Have you ever wondered, what could you eat to heal your feet?
Is nutrition a viable method to treat the painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Find out the-head to-toe connection between nutrition and plantar fasciitis in part two of our series on inflammation and connective tissue issues.
In this blog, part 2 in a series on how to eat and what tools to use for optimal myofascial health:
- What is plantar fasciitis? Can nutrition cause plantar fasciitis?
- Diet and myofascial inflammation
- What foods, nutrients, and diets are best for plantar fasciitis?
- Are there good supplements for plantar fasciitis?
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of your feet is the literal definition of plantar fasciitis. But that doesn’t drive home it’s true severity: stabbing pains with your first steps of the day, increased risk of injuries in your ankles, loss of mobility and the activities that you love doing every day.
If you want a deeper dive, my last blog article gives more detail and practical examples if you want to know more about the causes and treatments of plantar fasciitis. How to Heal Plantar Fasciitis Naturally - Part 1.Plantar fasciitis is sometimes called:
- Plantar heel pain syndrome
- Heel-spur syndrome (where a bone spur causes inflammation)
- Plantar fasciopathy or painful heel syndrome.
Common Characteristics of Plantar Fasciitis Pain
- Occurs at bottom of foot near heel
- More severe in the morning
- Worsens after carrying weight
- Alleviates with rest
- Causes heel swelling and stiffness around the joint
- Lack of ankle of big toe joint mobility/stability, leading to compensation and compromising stability and mobility of nearby joints and tissues
- Excess weight
- Poor ankle mobility
- Neuromuscular Issues
- Diabetes, high blood sugar, and fascial Adhesions
- Inflammatory Diet
- Menopause and low estrogen
Inflammation is no joke, and it’s debilitating effects take on new meaning when the connective tissue you use every day is in the crossfire. Laid on top of that kind of inflammatory baseline, it only takes an additional trigger to painfully expose inflammation on the bottom of your foot.
Fortunately for you, my team and I have pored over the research around nutrition, inflammation, and connective tissue, so we can give you evidence-based recommendations on how to eat to heal plantar fasciitis.
How you move, what you do, what you eat, how you feel - all of these have an effect on pain and inflammation.
In a modern culture of busy-ness, convenience, and distraction, we’re tipped way off balance from our center of health. Pain and inflammation is a sign of that imbalance, and since what you eat is a key way to alter inflammation, we’re going to dive deep into the diet and supplements for plantar fasciitis in this article.
It hurts me to see people literally stumbling over their own lack of knowledge - there are so many options available to those suffering from myofascial pain, most just aren’t aware of them.
As I cover some of the strategies to address plantar fasciitis, I want you to keep in mind that the goal here is not perfection. It’s working to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be that matters. It is all about progress and finding out what’s the cause of your pain. There is no quick fix, no magic cure, no thing you can buy that will close that gap for you - it’s just your own consistent effort.
As we try to inject more mindfulness into 2021, let’s direct that attention to your foundation so you can begin feeling great every day, starting from the ground up!
Nutrition, Diet, and Myofascial Inflammation
Types of Inflammation
Hundreds of researchers have come to the conclusion that inflammation is a primary driver of almost all chronic diseases [check out this research review with 17 authors on it]. At the core of most disease is an inflammatory trigger that doesn’t resolve and overwhelms your body. Inflammation puts your immune system into a hyperactive state, and once you pass a certain inflammatory threshold the damaging power of those immune cells - perfectly designed to attack foreign invaders - spills over on to your own tissues.
Inflammation can be chronic or acute, and the distinction makes all the difference. When you tear a muscle, sprain a joint, or fracture a bone, the acute inflammation - involving swelling, tenderness, pain, and discomfort - is essential to the healing process. Think about it, if your broken toe didn’t hurt like hell, then you’d keep using it and you’d never give your body the chance to heal itself!
Chronic inflammation if another story entirely. Autoimmunity, allergies, chronic conditions are all on the rise because chronic inflammation from pollution, pesticides, our modern diet and lifestyle, and more is all but inescapable. Chronic inflammation is the result of that positive, adaptive inflammation left to run for too long. Like a runaway truck with shot brakes, chronic inflammation careens through your body, damaging every tissue it makes contact with.
The adaptive process of inflammation is meant to protect you in the short term, but those inflammation-regulating systems aren’t supposed to be constantly active. Chronic inflammation lowers your body’s tolerance to stress - lowering that threshold means that every passing fluctuation looks like a major threat to your body. And with so many threats in modern society, it’s clear that the onus is on you to take action to preserve our health.
Inflammation And Connective Tissues (Fascia, Joints, Skin)
Have you ever noticed how much more you are prone to physical injury when recovering from an infection? Or vice versa, how repeatedly taxing your body’s physical capacity puts you at risk for infection and injury?
Clearly, inflammation is all around us, at persistently higher levels than it ever used to be.
Fascia is a thin, web-like connective tissue that connects, encloses, and provides communication for different layers of connective tissue. Your fascia, like other connective tissues, is mostly made up of collagen. Plantar fascia is the layer of connective tissue that wraps the bottom of those foot muscles in a protective sheath. Plantar fascia doesn’t just protect the bottom of your foot though, it has a functional role in the motion of your feet too.
Plantar fascia is essential to almost every step you take and every movement you perform, which is why it's almost impossible to escape the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Contrary to the belief that connective tissue is an inert substance, research shows that connective tissues like bones, joints, and others rapidly respond to the nutrients in your blood. For fascia ー one of the most sensory-rich tissues that doesn’t get enough attention ー this is especially important because of its role in translating chemical messages into physical results.
Seeing how your fascia responds to nutrition and seeing how your diet affects your inflammation status, it’s not hard to put it together. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you though, keep reading to learn all the nutrition research we’ve dug up to answer the questions: “how do you heal plantar fasciitis with diet, nutrition, and supplements?”
With the causes of plantar fasciitis shrouded in mystery, oftentimes people don’t even take the time to find out what actually caused it.
- Is it acute or chronic inflammation?
- Was there an injury somewhere else in your tissues?
- Is there an inflammatory trigger in the food you eat, the air you breathe?
- What about the way you move, how does your gait look, what is your proprioceptive awareness like?
I make it my job to identify the root problems that contribute to your issues. After seeing the same tightness, lack of awareness, and lack of coordinated, full-body strength, I set out to develop tools that can help people tackle their physical pain.
- My science-based book of 40 recipes aims to maximize your output by enhancing your recovery of every layer of your body nutritionally. This is a one-of-a-kind cookbook with the research synthesized in a way you won’t find anywhere else.
- My freely available ebooks provide the evidence behind the strategies I use to keep you healthy. Resync Your Performance and Recovery with Collagen and Collagen 101: the Ultimate Guide To Improve Skincare, Joint Health & Energy
- Our new product, Resync Ready-To-Drink packs in the nutrients in the first of it’s kind heart-healthy sparkling beverage. Coming out in February.
- My newly developed patent pending fitness and rehab tool, Core Boot incorporates the science of myofascial release into a tool to take your recovery, Fascia health, balance and strength core to a new level. Join the list and you’ll be the first invited to the launch!
Besides these educational resources, I want to help support your connective tissue health with the right supplements too. “Right” means standardized, quality certified, clinically studied, and effective bottles of nutrients you need. Resync Collagen, Resync Recovery, and Resync Ready To Drink are like no other supplements on the market.
We combine the science behind plant based nitrates for their oxygenating and nutrient-delivering effects (among others, read more here and here) with the building blocks your body needs to support optimal collagen health and the bioactive polyphenol antioxidants to manage the inflammation that’s holding you back.
Close the gap between tired and ready to go with an effective line of products designed to help you get what you want out of life!
Anti-inflammatory Diet For Plantar Fasciitis (and Connective Tissue Inflammation)
The cornerstones of conservative treatment for plantar fasciitis are Rest, Ice, and Stretching. Many sufferers rely on self-remedies and some may be surprised to learn how powerful the role of the brain-body connection is. Alongside these treatments, the best way to target inflammation is keeping the scope focused on your diet.
What Foods Are Bad For Inflammation?
Here’s a list of foods that make inflammation worse:
- Sugar and processed foods - “white carbs”, refined grains, fast food, junk food; no matter which way you phrase it, sugar, sugar + saturated fat, and ultraprocessed foods drive bad health (eg. obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.) and can cause inflammation. There are even scary secondary effects of poor dietary choices like the advanced glycation end products with diabetes, or the inflammatory signals given off by too much body fat. Check out our article 51 Ways to Sugar- Proof Your Health & Home or our list of common processed foods at Cooking Healthy On a Budget to get started!
- Food sensitivities and intolerances - allergic, immune, and other reactions to food are a lurking issue that most people are not aware of. Ten to forty percent (!) of people have some sort of functional digestive issue, so whether your triggers are certain types of carbs (like with fiber subtypes and IBS or fructose or lactose intolerance), or certain proteins (like casein, whey, or gluten), testing out how you feel after temporarily eliminating a potential trigger food is an effective way to get at the root of chronic inflammation. One case report involving a woman with no known history of food sensitivities showed that removing gluten from her diet completely resolved her plantar fasciitis!
- Nightshades - it is possible that members of the solanine family (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes and others) can aggravate inflammatory symptoms, especially when it comes to connective tissue, but they are probably only a rare culprit. Since cutting out vegetables from your diet can put you at risk for other problems like nutrient deficiencies, an elimination diet should be saved for when other ways to treat inflammation aren’t working.
All these foods can aggravate other inflammatory connective tissue issues like arthritis, heel spurs and painful arches. Remember to talk with a supportive healthcare provider before making drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle!
What Foods Are Good For Fighting Inflammation?
This is it, the ultimate list on how you need to eat to address plantar fasciitis!
Mitochondria function is a key player in keeping inflammation at bay, especially in your fascia and connective tissues, according to researchers. Here are a couple of the top ingredients to think about to boost your mitochondria (Each is in our Resync Recovery blend):
- Natural, plant based nitrates to support Nitric Oxide levels
- Anthocyanins and Polyphenols
- And many more!
If you want the complete list of science-based supplements for mitochondria, check it out on our blog here:
Glutathione is called your master antioxidant for a reason. Thousands of times more powerful than vitamin C, glutathione is the battleship in the fight against inflammation. We’ve dug into the science of boosting glutathione in the past, here are a couple of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Mind-body-mindfulness practices like prayer, meditation, and yoga
- Foods with natural glutathione
- Green leafy vegetables in the cabbage family, as well as garlic and onions
- Supplements like vitamin C, glycine, N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Methyl-sulfonyl Methane (MSM), niacin, selenium (in brazil nuts!), and curcumin
Learn (a lot!) more here:
Collagen For Plantar Fasciitis
Your fascia is 70% collagen. Your body can make its own collagen, but that capacity goes down with age and can be impaired by extreme physical activity. Our modern diets provide us less collagen amino acids than we evolved to have. Add on top of this the fact that collagen has been shown in study after study to help with other connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, overuse injuries, skin conditions and many other conditions involving connective tissue.
So even though there is no research yet on collagen and plantar fasciitis, what’s currently out there suggests that collagen may have a unique anti-inflammatory effect on damaged collagen and fascia cells and may provide the fundamental building blocks for repairing damaged tissues.
Here are some of our readers favorite articles on the topic:
A related supporting ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which has also been shown to relieve pain in inflammatory connective tissue conditions. And check out Resync Collagen for a unique blend of bioactives for complete connective tissue support!
Nitric Oxide For Plantar Fasciitis
Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels in a process called “vasodilation”. Opening up blood vessels allows more blood flow, which translates into better oxygen and nutrient delivery. Your body makes nitric oxide, but levels go down with age and any condition that affects the heart. Supplemental forms from arginine don’t work very well, but supplementing with natural nitrates bypasses the limitations of the arginine pathway to boost your nitric oxide levels effectively. Nitric oxide also supports immune function, mitochondrial function, endurance muscle function, can promote exercise tolerance, and lowers blood pressure in some people.
The plant based nitrates in Resync Collagen, Resync RTD, and Resync Recovery products come from red spinach extract, beetroot powder, and aronia berry extract. These are some of the most concentrated sources of safe natural nitrates out there, and we get our ingredients from none but the very best suppliers in the world. Our products are certified for quality and consistency by the leading third-party testing companies in the industry, NSF sport and BSCG.
A related nutrient, also included in our Resync Recovery Blend, is mango fruit, which can improve microcirculation in those places that hardly see any blood flow at all, which if you ask me, is where you need it most!
Boswellia Serrata, Turmeric, and Ginger For Plantar Fasciitis
Turmeric is one of the most studied plant-based anti-inflammatories for connective tissue conditions. Research shows that 1000 mg/day of the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can reduce pain by about 20% in people with arthritis.
When it comes to ginger, 2000mg/day has been studied for physical and psychosomatic pain. It may also enhance turmeric bioavailability as well as blood flow.
Boswellia is not nearly as well studied as these other two, but there are still some promising effects on connective tissue. Boswellia may inhibit the inflammatory mediators, 5-LOX, TNF-a, IL-1, MAP kinase/NFkB, and MMP3. We're not just talking about a slight reduction. Think: significant reduction in joint inflammation and major gains in pain-free movement. AKBA is one of very few naturally-occurring, selective inhibitors of the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) enzyme.
Resync’s premium collagen blend has better effectiveness than other boswellia supplements, according to a high quality clinical study. The boswellia extract in Resync was shown to reduce 62% of the pain felt by people with osteoarthritis, twice as much as the leading competitor! In human clinical trials, AprèsFlex provided faster efficacy and significant benefits in pain scales and other tests for joint health. 100 mg of AprèsFlex per day significantly improved joint function within 5 days!
Antioxidant Inflammatory System Support
Your inflammatory system includes antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that are deployed in a tiered assault on external triggers. From frontline antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E and omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seeds, to anti-inflammatory proteins like glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase, to second-order nutrients that help those seek and destroy proteins like selenium, sulfur compounds, and fiber (to help your immune system respond appropriately.
We did a multi-part series on what goes into a healthy anti-inflammatory system here:
But if you want every single detail in an easy to apply form, check out my new ebook!
Some additional nutrients to add to your list of best antioxidants for plantar fasciitis are natural polyphenols from plants. These are a class of antioxidants that can have unique systemic effects on your nervous system, immune system, inflammatory system, and musculoskeletal systems.Aronia berry (“Chokeberry”) Polyphenols For Plantar Fasciitis may
- Aid nitric oxide synthesis and potentially lower blood pressure, support smooth muscle (like your gut), and increase energy and performance in endurance activities
- Help regulate the neuroinflammatory processes associated with exercise.
- Promising effects on inflammation in athletes
- Regulate the gut microbiome in a positive way
There’s no direct research on elderberry for plantar fasciitis, but it’s only a matter of time. Some connective tissue and inflammation benefits seen in research include:
- Minimizing soreness and pain after exercise due to their polyphenol content
- Possibly lowering blood pressure and improving heart health
- Increasing white blood cells and promoting immune function
I hope this helps you put your best, pain-free foot forward at the start of every day!
The more efficient your body is, the better you feel, move, and perform and use your talents to produce outstanding results.
Starting with your mouth and ending with your feet, let’s focus on your base to unleash dimensions of efficiency you didn’t know you had. Now it’s time to recover your health, rebuild your resilience, and Resync your body for 2021!
I want to hear from you!
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Wishing you the best in your health,
The Resync Team
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Written by registered dietitian Detrick Snyder, MPH, RDN. Updated on 1/23/2020.
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