The medical term, plantar fasciitis, literally means inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot. Any such damage that produces inflammation is your body’s signal to you that it is working on trying to repair itself from irritation. Without it, your body simply would not heal from wounds or infection.
Specifically, it is increases blood flow to the damaged tissue, which in turn causes redness and swelling.
What you should know is that there are several different factors that influence an inflammatory response. If the condition persists, it can spawn a host of different conditions, including heart disease, arthritis and general age-related decline. But here, we’ll address the best anti-inflammatories for plantar fasciitis specifically – assuming that an anti inflammatory diet may benefit an inflamed fascia ligament.
THE GOOD AND BAD OF INFLAMMATION
A program built around managing inflammation should be about limiting the amount of inflammation-causing foods and increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory ones. Eating right isn’t just a good idea in general, evidence shows that it also helps in the prevention of a number of other diseases that are common as we get older.
- Foods high in sugar and saturated fats contribute to inflammation. So it stands to reason that you should limit your intake of them.
- Plant products and plant-derived nutraceuticals are known to be the best agents for reducing the risk of chronic diseases or treating them effectively.
NSAIDs may effectively treat your nagging inflammation, but conventional wisdom also suggests that by simply ‘going natural’ you may also effectively treat the problem. A diet based on lowering inflammatory factors may not be a bad way to try and get rid of your heel pain woes.
Source: Nutrition Research Journal
BLOOD TESTS AND INFLAMMATION
Plantar fasciitis is typically a clinical diagnosis and blood work is rarely needed. Though, in some cases where treatment has been unresponsive, your physician may want lab work done to determine if there are any other causes.
- One of the biomarkers that is used in blood tests to measure inflammation is called C-reactive protein (CRP). A higher level signals inflammation in the body. What’s interesting is that according to many studies high consumption of fruits and vegetables are associated with lower levels of circulating hs-CRP.
- A major cell in the fascia is known as a fibroblast, which has been shown to secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines in response to strain, particularly interleukin 6 (IL-6). IL-6 is also a marker commonly used to determine inflammation and is used in some of the studies presented below.
- Interleukin 18 (IL-18) is yet another strong predictor of inflammation in the body and may be referenced in any number of blood tests. More of this cytokine is referenced below.
BEST ANTI INFLAMMATORIES FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS
Getting started on lowering inflammation [naturally] begins with what you eat. As mentioned previously, you need to cut back on the sweets and high-fat, high-calorie meals. And it’s not enough to ‘kind of’ adopt a new diet. The road to recovery includes sustainability – in other words, you need to find a diet you can stick to and tastes delicious.
If you need help adhering to any of the foods below, you may consider adopting the Mediterranean Diet. It is rated as one of the healthiest overall and, best of all, you don’t have to buy a recipe book from some ‘guru.’ You can get 100s of recipes here.
Here are some of the best foods you can possibly eat for reducing inflammation with studies to back up their claims.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
The benefits of eating green leafy vegetables are well known and there is a strong correlation between these vegetables and a reduction in chronic diseases.
A study was performed on over 1300 participants (aged 35-89) to document the correlation between the consumption of Vitamins K and D and their response to 14 different inflammation markers. It was determined that higher levels of Vitamin K had a direct relationship to lower levels of these inflammation markers.
For a breakdown of the highest levels of Vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, see this chart which contains other sources of the vitamin.
On top of that, some of those vegetables have also made the top half of this list of powerhouse vegetables considered to be the most nutrient-rich of ALL fruits and vegetables! That’s a big win.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
In overweight but otherwise healthy older adults, a four-month study had been conducted to determine the relationship between Omega-3 supplementation and participant inflammation markers. Data revealed after 4 months that those participants not subject to placebo had significantly lower levels of two types of proteins associated with inflammation.
Co-author of the study, Janice Keicolt-Glaser, states, “Although omega-3 fatty acids cannot take the place of good health behaviors, people with established inflammatory diseases or conditions may benefit from their use.” Participants were relatively healthy and followed no specific diet.
Although omega-3 fatty acids cannot take the place of good health behaviors, people with established inflammatory diseases or conditions may benefit from their use.
3. Citrus Fruits
Another study has shown the potential of citrus-based compounds (flavanoids) and lower levels of certain inflammation markers. In the study of over 1,000 women it was determined that those taking the higher levels, in comparison with those taking lower levels, had seen the greatest benefit.
They state that flavanoids typically found in citrus fruits were modestly associated with lower IL-18.
Berries are an excellent source of anthocyanins, which is known for having strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Much like the oleocanthal found in olive oil, these anthocyanins inhibit the same enzymes that are responsible for relieving pain symptoms (like ibuprofen and aspirin).
And while results are mixed and perhaps not as pronounced as other foods on our list, there are still studies that show the benefits of certain berries on inflammatory markers. One study suggests that blackberries possess better anti-inflammatory properties than blueberries or blackcurrant.
5. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are micronutrients that are known to benefit cardiovascular health.
Multiple studies throughout the years have shown the many benefits of olive oil, ranging from heart health, bone loss and neurological diseases.
But olive oil also contains an anti-inflammatory compound known as oleocanthal, which works in much the same way as NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Though olive oil is typically consumed in smaller doses, research has shown that small doses of aspirin taken consistently has provided considerable health benefits.
And while virgin olive oil is best, there are still precautions you should take when consuming olive oil too frequently. It’s higher in calories and may lower blood sugar.
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain a variety of healthy nutrients, fiber and protein. They also contain mono and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for managing inflammation. In a study of over 6,000 people aged 45-84, it was determined that frequent nut and seed consumption was associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive Protein, IL-6 and fibrinogen.
Don’t go crazy consuming nuts, however, as they typically have far more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3s.
Look for almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds to name a few.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Wait, don’t go! We know what you’re thinking… Broccoli? Cauliflower? Pass!
In a recent study of 1,000 middle-aged Chinese women, it was determined that those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables had shown substantially lower levels of inflammation in comparison with those consumed fewer amounts. To be more specific, groups that had consumed approximately 1.5 cups of cruciferous vegetables daily had displayed lower levels of specific inflammatory molecules in blood tests.
Though no definitive diet was referred, the study validates their thought that a key compound in these vegetables has shown to lower inflammation overall. Yet another win for this family of vegetable.
Look for Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Collard Greens, Radishes and Watercress.
Exercise is not only beneficial for burning calories, it’s also been studied for its abilities to limit pro-inflammatory markers IL-6 and C-reactive protein. In a 10-year study of 4,000 men and women, average age of 49, it was found that regular physical activity was associated with lower inflammation markers and may be important in preventing common inflammation seen in aging.
As you can see, fruits and vegetables are some of the best anti-inflammatories for plantar fasciitis. And for added measure, you can include extra virgin olive oil and a little exercise. Though there has been no direct correlation between resolving plantar fasciitis through a healthier diet, studies have backed up the benefits of these foods for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Be aware that some citrus and nuts or other foods can actually cause inflammation or allergic reactions in certain individuals. Discuss with your doctor any dietary changes and whether that will have an impact on your situation.