Migraine

Diet

Diet may be important for some headache sufferers, but not for others. Almost half of headache sufferers report that fasting will trigger a headache. Some patients try to eliminate from their diet anything listed as a potential trigger, but the list of foods that may trigger migraine can be exhaustive. Therefore, dietary restriction of all migraine triggers for any extended length of time is likely unhealthy.

A rational and useful approach about migraine and diet needs to focus on learning the facts and being smart. Patients should invest some time in learning about which foods are potential triggers for them, and then they can try to limit their consumption, especially during high-risk times. Over time, it is possible to become skillful in identifying migraine triggers and avoiding these selected foods at those times when their risk of migraine is high. For example, at certain times in the menstrual cycle, many women experience more frequent headache attacks.

Paying attention to your diet when trying to identify potential foods that trigger migraine can also be a useful tool in understanding the importance of a healthy diet, and regular meals for maintaining a healthy headache hygiene and improved lifestyle. Assessment of eating habits and identifying food triggers may be facilitated by using a headache diary, which the patient completes on a daily basis. It is much easier to find a headache trigger if you examine, within 24 hours, the events that occurred on the day of the headache. Several research studies have proven that avoiding foods thought to trigger migraine does not improve chronic headaches.

For more information regarding diet and migraines visit the American migraine foundation site listed under the additional resource tab.

Varicose Veins

Leg Pain

Varicose veins may be overlooked as a cause of leg pain because not all varicose veins are evident on the surface; many can be located deeper in the leg. As a result varicose vein disease can often be underappreciated as a common cause of leg pain.

These inefficient varicose veins cause blood to pool and waste products to accumulate in the leg. Due to the buildup of pressure and toxins in the leg, persons with vein problems can often experience leg aching, heaviness and fatigue of the leg, this can worsens as the day progresses. Some feel like their legs are like “lead weights,” and may want to sit down at the end of the day and elevate their legs. Symptoms worsen with sitting or standing and may intensify during menstrual cycles or when exposed to heat. Elevating the legs or applying compression stockings usually improves the leg aching, although only temporarily. Unfortunately, in certain individuals with severe vein leakage, a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) can develop. With CVI, swelling can become more pronounced and skin discoloration or even leg ulcerations can occur.

Again, not all varicose veins bulge or rise above the surface of the skin. Many varicose veins are internal. However, these hidden internal veins can cause just as many problems as superficial, bulging varicose veins. Patients can develop outright leg ulcerations, without showing a single, visible varicose vein. If you are experiencing leg aching, swelling or fatigue, especially if it is worse with standing or sitting, you deserve to be evaluated for vein disease regardless of whether you have visible bulging veins or not. 

Leg Cramps and Restless Legs Syndrome

Leg cramps and restless legs deserve special mention. Painful, nocturnal leg cramps and uncomfortable, restless legs can also be related to vein disease. In fact, a recent study showed that more than 80 percent of patients had improvement in their restless legs when their vein problem was treated! We have seen this to be true in clinical practice, and it is quite gratifying to see a patient sleep better without painful night cramps or no longer need to take daily medicine for restless leg.

Facts about leg pain:

  • Leg pain due to varicose veins worsens with sitting or standing and improves with elevation.
  • Varicose veins can be internal, so sometimes patients go for years before they discover the true cause of their leg pain.
  • The leg pain from varicose veins is often described as a heaviness or deep ache.
  • These symptoms, as well as restless legs and leg cramping, often respond well to vein treatment.

 

Leg Swelling

When due to varicose veins, leg swelling can vary from just a touch of swelling at the ankles to full-blown edema, which can make it difficult to put on shoes. When a result of vein leakage, swelling typically worsens as the day progresses and settles in the ankles. Like vein-related leg pain, the swelling is aggravated by heat, sitting or standing. Many patients have been placed on diuretics, or water pills, with little improvement in their swelling. Elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings or walking are often more effective than water pills when swelling is due to vein problems. 

Lymphedema

Sometimes leaking veins can disrupt other bodily functions as well. For instance, the buildup of pressure from faulty veins can damage the delicate lymphatic system. This type of swelling is called lymphedema. When the lymphatics are sluggish, the swelling can extend into the feet and toes and this stubborn swelling will be present in the morning, even after a night’s rest. As the lymphatic fluid is full of proteins, it is also an easy environment for bacteria to grow in. For this reason, individuals with lymphedema are prone to serious infections of the skin, known as cellulitis. Skin changes can also develop over time, and the skin can become leathery, brown and even ulcerate. It is important to recognize the signs of lymphedema early, when it can easily be treated. 

Leg swelling should not be ignored since it can be an important sign of underlying disease. For example, abrupt swelling affecting one leg can be a sign of a life-threatening blood clot, whereas gradual leg swelling accompanied by shortness of breath could indicate new-onset heart failure. If swelling develops suddenly, or has other symptoms associated with it, it should be promptly evaluated

Facts about leg swelling:

  • Varicose veins are one of the most common causes of leg swelling.
  • Leaking varicose veins can damage the delicate lymphatics, causing lymphedema.
  • Leg swelling can have many causes and can indicate an underlying disease state.
  • Abrupt swelling affecting a single leg should be evaluated urgently to rule out a potentially lethal blood clot

Prevention Through Diet

A plant based diet has been shown to help prevent and reverse the effects of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and obesity.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to getting started. First, don’t think of this as a deprivation diet. The food is delicious, and you can enjoy plant-based versions of the foods you already love. Focus on the positives!

Once you get started, it’ll be easier to keep going. As Dr. Craig McDougall says, “Once you have more energy, have lost some weight, or your stomach pain has disappeared, then it’s easier to continue eating healthfully. One of the best motivators for people transitioning to plant-based eating comes from how great they feel and how much more than can do in their lives once they’re feeling healthier.”

What to Eat on a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

A whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.

Take the first step toward seizing control of your health through the power of your food choices.

Resources

We have compiled a list of informative websites to help you find out more about common heart health issues.

It is important that you refer to reputable sites like these when you are browsing the Internet for information pertaining to your health to avoid websites with misleading or inaccurate content.

Allied
http://viewer.krames.com/Viewer.aspx?Account=ALLIEDMED
This site offers education on medications, diet and health conditions.

American Heart Association – Oklahoma City
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Welcome-to-Oklahoma-City_UCM_SWA023_AffiliatePage.jsp
This site offers local resources on education and programming.

American Stroke Association
http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/
Cardiovascular.org http://www.cardiovascular.org/
Intervascular Cardiovascular Library http://watchlearnlive.heart.org/CVML_Player.php
A library of AHA Interactive videos.

American Heart Association 
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

CardioSource
http://www.cardiosource.org/
The American College of Cardiology is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines, and is a staunch supporter of cardiovascular research.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
http://www.cdc.gov/
The government agency’s website offers an online source of credible health information.

eMedicine 
http://www.emedicine.com/
The eMedicine point-of-care clinical reference features up-to-date, searchable, peer-reviewed medical articles organized in specialty-focused textbooks, and is continuously updated with practice-changing evidence culled daily from the medical literature.

MedlinePlus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
Health information from the National Library of Medicine.

WebMD 
http://www.webmd.com/
WebMD provides credible health information, a supportive community and educational services by blending award-winning expertise in content, community services, expert commentary, and medical review.

American Migraine Foundation

Learn more about migraine prevention and diet and how different foods can trigger migraines in certain people.