Sarah shared information on a recent study that Joovvshared on how it impacts sleep hygiene
Sarah uses her Joovvbefore bed for these reasons, and it is a natural part of her evening routine
Stacy uses her Joovv first thing in the morning
Stacy is looking forward to being a student on this week's podcast recording, as she knows nothing about varicose veins
Sarah is bringing both personal experience and science to this week's episode
(15:05) Q & A
Before I get to my question, I want to thank you for all that you do, Sarah and Stacy.
I especially love your podcasts! I will admit, I am digging into your podcast archives, so don't judge me.
I listen to them while I log core at work, enabling me to be doubly nerdy!
As a fellow scientist, I appreciate your no-none-sense approach to tackling questions and information with science.
Even my husband (who is a chemist) loves how informative and science-based your podcasts are! Ahem, I curate select episodes for him, as it has helped him immensely in understanding AIP and profoundly improved our marriage.
The information and advice you provide, has empowered me to ask the right questions and find the right medical providers.
Prior to finding your websites and podcasts, I sought medical treatment from a primary care physician.
I remember the last time I saw him: I was sitting in his office, feeling horrible after eating lunch, asking him to test me for Celiac Disease.
I started explaining my symptoms, then he proceeded to tell me that I didn't have Celiac Disease because I didn't have diarrhea (sorry Stacy).
When I explained that another symptom, infertility, was an issue, as my husband and I had been trying to conceive for 4 years without any success whatsoever; he told me, "Sometimes, it's just not in God's plans."
I swallowed my tears and persisted. Finally, he conceded after I told him that my family has a history of Celiac Disease.
The two of you have made me feel empowered enough so that I moved on from that physician and found the right one for me.
I feel like I can intelligently speak to my provider and be my own advocate. I am so deeply grateful.
Now for my question... I have been making leaps and bounds on AIP over the last couple of months, after being treated for SIBO and supplementing my meals with HCl.
I noticed for the first time in my life that my skin became soft and my nails also soft and lustrous... but, what really surprised me the most was that my varicose veins have almost disappeared.
I've had them on both of my calves for about 15 years and thought that I was stuck with them for life. I was so self-conscious of them, that I rarely wore shorts or shorter dresses in public, or if I did, I wore tights or pantyhose.
This has led me to wonder... What causes varicose veins?
How are they autoimmune-related?
Are they specific to certain autoimmune diseases?
What can I do (from a diet standpoint) to keep promoting the elimination of the varicose veins?
I love that AIP has opened so many doors to good health for me and so many others.
AIP has helped me feel confident and beautiful again...something I thought never possible. I am so deeply grateful for what you have given me.
Stacy wants to pause to say how mad she is at that doctor and how proud she is of Christine
She is so proud that Christine was empowered and is giving her long-distance fist bumps
Sarah is sending all the high fives
Stacy wants to be friends with Christine
Varicose veins affect about 24% of Americans and there are estimates that upwards of 40% of adults will get them at some point in their lives
Unless you are one of these adults, you don't typically hear about varicose veins in the national health conversations
This is because they are considered relatively benign
Varicose veins are a vein where the walls have gotten weak and essentially collapsed on itself
Because it collapsed it gets twisty
It creates spots where blood can either backflow or pool
Veins have valves in them that stop blood from flowing backward in between heartbeats
Because of the weakening of the wall in the vein, the vein will kind of expand
This then pulls the valves apart and the valves end up failing which is how you get this backflow or blood pooling
Most of the time they are asymptomatic
They have this characteristic dark blue or purple appearance and they can bulge out
They don't often feel like anything - they are typically just there
They can be very uncomfortable
They can ache, feel heavy, cause muscle cramps, itchy, burning, throbbing sensation, the skin around them can be irritated
Overall they are benign, but there is this extreme symptom version of them
When people start feeling these symptoms, this is typically when they will get varicose veins treated
Having varicose veins does slightly increase the risk of blood clotting
It is called thrombophlebitis
These are big problems and require immediate medical intervention
It is a small fraction of the people with varicose veins that have this complication
Causes of varicose veins
It is not super well understood
There is a fair amount of research being done of them, but it is from the angle of how to treat varicose veins
There are little bits and pieces to the puzzle that have been figured out:
The weakening of the vein wall might be due to changes in collagen or elastin
There is some kind of chronic inflammation type part of the recipe for making varicose veins
There are other possible scenarios:
Ex: the blood clot coming first that then causes the varicose vein
Physical trauma can also cause them
There is also a familial link
However, no genes have been identified, but it does tend to run in families
Other risk factors are:
being a woman
sitting or standing for too long
having high blood pressure
Sarah first developed varicose veins during her pregnancy
It all boils down to things that are more likely to make the vein varicose
(26:01) The Role That Diet & Lifestyle Plays
There is no known link between varicose veins and autoimmune disease
There are a couple of autoimmune diseases that affect connective tissue, which has an increased risk of varicose veins
But they are not linked to autoimmune disease in general
It is such a high-frequency condition that it is really hard to make a link to other chronic diseases
The statistics show that basically varicose veins are its own vascular disease
Inflammation may be part of it, but there is no autoimmune component to it
It is interesting to Stacy that varicose veins do have an inflammation component to it, and that going to an autoimmune protocol reduces inflammation
Sarah noted that the autoimmune protocol is designed to help the immune system regulate itself
It means that it's applicable in more than just autoimmune disease conditions
There are some diet links, but the science is still very preliminary
The best understood dietary link with varicose veins is dietary fiber
Sarah shared more on these studies and the reasoning behind their findings
A squatty potty would be a great way to help with this scenario
However, if you are following an AIP you are already getting a high fiber intake from your vegetable consumption
The other nutrients linked to varicose veins:
Vitamin D deficiency
Supplementation seems to help them
Flavinoids in general
Plant extracts have also been tested in clinical trials and have been linked to reducing varicose veins
There are other nutrient deficiencies links that have been found, but it isn't known if supplementation helps in these scenarios
Not getting enough protein
It doesn't surprise Sarah that the autoimmune protocol would benefit varicose veins
Or at least make them shrink
There are going to be times where the damage is enough that there is no amount of good diet and awesome flavinoids that are going to reverse that
From a stopping the progression perspective and from helping veins that still have enough structure to return to normal, that makes a lot of sense
The other link to the autoimmune protocol that makes sense for varicose veins is to add in exercise
There are a lot of studies showing that the more active you are the lower your risk for varicose veins
There have been a few intervention studies that have taken people with really bad varicose veins and put them on some kind of exercise regimen
It seems like exercises that are specifically geared at increasing leg muscle strength are particularly helpful
Sarah explained the explanation behind this link in greater detail
Stacy asked Sarah is collagen supplementation could help with varicose veins
Sarah tried to be as thorough as possible in her research, and couldn't find a study where collagen supplementation was actually tested
From an intellectual perspective, it makes sense to Sarah that supplementing with collagen and making sure that you are hitting all those other nutrients that are really important for collagen formation will help
However, she can't point to a scientific study that says that is the case, or how much to take
If varicose veins are the only thing you are dealing with, you probably don't need to go full board AIP
You can look at the nutrient density of your diet
Address things like long periods of sedentary time
There is very little data comparing the different types of medical interventions for varicose veins
They are all thought to be good for a while, but the chances of another vein blowing are really high
The treatments are not treating the root cause
Compression stockings can help varicose veins but are working to simply keep things where they are
Veins can still continue to varicose if you have a lot of these other risk factors
If your legs are starting to ache your doctors will tell you to eat more fiber
Sarah's translation to that is to focus on the nutrient density of your diet by increasing your vegetable intake
She would also suggest exercise and compression stalkings
This will help some people, but will not be sufficient for others
The medical treatments that are available right now are surgery, laser therapy, and Sclerotherapy
There are a lot of options for treatment
Sarah recommends doing your research about all the available options
However, Christine is a wonderful testament to the power of diet and lifestyle
Sarah definitely recommends trying some tweaks to diet and lifestyle and compression stalkings first
(47:04) Closing Thoughts
Stacy learned a lot today and thanked Sarah for her research
Thank you, Christine, for your wonderful question!
Please feel free to submit YOUR questions through the forms on Stacy and Sarah's websites
A special thank you again to this week's sponsor, Joovv