Can Eating Fiber Prevent Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are those unsightly blue and purple lines that often bulge and twist above the skin’s surface. In addition to their aesthetic concern, these veins can be accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms like aching or heaviness in the legs, burning or itching skin or the formation of open skin sores. While there is no way to avoid the formation of these veins completely, there are ways to lower your risk of developing them – including the implementation of a high fiber diet.

The Link between Fiber and Varicose Veins

The veins feature tiny valves that keep blood flowing in a single direction back to the heart. Varicose veins occur when those valves wear out or become damaged, resulting in blood refluxing back into the vein and causing it to swell. The harder the veins have to work, the more likely the valves will fail and varicose veins will develop.  

One factor that can make the veins work harder than they should is constipation. The strain of moving the bowels can put pressure on the veins, particularly veins located in the lower legs. Since these veins already have to work against the forces of gravity to pump blood back up to the heart, the additional pressure may be enough to create varicosities in some of the lower leg veins.

Large population studies have confirmed this link between varicose veins and fiber-rich diets. Cultures that tend to eat less fiber also have a higher prevalence of varicose veins. However, further studies are needed to determine if additional fiber alone is effective in preventing varicose veins. At this time, it appears appropriate to recommend a high-fiber diet as one component in lowering your risk for varicose veins.

Getting Your Fiber

A high fiber diet may not only reduce your risk of varicose veins; it can eliminate painful constipation problems as well. Choose fiber-rich foods daily to fill your plate, including:

  • Whole grain breads, cereals and pastas
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins, apple chips)
  • Beans, lentils and peas
  • Fiber-rich fruits like apples, pears, oranges and berries
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach

In addition to the foods listed above, drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily. The high fiber diet will offer a number of healthy benefits, in addition to possibly preventing the appearance of varicose veins. To learn more about preventing or treating varicose veins, contact Dr. Lev’s staff at Advanced Varicose Veins Treatments of Manhattan at 212-204-6501.

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