We can thank Hippocrates for the saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This quote is something that will always ring true. Food is life – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, dairy, and healthy fats provide our body with essential vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies running optimally. Many vitamins and minerals help support our immune system to fight off diseases while others promote growth, healing, and strength within different parts of our body. A balanced diet is crucial to staying healthy.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are a lot of food on the shelves that are not optimal for us to be consuming regularly to promote health inside our bodies. Knowing what to avoid (or eat less of) is just as important as knowing what you should eat. Processed foods contain a lot of unhealthy fats, sugars, and chemicals that can harm our bodies when consumed frequently. Remember, there is no such thing as “bad” food, but all things in moderation is most important. A person’s diet should primarily consist of whole, healthy choices with a few treats or “junk” here or there.
If you have varicose veins or another venous insufficiency, eating unhealthy foods can worsen your condition or exacerbate your symptoms. Foods high in sodium make the body retain water, which can cause swelling and inflammation. Since a person with varicose veins already has inflammation, swelling, and pain, he or she most likely will swell more from high-sodium foods, and will be in more pain as a result.
Along with sodium, sugar and simple carbohydrates (both found in processed foods) can cause water retention, because they release large amounts of insulin; insulin impairs the body’s ability to excrete sodium, so bloating will occur. Refined grains, which have fiber removed during processing (e.g. white flour, white pasta, white rice), do not promote easy digestion. Like sugar, refined grains can lead to constipation, obesity and other health complications.
An excess of alcohol can also promote the spread of and increase painful symptoms of varicose veins. Alcohol releases high levels of insulin in the body, so the body isn’t releasing sodium at the rate at which it should. Alcohol also affects the circulatory system by attacking the liver’s ability to filter toxins in the blood. In turn the blood becomes thicker, which can weaken already fragile veins in the legs.
If you suffer from varicose veins or are genetically predisposed to the condition, opt for a diet high in fiber and high in potassium. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep your sugars and salt at a minimum. Drink plenty of water.
If you are suffering from a potential vein disorder, it’s time to book an appointment with a vein doctor! Dr. Peter Mikhail is a vein specialist based in New Port Richey, Florida. He also treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas. If you would like to book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844.