How Diet Affects Your Varicose Veins
A healthy diet is important for so many reasons. Not only does this pertain to the food and drink you consume, but it also includes the amount of sleep you get each night, the frequency in which you exercise or at least move on a regular basis, your stress level, and even the people you surround yourself with.
All of these things contribute to a healthy diet. By following a healthy lifestyle, it can decrease your risk for weight issues or obesity, boost your mood and energy levels, help you reach your desired goals, both personally and professionally, and decrease the risk for chronic diseases and other health concerns — one of these being varicose veins.
What is the cause of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by weakened or damaged valves that affect how the veins carry blood through the body to the heart. But how do these valves become damaged and stop functioning the way they should? One of the main reasons this happens is because of excess pressure or strain on the veins themselves. This often happens as a result of someone being overweight.
Weight plays a very important role in vein health. When someone is over the recommended weight for their age, height, and body type in general, it can wreak havoc on your veins and cause them to struggle to keep up with their duties to keep the body healthy and strong. Not only does the physical weight have an affect on the vein’s ability to function properly, but if you couple that with a poor diet, the impact doubles. Excess build-up can occur within the veins, which can weaken blood flow and increase the risk for blood clotting to take place.
What to Avoid to Maintain Healthy Veins
There are a few main things to avoid in order to keep yourself and your veins healthy. First and foremost, stay away from saturated fats as much as possible. This kind of fat is most often found in foods like butter, cheese, milk, red meat, chicken skin, and coconut or palm oil. Too much saturated fat can impact heart health, and should be limited to no more than 10% of your daily allotted calories.
When you consume too much saturated fat, it can cause plaque to build up within the vein canal, which gets in the way of proper blood flow and circulation — the leading cause of varicose veins. Foods that are high in saturated fat are also usually high in calories. It’s important to consume these high-fat, high-calorie foods in moderation to keep from gaining weight and run the risk of becoming obese.
Salt is another ingredient to watch out for. Yes, it is true that we do need some amount of salt in our diet to maintain things like proper cell and nerve function, but the majority of people take in way more than what they should. According to the World Health Organization, most people consume twice the recommended maximum level of intake.
Consuming too much salt can cause water retention in the body and increase blood pressure, both of which cause excess strain on the veins and heart. You can easily cut back on salt intake by keeping salty snacks and processed foods out of reach, not adding salt to food when cooking at home or at the table when dining out, and making it a point to check the salt content listed on the nutrition labels of packaged goods when grocery shopping.
Staying hydrated is also very important for healthy veins. Drinking the recommended amount of water is linked to improved blood flow and appetite suppression to support a healthy weight.
Foods That Help Maintain Healthy Veins
Being mindful of the amount of saturated fat and salt in your diet can help keep your veins healthy — but it’s not just about what to avoid; it’s also about knowing what foods can help maintain your vein health.
Potassium can help fight off that water retention caused by excess salt intake, so any foods that are high in potassium are great for vein health. This includes almonds, pistachios, lentils, white beans, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, and fatty fish such as salmon or tuna. High-fiber foods, including nuts, seeds, legumes, oats, flaxseed and whole grains, are also crucial components of a healthy diet. A high-fiber diet supports healthy digestion, and a healthy digestive symptom means less constipation or straining, which can aggravate the veins.
Foods that include flavonoids are said to improve blood flow and even shrink varicose veins. Flavonoid-rich foods include onions, bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, citrus, grapes, cherries, apples, blueberries, cocoa and garlic.
To maintain a healthy diet in general, the USDA recommends making sure to stay within your daily caloric needs, and including all types of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, or lactose-free/fortified soy options if needed, a variety of protein including lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy products, and foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugar.
If you are overwhelmed with questions or concerns about your own vein health, Dr. Susan B Fox and her expert team at Fox Vein & Laser Experts, South Florida’s premier vein clinic, are here to help. When you book a consultation with our vein doctors, we will make sure to address all of your concerns and are happy to guide you through the proper nutrition protocol for healthy veins. Our team has decades of experience successfully diagnosing and treating varicose veins, as well as other venous diseases, so you are in good hands when you step into our offices in Hollywood and Pembroke Pines. Call us today at 954-627-1045 to schedule an appointment.