How do we keep our veins healthy? We know that proper circulation is important for our overall health. And if valves in our veins become damaged, our vein’s ability to circulate blood properly becomes compromised. This is especially true in the lower leg, where veins must work harder to push blood upward against gravity. If the veins are damaged, then blood can pool in the lower leg and create a varicose vein. As the best vascular surgeons in Orlando, our team at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center know that one of the best things anyone can do to keep varicose veins at bay is to make small, easy lifestyle changes that benefit your vein health. Here are a few we recommend to keep your veins healthy.
Keep Your Legs Elevated
Many of us work jobs that require us to either sit or stand for extended periods of time. While we may hear from time to time that neither of these behaviors are great for our health, we don’t always make the adjustments needed to keep our bodies healthy at work. Hours of standing and sitting can impact your circulation and put excess pressure on the veins.
An easy way to offset the damage done by sitting or standing? Keep your legs elevated when you can. This encourages blood to flow back up the leg toward the heart instead of pooling in the vein. If you’re not able to elevate your legs at work, then try flexing and bending your legs frequently throughout the day to promote proper circulation in the leg.
It’s often said that exercise is good for your overall health. It has a significant impact on your vascular health as well. You don’t need to create an in-depth exercise routine for your veins. Simply walking is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your calves and get blood flowing through your leg. Take some time each day to fit in a 20-minute walk around the block, or try parking a little further away from your daily stops to get extra steps in.
You should note that, while exercise is good for your health, not all exercise is good for your veins. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming offer the most benefit for your vascular health. Weight training, however, can put stress on your vein valves — although this stress can be lessened through proper technique, breathing, and wearing compression stockings.
Drink Enough Water
Like exercise, water has benefits for your overall health. A common symptom of dehydration is thicker blood, which puts you at a higher risk of developing blood clots or varicose veins. Hydration thins the blood which makes it easier to circulate through the body.
Minimize Processed Sugar
Love sweet foods? Choose your favorite fruits over snacks high in processed sugar. Too much sugar in your body leads to an increased production of low-density lipoprotein which sticks to blood vessel walls. This increases your risk of developing varicose veins or blood clots. If you already have varicose veins, increased sugar levels can further irritate symptoms.
Fruits and veggies are a tasty way to cure a craving for something sweet, but remember that fresh is always best. Canned or processed foods can still be packed with added sugar and preservatives, and often don’t pose the same benefits that fresh foods do.
Use Compression Stockings
Compression stockings work by gradually applying pressure to the leg, with the greatest pressure being used near the lower leg. This gives your circulation a boost by gently guiding blood upward toward the heart. For many, compression stockings can help offer symptomatic relief from their varicose veins.
We always recommend seeing a specialist before purchasing this legwear. Everyone’s compressions needs are different. A specialist will help you assess what level of compression will be best for your current vein health.
Stay Out of the Heat
This is easier said than done during the hot Florida summers. Still, the more you can stay cool, the happier your veins will be. Long periods spent in hot conditions, whether you’re outside tanning or inside enjoying a hot bath, can cause veins to swell and further irritate varicose veins. We recommend avoiding heat when you can. And, when it’s unavoidable, wear loose-fitting clothing and stay hydrated to give your body some extra support. A great way to escape the heat and stay cool is by swimming, which has buoyancy and vasoconstriction vein benefits.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
High levels of sodium can cause your body to hold on to excess fluid, putting extra pressure on your veins and increasing your risk of venous insufficiency. Our daily sodium often doesn’t come from our salt shaker. Instead, it’s tucked away in many of the foods we pick up when grocery shopping. Check labels carefully, pick up low-sodium foods, and increase your water intake to keep your body balanced.
Incorporate Vein Health-Boosting Foods into Your Diet
There are specific foods that pose great benefits to your vein health. First, try adding more fiber to your diet by opting for whole wheat flour over white. This often means staying away from white bread, pasta, and rice, and instead choosing their whole wheat counterparts. Women should aim for 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams.
Next, look for foods that are rich in Rutin. These foods have been shown to reduce swelling, aching, and pain that often accompany varicose veins. Try incorporating buckwheat, blackberries, apples, apricots, and grapes into your diet. Many of them make great snacks!
Last, look for bioflavonoid-rich foods. These foods have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities that can also reduce swelling in the veins and strengthen connective tissues in the vein walls. Try picking up some of the following next time you grocery shop: red bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, broccoli, mangoes, garlic, spinach, or teas. As always, opt for fresh foods over canned or processed ones, where possible.
Be Proactive When Seeking Treatment
These tips may offer symptomatic relief for varicose veins, but they won’t cure them. It may be time to see a specialist if you’re already struggling with poor vein health. You can schedule a consultation with the best vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center by calling 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today.