I'm a podiatrist and this is what you need to eat for summer-ready feet | The Sun
IT HAS been a while since our feet were fully exposed.
They’ve been cooped up in socks and shoes, leaving many of us with feet that are far from attractive: dry skin, painful soles, unkempt toenails; it’s not a pretty sight.
So yes, it's time to prep your feet for sandal season.
Although a good soak, pumice, and moisturise will do your feet the world of good, interestingly the foods you eat can also play a big role in the state of your tootsies.
Expert Podiatrist Dina Gohil, who is working with Footner Exfoliating Socks, says: “Your feet, just like any other part of your body, contain bones, muscles, ligaments and blood vessels, so it’s important we take care of them.”
She adds that an overall vitamin deficiency can actually be one of the many common causes of cracked heels, known as fissures, which can be painless and superficial or deep and very painful.
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It’s important to make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet and getting the right nutrition, as what you eat will affect your whole body, including your feet.
For starters, aim to incorporate foods such as mushrooms, fish, eggs, figs, soybeans, yoghurt, cheese, non-dairy milks, which are high in Vitamin D and calcium which helps bone health.
Plus, this lot for added benefits…
Broccoli and citrus fruits to ease pain
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Both of these contain vitamin C which Dina explains can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Reducing inflammation can help with plantar fasciitis; this is pain that occurs on the bottom of the foot, usually around the heel and arch.
Not a fan of broccoli? There’s a wealth of other vitamin C-rich foods including strawberries, blackcurrants, peppers and potatoes.
Nuts and lentils for foot cramps
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts, as well as avocados and legumes (including chickpeas and lentils), are all high in certain B vitamins, which can help with good nerve health.
Reema Patel is a Registered Dietician for Dietitian Fit & Co.
She explains that vitamin B1, B6 and B12 specifically, help support nerve function as well as being involved in motor control and neuropathic pain.
This type of pain comes from the nervous system; often a shooting or burning pain.
“Deficiencies in certain B vitamins can increase the likelihood of cramps, so ensuring a regular and well-balanced intake of foods containing these B vitamins is helpful to prevent deficiencies and to lower risk of foot cramps.”
Try adding avocado to salads, snacking on nuts and even swapping out half the beef mince in a chilli for lentils.
Dina explains that foot cramps can also be a sign you are deficient in magnesium, calcium or potassium.
Potassium rich foods include bananas, avocados, lentils and potatoes.
Milk and yoghurt for bones
Our feet contain 26 bones (each!) according to the Arthritis Foundation so ensuring we’re doing what we can to care for our bones, is key.
“Nearly one fourth of the body’s bones are in our feet and calcium plays a huge role in keeping our skeletal system strong,” says Dina.
“Ensure you get the recommended daily allowance of calcium through consumption of milk, natural yoghurt and leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
“In addition, vitamin D can help with the absorption of calcium, so make sure you’re getting enough of that too.
“In the UK it is advised we take a vitamin D supplement because it can be hard to get the recommended requirement through diet alone.”
The NHS recommends an intake of 700mg of calcium per day for adults.
Around 100g of cheddar cheese packs in more than 700mg of calcium.
Steak and salmon for nail growth and healthy skin
To promote nail growth and avoid flaking, dry skin, Reema says some minerals such as iron and magnesium are essential.
“Sources of iron include red meat and poultry, however it’s also found in plant foods such as dark green vegetables and beans.
“Sources of magnesium include whole grains, dark leafy vegetables and beans.” Oh, and dark chocolate too!
To increase the absorption of iron-rich foods, eat them alongside a vitamin C-rich food source.
Reema adds that regular omega 3 fatty acid sources can also benefit nail growth.
“This is because it (omega 3) can reduce inflammation of the nail bed as well as promoting the health of cells at the nail.
“Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines provide a source of omega 3, though there are some plant-based sources such as walnuts, flax and chia seeds.”
Eggs for tingling feet
Back to vitamin B again, which Dina explains might be even more prevalent for those who suffer from diabetes.
“We know that diabetes is closely linked to a greater risk of foot problems and complications so if you have the condition then vitamin B should be an essential in your diet.”
“This vitamin helps to protect muscle function, prevents cellular damage and keeps cells strong,” she adds.
On top of this, research has revealed how tingling feet can actually be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
As vitamin B12 is water soluble, it does mean that a daily dose is required, as the body can’t store it.
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs.
Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products so anyone avoiding meat might benefit from taking a supplement.
Plenty of protein for strong nails and smooth skin
“As nails are made up mainly from a protein called keratin, it is essential to have a regular intake of protein in our overall diet to support nail growth,” says Reema.
She adds that protein is important for many processes in the body as it provides us with amino acids that our body cannot produce by itself.
“Amino acids form the basis of the structure of our hair, nails and skin in the form of collagen, keratin and elastin.
“For most people, aiming for around 1g protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient, however if you are active or participating in regular strength/resistance training, your protein requirements will be higher.”
Reema adds that protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy as well as plant-based sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy products such as tofu and soy beans.
Water, water, water for healthy feet
We don’t need to remind you about the importance of hydration.
The NHS recommends that everybody drinks between six to eight cups of fluid each day, which includes plain water, sugar free drinks, tea, coffee and low fat milk.
Not only is water essential for overall good health, but it’s also important for healthy feet.
“Ultimately, more water means better blood flow which is extremely important for our feet as they are the furthest away from the heart.
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“Better circulation will help reduce cramps and swelling as well as the risk of conditions like gout as it flushes out toxins from our system,” explains Dina.
Can’t stand plain water? Add some flavour with cucumber or lemon slices or opt for a herbal tea instead.
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