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Is Your Diet Making Your Varicose Veins Worse?

A healthy diet can help you reduce any discomfort associated with your varicose veins.   Numerous factors contribute to the formation of varicose veins. Heredity, lifestyle, pregnancy, gender, and age all rank as major contributors to the visible, raised veins on the legs and feet. But did you know the food you eat may also play a significant role in the development of varicose veins?   Making some simple dietary changes may prevent varicose veins from cropping up. In addition, if you already have varicose veins, a healthier diet can reduce the discomfort, swelling, and throbbing that’s often associated with the disorder. Because varicose veins are a result of poor circulation, foods that promote circulation are helpful, while those that hinder proper blood flow are not. Let’s review the foods that are best and worst for circulation.  

How Foods Help or Hurt Your Veins.

Varicose veins appear when small valves in the veins cannot efficiently pump blood back to the heart. The blood pools in the vein, eventually stretching the vein wall out from under the skin until they appear as blue and purple lines. If you want to keep those valves from malfunctioning or reduce the symptoms of varicose veins, here’s how.  

Throw away your salt shaker.

Too much sodium in your diet makes you retain water, and excess fluids only increase pressure in the veins. According to the federal government’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Americans aged 14 and older consume much more than the recommended 2,300 grams of sodium each day, and most of that salt comes from commercially prepared foods. In general, heavily processed foods like hot dogs and deli meats, pickles, salad dressings, fast food, and canned foods all contain a high amount of sodium.    To reduce your sodium intake, don’t add extra salt to your food and read the labels on food products to know how much sodium each contains. On the other hand, foods high in potassium reduce water retention and stimulate the opposite effect of sodium. Examples of high-potassium foods include almonds, lentils, white beans, potatoes, leafy vegetables, and fish like salmon and tuna.  

Pick colorful fruits and veggies.

Colorful fruits and vegetables get their distinctive hues from bioflavonoids, which have many beneficial properties. Among those benefits is their ability to fight inflammation and bolster circulation. Broccoli, eggplant, asparagus, spinach, bell peppers, grapes, citrus fruits, and strawberries all fall into this category. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and eat them uncooked whenever possible. Avoid canned versions, since they’re likely to contain added sodium.  

Boost Fiber Intake.

Fibrous foods aid digestion and prevent constipation, which puts extra pressure on abdominal and leg veins as you strain to eliminate bowel movements. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends men consume 30.8 grams of fiber daily, while women should eat 25.2 grams. You can avoid constipation by adding fiber-rich foods such as whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, nuts, and legumes to your diet, while limiting red meat, starchy foods, and dairy products.   

Keep Hydrated.

Since our bodies are mostly made up of water, maintaining a proper balance of water in the body is necessary for circulation. Drinking plenty of water also helps fiber do its job in preventing constipation. Start each day with a glass of water, and always have a water bottle handy. (Make sure the bottle is free of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in hard plastic that is similar to estrogen. Estrogen increases the risk of spider veins.) As you boost your water intake, cut out sugary drinks and alcohol — they can reverse water’s positive effects.  

Is it Time to Treat Your Varicose Veins?

  While diet and regular exercise can alleviate varicose vein symptoms, we at the Vascular & Interventional Associates Vein Center can recommend several minimally invasive procedures to permanently eliminate varicose and spider veins. Contact us today for an appointment to give your legs a smoother appearance and do away with swelling, itching, and throbbing for good.

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