones. This makes feet much more susceptible to both acute and stress fractures.
- Diets that are high in purines, which the body breaks down into uric acid, can cause painful gout flare-ups in your big toe, or other joints.