Sweet & Salty. It’s a popular flavour combination. Salt enhances other flavours like sweetness, and sugar is just, well… sweet!
Unfortunately, for our health, excess consumption of the white stuff is the wrong stuff. And sugar and salt can wreak particular havoc on our legs and feet.
I know, we can be a buzzkill sometimes. But awareness of how these great-tasting little grains can affect your foot health can help you avoid pain, decreased function, and bigger problems down the road.
So, here’s how sugar and salt consumption affect foot health:
Sugar Consumption and Inflammation
Consumption of excess sugar – in candy, processed foods, or even added to your morning coffee or tea – causes low-grade inflammation. If constantly triggered, this normally protective response can cause a host of health issues.
Of course, inflammation in feet and lower legs is not desirable. And sugar consumption can lead to more serious issues, particularly for people with inflammatory issues such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis, as well as joint arthritis.
Sugar Consumption and Weight Gain
For those of us with a sweet tooth, we’re well aware of how satisfying it is to sink our teeth into a decadent dessert or a great piece of chocolate. But it’s no secret that those empty calories, when consumed regularly, can lead to weight gain.
And if it was just the odd sweet indulgence, our bodies would be able to cope. But regular consumption of overtly sugary drinks and treats, coupled with all of the hidden fructose we consume in processed foods can lead to ongoing weight gain. This in turn puts added stress on your joints and feet, which literally carry the extra burden
Sugar Consumption and Diabetes
Consistently high and unregulated blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes. With the proliferation of fast and convenience foods over the past 40 years, diabetes has grown into a bit of an epidemic.
Left undiagnosed or unmanaged, diabetes contributes to reduced circulation of oxygenated blood to the extremities, especially lower legs and feet. This can lead to nerve damage and also significantly impacts the healing process when you cut your foot.
This in turn can result in infection, which ultimately may require amputation to avoid the risk of the infection spreading up the leg.
Salt Consumption and Fluid Retention
Sodium aids in many bodily functions, but excess consumption can lead to fluid retention (aka “edema”). Our bodies work to maintain a consistent ratio of water to sodium outside our cells. So, a higher sodium intake leads to excess fluid retention.
Other things that can contribute to fluid retention are excess weight, pregnancy, high blood pressure, taking certain medications, and standing or sitting in the same position for prolonged periods.
Edema can result in painful swelling, a decrease in blood circulation, laboured walking, increased risk of skin lesions, damage to veins and tissue, and increased risk of infection.
Remember that your body doesn’t distinguish between salt that you add to your food and the high sodium levels in processed foods. It all counts. So, reduce/limit salt intake and, to further balance out the salt-to-water ratio in your body, drink lots of unsweetened, uncarbonated, caffeine-free fluids. Water and some herbal teas are your best options.
Visit Our Foot Care Nurse, Sharon Brophy
If you’re experiencing foot discomfort related to diabetes or edema, book an appointment with our experienced Foot Care Nurse, Sharon Brophy. Sharon specializes in general, advanced, and diabetic foot care and can provide the appropriate treatment for your toes and feet to provide relief and improved foot health.