Varicose veins can range from mild spider veins that are occasionally uncomfortable to large, swollen veins that cause you daily pain. A lot of factors affect whether or not you get varicose veins and whether or not vein weakness gets worse over time. Some factors, like genetics and health conditions, are not ones you can control.
However, lifestyle choices do affect vein health. You probably know that sitting down for long periods of time contributes to varicose vein development, but did you know your diet can also increase your risk for vein trouble?
Diet contributes to overall cardiovascular health. Learn how the foods you eat can help or hurt your varicose veins.
Why Diet Makes a Difference
You've probably heard a lot about how diet affects your arteries and your heart. Veins often take a backseat in the cardiovascular conversation, but people with vein diseases experience reduced mobility and even excruciating pain as a result. Your veins should be just as important in a discussion about eating for health.
As you age, your veins start to lose elasticity. This elastic quality is what makes a vein so good at moving blood back toward the heart after the arteries have efficiently delivered oxygen and nutrients to cells. The elasticity of the vein helps to push blood through, working through small barriers that keep the blood moving through the vein without flowing back.
Good nutrition can help veins to keep their elasticity longer. Varicose veins develop when the barriers in a vein degenerate or stop working due to inflammation or reduced collagen that helps to provide vitality and strength to the walls of the vein.
A healthful diet can also help prevent weight gain as you age. Since weight is a factor that increases the risk of developing vein diseases, you can benefit from a diet that focuses on cardiovascular health.
Foods that Help
Your body needs different foods to fulfill different functions. Whole-grain wheat, for example, provides carbohydrates for energy and fiber to aid digestion. Lean meats help to provide quality protein for muscle repair. Your veins also need foods that are especially high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as vegetables.
Ideally, the more colorful your plate, the better off your veins will be. Vegetables and fruits that have rich, deep colors have higher levels of accessible vitamins and minerals. Increase you intake of vegetables like spinach, kale, red and orange peppers, pumpkin, squash, and carrots.
Colorful fruits can also be a staple of your diet. Berries, particularly blueberries and cherries, offer rich levels of antioxidants to reduce inflammation in your blood vessels. Berries also have natural tannins (it's what can make them taste tart) that improve the overall strength of your veins.
Also, don't forget about the nuts and seeds. Almonds and sunflower seeds provide healthy amounts of copper, which can improve vein elasticity.
Foods that Hurt
In contrast to the wealth of foods that improve vein health, some foods only make things worse for your blood vessels. You can probably guess which foods will not provide your veins with a helping hand.
Sugar naturally increases the stress on your cardiovascular system. High blood sugar can stimulate the blood vessels so that they have a harder time relaxing. Sugar also increases inflammation, which affects the overall health of your veins. Try to get sugar from natural sources, like fruit, and avoid candies, cakes, and soda.
Salt and foods with high sodium content will also increase the stress on veins, especially if you already have developed varicose veins. Salt causes you to retain water, which increases the pressure in areas where vein barriers are already weak or damaged. Look for low-sodium food options, especially when eating out or when buying pre-packaged goods.
For more information about how your diet can affect your vein health, contact us at Varicure Vein Center.