Nutrition for Your Foot Health

Who would have thought that your diet can affect the health of your feet? The condition of your feet can actually tell you a lot about your overall health and indicate a lack of certain food groups or vitamins in your diet. Injuries like stress fractures in the feet, for example, are often the first sign of osteoporosis—the progressive bone loss disease that affects a high number of post-menopausal women. Patients experiencing stress fractures in the feet need to increase their calcium intake.

It makes sense that your feet experience the first symptoms of illness or injury. After all, we subject them to carrying all our weight every day (and any extra weight you might carry throughout the day, like babies, groceries, equipment, or backpacks). For runners, dancers, pregnant mothers, older adults, and individuals with diabetes, osteoporosis, or HIV/AIDS—the need for mindful “foot health” is the same. Our feet need good nutrition that supports healthy bone growth and blood circulation so our lower extremities like calves, ankles, and feet can all benefit from the supply of oxygen and nutrients as well as the removal of carbon dioxide and other waste.

The body needs a constant refueling of calcium since calcium is depleted during natural body functions daily. Maintain bone quality by consuming the proper amount of calcium that your bones need each day. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, children ages 9–18 years, as well as pregnant or nursing women 18 years or younger need 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Adults ages 19–50 (especially pregnant or nursing women) need 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Adults over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. The best resource for calcium is milk and other dairy products which can supply you with 300 mg in a single serving. For those who are lactose intolerant, a proportionate amount of calcium can come from lactose-free yogurt or cheese, as well as seeds and nuts. Sardines, salmon, and other fish contain high amounts of calcium as well as necessary omega–3 fatty acids. Dark leafy greens, like collard, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, bok choy, and cabbage are great sources of calcium along with multiple other vitamins and nutrients to help you stay active and encourage circulation. Soy products and fortified foods are other rich sources of calcium. Don’t forget about the all-important need for healthy sunshine: Vitamin D is essential to bone growth, calcium absorption, and prevention of debilitating diseases. Your doctor might recommend a calcium or Vitamin D supplement if it is necessary to compliment your diet.

Alcohol and smoking are major causes of bone weakening. Drinking more than 1–2 alcoholic beverages a day can lead to osteoporosis, and smoking significantly reduces blow flow to the feet.

In addition to a healthy diet, practice regular exercise with an intensity level that matches your lifestyle to improve blood circulation. Exercise for 30 minutes every day; weight-bearing exercises like swimming, yoga, walking, dancing, and bicycling are terrific workouts to improve your foot health. Avoid activities that demand lots of jumping or running to prevent harsh pressure or shock to your feet. When resting, keep your feet elevated and always try to have your feet covered by socks or shoes to keep them from becoming too cold and losing circulation.

Not only will a better diet help reduce the risk of foot injuries, but it will reduce your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, restless leg syndrome, and varicose veins—all of which affect foot health. Without a nutritional diet and exercise, both healthy individuals and those with any of the aforementioned conditions can face serious injury or infection in the feet. Prevention is key to sustaining lifelong health. Your entire body will be grateful for your nutritional habits, including your happy feet.


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