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

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.

7 Ways To Keep Your Feet Fit And Smooth

Ways To Keep Your Feet FitAs you walk, run or hustle from place to place your feet are busy rejuvenating themselves to keep serving you for all your years. So when it comes to your foot’s skin there’s a method to keeping them fit, neat, and feeling great. Dead or loose skin forming on the feet  is your foot’s way of naturally exfoliating and shedding dead skin cells.

What causes dead skin on the feet?

Dead skin can build up because of a lack of moisture if your feet are constantly in closed shoes or socks, or from the friction of walking or running. It can also form if you don’t regularly care for, exfoliate, or scrub your feet.

Dead skin on the bottom of your foot may appear dry, cracked, or loose or hanging. It’s usually not painful unless it’s a result of athlete’s foot, eczema, or another type of infection.

If you suspect that’s the case, see your doctor for treatment. Otherwise, you may want to remove dead skin for cosmetic reasons or because it’s more comfortable.

Here are some options for removing dead skin.

Methods Available to Yo

Pumice Stone

A pumice stone is a natural lava stone that can help remove dead skin and callouses from your feet.

To use:

  • Dip the pumice stone in warm water. You can also soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes to soften them.
  • Gently move the stone in a circular or sideways motion around your foot to remove dead skin. Focus on removing the top layer of the skin and not the entire area of dead skin, which will help promote healthy cell turnover.
  • Apply lotion or oil afterward to help soften your feet.

Never use a pumice stone on injured or sore areas.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin Wax

Many nail salons offer paraffin wax as an add-on for a pedicure treatment. Paraffin wax is a soft wax that’s melted at a medium temperature of around 125°F (51°C). The wax shouldn’t be hot enough to burn or irritate your skin.

You can also do a paraffin wax treatment at home using an at-home paraffin wax bath, or you can melt the wax in a sauce pan and then transfer it to a bowl for dipping your feet.

During a paraffin wax treatment, you’ll dip your feet in the wax several times. After several layers of wax are applied, wrap your feet in plastic.

After the wax hardens, you can remove the wax. Any dead skin on your feet will be removed along with the wax. Your feet should feel soft afterward.

Do not use paraffin wax if:

  • you have poor blood circulation
  • you have a rash or open sore on your feet
  • you’ve lost feeling in your feet, such as from diabetic neuropathy

If you use paraffin wax at home, be very cautious and monitor the temperature of the wax with a candy thermometer.

Foot Scrub

Most pharmacies and drug stores sell different foot scrubs over the counter. Look for one with granules that will help scrub away dead skin.

Or, you can even make your own by diluting two tablespoons of sea salt into equal amounts of baby oil and lemon juice.

To use a foot scrub, apply the scrub directly to your foot and rub gently with your palm. Or use with a foot scrub brush or sponge to remove dead skin.

Rinse scrub thoroughly with warm water after use.

Oatmeal Scrub

You can use oatmeal to make an at-home exfoliator to remove dead skin.

To make the scrub, mix equal parts oatmeal with rose water or milk to make a paste. To use:

  • Apply the scrub to your feet and let set for up to 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Use a foot brush to exfoliate your feet.
  • Rinse with cold water and let your feet dry.
  • Apply a foot cream.

Perform this treatment every other day for best results.

Epsom Salt Soak or Scrub

Epsom salt is a crystal form of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate is a mineral compound. You can soak your feet in Epsom salt that’s dissolved in water. It can help exfoliate and smooth dry, cracked feet. This, in turn, may help remove dead skin.

To use:

  • Create an Epsom salt soak by pouring 1/2 cup of salt into a footbath or a full cup into a bathtub full of warm water.
  • Relax and soak for up to 20 minutes.
  • You may use a pumice stone or foot brush after to help remove dry skin.

To create an Epsom salt scrub for your feet, in the shower or bath, mix a handful of Epsom salt with a tablespoon of bath or olive oil in your hand or on a bath sponge.

Rub gently over wet skin to exfoliate, soften, and remove dead skin before rinsing off with water.

Vinegar Soak

Vinegar soaks may help soften feet and allow you to remove dead, dry, or cracked skin.

You can use almost any type of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar are popular options, and you may already have them in your kitchen.

Use cool water to create the soak, as hot water may dry out the skin more. Use 1 parts vinegar to 2 parts water as a general guideline. Soak feet for 5 to 10 minutes to start.

If desired, follow the soak by using a pumice stone to remove dry or loose skin using the guidelines above. Apply moisturizer, petroleum jelly, or coconut oil before putting on socks to seal in moisture after doing a vinegar soak.

Only do this treatment a few times a week as it can be further drying on the skin.

Baby Foot Peel

Baby Foot Peel is a popular, 1-hour, at-home treatment to remove dead skin and smooth your feet.

To use, you’ll apply the provided plastic “booties” to your feet for up to one hour. They contain a gel solution of fruit acid and other moisturizers that may help dead skin “shed” from your feet.

Follow all instructions for use on the package:

  • After wetting your feet, you’ll secure the plastic “booties” to your feet with adhesive tape.
  • Leave the booties on for up to one hour.
  • Remove booties and wash your feet gently with soap and water.

You’ll need to wet your feet daily in order for peeling to occur over the next three to seven days.

While there haven’t been any scientific studies supporting the benefits or efficacy of this treatment, it has a very popular following online of loyal users.

Baking Soda – Use with Caution

Baking soda is a popular at-home treatment for the removal of dead skin from the feet. But some dermatologists warn that baking soda can be irritating, cause redness, and dry out the skin further. That’s because it may disrupt the skin’s natural pH balance. If you have any skin sensitivities or allergies, don’t use baking soda on your feet. Always check with your doctor or podiatrist before trying out a new treatment.

If you decide to use baking soda, only use a small amount (2-3 tablespoons) in a full footbath of warm water for 10-20 minutes. After your soak, gently use a pumice stone or foot brush using the method mentioned above to remove dead skin. Apply plenty of moisturizer after. If you experience any redness or irritation while soaking your feet, immediately remove them from the solution.

Lemon Water Soak

The acidity in lemon may help remove dead skin cells from your feet. However, similarly to baking soda, using lemon on your feet may interfere with the skin’s natural pH balance and lead to more dryness and dead skin.

Avoid lemon if you:

  • have any cuts or open sores on your foot
  • have sensitive skin
  • experience any redness and irritation

Check with a podiatrist or dermatologist before using lemon, or if you have any questions or concerns.

If you decide to use this method:

  • Prepare a footbath with warm water.
  • Squeeze in lemon juice from one lemon. You can also leave pieces of lemon peel in the water.
  • Soak your feet for up to 15 minutes.
  • Use a foot brush to scrub dead skin off your feet.
  • Wash and dry your feet completely. Apply a moisturizer or coconut oil, if desired.

Razor or scraper? No Way!

Only allow a podiatrist or other trained medical professional to remove a callous or dead skin from your foot with a razor or scraper.

Do not use razors or scrapers on your feet at home. Doing so could cause damage to your foot or introduce another medical issue.

For example, if you accidentally cut yourself, you’re at risk for a bacterial infection.

If you’re concerned about removing dry or dead skin, see your doctor for alternative medication or at-home treatments.

How to prevent dry skin on the feet

The best way to prevent dead skin from forming on your feet is to moisturize regularly.

Ask a podiatrist to recommend therapeutic oils, ointments, or creams to help prevent your skin from drying out.

Avoid lotions that contain alcohol, which may dry out your feet more. Baby oil or petroleum jelly are usually safe.

Soak your feet a few times a week and use a pumice stone or foot brush to gently exfoliate off dead skin.

Avoid hot showers or baths, and rinse in warm water to prevent skin from drying.

Some Final Thoughts

Dead skin is usually nothing to worry about. It can often be removed at home.

Always see your doctor or podiatrist if you have an excessive amount of dead skin, callouses, cracked skin, wounds, or rashes that don’t go away on their own or with home remedies.

View source at https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-remove-dead-skin-from-feet