Support Vein Health with Nutrition and Exercise
Ah, January, when the cold and snow settle in for a long winter’s night and our motivation to even move can be hard to find. How ironic, then, that so many people choose this month to atone for holiday indulgence and vow to really get in shape! According to StatisticBrain.com, 67% of people with health club memberships never use them, yet the industry brings in nearly $22 billion/year. Despite their January resolutions, many people fall off the gym wagon by March.
We encourage everyone to get out and play and to take charge of their eating habits. But if you suffer from painful legs, ankle swelling, or varicose veins—and especially if you have been diagnosed with venous disease—don’t forget to get your veins in shape, too! You can start easily by choosing better nutrition and establishing a regular routine of even moderate exercise. Best of all, you don’t need to buy a club membership to get your legs in shape.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
A low-sodium, high-fiber diet is recommended by many doctors. Excess sodium can cause swelling in legs and ankles, which can add to your discomfort. It also increases blood pressure, which adds stress on varicose veins.
There are two steps to keeping sodium in check: Accurate counting and consistency. First, check nutrition labels on packaged foods for sodium content per serving, rather than assuming something is low-sodium because it doesn’t taste “salty.” You’d be surprised where sodium is lurking in the average grocery store. Packaged foods (canned, jarred, boxed, and frozen) and restaurant food (including takeout) can easily put you over the recommended daily limit. Accurately count how many servings (as defined by the nutrition label) you are consuming, too. Some foods base their data on very small portions to make their sodium content seem less outrageous.
Second, make it part of your daily routine to track your sodium consumption. Make small, consistent changes to eat less processed food or at least start by buying brands with less sodium. Make it a goal to replace most processed foods with more fresh foods. Over time, you should feel a difference if you stick with a plan.
Increase Your Fiber
There’s no denying that fresh produce and whole grains provide vital nutrients that support your overall health. They also are a great replacement for high-sodium processed foods and add fiber to your diet. The average American’s diet is low in fiber, so almost everyone can benefit from this switch. Again, small consistent changes are best. And 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.
Consume Vitamin E and Fish
Many high fiber foods—such as leafy greens, soy, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains—also contain nutrients that support good circulation. Vitamin E can help keep platelets from sticking to each other or to vein walls, and good sources 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 help strengthen your blood vessel walls (www.healthaliciousness.com). Fatty acids help maintain elasticity in your veins, so eat oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna a few times per week.
Think Outside the (Ice)box
In addition to managing your nutrition, keep some general guidelines in mind.
- Avoid hot baths, which relax the veins, or at least finish your hot bath with rinsing your legs in cold water.
- Keep exercising! Even short, brisk walks several times a day can help, so get up and move.
- Avoid standing for longer periods of time; short breaks to elevate your feet will help.
- Having toned, firm leg muscles provide extra support for venous return of blood, so focus on exercises that firm up calves and thighs. Again, small, consistent changes make lifestyle shifts possible.
- Pick an activity that challenges you but keeps you motivated, then get out there and move it!
If your leg pain or swelling persists, the underlying cause may be venous disease. A number of factors can contribute to it: genetic predisposition, age, jobs that require prolonged periods of standing, excess weight and lack of exercise. A certified, experienced phlebologist can diagnose you definitively and design the proper treatment plan, if needed.
Artemis Colorado – Vein & Cosmetic Center offers a complimentary informational visit where we’ll talk about your symptoms and treatment options. Don’t let venous disease get a leg up. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your outcomes are likely to be. Call us today!