The Food-Foot Connection

With March being Nutrition Month across Canada, we decided to dig a little deeper and interview a Dietitian to explore how healthy eating can improve our overall health and more specifically, the health of our feet. Dietitians are the trusted professional when it comes to reliable evidence-based food and nutrition advise as Pedorthists are for footwear and orthotics.

Tomorrow, March 18<sup>th</sup>, marks the eleventh year of celebrating Dietitians in Canada. In keeping with this celebration and helping to shine the spotlight on the profession, Pedorthist Derek Gilmer interviewed his wife Alia Khudhair-Gilmer, a Registered Dietitian.

<strong>Q:</strong> As a Pedorthist our role is to help manage and treat many foot conditions caused by chronic or acute inflammation by providing support and reducing mechanical stress on affected tissue in the feet. Are there specific foods that will help reduce inflammation or foods to avoid that cause inflammation?

<strong>A:</strong> While there is no definitive “anti-inflammatory diet” there are definitely foods that help us fight many diseases including arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.  Foods such as fruits and vegetables provide phytonutrients which help reduce inflammation in the body.  Studies suggest that people with Rheumatoid arthritis could benefit from eating more Omega 3 fatty acids (found in salmon, sardines), while other studies suggest that foods high in uric acid (found in red meat, alcohol) will increase painful inflammation in patients with Gout, a type of arthritis.  Refined grains, sweets, junk food, soda pop and excessive intake of saturated fats, found in red meat, can increase inflammation.  Increased inflammation will cause increased pain in the feet by increasing the swelling and pressure on sensitive nerve endings.

<strong>Q:</strong> We see many clients for Pedorthic care who have problems with their feet due to diabetes. A Pedorthist will help provide protection and off load high pressure areas to assist with helping heal foot ulcers. What role does diet play in managing diabetes and supporting wound care? More specifically, how can diet aid in the healing of ulcers?

<strong>A:</strong> The most important factor in preventing diabetic foot ulcers is to have optimal blood sugar.  Having a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein and some healthy fats, along with limiting high sugar foods is key to managing good blood sugar levels.  Proper blood sugar control will help reduce foot problems such as neuropathy.  Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage, specifically nerve damage in the feet caused by long term high blood sugar levels and is a serious complication of diabetes.  As for managing a pressure ulcer, increased protein and fluids, along with a balanced diet are required for optimal wound healing.

<strong>Q</strong>: Pedorthists receive referrals from physicians to help heal and manage stress fractures in the feet and to help prevent injuries from occurring with people who have osteoporosis. What type of diet should someone with osteoporosis consider? And will this help prevent fractures and other injuries from happening?

<strong>A:</strong> Osteoporosis is associated with increased risk of fractures, including stress fractures in the foot.  Ensuring you are having adequate calcium intake and vitamin D from food or/and supplements is important in reducing the risk of fractures.  Calcium rich foods include milk (cow’s milk or alternatives such as soy milk or almond milk), yogurt, cheese and green leafy vegetables.  There are also many products on the market that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.  Living in Canada most people don’t get enough vitamin D “the sunshine vitamin”, in my practice I always recommend a vitamin D supplement for anyone who is 50 years or older.

Help celebrate Nutrition Month by loving the food you eat and making healthy food choices that have the potential to improve your overall wellness from head to toe. To learn more about Dietitians and nutrition visit <a href="http://www.dietitians.ca/">www.dietitians.ca</a>, to find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area please visit www.pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/