No food you eat has a direct impact on your feet. Your diet can cause health issues, though, which make you more likely to experience joint pain, poor blood flow and nerve damage -- all of which can make foot pain happen. If you have diabetes, too much sugar in your blood can cause serious foot problems; while gout, which results from a buildup of uric-acid crystals, can also be caused by diet. For healthy feet, avoid foods that have an excess of added sugar, saturated fats or man-made preservatives and stick to whole foods.
Diabetes and the Feet
If you have diabetes, it's critical to keep your blood glucose levels as close as possible to the target your doctor has set. If you eat too much sugar and let those numbers get out of control, you may experience nerve damage, which makes it difficult for you to feel sores or blisters on your feet. If these become infected and your blood flow is also poor because of glucose buildup, the blisters may never heal, and they could result in gangrene, which is deadened tissue.
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Blood Sugar Control
To control your blood sugar, eat consistently and never skip a meal. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, such as soda and fancy coffee drinks. White bread, baked goods, fried foods, and store-bought cookies and pies are full of quick-digesting carbs and added sugar that spike your blood sugar levels. Over time, these can lead to the diabetes complications that cause foot pain. Instead, reach for plenty of fresh vegetables, and consume a moderate amount of whole grains and fresh fruit. Lean proteins, such as skinless chicken, white fish and flank steak, are also excellent choices to control hunger and provide essential nutrition.
Gout is a form of arthritis that usually first strikes the big toe, but it can show up almost anywhere in the feet -- even in the knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. When your body processes purines, a compound found in all bodily tissues, uric acid forms. If purines aren't processed properly, uric acid builds up. This buildup causes gout, and it can have a genetic cause, but it is more likely if you are an overweight man, drink too much alcohol, have experienced lead exposure, have had an organ transplant or are on certain medications. Eating too many foods rich in purines can also cause gout, or aggravate an existing condition, resulting in foot pain.
Foods Containing Purines
Liver, organ meats and dried legumes are rich in purines and can exacerbate the foot pain from gout. Some seafood is OK if you have gout, but herring, anchovies and tuna are especially high in purines, so you should avoid those. Beer increases your uric acid levels and makes it difficult for your body to process the byproduct. Red meat, turkey and goose all contain higher levels of purine than other protein sources, so if you are trying to avoid a gout flareup, you should eat those only in moderation. Sugary drinks, especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup, also interfere with your body's ability to process uric acid.
Choose a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, but moderate your intake of cauliflower, asparagus and spinach, which contain more purines than other vegetables. Most white-meat proteins such as chicken and flounder, tofu and pork are good low-purine protein options. Nuts and seeds, whole grains and olive oil round out a diet that won't aggravate gout.
A poor diet can intensify inflammatory foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, which causes pain in the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot connecting the heel bone to your toes. Again, white flour products, processed vegetable oils -- such as sunflower or soybean -- and excessive trans fats or saturated fats can cause excess weight, high blood sugar or other conditions that exacerbate joint inflammation and foot pain. Aim for a whole-foods, balanced diet to moderate your weight, and keep your joints as healthy as possible.
- Health: 8 Gout-Causing Foods
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep Your Feet Healthy
- Cupertino Podiatry Inc: Know How Nutrition Affects Foot Conditions
- Diabetic Living: 22 Foods to Avoid With Diabetes
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Fast Facts About Gout