Recently, more and more evidence has been released in the last couple of years showing the harmful effects of alcohol on the body, at any amount, no matter how small. The World Health Organization or WHO categorizes alcohol as a Group 1 Carcinogen, in the same class as tobacco, radiation, and asbestos. Even when alcohol consumption is described as "light" or "moderate", is linked to an increased risk of 7 different cancers including breast cancer, and colon cancer. With all of this information warning about the effects of any alcohol consumption, a question that has come up with some of my patients is, does alcohol affect plantar fasciitis?
There is no concrete evidence to prove that alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is mainly caused by things like overuse, biomechanical issues, obesity, and certain medical conditions. But, drinking alcohol can indirectly contribute to plantar fasciitis or make your symptoms worse.
3 Ways That Alcohol Can Affect Plantar Fasciitis:
1. Alcohol can make you dehydrated
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can make you urinate or go to the bathroom more. Diuretics like alcohol makes it harder for your kidneys to absorb water.
Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration if you're not good about drinking water before, during, and after alcohol consumption.
Alcohol also makes it harder for your body to balance electrolytes like sodium and potassium. This can also lead to a fluid imbalance and also dehydration.
Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, including the muscles in the feet, which may affect the plantar fascia, and make your plantar fasciitis pain worse.
2. Alcohol can cause you to gain weight
Drinking alcohol can make you hungrier, which can lead to eating more than your body can burn off.
All of these excess calories will be stored as fat.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs your judgment, making people more likely to make poor food choices.
Alcohol can also increase cravings for high-calorie, fatty, and salty foods.
Alcohol is very high in calories. Alcohol has about 7 calories per gram, in comparison to proteins and carbohydrates (which contain 4 calories per gram) and less than fats (which contain 9 calories per gram).
Regular consumption of alcohol with mixers full of sugar can also lead to consuming more calories daily than you need and therefore weight gain.
Alcohol consumption can interrupt sleep patterns and quality, making it much harder to get a restful, restorative night's rest, which then can lower your metabolism, leading to weight gain.
Additional weight, especially when weight is gained quickly can place extra stress on the feet, including the plantar fascia, leading to increased strain and possible inflammation, leading to plantar fasciitis
3. Alcohol makes it harder for your body to heal
Chronic alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, making it less able to fight off infections and heal wounds. This can lead to longer healing times, and increase the risk of infections.
Alcohol also interferes with the function of cells key to your immune response, mainly your white blood cells.
Alcohol can lower your circulation by causing blood vessels to shrink, which lowers blood flow to injured tissues, and lowers the amount of oxygen and essential nutrients that these tissues will get.
Alcohol abuse can also cause nutritional deficiencies. Most commonly vitamin C, vitamin B12, and zinc. These vitamins are key to the body being able to repair itself.
Alcohol can also cause inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can also slow down the healing process.
Alcohol does interfere with the body's natural healing process. Chronic alcohol use can slow down your body's ability to repair tissue, heal from injuries, or regenerate. All of these things can slow down the recovery process for people already experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Key Takeaways About Alcohol and Plantar Fasciitis
It is important to note that occasional and moderate alcohol consumption is generally not associated with a significantly increased risk of plantar fasciitis. However, excessive and chronic alcohol consumption or abuse can contribute to several factors that indirectly impact foot health and make plantar fasciitis worse.