When you have to deal with heel pain every day, anything that might help you find some relief can feel well worth a try.
And when new concepts and fads come around, it isn’t long before you start to hear claims of them helping with a whole host of problems. (Like, is there anything apple cider vinegar is said not to do?)
One of the more popular diet trends in recent history has been a ketogenic (or “keto”) diet, and a quick search will find a good number of posts on the Internet from those who have said it has greatly helped their heel pain. Can a keto diet really have this sort of effect, however, or might other factors be at play?
Just What is a Keto Diet?
Before we dive in, it’s best to make sure everyone is on the same page here.
The general idea of a keto diet is to acquire more of your daily calories from proteins and fats, and less from easily broken-down carbohydrates. This means greatly cutting items like sugar, sodas, and simple grains, while increasing items like meats, cheeses, and eggs.
The concept behind this dietary plan is cutting off the body’s “go-to” source of energy, those easily digested carbs. When you eat 50 grams or less per day, the body eventually runs out of that storehouse, and starts breaking down your store of fats and protein instead.
Before We Go Any Further
Now that we have a general definition of a keto diet, we will be discussing its possible effects on heel pain and other foot and ankle problems.
Before we do, however, we must make sure you understand that we do not recommend you begin any sort of diet program without first consulting with your primary care physician.
Our focus in this blog is only what keto may mean for your feet and ankles. There are many additional factors that can be at play when you adopt a new diet, and an expert on your medical history is best equipped to inform you whether your diet plans are best and safest for your particular needs.
Be wise and consult before any big change. You don’t want to try making positive changes in one place only to find negative results in another.
Can Keto Do Anything for Your Foot and Heel Pain?
When it comes to certain causes of pain, there are some aspects of a keto diet that could have an influence on finding relief.
A big overall factor can be the main goal of keto: losing weight.
In many causes of heel pain, especially those stemming from an abnormality in the structure of the foot, an uneven distribution of weight leads to excess stress and strain in certain areas. Pain and injuries are a natural result, and adding more weight can only compound these problems.
Just a relatively small change in weight can have a significant impact. One pound of body weight can be responsible for about four pounds of pressure on the feet. And this is with every step you take, day after day. That all adds up, and shedding excess weight can provide relief for many people.
Of course, keto is not the only way to lose weight, but it might be an ideal method for some individuals. Once again, check with your primary care physician about that, and be open toward other methods as well.
Another huge benefit keto has on the surface is a drastic reduction of sugar in your diet.
We’ve written many times before about the poisonous effect that sugar has on tissues throughout your body—including your heels. Thanks to research by Dr. Parker’s close friend Dr. Richard Jacoby (author of Sugar Crush) and other trailblazers, we now know that modern-day rates of carbohydrate consumption are linked to dangerous increases in inflammation throughout the body.
This inflammation is linked with many detrimental effects, one of which is compression in the peripheral nerves. Nerve compression in the ankles and feet is one of the most common (yet under-reported) causes of heel pain in America today, along with many other ailments.
Cutting back on sugars may help reduce inflammation in these cases, and can be better for overall health. As a whole, we as Americans consume much more sugar than we need on average!
Part of a Bigger Heel Pain Picture
For some patients, changes such as weight loss and reduced sugar intake may be all they need to find complete heel pain relief. However, depending on the ultimate root causes of your heel pain, they may not be enough on their own.
Heel pain and other foot pains tend to have a number of different causes, which can stem from a number of different sources. Two cases that look similar on the surface may end up requiring entirely different forms of treatment.
An ideal treatment plan starts with getting to the root of the problem and developing a plan from there. That’s what we do here at Parker Foot & Ankle.
If dietary changes are part of the plan (as they should be in many cases), we will absolutely recommend it! That might be the only piece you need, but there may be others to the overall puzzle as well. Stretching, custom orthotics, regenerative medicine, laser therapy, and other measures might be considered as well.
The first step toward relief lies with you, though. Schedule an appointment with our Houston office by calling (281) 497-2850. If you prefer to reach us electronically instead, please feel welcome to do so! Fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you.