Summer Eating for Optimal Foot Health
Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer—might be getting more distant in our rearview mirror with every passing day, but we still have plenty of opportunity to appreciate our warmest season. The key is not letting it all slip away!
When it comes to our inherent enjoyment of summer, the weather contributes in a couple of very different reasons – both fun and work.
On the fun-side of things, summertime provides opportunities to participate in so many outdoor activities that aren’t always an option during winter months. Even just being able to take a walk on a sunny day can bring a smile to most people’s faces.
With regards to work, you can bet that farmers work hard to harvest their crops – and we are able to benefit from their efforts when eating delicious seasonal fruits and veggies.
We’re going to take a look at how summer food options contribute to foot health, but let’s start by quickly highlighting some seasonal activities you need to capitalize on before you have to wait for next year.
Don’t Miss Out on Bloomington Summer Activities!
With regards to local summer activities, let’s start with an ongoing series – Downtown Bloomington’s F1rst Fr1days.
(If you’re unfamiliar with this particular event, it’s held on—unsurprisingly—the first Friday of every month in downtown and consists of performances, artistic showcases, and extended hours of operation for local businesses. You can find more information about F1rst Fr1days here.)
In case you don’t happen to have a calendar handy, the next hosting of this event is 8/3.
Of course, there are many other summertime activities in our community. Perhaps you attended or participated in ones the summer has already brought. Examples include the WGLT Summer Concert on the Square in June, and the City of Bloomington Criterium Bike Race and Lincoln’s Festival on Rt. 66 earlier this month.
Along with the F1rst Fr1day on 8/3, another upcoming summer event to mark on your calendar for our city’s downtown district is the 3rd Annual Front Street Music Fest on 8/18. This free festival starts at 2:00 PM and goes until 10:00 PM.
One More Local Event Not to Miss – The DBA Farmers Market!
In addition to being able to enjoy fun events like F1rst Fr1days and local festivals, the summertime gives you an outstanding opportunity to really raise your healthy eating “game” (as all the cool kids say nowadays).
Fortunately, our community has a wonderful resource to help with this – the Downtown Bloomington Association’s Farmers Market.
Different famers’ markets throughout the country are defined in a variety of ways. Ours is considered to be a “producer-only” market. What this designation means is simply that the sellers have actually grown or produced the goods themselves and are not selling third-party wares.
Farmers markets are certainly a great way to support a local economy. After all, when you shop at the market your money goes to a farmer who lives in our greater community, and not a corporation based in New York City, Toronto, or Beijing.
More than being good for local economics, trips to the farmers market can be good for your body.
Within the past several years, a particular trend that has gained in popularity is a dietary habit known as “clean eating.” In this practice, the goal is to eat food with a minimal amount of processing – as close to its natural state as possible.
One of the best ways to eat clean is by shopping at local farmers markets.
A Tale of Two Apples – Why Clean Eating Matters
Let’s break down why clean eating is such a great practice by looking at a bushelful of apples and a couple of possibilities:
In the first scenario, the apples are picked by someone who then turns around and sells them to the parent company for the Hostess brand. Since Hostess makes highly-processed, mass-produced foods, they take the apples and dump them into machines that core, chop, and mash them up.
Sugar and preservatives (chemicals) are then added to the apple filling they are producing for their fruit pies. Once it’s processed, the filling is put on and covered with dough (which contains various ingredients and chemicals itself…), cooked, and covered with a sugary glaze.
(Note: We don’t work for Hostess or its parent company, so the details on how all this happens is a bit fuzzy—and probably protected as proprietary information—but the gist of it holds true and the evidence is the fact you can buy their apple pies at stores and gas stations throughout the country.)
Several months later, you are filling up your car and realize you forgot to eat lunch, so you go into the station and buy a Hostess apple pie made with apples from that initial bushel. (In your defense, the pie is on sale and you’re really hungry.)
At this point, if we were to ask you to list everything you just put in your body, do you think you would be able to without reading the label?
Well, here is the actual list of ingredients:
Apples, Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Palm Oil, Water, Glycerin, Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Palm, Soybean), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Food Starch. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Sulfate, Agar, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Oil, Disodium Phosphate, Soy Flour, Modified Whey, Calcium Sodium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate, Tallow, Hydrogenated Tallow, Sorbic Acid and Sodium Propionate (to retain freshness), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Cinnamon, Citric Acid, Nutmeg, Wheat Flour, Yellow 5, Red 40.
(Something to think about – that is, by far, the longest paragraph in this blog post.)
Even if you had to read the label, do you know what disodium phosphate, calcium sulfate, and sodium propionate are? If you do, the odds are pretty good you must be in the < 1% of U.S. citizens who have a degree in chemistry.
In the second scenario, the apples are picked by someone who takes them to the farmers market and sells the fresh fruit at her stand. You happen to be at the market that day and think the apples look delicious, so you buy one and eat it.
At this point, if we were to ask you to list everything you just put in your body, we bet you’d be able to pass the test with flying colors – and you wouldn’t even need an advanced degree in chemistry!
Both instances started the same basic way – apples growing on trees. The obvious difference is that in the second scenario, you consumed the fruit in its most natural state.
With clean eating, you don’t have to only eat foods that are completely unprocessed; rather, the goal is to eat food with the least amount of processing.
Even better is when you can prepare your own meals, which brings us back to the DBA Farmers Market.
Eat More Apples (and Other Produce!) and Less Mass-Produced Fruit Pies!
There are about 5 more weeks until the unofficial end of summer – Labor Day. The good news regarding our local farmers market is that it doesn’t stop when the season does. Actually, it’s open every Saturday morning—7:30 AM to noon—through October.
Even better, there is also a special Thanksgiving Farmers Market the Saturday before the late November holiday, and then Indoor Markets are open on the third Saturday of the month from December through April.
When you visit the market—summer or indoor versions—you can pick up foods that are good for your whole body – from head to toe.
And when we say “to toe,” we mean it literally!
See, eating fresh fruits and veggies (along with whole grains, dairy products, legumes, and lean meats) contribute to your foot health in a variety of different ways. Such a diet contributes to improved cardiovascular health, which means your feet are provided a healthy blood flow so their tissues can receive important nutrients.
Those nutrients are essential for strong bones and muscles in your feet. This keeps them better equipped to handle the tremendous force loads that come from even a fairly low-impact activity like walking.
Walking is an vastly underrated form of exercise, but your landing foot does sustain up to twice your bodyweight in force upon impact with the ground.
Speaking of bodyweight, your feet and ankles benefit from having less pounds placed upon them when you practice dietary habits that help you maintain—and even lose—weight.
Clean Eating is a Great Start for Foot Health – But It’s Not the End!
Your dietary habits affect your physical health in so many ways, including how your feet feel and perform. Making smart choices is a great starting point, but you also need to exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and make sure you listen to your body.
To that last point, if you feel pain in a foot or ankle, it’s not “normal” or something to be ignored. Rather, it’s how your body tells you there’s a problem.
Left unaddressed seemingly minor problems can escalate into major issues. Don’t let that happen to you!
Instead, simply come and see us if something is wrong with a foot or ankle. Our team at Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates is here for you and your family. We want you to be healthy and have every opportunity possible, so contact us by calling (309) 661-9975 if you need professional podiatric care and we will be happy to help!