The influence of our diet on circulation
This is the conclusion of last week’s article in the Westmeath Topic on foods and changes in our diet that improve circulation. If you missed last week’s article, poor circulation is medically referred to as Vascular Disease. Vascular Disease includes any condition that affects your circulatory system including diseases of arteries, veins and lymph vessels as well as blood disorders that affect circulation. These include Peripheral Artery Disease, Renal Artery Disease, Varicose Veins, Venous Blood Clots, Aneurysm, Raynaud’s Disease, Peripheral Venous Disease and Erectile Dysfunction.
Atherosclerosis occurs when arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, such as cholesterol. These substances are called plaques or atheromas. This build-up of plaque is the root cause of various vascular diseases such as peripheral venous disease, PAD, erectile dysfunction and Raynaud’s Disease. It also causes cardiovascular conditions such as angina, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
Certain factors increase the risk of atherosclerosis including smoking, diabetes and high blood pressures. Diet is a major factor, especially a diet high in fat and cholesterol. Over the course of years and decades, plaque builds up, narrows the arteries and makes them stiffer. This makes it harder for blood to flow through them. Clots may form in these narrowed arteries and block blood flow
Changes to your diet which prevents atherosclerosis
Eating more fish
Fish oil stimulates blood circulation, increases the breakdown of fibrin, a compound involved in clot and scar formation, and additionally has been shown to reduce blood pressure. There is strong scientific evidence that omega fatty acids reduce blood triglyceride levels and regular intake reduces the risk of heart attack. Healthy women who said they ate fish five times a week or more had a 45% lower risk of dying of heart disease over the next 16 years than healthy women who ate fish less than once a month, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. An editorial in the May 15, 2000 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology claimed the time had come to add fish and fish oil supplements to the list of standard treatments of coronary heart disease.
Reduce fatty foods
Keep Trans fats to a minimum and ensure no more than 7% to 10% of your calorie intake comes from saturated fats. This includes fats found in butter, hard margarine, salad dressing, fried foods, snack foods, sweets, and desserts. When using fats as a food additive or for frying (bear in mind grilling is healthier than frying), use fats high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, for example, olive oil or peanut oil.
Healthier sources of protein
Protein is important as it is responsible for building and repair of the body’s tissues amongst many other important functions. Commonly eaten high-fat protein foods (meat, dairy products) are among the main culprits in increasing heart disease risk because of their high levels of fat. Try to balance the amount of animal, fish, and vegetable sources of protein. Vegetable sources of protein include beans, nuts and whole grains; they are healthy choices because they provide fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as protein. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry. When eating red meat, stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet.
Limit cholesterol consumption.
Limiting dietary cholesterol is recommended to prevent atherosclerosis. You can reduce cholesterol by getting energy from complex carbohydrates such as brown pasta, sweet potatoes and wholegrain breads and by limiting simple carbohydrates such as sugary drinks like coke, sugar and sweets. An egg a day is healthy for adults. When it comes to lowering blood cholesterol levels, limiting saturated fats is more important than limiting dietary cholesterol intake. The recommendation is not to exceed 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol each day. I have more in-depth information on atherosclerosis on our website, www.whelehans.ie, or you can ask a member of staff for a free copy.
Other foods that can improve Circulation
Fruits and vegetables of any kind are good for your health, particularly oranges, which contain high levels of bioflavonoids to promote blood flow while also strengthening capillaries. Watermelon is a natural source of lycopene, which has been known to help prevent plaque build-up, a common cause of poor blood flow. Nuts are rich in vitamin B3, which helps boost the blood flow. Garlic also helps promote circulation. Omega 3s found in fish improve circulation, especially oily fish such a salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and pilchards. We should eat two portions of fish per week, one of them oily
What is BPro Cardio Screen Service?
Whelehans now has a cardiovascular health check called BPro Cardio Screen. This test measures the stiffness of your arteries to help identify risk of blockages and your risk of cardiovascular disease and circulation problems. BPRo is placed like a watch on your wrist and is completely pain free. A pulse wave reads and calculates a wave signal that indicates the elasticity of large, small, and peripheral artery walls as well as tests for stress, central blood pressure, heart rate, and more. It is now €35 (was €50); it only takes about 15 minutes to get checked. The next clinic this week (Thursday January 31st) from 9am to 6pm at Whelehans Pearse St. Book by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591.
Disclaimer: Please ensure you consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes recommended
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehan’s Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).