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FAQ - Varicose Veins - Q&A

By Jenny Bodenham BA (Hons) DipION MBANT

Q - "I developed varicose veins in my legs when pregnant with my first child, four years ago. They are still uncomfortable today. Is there anything I can do to help my varicose veins?"

A - Varicose veins are veins that are permanently dilated and twisted and raised above the surface of the skin. This is a common condition that can occur anywhere in the body but usually develops in the legs, where blood flow is working against gravity, and it is common in pregnant women. Unlike arteries, veins have thin, non-elastic walls that are unable to contract and actively push the blood towards the heart, relying on one-way valves and surrounding muscles to prevent the backward flow of blood. If the valves become weak, blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins, enlarging them and leading to the development of varicose veins. While usually harmless, varicose veins can be painful, itchy, swollen and unsightly, making the legs feel tired and heavy above the level of the heart. If you are overweight, losing a few pounds may help.

The good news is that there are other things you can do to help keep your veins healthy.

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin C and vitamin E, which support the circulation and blood vessel  above the level of the heart. If you are overweight, losing a few pounds may help.

The good news is that there are other things you can do to help keep your veins healthy.

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin C and vitamin E, which support the circulation and blood vessel integrity, is recommended. Avocados, carrots, pumpkin, squash, green leafy vegetables, kiwi fruits and strawberries are good choices.

The bioflavonoids in fruits and vegetables, such as rutin and diosmin, may also help to support the blood vessels while bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapple, may be helpful for healthy blood flow and keeping the veins cool. Aloe vera used topically is also good for cooling and soothing the veins.

Dark-coloured berries such as cherries, blackberries and blueberries are particularly useful as they contain anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, pigments that help to tone and strengthen the walls of the veins. Horse chestnut extract can also help, while bilberries are also good for general vein health too.

Fish or flax seed oils may also support healthy blood flow (blood clots are a serious but rare complication of varicose veins) and also maintain the health of blood vessels. Oily fish, like salmon and mackerel, plus nuts, seeds and healthy oils, such as cold pressed flax and hemp seed oils, are healthy choices.

Finally, since being dehydrated does not help your circulation, reducing alcohol and caffeinated drinks while increasing your water consumption is recommended. 


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