Making Your Feet Work For You

How What You Eat Affects The Health Of Your Feet

You probably already know that your dietary choices can impact the health of your heart and joints, but did you know that what you eat can affect the health of your feet? Many people simply take their feet for granted -- until, of course, the day comes when they experience foot pain or problems that can no longer be ignored. Following a proper diet can help keep your feet functional and healthy. Following are several types of foods you should include in your normal dietary routine for the good of your feet.

Dairy and Leafy Green Vegetables

Osteoporosis and other bone problems are the result of not getting enough dietary calcium. Although most people equate this with hip and leg fractures, it also significantly affects the feet -- after all, the feet contain 26 bones. Dairy and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of calcium, but getting enough calcium can be difficult, so talk with your doctor about the possibility of supplements if you aren't sure that you're getting enough. Also, many people mistakenly believe that vitamin D tablets will provide them with the added calcium their bodies require, but this is not the case -- vitamin D just helps the body process available calcium. Fortunately, calcium-rich foods also contain significant vitamin D.

Omega 3s

Diets that are high in saturated fats and refined sugar can cause inflammation in body tissues, and this can result in serious foot problems. If you've noticed swelling in your feet for no apparent reason, take a good look at your diet to see if too many saturated fats and other foods that can cause inflammation may be the culprits. One of the most common conditions caused by inflamed tissues is known as plantar fascilitis -- those afflicted generally feel pain in their heel upon standing and walking, and the heel may also be noticeably swollen. This condition can cause substantial pain, and although diet alone can't cause or correct it, adding anti-inflammatory foods such as those containing omega-3 acids to your daily diet can help decrease and manage it. Studies have shown that omega-3 acids inhibit the production of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which produces the prostaglandin hormones that cause inflammation.

Foods that are high in omega-3s include salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel. The American Diabetic Association recommends two eight-ounce servings of these fish per week. Talk with your health care professional about supplements if you don't care for seafood.

Oatmeal and Other Whole Grains

Because Type II diabetes can cause serious nerve damage in feet, it's important to eat a diet that doesn't contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. Unsweetened oatmeal can help keep blood sugar levels in check because it's got a high soluble fiber content, making it slower to digest and therefore less likely to cause blood sugar to rise. It's also naturally low in calories, and the soluble fiber makes people feel full for longer periods of time, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to lose weight. Keeping weight levels down is a key component of avoiding developing Type II diabetes. Other foods that can help regulate blood sugar levels include the following:

  • Broccoli, spinach, and green beans. High in fiber and low in calories, these foods are perfect for those trying to avoid or control Type II diabetes.
  • Lean cuts of meat, poultry, and fish. These high-protein foods don't have the blood-sugar spiking capabilities of their carbohydrate-heavy counterparts.
  • Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. These berries all make excellent options for those craving sweets, rather than candy bars or other refined sugar-laden treats. Berries are naturally low in carbohydrates, and their high water content helps people feel fuller longer.

Keep in mind that your feet can provide one of the first warning signs of the onset of Type II diabetes. Tingling, weakness, lack of proper reflexes, cramping, unexplained pain, sensitivity to touch, and ulcers or infections in the foot are all cause to see your health care professional or a foot specialist as soon as possible.