Ah, the long-awaited holiday season is now upon us. One of the things that we look forward to most is sharing special food with family and friends. Whether it’s perfectly spiced cranberry sauce on slices of Thanksgiving turkey, or crunching on a reindeer cookie that the kids helped make, we come together around the treats and meals that are at the center of our holiday traditions. Don’t forget about nutritional support for veins!
Of course, it can be all too easy to overindulge, and this can bring on a host of consequences. Perhaps the most familiar is weight gain, but there are more subtle problems that we may not associate with what we’re putting on our plates. For those who suffer from venous disease, nutritional imbalances can exacerbate symptoms like swelling, fatigue, inflammation and pain.
But don’t worry – we’re not recommending that you swear off all holiday goodies. Instead, we want to provide nutritional information that can empower you to make the best choices for your veins. After all, indulging isn’t really “fun” if it worsens your symptoms and makes you feel miserable!
Many doctors recommend a low-sodium, high-fiber diet in general but also as nutritional support for veins. Excess sodium causes cells to retain water, which increases blood pressure, creates discomfort and stresses varicose veins.
Check nutrition labels for sodium content per serving. You’d be surprised how much sodium is lurking in the grocery store. Packaged and restaurant foods can easily put you over the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of 2300 mg per day (about 1 teaspoon). If you’re cooking a meal with chicken or vegetable broth, opt for varieties with lower-sodium or no sodium. Guests can always add salt.
There’s no denying that fresh produce, legumes, and whole grains provide vital nutrients that support your overall health. They also add fiber to your diet and are a great replacement for high-sodium processed foods. The average American’s diet is low in fiber, so almost everyone can benefit from this switch. Small consistent changes are best. When you eat high-fiber foods, remember to drink plenty of water. Eating fiber and staying hydrated will help you avoid constipation, a contributing factor for varicose veins.
Many high fiber foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains also contain nutrients that support good circulation. Vitamin E can help prevent blood platelets from sticking to each other or to vein walls, and good sources of this nutrient include spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, winter squashes and avocados. Produce high in Vitamin C such as bell peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, berries, guava and citrus fruits can strengthen your blood vessel walls and fight inflammation. There are plenty of delectable holiday desserts starring these fruits that your guests will love. Fatty acids help maintain elasticity in your veins, so look for opportunities to change up your regular holiday routine and add oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna to your meals.
When we’re caught up in holiday planning and errands, it’s often more convenient to eat out. In our rush, though, we often opt for stress-relieving comfort foods that are fried and high in sugar. Unfortunately, these foods can contribute to inflammation and wreak havoc throughout the body. The more naturally prepared foods we can work into our meals, the better for our overall health. Pack healthy snacks and keep them with you while on the go. When deciding what to bring to holiday get togethers, consider recipes for lower-sugar versions of your favorites, or those that incorporate fresh vegetables. Fellow party-goers will appreciate your healthy, wholesome dish.
While these suggestions focus on individual ingredients and nutrients that support vein health, following them doesn’t have to be complicated. You should check with your personal physician for more specific dietary advice, but as a general rule, opting for fruits and vegetables while reducing your consumption of processed foods will help ensure that you’re feeding your veins, and body, with the nutrients needed to keep you on your feet and having fun during the holidays. Balancing healthier choices with well-chosen indulgences make those special treats even more meaningful. There’s no need to remove yourself from the festivities so that you can count calories and measure food portions in the other room. Just keep some of these general guidelines in mind to support your health. Some of the simplest the best dietary advice we’ve seen comes from journalist Michael Pollan, who writes at the beginning of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
The suggestions for nutritional support for veins outlined in this article can be implemented at any time for a positive impact. However, if you are already suffering from venous insufficiency – characterized by pain, heaviness, fatigue and swelling in the legs (with or without varicose veins) – then it’s important to know that these nutritional changes won’t on their own reverse this condition. If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact us for a free vein screening and we’ll discuss what’s ailing you. Our experienced medical team uses state-of-the-art procedures to diagnose and treat venous disease to get you back on the path toward optimal health. The Artemis team wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday season!