Natural health: Osteoporosis and varicose veins

Q. I have recently been advised by my doctor to take up running as a means to preventing osteoporosis, as I am at risk for this condition due to hereditary factors. 

Natural health: Osteoporosis and varicose veins

Is there anything else I could do to help prevent the inevitable from happening?

A. If you are happy running, then this is a good start — any form of impact exercise practiced consistently will help to improve bone density and strengthen the bones against stress fractures as you age.

Running, jogging, skipping, even just making sure that you take a brisk few flights of stairs or steps in your daily routine will do your bones good.

The work that you are putting in now will likely make all the difference when it comes to ensuring better bone health in the long term.

Building bone density before you have a problem means that you have more of a buffer zone when it comes to the natural reduction in density later on in life.

This is most important for women, since the hormonal changes associated with menopause increase the risk for osteoporosis, brittle bones, and serious fractures.

Getting plenty of minerals in your diet — in particular calcium, magnesium, phosphorus — along with vitamin D, is important for achieving bone mass and defending against the inevitable.

Your diet needs to be weighed heavily in favour of nutrient-rich whole foods, with minimal processed and junk foods.

Drinking soda beverages and smoking cigarettes are the two worst possible lifestyle choices you can make if you want to look after your skeleton.

Too much coffee and too much alcohol can also rob your body of the precious nutrients it needs to build and maintain bone health.

The problem is that when your diet is deficient in the key minerals, your body robs what it needs from your bones.

Nuts, seeds, leafy greens, dairy (particularly whole and fermented products), salmon, sardines, and dried fruits are all important for building strong bones.

Q. My partner has a lot of trouble with varicose veins in her legs, and has had all sorts of interventions to try and fix the problem.

The relief is only ever temporary, and the veins cause great pain and discomfort. She is just 40 years old. What can we do?

A. There are a number of conventional treatments for varicose veins.

From cauterisation, to effectively sealing the vein off with an injected solution, and even stripping the vein surgically from the problem area — treatment ranges from minimal through to relatively traumatic.

This surgical action is not without due cause though, since varicose veins can cause all manner of complications if left untreated.

Besides the common symptoms of pain, heaviness, and itching, these veins can become ulcerated, trigger eczema in the affected area, cause cramping, clotting, restless legs syndrome, swelling in the lower legs, and in severe cases the skin around the ankle area becomes thick and discoloured due to scar tissue replacing healthy tissue.

As the skin over the bulging veins becomes thinner, bleeding can occur very easily with significant blood loss from the point of injury.

There are additional steps your partner can take to relieve symptoms and address the root cause.

No doubt she will have already found that movement and spending time lying or sitting with legs elevated helps to relieve the pressure.

And if your partner’s work involves long periods of standing she will need to take regular breaks,taking the weight off her feet.

The heavier the load on the legs, the more pressure the veins are under, so it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Excess heat doesn’t help either — make sure that the legs are kept comfortably cool.

The most successful herbal remedy in treating varicosity is horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum).

It works by restoring tone andelasticity to the venous systems. A. Vogel’s Venaforce tablets cost €12.35 for 30 tablets from health stores.

Take one tablet, twice daily with food.

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