Holiday season means indulgent foods like ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and macaroni and cheese, so it's no wonder many of us pack on the dreaded "holiday 10." But if you have varicose veins then you could be setting yourself up for more than weight gain and stomach aches—you can also worsen your symptoms.
Here are five ways to keep your veins healthy through a holiday feast.
1. Limit your salt & calorie intake
It's no secret that foods filled with calories can lead to weight gain—and those are of course the BEST holiday foods. But just how do those extra pounds affect you?
Excess body weight puts a strain on your veins, making it harder for them to send blood back up to your heart. As a result, pressure increases in the valves that are inside your veins, which can make them more susceptible to leakage. A leaking valve can cause blood to pool in the veins, leading to the unsightly bulge of varicose veins. Try to adopt a low-salt diet as this helps prevent swelling due to water retention.
So keep track of your mashed potato intake and eat your favorite holiday foods in moderation.
2. Make vitamin C your friend
Vitamin C is essential for making collagen and elastin, two vital connective tissues that work to keep your veins strong and toned—think of them as the exercise routine you need for your veins.
The vitamin C in these foods will strengthen your veins, which will help improve your circulation. Be sure to snack on these types of fruits and vegetables in between your holiday meals:
- bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
3. Eat plenty of fiber
All of that ham and stuffing can make your digestive system sluggish and make you constipated. Straining in the bathroom can actually damage the veins in your legs. These veins run up to your groin and abdomen, and if they're damaged then your blood circulation can be impacted.
Fiber-rich foods can soften your stool and keep you regular. Focus on fiber-rich foods like:
4. Drink enough water
It is important to drink plenty of water, especially if you are taking in a lot of fiber. Without enough water, fiber can have the opposite effect. Instead of making you more regular, it can bind you and cause constipation, which in turn can intensify pressure in your veins.
Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Avoid dehydrating liquids such as:
- caffeinated tea
5. Choose bioflavanoid-rich foods
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a group of compounds known as bioflavonoids. Not only do these compounds give them their rich color and protect them from microbes and insects, they can help improve the appearance of your varicose veins.
Bioflavonoids can strengthen blood vessel walls and obstruct damaging free radicals inside your veins. Rutin, a type of bioflavonoid, may actually do more like reduce swelling, relieve aching and minimize pain.
Foods and drinks that are rich in bioflavonoids include:
- unfermented rooibos tea
- elderflower tea
- amaranth leaves