Heaven Has Heels

The human body is an amazing mosaic of systems that, on a good day, work in harmony to get us out the door. Of course, we’re not always calling the shots. Illness strikes at the worst time. Reflexologists have long believed that the foot is intrinsically connected to other parts of the body. In that vein of thinking, Dr. Levine—a top NYC podiatrist—offers several tips on how your feet can clue you into the health of your whole body!

Got cramped feet? If you often experience cramping in your feet, you might be suffering from dehydration. Dr. Levine recommends 1-½ liters of water everyday—that’s a doable six cups. A boost of potassium is also great for preventing cramps so don’t hesitate to grab a banana—potassium plays a key role in the chemical process that drives muscle contractions.

Got cold feet? Your feet should run between 75°F and 90°F, anything below that indicates circulatory problems. This symptom could be linked to a myriad of problems including stress, smoking, or high cholesterol. One cigarette can reduce blood flow to the extremities as much as fifty percent for up to an hour. Exercise and healthy eating habits reliably improve circulation.

Got a burning sensation? A burning sensation in the ball of your foot can be indicative of nerve damage, otherwise called neuropathy. With this condition, the nerves in your legs and feet erroneously communicate pain and discomfort to your brain, even when there is none. The main causes are diabetes and alcoholism. In many cases, a doctor will prescribe vitamin B12 to help cope with neuropathy related issues.

Got red, swollen feet? Little known fact, while they don’t sniffle or sneeze, your feet can be affected by allergies too. Outbreaks on your feet can be caused by foods like eggs, milk, or soy. Most other cases involve direct contact with an offending substance—such as the dye used in your socks. Also pay attention to the lotions you use. Parabens—preservatives used in cosmetics—can irritate your skin, so look for “paraben-free” products.

Got dry, cracked heels? Each cell of your epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) is more than seventy percent water. Constant pressure, or non-supportive shoes, can lead to patches of thick, dehydrated skin. But your cracked heels could also be a symptom of weight gain and/or hormonal changes during menopause that dry out the foot. Avoid hot baths or showers to guard the natural oils in your feet’s skin and regularly moisturize.