Healthy Feet, Happy Feet: Keep Your Feet Healthy with These Foods
Your feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Most feet walk anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 steps every day. Healthy, strong feet allow you to scale cliffs, surf oceans, climb stairs, and waltz around the ballroom.
Where would you be without your feet?
If you want to keep your feet as healthy—and happy—as possible, certain foods will help you revitalize skin, restore muscles and ligaments, and strengthen the bones of your feet. The father of western medicine, Hippocrates, encouraged everyone to “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Take up his advice. Try it out. See if you can target different areas in your feet with proper everyday medicinal nutrition and experience a change.
When the skin on your feet breaks down and begins to crack and peel, you’re in trouble. Your feet need a proper amount of healthy skin to get you from point A to point B. Cracked and peeling skin makes everyday activities a struggle. Keep the skin that protects the inner structure of your feet healthy with the following:
- Citrus – Citrus fruits (kiwis, oranges, berries, plums, and pomegranates) have high antioxidant content. Whether you want to drink the juice, eat the fruit, or apply the peel and juice to your affected area, citrus will help your feet heal and feel much better.
- Nuts – The omega-3 oils contained in nuts increases the elasticity in your feet. Added elasticity will help your feet avoid injury and adjust to high-impact exercise.
- Fish – Fish contains essential fatty acids that act as barriers to harmful things travelling through your bloodstream. Essential fatty acids also contain anti-inflammatory properties and will protect your skin against injury.
Add citrus, nuts, or fish to your daily diet and the skin on your feet will thank you for it.
Every bone in your body needs adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium—including the bones in your feet. Depending on your age, most doctors recommend the following amounts for daily calcium intake:
- Men and women aged 9 – 18 years require 1,300 mg per day.
- Men and women aged 19 – 50 years require 1,000 mg per day.
- Men and women over 50 years of age require 1,200 mg per day.
- Pregnant and nursing women require 1,000 – 1,300 mg per day.
Foods high in calcium and vitamin D include leafy greens, seeds, fish, soybeans, milk, cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, as well as other dairy products. Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for bone formation and muscle contraction. An adequate amount of both will strengthen your bones and help your feet fight against future injuries.
The muscles in your foot give it shape, hold bones in position, and expand and contract to allow for proper movement. While there are 20 muscles in your foot, the five main muscles include the following:
- Flexors stabilize your toes against the ground.
- Extensors assist your ankle and raise toes to initiate movement (steps).
- Peroneal tibial controls movement on the outside of your ankle.
- Anterior tibial allows your foot to move upward.
- Posterior tibial supports the arch of your foot.
Now that you’re aware of the five main muscles in your foot, here’s a list of the foods you can eat to strengthen those muscles and restore their health and vitality.
- Dairy (especially cottage cheese) with a rich source of whey protein build stronger muscles.
- Granola and other whole grains with enough carbohydrates and protein rebuild tired muscles.
- Citrus fruits high in antioxidants relieve tension and reduce inflammation.
Every muscle in your foot needs extra attention—and proper nutrition—to facilitate movement, including walking, running, biking, jumping, and dancing.
What are your ligaments in charge of? Balance and stabilization. Ligaments hold the tendons of your foot in place, stabilize the joints, and provide balance during movement. While some ligaments in your foot stretch and contract to add curve or flatten the arch, others enable the foot to move in an upward motion. Keep your ligaments healthy—and functioning—with the following foods:
- Broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers are all rich sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps produce collagen. Ligaments are made up of collagen, so the more collagen, the better.
- Pineapple has a large number of enzymes that allow your body to repair strained, swollen, or damaged ligaments.
- Flaxseeds enhance satiation and help you control your appetite to maintain a healthy body weight. Excess body weight may strain your ligaments, so add in flaxseeds to ease your appetite and keep your ligaments at ease. You can add flaxseeds into smoothies, baked goods, salads, cereal, and yogurt.
Whether you choose to add a handful of spinach to your smoothie, extra granola to your yogurt, or flaxseeds to your salad, allow food to be your medicine so you can keep your feet in tip-top condition. If you’re having trouble with your feet, contact your local podiatrist to get back on track.