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:

By  Eric Metcalf, MPH

Medically Reviewed by  Justin Laube, MD

Feet Check for Diabetics

Feet Check Will Detect Feet UlcersIt is a scary and troubling fact that people with diabetes are 15 times more likely to require a possible amputation. These amputation surely applies to your feet. More and more people with diabetes can receive feet checks in hospitals around the world.

According to, in the United States alone, approximately 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes. This statistics was recorded in 2010. Of this number, approximately 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations among people aged 20 years or older occur in people with diagnosed diabetes.

Diabetes  is the leading cause of lower-limb amputation. Diabetes reduces the amount of blood reaching the feet. This lack of blood leads to a loss of sensation in your feet. This lost of feeling often leads to bigger problems such as: injuries, ulcers, infection and ultimately gangrene. Gangrene is known to be the ultimate case and can be avoided with preventive care. Early detection is paramount.

“CPR for Feet” in Scotland – Feet Check

This new feet check is called “CPR for Feet”. It is aimed at identifying any diabetic patients with a foot ulcer or patients who are facing the risks to develop foot ulcers. When doing feet checks, the physician will be doing the following functions:

Check – When a patient with diabetes is admitted to hospital their feet should be checked for any existing foot ulcers.

Protect – If a patient has had a previous foot problem or is at risk of developing a foot problem  care should be taken to protect the patient’s feet.

Refer – Patients who have a current foot ulcer and those at high risk of developing a foot ulcer during their stay in hospital should be referred to the Podiatry Department.

Doctors in Scotland and even around the world are adamant that the impact of having a limb amputated can be devastating and can dramatically change someone’s life. However in many cases this is avoidable.

“That is why we are so committed to ensuring that people with diabetes have access to the best possible care so that the risks of amputation are minimized. The diabetes community have already made great progress – more people than ever before are now getting their feet checked and access to the care and support they need, stated Scotland’s Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson.

Matheson further added: “The new ‘CPR for Feet’ – Feet Check program will offer new foot care  checks in hospital to everyone with a diagnosis of diabetes to determine their risk of developing foot disease, and gives them the information and support that they need to reduce that risk.”

The feet checks have existed in Scotland since 2013 and continue to flourish. One patient, 48 years-old Iain Bone from Glasgow was diagnosed with diabetes 18 years ago. He experienced multiple complications from his illness. Complications such as serious damage to his nerve system and infected ulcers on his feet occurred in the past. In September 2010 Iain had surgery to remove two toes and improve the blood flow to his foot, without which clinicians say he would have lost his foot. In a press statement he says:”One morning I woke up and noticed an ulcer on my heel. I went to the chiropodist straight away and they tried to get it to heal over the next few weeks.”

However it wouldn’t heal due to the lack of a blood supply in the foot caused by diabetes. Iain then developed a second ulcer on his foot, which was not healing either and both ulcers became infected.

“Having two toes removed was a much better outcome than where I was heading at that point. I’m just so pleased that everything is back on track.”

He now checks his feet every day.

Feet Checks

According to Diabetes UK, it is estimated that Scotland is well ahead of the rest of the UK with regards to Footcare for diabetic.

Globally, it is agreed amongst physicians for people with diabetes to check their own feet every day and to seek immediate medical advice if they notice:

  • Swelling
  • Changes in skin color;
  • Sores or cuts that do not heal;
  • Skin  that feels hot to touch; and
  • Difficulty in moving the foot

These could all indicate poor circulation, an infection, the early stages of an ulcer or gangrene.


Seniors Need Regular Podiatrist Check-Ups

As we get older, we tend to develop certain systemic conditions such as diabetes or any other vascular diseases. These conditions can develop into further complications in our extremities. Therefore, regular podiatrist check-ups are a necessity.

Podiatrist Check-Ups for SeniorsOne of the symptoms noted with people suffering from diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a symptom of diabetes where people loses the sensation in their feet. This loss of sensation will affect proper walking and their balance. This loss of balance will further results in unwanted falls.

According to Dr. John Dailey, from the Missouri Foot & Ankle Institute in Washington, MO, seniors must be aware of circulation problems in their extremities. He further explains these circulatory problems can also cause injuries. An insufficient blood supply will result in ulcerated and painful conditions. This low blood supply will slow down the healing process.

“Usually, older patients see me when a problem has occurred, but preventive care would be better,” Dailey says. “Billions of dollars were spent last year on treating conditions of the lower extremities as a result of diabetes. Good preventive care could save money and help people avoid pain and suffering.”

Dailey is quick at stating that seniors need frequent and regular podiatric check-ups with their family doctors. His prescribed preventive regimen enhance the senior’s well-being while quickly finding out what is wrong. His regular check-ups enbles seniors to find out ahead what are the cause of poor circulation or imbalance when walking.

Regular Podiatrist Check-Ups Are A Necessity

“I suggest everyone see a podiatrist for a preventive exam, just like you would see your primary-care physician on a regular basis,” he says. “Those who have health conditions should be checked twice a year. We may take x-rays, examine how you walk, and make sure you’re wearing appropriate shoes, says Dailey.”

There is no doubt senior’s feet need regular exams. In a way their feet can tell what other things may be going wrong. Visit your podiatrist or local family doctor today and ensure your feet are healthy and nothing else is wrong.