It’s obvious to most people that sugar is bad for the waistline and for heart health, but consuming too much of what some call “white death” can have a negative impact on the health of your feet, as well. And because many experts consider foot health to be a window into one’s overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to keep those tootsies strong. Here are the effects of sugar on your ability to keep your feet in their best condition.
Sugar Causes Inflammation
As you’ll see on health websites like WebMd and MedicineNet, one way sugar negatively affects foot health is by causing inflammation. Regularly consuming sugary foods affects chemicals in your body that cause tissue swelling, and the inflammation could show up in the form of plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot from your toes to your heel to become swollen and painful.
Sugar Reduces Circulation
A diet rich in fatty, sugary foods often leads to high blood sugar, which causes changes in your body that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels. In addition to kidney failure, heart attacks and nerve damage called neuropathy, damaged blood vessels also cause poor circulation to the hands and feet. Though it may not sound serious, decreased circulation can lead to a host of problems, including varicose veins, kidney damage, strokes, and slow healing of blisters, warts, ulcers and other sores (the latter of which can lead to limb amputation).
Sugar Leaves You Susceptible to Peripheral Artery Disease and Diabetes
Millions of Americans fight life-changing conditions such as peripheral artery disease and diabetes every day, and both of these conditions have been linked to sugar consumption. High blood glucose affects your pancreas cells’ ability to make insulin, which causes the organ to overcompensate and produce too much of it — which can cause type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, peripheral artery disease has also been linked to consuming sugars and fatty foods that cause fatty deposits to block your arteries and reduce blood flow. Both diabetes and peripheral artery disease can cause damage to the nerves and decrease circulation, especially to the legs and feet.
Sugar Weakens the Immune System, Leaving You Vulnerable to Infections
Sugar does a number on your immune system, and when your immune system isn’t functioning properly, you’re much more vulnerable to infections that may land you in a podiatrist clinic. A couple of common conditions that affect the health of your feet include infected ingrown toenails, ulcers, plantar warts and fungal infections. Keeping your immune system strong goes a long way in helping your body fight off these painful conditions.
As you can see, sugar can wreak havoc on the health of your feet, and though moderate consumption of sugar is usually okay, it’s much better to choose healthy options. Whether you’re diabetic, facing other health conditions or just want to ward off the possibility of developing health problems, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a diet low in sodium, saturated fat and trans fat and high in whole grains, lean meats and plenty of leafy dark greens and other vegetables. There are also many specific foods you can eat to help with calluses, bunions, corns and other foot ailments:
- 7 Ways Pumpkin Benefits Your Foot Health
- 7 Ways Cinnamon Benefits Your Foot Health
- These Holiday Foods Boost Foot Health — Really!
- 4 Foods That Fight Foot Odor
Avoiding sugar whenever possible and following these simple diet options will keep you and your feet healthy and strong for years to come.