Ask your pharmacist?
The influence of our diet on circulation
Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacies, Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
As discussed in the Examiner previously, there are many causes of poor circulation and many conditions that lead to poor circulation. Symptoms of these conditions can include “cold hands”, pins and needles in hands and feet, numbness, varicose veins, leg cramps, a heavy feeling in the limbs and swollen ankles. Serious and even life -threatening conditions that can occur include leg ulcers, gangrene, kidney failure and brain aneurisms.
Vascular Disease includes any condition that causes poor circulation. These include Peripheral Artery Disease, Renal Artery Disease, Varicose Veins, Venous Blood Clots, Aneurysm, Raynaud’s Disease, Peripheral Venous Disease and Erectile Dysfunction.
“Teflon versus Velcro”
Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic and blood runs through the veins as if they were lined with a nonstick surface that enhances blood flow like “Teflon”. As we age, this “Teflon” coating starts to get sticky, like “Velcro”, and this leads to many health risks. When arteries stiffen, they are more likely to clog with fatty substances such as cholesterol and cause heart attacks and strokes.
Too much salt can slow circulation, mainly through its effect on blood pressure. Processed foods which form a major part of the modern diet contain very high levels of sodium (salt). Before many of us add any salt to our food, we are already taking in more than the recommended daily allowance of salt. Salt and sodium can increase blood pressure, so it is important to limit it. It is recommended to limit salt to about one teaspoon daily. On average, 75% of our salt comes from processed food. When buying canned, processed, and convenience foods, most are labelled with sodium content so buy the brands that are lower in sodium. High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) and low in salt is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium). If you salt your food at the table, try using less, or none. It may take a little while to get used to the new flavours, but you may find that food tastes better when you use less salt.
In February 2009, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results from Australian researchers who tested the effects of a low sodium diet on 29 overweight men and women with normal blood pressure. Participants of the study where first asked to stick to a low sodium diet for two weeks and then they were asked to consume a “normal” sodium diet where sodium levels are not restricted. During the low sodium phase the participants’ blood pressure went down significantly. Researchers did a “brachial artery flow mediated dilation” which determines circulatory health and this test showed that circulation improved significantly during the low sodium diet. This indicates how too much sodium (salt) in our diet negatively impacts on our arteries thus affecting circulation.
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. It is now €35 (was €50); it only takes about 15 minutes to get checked. The next clinic is Thursday January 31st from 9am to 6pm at Whelehans Pearse St. Book by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591.
To be continued next week…
Disclaimer: Bpro Cardio screen is not meant as a substitute for medical assessment with your doctor
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).