Great Diet Tips to Prevent Varicose Veins
Poor circulation in the legs can lead to unpleasant varicose veins. Unlike high-pressure, outbound arteries, veins carry low pressure blood back to the heart. They therefore contain one-way valves to prevent sluggish blood from backing up. Venous blood in legs has a particular challenge in moving against gravity. Because of this, valves may fail and blood pools up, causing it to swell into a varicose vein. Regular activity and avoiding cigarettes are two important preventatives, but so are a wide variety of foods.
Diet affects virtually all aspects of our health and circulation is no exception. For example, foods high in vitamin C are important not just for sailors on the high seas, where limes were first used to prevent scurvy. That condition is caused by lack of healthy connective tissue because vitamin C is crucial for the formation of connective tissue proteins like collagen and elastin. Yet we land-lubbers need those proteins just as much for good ‘tone’ – strength and elasticity – of our blood vessels.
Vitamin C, as well as vitamin E, also functions as powerful antioxidants in our bodies. Although oxygen is vital to life, we also constantly form low levels of very chemically reactive side products of oxygen, appropriately called ‘reactive oxygen species’ (ROS). These compounds can damage otherwise healthy proteins and lipids that make up the membranes of our cells, and can sometimes even damage our genetic material, DNA. Antioxidants neutralize ROS compounds before they can do their dirty work.
In addition to vitamins, antioxidants include food compounds called flavonoids. These compounds often give fruits and vegetables their bright yellow and red colors, though some are less colorful yet still beneficial. Foods containing good amounts of flavonoids form a long list that includes citrus fruits, blueberries and strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, garlic and green tea. Keep these foods on your shopping list to not only reduce your chances of developing varicose veins but for all-around good health!
Consuming more soluble fiber in food can help keep varicose veins at bay by reducing constipation. Constipation puts pressure on the veins returning from the legs which over time can contribute to formation of varicose veins. Foods rich in soluble fiber include peas, beans, carrots, apples, oats, flaxseed and barley. There are also supplements containing soluble fiber in the form known as psyllium. This and other forms of fiber work best when consumed with plenty of water, and avoiding dehydration is another practice recommended for general good health.
Carrying extra weight can have the same effect on upper leg veins as described for constipation, but of course it tends to be far more chronic. Avoiding calorie-laden foods high in sugar and/or fat will help keep you more trim and lessen the chances of developing varicose veins. Go for more lean meats such as poultry, and make sure there is some fish in your diet. Ironically, even oily fish such as salmon is a weight-wise choice, because those happen to be good oils. Other foods said to reduce risks of varicose veins are avocados, asparagus, beets, buckwheat, ginger and rosemary. Lots of great things to eat and enjoy!
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