Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a disease of the veins where the valves in the veins do not work correctly. As a result, blood "backs up" and forms swelling in the legs and feet. Some people who have CVI have trouble walking for several minutes at a time because of leg pain, fatigue, or numbness.
While there are many claims that diet may cure chronic venous insufficiency, diet alone will not remove the symptoms associated with CVI.
What does Science Say About Diet and CVI?
There's no scientific evidence to support that dietary changes can cure chronic venous insufficiency. Diet and CVI may be related, but doctors believe that the relationship between them is not significant or strong enough for a diet to be a factor in treating CVI. That's because CVI has many causes - you might have blockages in the veins (called deep vein thrombosis), twisting of the veins (called vein entrapment), and even nerve damage.
In fact, the main treatment for CVI is to perform a minimally invasive procedure on the veins called Endovenous Thermal Ablation (EVA), and Sclerotherapy.
However, diet may help improve blood circulation to the legs and may alleviate some of the symptoms caused by venous disease.
The Most Effective Diet for Managing CVI
CVI affects everyone differently, and symptoms fluctuate from day-to-day. Some people may have more difficulty when they stand for long periods of time, while others may experience restless legs syndrome at night that wakes them up. Diet alone cannot cure CVI because it is very complex and there are many causes, but following these dietary guidelines can help you feel better and relieve your symptoms.
Diet is helpful for managing CVI because it controls fluid buildup in the legs, and also helps to reduce low blood circulation (which contributes to fatigue). Here are some diet tips to help manage your CVI:
Eat A High-Fiber
A high-fiber diet can help relieve constipation, which is a common condition for people who have CVI. Constipation may worsen the situation because it causes your bowels to fill with waste that your body cannot remove easily. This may lead to more fluid retention in the legs and other problems associated with chronic venous insufficiency.
Vegetables are an important part of a high-fiber diet that can help relieve the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. Vegetables are rich in nutrients including antioxidants, fiber, and potassium which is very helpful for managing CVI symptoms.
Try eating 4-5 servings of vegetables per day, which can include:
- Bell peppers
- Brussel sprouts
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard)
- Carrots and other root vegetables.
Avoid Eating Fatty and Salty Foods
Consuming salty foods like bread, pizza, and cold cuts can cause water retention, which consequently hinders blood flow. Diet may be a powerful tool for managing symptoms, so focus on eating foods with lower amounts of unhealthy fat and sodium to help reduce symptoms of CVI. Here are some additional tips:
- Eat Fish: Fish is high in proteins and contains an abundance of healthy fats called Omega-3 fatty acids
- Cut Back on Red Meat: Red meats are higher in saturated fat and can contribute to a buildup of plaque in the veins.
- Avoid Carbohydrates: Process carbs from crackers, chips, some types of pasta, and bread that contain fiber but often don't have many nutrients that your body needs. Diet for chronic venous insufficiency is more effective if it includes foods that are high in nutrients and vitamins instead of carbohydrates.
- Eat More Nuts: Nuts are rich in protein, fiber, and good fats so they can help reduce leg swelling. Diet for chronic venous insufficiency should include healthy sources of fat like those found in nuts since these fats may fight off the bad kind (saturated fats).
Reduce Your Intake of Refined Foods
Refined foods are another type of processed food that contains little to no nutritional value for you. You should also reduce or eliminate junk food from your diet because it contains a high amount of saturated fat which has no nutritional value. Get more lean protein in your diet, but make sure to get it from healthy sources like fish and poultry or grass-fed options.
By the same token, get rid of unhealthy sources of saturated fat like processed meat (bacon, pepperoni) and unhealthy dairy products (milk chocolate).
Drink More Water Every Day!
Hydrate yourself by replacing sugary drinks (like soda or juice) with water. Staying properly hydrated will help improve circulation in the legs, prevent blood pressure issues like hypertension, and keep your body slim. It's also important to stay well-hydrated because it helps your body in the absorption of nutrients from food.
More Potassium Intake
By adding more potassium-rich foods to your diet, you can improve blood circulation in the legs, which will prevent heavy or tired legs. A diet for chronic venous insufficiency should include lots of high-potassium foods like:
- Orange Juice
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds in fruits and vegetables. They have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, So adding more flavonoid-rich foods to your diet can strengthen blood vessels in the body, and cramp on the legs. Diet for chronic venous insufficiency should include lots of high-flavonoid foods like:
- Citrus fruits
- Red Grapes
- Green Tea
Watch Out For BPA!
BPA or bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastic products that have been known to have negative effects on the body. Diet for Managing Chronic Venous Insufficiency should exclude this chemical from your diet because it has been linked with poor circulation.
When shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, choose loose items instead of packaged ones. They won't have any chemical residue on them. When buying canned foods, you should look for the ones with "BPA-Free" labels.
What to Keep in Mind About Diet for Managing CVI?
If you're considering starting a new diet program, talk to your doctor about it first to make sure that the dietary changes you want to make are safe for your health. Diet should always be done under the supervision of a medical professional, not by yourself since it can impact your overall well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Juice is Good For Veins?
There are several types of fruit and vegetable juices that have been said to aid in vein health. One of the best ones you can drink is fresh-squeezed orange juice because it contains a high amount of Vitamin C which helps improve vein strength and blood circulation.
What Foods Repair Veins?
The best foods to eat to repair veins are some of the high-flavonoid foods like spinach, kale, and broccoli because they increase blood flow in the legs. Diet for chronic venous insufficiency should include lots of these vegetables because they may help improve poor vein health.
Does Caffeine Constrict Veins?
Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause blood vessels in the body to constrict. It also has diuretic properties which means it can make you urinate more frequently, increasing water loss. If you want to improve your vein health through diet, avoid or eliminate caffeine intake because too much of it will exacerbate poor vein health issues like varicose veins.
What Supplements Are Good For Venous Insufficiency?
While you're eating a diet that's rich in potassium, vitamins, and flavonoids, you can also consider taking supplements. Here are some supplements that can be consumed for venous insufficiency:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Some studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids can help improve vein health and ease the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. It's found in foods like tuna, mackerel, halibut, salmon, and sardines.
- Ginkgo biloba: This well-known supplement is derived from the ginkgo Biloba tree. It has been shown to enhance circulation in veins, which helps reduce vein discomfort.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplements have also been shown to improve venous health, especially when combined with flavonoids like quercetin.
If you're considering supplements, talk to your doctor about what options are right for you because they can interact with medications and other dietary supplements.
What foods are bad for venous insufficiency?
There are several food items to avoid if you want to improve your vein health and manage chronic venous insufficiency symptoms. Some of the things to avoid include:
- Salty food: Salts can increase water retention in the body, which causes leg swelling. Diet for managing chronic venous insufficiency should limit consumption of salty foods like chips, fries, and processed meats.
- Alcohol: Alcohol speeds up the flow of blood in veins and arteries, which increases pressure within the veins. It should be excluded from a diet for vein health because it can contribute to leg swelling and other symptoms associated with chronic venous insufficiency.
- Caffeinated drinks: Caffeine has been shown to increase vein pressure, which can make symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency worse. It should be limited or excluded from a diet for vein health to prevent leg swelling and other symptoms.
Many people who suffer from chronic venous insufficiency also suffer from leg swelling and discomfort. This condition can affect your quality of life, if you're looking for a way to manage symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, there are several diet changes you can make. But it's important to speak with your doctor before starting any treatment program or dietary changes to make sure that they're right for you and won't interfere with other medications or treatments.
Vein Envy's board-certified vein specialists have worked extensively with many patients with chronic venous insufficiency and venous congestion. Schedule a free vein screening today!