Vein health can be tricky – it is not something taught in schools or a concern we are exposed to on a daily basis like obesity, cholesterol or diabetes. However, our veins can be affected by these conditions and play an important role in our overall health and quality of life. It is important to treat them with the love and care they deserve, as they belong to the primary system keeping us alive!
We have put together a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” to care for the health of your veins, and improve your overall health in the process.
DON’T Extend Exposure to Heat
We know there is nothing better than a long, hot bath or hours of baking in the summer sun, but these practices do not promote healthy veins. Over time, heat, especially from a bath or hot tub, can increase vein swelling and lead to blood pooling. When this becomes a regular practice, it can lead to venous insufficiency and blood clots.
Hydration is the key to a healthy body, but especially helps veins that may be already susceptible to insufficiency. When your body is hydrated with water, your blood becomes thinner and therefore flows more easily. Thick blood is usually a sign that there is not enough water in the body and does put veins at a higher risk for clots and insufficiency. The bloating and swelling often caused by dehydration is often a sign of this inefficient flow of blood and may lead to more serious problems. We recommend drinking at least eight 8-oz cups of water on a daily basis to keep your body and heart healthy – this will make more than just your veins happy!
DON’T Consume Sugary Drinks
Sodas, juices and energy or sports drinks may taste great, but they do not support your veins being in tiptop shape! Increased sugar intake leads to an increased production of low-density lipoprotein in the body, which can become oxidized and stuck to the walls of your blood vessels and lead to a buildup of plaque. This plaque causes clotting and can lead to high cholesterol as well as venous and arterial conditions. Keeping our vein and artery walls clear is dependent upon proper hydration, along with a diet high in natural sugars contained in fruit, and lots and lots of veggies!
DO Wear Compression Stockings & Elevate
If you are susceptible to venous insufficiency, either by genetics, pregnancy or the nature of your work day, compression stockings and elevation will be your best chance of either avoiding these conditions or maintaining your health after you seek treatment. Compression stockings serve to contract muscles around the veins continuously throughout the day to help propel blood flow back toward the heart. If you spend hours sitting or standing or have excess pressure on the legs from pregnancy or obesity, it is important to utilize compression stockings to aid proper circulation.
Elevating your legs throughout the day is also important in improving circulation. Beginning and ending your day with your legs up the wall for five minutes will force blood flow back to the heart, reducing swelling and taking pressure off of your legs. If you can make time during the day, elevating your feet above your hips is a great way to relieve pressure for a few minutes and get your circulation flowing quickly again.
DON’T Lift Heavy Weights
While exercise is vital in improving your overall health, heavy weight lifting may be detrimental to the health of your legs and veins. Adding weight to your body and planting most of the pressure into your feet and legs, as you can imagine, only increases the strain on your veins. Increasing your level of cardio and implementing light weight lifting into plyometric exercises will increase your circulation and prevent further damage to your veins.
Just because weight lifting may not be beneficial to your vein health does not mean that exercise should be counted out completely. In fact, walking is one of the most effective ways to keep your veins healthy. This exercise is low-impact and encourages the contraction of muscles around the veins in the same way compression stockings do. Walking on a daily basis can dramatically improve your overall health and lead to weight loss when coupled with a healthy diet.
Smoking tobacco inflicts so many negative consequences on the body, especially the cardiovascular system including the veins. Smoking inserts chemicals to the bloodstream that thicken and deoxygenate blood, slowing blood flow dramatically. Further, nicotine causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries, making blood clots much more likely to occur. Quitting smoking completely will eliminate this risk and improve the function not only of your veins, but of your lungs and internal organs as well.
DO Eat Healthy
This may not come as a shock to you, but fruits and vegetables are the best things you can give to your veins! Foods rich in vitamin C, like melons, papaya and oranges, improves vein diameter, while dark, leafy greens and similar foods rich in vitamin K contribute to the health of your vein walls and the improvement of your circulation. Kale is called a ‘super food’ for a reason!
DON’T Sit or stand all day
As you have learned from other blogs, long days of either standing or sitting keeps veins dormant and discourages strong blood circulation. If your work requires extended hours of standing, we recommend you make time to sit and elevate your legs periodically throughout the day, while those of you sitting behind a desk should make an effort to go for a walk on your lunch break.
DO Seek Treatment!
The most important thing you should learn about your venous condition is that it’s treatable! A simple diagnostic ultrasound with Canada Vein Clinics can determine the type and level of insufficiency, and our physicians will work with you one-on-one to determine which treatment options best serve you.
If you are suffering from discomfort or pain in your veins, contact Canada Vein Clinics today to schedule your diagnostic ultrasound: 1-888-876-VEIN.