You might be asking "What is venous insufficiency in the legs?" I found that was a loaded question.
I remember the day I sat in NYU Langone Vein Center having an ultrasound of my right leg. I had thought I ruptured a vein on the leg press machine at the gym -- I was on one of those commercial diet plans that included training hard eating high amounts of protein, drinking shakes and eating three protein bars each day.
My leg had been feeling unusually tender, so I made an appointment to have it looked at. My symptoms included leg swelling, aches, and a large protruding vein along my inner thigh that made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.
The ultrasound revealed I had what's known as venous insufficiency. One of my return veins had a sort of hiccup that kept the blood from flowing back to my heart.
Of course I didn't like hearing this, since anything that had to do with the heart and veins is potentially serious. However, my doctors informed me otherwise.
Venous insufficiency is common
Apparently, 50-55% of the American population has chronic venous insufficiency, which may be why Venous Ablation surgery has become quite a popular procedure. The good doctor told me procedure would be relatively simple. Our conversation went something like this:
"So Doc, tell me, what's Vein Ablation like?"
"Well." He said, "I'll give you something to relax, then I'll go inside the vein with a tube as thick as a piece of spaghetti, to apply laser/radiofrequency energy into your vein and seal it."
"Hmmm. Would I be awake? What would happen to the vein?" I asked.
"Yes, for the procedure, you would be awake, As for the vein, eventually the body would absorb it."
"Where would the blood go?"
"It'll be rerouted. The other veins will pick up the slack."
"Wouldn't the loss of that vein increase the pressure on the remaining veins?"
"Yes, it could."
Vein Ablation is not such a simple surgery
Almost immediately, I could see where this was going. There would be nothing "simple" about the Vein Ablation procedure that was being sold to me. Once I consented to having the Vein Ablation done, I'd become a slave to it the rest of my life. First, I'd have to wear a compression stocking for ten weeks. Then, I'd have to come back for follow-up visits. If there were any complications, I'd have to deal with that accordingly. What is more, the missing vein would result in the other veins being pressured. All of this could mean there's a good chance I would need this same surgery again. No thanks. I went home and began my research.
Venous Reflux May Have a Genetic Factor But Genes Don't Cause It.
Studies prove there may be a genetic predisposition to varicose veins, but our genes are not our destiny. Varicose veins are a symptom. According to medical doctors, venous insufficiency in the legs are varicose veins. These are attributed to a low fiber diet and/or from pregnancy or being overweight or obese.
However, Naturopaths insist venous insufficiency in the legs and varicose veins are directly related to a deficiency in copper. Copper is the little known essential trace mineral that helps in maintaining healthy bones, immune system and blood vessels. Copper deficiency usually shows itself with premature grey or silver hair, wrinkling skin and you guessed it -- a reduction in vein elasticity. Copper deficiency is also a known contributor to hemorrhoids and heart disease.
Venous Reflux Is A Symptom Of A Sluggish Liver
While copper deficiency may cause a weakening of the veins, the liver plays an essential role in vascular problems. The liver, when it's working properly, is able to send filtered blood through the veins effortlessly. But what happens when the liver, the filter of your body, becomes sluggish?
A Sluggish Liver Is An Organ In Survival Mode
A sluggish liver is an organ "protected" by a build-up of scar tissue and/or fat, that developed because of the type of diet I was on -- a high fat, high protein and processed food diet. Unfortunately, this so-called build-up stops the liver from filtering the blood properly, creating the sluggish liver. What is more, sluggish liver is responsible for high blood pressure, heart problems and vascular problems, while fatty liver is responsible for insulin resistance.
Slugglish Liver Causes Weight Gain
When your liver becomes sluggish and doesn't do its job properly, this causes you to hang on to weight --- a known cause of venous reflux. Incidentally, sluggishness of the liver also inhibits the liver from filtering the blood properly. The result is the veins working double-time to draw up the thickened blood into the heart. This effort not only puts a chronic strain on the heart (think high blood pressure), it also stresses the superficial veins in the legs that inevitably collapse, causing venous reflux.
A Sluggish Liver Can Be Reversed!
Up to 25 percent of people in the U.S. are living with sluggish, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to the American Liver Foundation. The good news is, sluggish/fatty liver can be reversed naturally with proper diet.
In the end, I refused the Vein Ablation procedure so I could focus on healing my sluggish liver with nutrition and some carefully targeted supplementation. The book EAT!-Empower. Adjust. Triumph: Lose Ridiculous Weight , is a plant-based diet and empowerment plan that encouraged me to jump-start both my health and sluggish liver, improve digestion as well as the absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
Within two months I began to see drastic improvements in my leg! I could stand for longer periods of time without achiness. The heaviness in my leg subsided. There was no tenderness, the veins faded a bit and swelling decreased! Best of all, I could wear shorts and skirts again without being self-conscious.
In the end, the diet/nutrition approach to healing venous reflux proved to be a more sane, long- term solution to avoiding further breakdown of my vascular system. Correcting diet was a win-win approach to both weight loss and improving my overall vascular, and liver health.
Revised December 22, 2016