How To Prevent Varicose Veins

You don't want those wormy blue bulges sticking out of your legs, right? How to prevent varicose veins is probably something you've been wondering about.

You've come to the right place, and if you're willing to take responsibility for your health, you can have a life free of the unsightly misshapen veins that cause so much pain and shame for the people who have to suffer with them.

Contrary to popular belief, your genes don't decide if you develop them - you do.

How To Prevent Varicose Veins:

What Are They?

How To Prevent Varicose Veins DiagramVaricose Veins transform from your run of the mill blood conduit to the bulging, spidery lumps you so often see in peoples' calves when their valves begin to fail and leak blood backwards.

Everyone knows the heart pumps fresh blood out to the body, but there isn't an obvious return pump. Ingeniously, the body relies on the contraction of our muscles to fight gravity and propel the blood upwards for cleaning and the replenishment of nutrients.

When the valves that keep that blood from leaking downward between contractions start to wear down and their leaflets no longer form a perfect seal, the blood leaks into the veins below and pools in various parts of the leg (varicose veins can also form in other parts of the body).

The veins this blood leaks into enlarge, engorged by large amounts of old plasma, and eventually they become noticeable by casual observation. Besides being unpleasant aesthetically, many people find them itchy or painful and resort to surgery or other invasive methods to get rid of them.

Are Heredity And Genetics The Causes Of Varicose Veins?

Most people in the western world like to believe their health is outside of their control so they can blame everything but their actions for their diseases. For instance, it's commonly believed cancer risk, obesity, type two diabetes, and other diseases are caused by our genes, even though science has shown all of these diseases are primarily caused by diet and lifestyle choices.

Unsurprisingly, many people blame their parents and more distant family for passing on varicose veins. While they do have a hereditary element, research has shown that genes play be a relatively small part in determining if a person will develop the issue (1).

I actually spent my early life assuming I'd develop varicose veins because it was in my family history. My mother and aunt got them at a relatively young ages, and my aunt opted to have painful surgery to get some of her's removed. Soon after he graduated from college, those spidery veins were climbing up my older brother's calves too.

Yet I took a different path than my family did, and it made all the difference. Having spent the early part of my life overweight and miserable, I decided to make some drastic changes around age 17. I gradually started replacing the processed foods and animal products I'd been raised on with whole plant foods while I simultaneously ratcheting up my exercise regime. By age 19 I was eating a low fat vegan diet, and soon after I was eating a healthy raw food diet made up of whole fruits, vegetables, and a few nuts and seeds. 

Unlike my brother, who'd never left unhealthy foods behind, I graduated from college with no bulging blue veins in my legs, and in the years since I've continued to be free of them. Now I'm not saying it's impossible for me to develop them, but I'm be willing to bet they'll never trouble me.

Want to know how to prevent varicose veins? First, start looking to yourself.

How To Prevent Varicose Veins:

The Food Connection

How to prevent varicose veins Water Walk

Most westerners are killing themselves with their poor diets and lifestyles, which cause all manner of life-threatening and disabling diseases, but also bring on plenty of other odd disorders like varicose veins, which 25 percent of the United States population suffers from to some degree.

Just like heart disease and stroke -two other vascular conditions which can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle - varicose veins can be avoided if you're willing to make wise choices.

Wormy blue disfigurments are almost entirely absent from populations that eat a high fiber, low fat, plant-based diet (5), (6).

When Dr. Denis Burkitt was apointed by the British government to the post of Government Surgeon of Uganda in 1946, he noticed that most of the diseases he'd treated in England, Scotland, and Ireland were entirely absent from Africa. There was virtually no cancer, type two diabetes, obesity, hemorrhoids, heart disease, or the other diseases western people suffered from. Between 1946 and 1964 he found no cases of varicose veins (7), despite so many suffering from it in the western world. 

The Ugandan diet of his patients was based around vegetables and fruits, and had virtually no refined foods and very little meat, eggs, or dairy. It was low in cholesterol, packed with carbohydrates and fiber, and high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (8).

Burkitt believed the diet of his African patients, particularly its high fiber content, was responsible for their vascular health, and subsequently became known for his promotion of high fiber foods. Decades of research has shown that increasing fiber consumption alone won't undue the problems brought on by eating an unhealthy western diet, but eating plant-based meals and avoiding animals foods and processed junk certainly will.

In Africa, increasingly worsening diets have lead to more varicose veins since the end of Burkitt's tenure, along with many other western diseases (9).

Unsurprisingly, those that suffer from other diseases known to be brought on by diet and lifestyle problems also suffer from a higher incidence of varicose veins compared to those who don't. Those with heart disease, a malady which can be prevented and reversed with a low fat plant based vegan diet (2), for instance, have a considerably larger risk of developing varicose veins than those who don't (3).

How To Prevent Varicose Veins:

Straining Your Way To Wormy Blue Veins

Although the theory hasn't been proven (10), Burkitt believed that hemorrhoids and varicose veins were at least partially brought on due to strain during bowel movements.

How To Prevent Varicose Veins
                      Back Of Leg ShotIt's well known that those who eat lots of meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods have a much harder time passing stools and suffer from more constipation than those who eat plant-based diets.

People on healthy raw food diets probably have it easiest of all, and adherents usually describe needing to sit on the toilet for only a few seconds and put no effort into moving their bowels.

People eating your average western SAD diet, though, often have to strain just to pass their hard stools. When a person strains, the high retrograde pressure involved dilates the leg veins and stretches out the valves. After years of this abnormal pressure, the valve leaflets no longer create a perfect seal and blood starts leaking downward, eventually leading to varicose veins and related problems like hemorrhoids (11).

In men, those needing to put any strain into bowel movements had three times  the incidence of varicose veins (12).

You want to know how to prevent varicose veins? Step 1: eat a diet that allows for effortless bowel movements.

How To Prevent Varicose Veins:

Living A Healthy Lifestyle

Lifestyle is critical if you want to stay free of varicose veins. Your best bet is to adopt a lifestyle that supports the many pillars we rely on for health.

Varicose veins are significantly more common in those that consume alcohol (which, contrary to popular belief, causes disease even among light drinkers) and smoke, for instance (4).

Having a healthy low body weight and doing vigorous exercise appears to reduce risk considerably (13), (14).

How To Prevent Varicose Veins: Following Up

How to prevent varicose veins? Eat a healthy raw food diet.

Learn to make delicious and healthy raw salad dressings.

Figure out what foods to eat and which to avoid.

How To Prevent Varicose Veins: Sources

1) Ahti, Tiina M. Et al. "Effect of Family History on the Incidence of Varicose Veins: A Population-Based Follow-Up Study in Finland" ANGIOLOGY, August/September 2009; vol. 60, 4: pp. 487-491., first published on July 21, 2009
2) Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet. 1990 Jul 21;336(8708):129-33.
Makivaara, LA. Et al. Arterial disease but not hypertension predisposes to varicose veins Phlebology June 2008 23:142-146; doi:10.1258/phleb.2007.007058
4) Ahti, TM. Et al. Lifestyle factors and varicose veins: does cross-sectional design result in underestimate of the risk? Phlebology. August 2010 vol. 25 no. 4 201-206
5) Burkitt DP, Walker AR, Painter NS. Dietary fiber and disease. JAMA. 1974;229:1068-1074.
6) Burkitt DP. Varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and hemorrhoids: epidemiology and suggested etiology. Br Med J. 1972;2:556-561.
7) Ginsberg A.  The fiber Controversy.  Dig Dis 1976 Feb, 21:103-112.
8) Segal, I.  Persistent low prevalence of Western digestive diseases in Africa: confounding aetiological factors.  Gut. 2001 May;48(5):730-2. Review.
9) Richardson JB, Dixon M. Varicose veins in tropical Africa. Lancet. 1977;1:791–792.
10) Fowkes FG, Lee AJ, Evans CJ, Allan PL, Bradbury AW, Ruckley CV. Lifestyle risk factors for lower limb venous reflux in the general population: Edinburgh Vein Study. Int J Epidemiol. 2001;30:846–852.
11) Ogendo SW.  A study of haemorrhoids as seen at the Kenyatta National Hospital with special reference to asymptomatic haemorrhoids. East Afr Med J. 1991 May;68(5):340-7.
12) Lee AJ, Evans CJ, Hau CM, Fowkes FG. Fiber intake, constipation, and risk of varicose veins in the general population: Edinburgh Vein Study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2001;54:423–429.
13) Beebe–Dimmer JL, Pfeifer JR, Engle JS, Schottenfeld D. The epidemiology of chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins. Ann Epidemiol. 2005;15:175–184.
14) Miller AL. Botanical influences on cardiovascular disease. Altern Med Rev. 1998;3:422–431.

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