How Nutrition Can Affect Your Feet

How Nutrition Can Affect Your Feet

Eating certain foods can reduce the risk for inflammation and other diseases that can affect your feet.

A healthy diet can help manage chronic conditions that cause foot problems. When most people think about nutrition and health, they typically associate the food that they eat with weight management or heart health. But diet plays many important roles in overall health and can affect different parts of the body, even our feet, says Sherri Greene, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City who practices holistic foot care.

“When I explain to people that your feet are connected to the rest of your body, and what you put into your body is what makes up your body, then they get it,” Dr. Greene says.

Inflammation, Diet, and Your Feet

Medical research, including a review of studies published in October 2015 in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggests that what we eat can affect inflammation in the body, which is a risk factor for many chronic conditions.

“Generally, inflammation is a defense mechanism in the body that helps stop growth of abnormal cells, promotes healing of injured tissues, and signals cells to fight off viral and bacterial infections,” says Shilpi Agarwal, MD, a family physician in Washington, DC. “But when inflammation persists, it requires the body to recruit different mediators to protect the cells. When these mediators are present for prolonged periods of time, they can destroy healthy tissue and trigger disease.”

Inflammation is a common cause of foot pain associated with types of inflammatory arthritis such as psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. It can also strike the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot, causing the intense heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Many common foods are believed to encourage inflammation, such as the refined grains, sugar, and trans fats in 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, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

People may also develop increased levels of inflammation in their bodies due to chronic allergies to common foods such as wheat, Greene says. One 2014 case study suggests that eliminating the protein gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye may benefit patients with plantar fasciitis. The study reported the case of a woman whose plantar fasciitis went into remission when she maintained a gluten-free diet, but it did not prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship and only included one patient.

Another dietary factor that can contribute to inflammation is eating too many foods that cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, such as sweets, white flour, and pasta.

To reduce inflammation, Greene advises patients to eat more omega-3 fats. Fatty fish such as salmon, as well as fish oil supplements, are good sources of omega-3s, she says. Most people’s diets provide far more omega-6s than omega-3s, so a fish-rich diet can address this imbalance.

A healthy diet with anti-inflammatory benefits is rich in green vegetables and other fresh plant foods, and eliminates refined grain foods and sugary treats.

Osteoporosis, Diet, and Your Feet

Many chronic conditions that affect the feet can be better managed by eating right. One such condition is osteoporosis, a disease of progressive bone loss.

Osteoporosis is associated with an increased risk of fractures, and one of the first signs of the disease is often a stress fracture in the foot. Increasing your dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D can decrease the risk of a fracture, as can other lifestyle changes like regular exercise.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are among the best dietary sources of calcium. But remember that saturated fats, which are found in full-fat dairy products, are on the list of things that can increase inflammation.

You can also get dietary calcium from some green vegetables; and many products such as certain cereals, breads, and juices contain added calcium. Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna.

Peripheral Artery Disease, Diet, and Your Feet

Two common conditions that affect millions of Americans’ feet are peripheral artery disease and diabetes. These conditions can damage arteries that bring blood to your lower extremities.

One of the ways peripheral artery disease (PAD) is diagnosed is by comparing the blood pressure in your feet to the blood pressure in your arms. This test, known as an ankle-brachial index (ABI), determines how well blood is flowing. According to the American Heart Association, the ankle pressure is normally at least 90 percent of the arm pressure, but with severe narrowing it may be less than 50 percent.

Common symptoms of peripheral artery disease may include discomfort in the muscles of your feet. In severe cases, patients have extreme pain or tingling in the feet or toes.

A diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, while also rich in fruits and vegetables, can help reduce your risk of peripheral artery disease, according to the American Heart Association. A January 2015 study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery also recommends consuming omega-3s as a way to lower the risk of peripheral artery disease.

Diabetes, Diet, and Your Feet

Like peripheral artery disease, diabetes can cause many types of foot problems, from skin changes to nerve damage, or neuropathy. According to the National Institutes of Health, as much as 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. Symptoms may include burning pain, tingling, or weakness in the feet.

An estimated 1 out of every 3 people with diabetes over age 50 also has peripheral artery disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

A healthy diet is one of the keys to controlling blood sugar levels and managing your diabetes. A diabetes diet, like any healthy eating plan, means eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and moderate amounts of whole grains and healthy fats.

Weight, Diet, and Your Feet

Given that your feet bear the weight of your entire body, it’s not surprising that being overweight can lead to foot problems. Excess body weight increases your chances of a variety of painful conditions in the feet.

Besides the other benefits of a healthy diet, weight management can help avoid or manage conditions affecting the feet. “Even 25 extra pounds can tip the scales to more problems in the foot and ankle,” says James Mahoney, DPM, an associate professor of podiatric surgery at Des Moines University in Iowa.

Credit / view source: https://www.everydayhealth.com/foot-health/nutrition-and-your-feet.aspx

By  Eric Metcalf, MPH

Medically Reviewed by  Justin Laube, MD

How to Sooth Dry and Cracked Heels Naturally

How to Sooth Dry and Cracked HeelsCracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are not only a cosmetic issue, but can also lead to more serious medical issues. Heel fissures occur when the skin on the bottom, outer edge of the heel becomes hard, dry and flaky, sometimes causing deep fissures that can be painful or bleed.

Heel fissures can affect anyone, but risk factors include: Living in a dry climate, obesity, consistently walking barefoot or wearing sandals or open-backed shoes. Like many foot conditions, heel fissures can become more dangerous if they go untreated and become deep or infected. If you have Diabetes or a compromised immune system, it is especially important to ensure you check your feet for cracks or sores.

If you already have dry heels, there is still hope. Here is my regimen that I find helpful for smooth, healthy heels.

  • Deep clean/soak your feet: Soaking your feet using the foot soak recipe below. Be sure to clean all the spaces on your feet with a washcloth, including the areas in between your toes.
  • Exfoliate: Using a bristle brush, exfoliate your feet and ankles. Start at the ankle area and brush in a circular motion to the tips of your toes, working your way around the top and the bottom of the feet. Yo can also use a pumice stone. Be sure not to be aggressive when exfoliating, or you can do more harm than good.
  • Moisturize: Using a thick, creamy lotion or mask, coat the feet and let the moisturizer sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping off with a warm washcloth. If possible do all of this before bed, then put on soft, cotton socks immediately after applying moisturizer.

How to Sooth Dry and Cracked Heels

Foot Soak Recipe

1 cup of Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops tea tree essential oil
2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
2 drops chamomile essential oil
Mix oils and store in a dark glass jar

To create the soak: pour boiling water into a large bowl, and let it cool down to a comfortable temperature. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the cleansing foot soak mixture, and soak feet for up to 15 minutes.

As with any condition, prevention is always easier than treatment, so be sure to regularly care for your feet to avoid any extreme issues that come from neglect over time.

Article courtesy of Trina Kincey ~ Integrative Health Coach ~ Owner of Get Real Wellness, LLC

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.

3 Relieving Massages For Pressure Points On Feet

It began with Chinese medicine

‘Tis the season of tired feet! With holiday and end of year crunch time in full swing, it’s useful know there is a quick and easy path to relief in minutes. Few things feel better than a foot massage that warms tissues, increases circulation, and carries off metabolic waste. In fact, ancient practices and a growing body of medical research even suggest that massaging specific pressure points on your feet can heal conditions affecting entirely different parts of your body.

The belief that putting pressure on certain areas of your feet can heal ailments elsewhere is called reflexology. It stems from traditional Chinese medicine. “The idea is that energy, called ‘chi,’ flows through the body along particular pathways, or meridians,” says Denis Merkas, an acupuncturist and massage therapist who co-founded Melt: Massage for Couples with his wife, Emma. “When there’s a problem in the body, we’re usually talking about blockages of chi.”

Does science back it up?

The science behind reflexology remains unclear, but a great deal of research shows that it is effective at soothing and managing pain. In 2014, an audit of British physiotherapists found that reflexology was effective at reducing pain and inducing relaxation in people with chronic pain. Studies also show that foot massage can help reduce pain after breast surgery. Further studies show that reflexology can reduce anxiety in people about to undergo medical testing or hospitalization.

Foot massage for anxiety

Here are Merkas’s instructions for a foot massage that can lower anxiety.

  1. Curl your toes. You should see a small depression just below the ball of your foot.
  2. Place the pad of your thumb on this depression.
  3. Hold on to the top of your foot with your other hand.
  4. Massage the area in small circles.
  5. Alternate this with holding the area firmly and pressing down.

One study showed that people with low back pain saw better results with reflexology than with massage of the lower back itself.

If you want to treat your back to some reflexology, focus the massage on the arches of your feet and follow these steps:

  1. Concentrate on the pressure points in your arches. Merkas suggests using a few drops of oil or lotion for lubrication.
  2. Moving from the heel to the toes, alternate moving your thumbs in a series of short strokes.

“You can also use your thumbs to press in and ‘cat walk’ along the arch, like a cat making its bed,” says Merkas.

Foot massage for general pain

Myofascial release therapy targets the thin tissue that covers your muscles, bones, and organs. The pain in these tissues originates at trigger points that are hard to localize, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Self-treatment is something I encourage all my clients to do,” says Rachel Gottesman, OTR/L, owner of Body Ease Therapy. “I use myofascial release therapy and it works by gentle, sustained pressure on areas of restrictions.” Gottesman suggests thinking of the myofascial tissues as a three-dimensional, interconnected web. Tightness in one place, like your feet, can pull the web out of place in other spots.

To perform myofascial release, follow these steps:

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair or on a sofa.
  2. Place a golf or tennis ball on the floor, just under your foot.
  3. Roll the ball around with your foot until you find a sensitive spot, or pressure point.
  4. Press down with your foot just enough to feel the point soften.
  5. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Don’t continue to roll the ball — that doesn’t allow the pressure to go deep enough.

The takeaway

There’s mounting evidence to suggest that massaging your feet’s pressure points could be good for your health. And scientific opinion aside, it certainly feels good! Enjoy exploring your pressure points and learn which angles and how much pressure suit you.

A special note for people with diabetes: Check with a doctor before massaging, since diabetic nerve damage could be affected by pressure.

One thing is certain, our feet do take a beating, and deep massage can make them feel so good that you forget about other aches and pains.