At Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC, we want our patients to know that your podiatric health is connected to the overall health of your entire body. Your feet don’t operate in isolation from the rest of you. That’s why National Nutrition Month is a good opportunity to explore some of the ways that food affects foot and ankle health. Our foot and ankle surgeons Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight and Dr. Marzana Mleczko can tell you about ways that diet can affect a podiatric condition you may have. Below are 4 ways that food choices can positively impact the health of your lower extremities:
1. Prevent/Control Diabetes—diabetes affects roughly 30 million Americans. This disease has serious health consequences for your feet. Neuropathy or loss of sensation commonly associated with the disease can result in injuries and infections in the foot that go undetected. Combine this with decreased circulation which normally aids in healing, and you’ve got a damaging combination. Reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet can greatly decrease the risk or delay the onset of diabetes, as well as help regulate blood sugar levels if you are diabetic. Eating a diet low in added sugar and unhealthy fats can also reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure—two other diseases that can be harmful to your feet.
2. Reduce Inflammation—many foot disorders are painful due to inflammation. These include plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and sesamoiditis, to name just a few. Research shows that there are foods that increase and decrease the inflammatory response in our bodies. Avoid fried foods, refined flours and sugars and increase the amount of dark leafy greens, berries, orange juice, nuts and fatty fish in your diet to help with inflammation.
3. Avoid Gout Attacks—there’s a direct connection between what you eat and gout. Gout, the extremely painful inflammation of a joint (often the big toe joint), can be triggered by red meat, red wine, organ meats, beer, rich sauces and shellfish. If you are susceptible to this condition, avoiding these foods may prevent future attacks.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight—being overweight increases your risk for many foot disorders. It can also make the pain and discomfort from existing conditions much worse due to the increased strain put on your foot and ankle joints from carrying extra pounds. In addition, being overweight or obese can make you less likely to be physically active, which further contributes to weight problems and poor physical condition.