Good blood circulation is vital to every single part of the human body since blood brings oxygen and nutrients to all of the tissues and organs, and helps remove waste products. But what happens when your blood circulation isn't so good? The answer is a condition called Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD). A number of problems can result from PVD, ranging from coldness, numbness and tingling in the extremities to tissue death and amputation. However, there are several easy ways to improve blood circulation to avoid this health condition.
Exercise to Improve Blood Circulation
Everyone knows that exercise is good, but when it comes to PVD, exercise can mean big improvements in blood circulation. Ironically, people who have poor circulation often become less active over time because physical activity becomes difficult, and in some cases painful.
According to an article published in the Arizona Daily Sun, moderate levels of cardiovascular exercise, such as 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill, can increase circulation in the extremities to healthy levels. Moderate cardiovascular exercise will stimulate positive changes in the vascular tissue by increasing the demand for oxygen. Unfortunately for some, this can be quite uncomfortable as they may experience pain near their maximum tolerance levels. Because of this, those who have extreme difficulty exercising should be supervised by a qualified medical professional.
Exercise should continue over several months, though improvement will likely be seen in a few weeks.
- 30 minutes of moderate exercise will increase circulation substantially by strengthening blood vessels.
- Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program if you are suffering from a serious health condition to ensure that it is safe.
"You are what you eat" as the saying goes, but for people with poor circulation, this is especially true. Several foods contain vital nutrients that have been shown to improve blood circulation.
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, a vitamin that has been shown to keep blood clots from forming by reducing the stickiness of blood. The less sticky the blood, the easier it will circulate in the vessels.
- Oranges: Oranges are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and bioflavonoids shown to strengthen arteries and prevent the build-up of plaque, which can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis.
- Garlic: Garlic has been shown to increase blood circulation by preventing build-up of plaque in arteries. In addition, it's also been shown to have powerful antibiotic properties.
- Salmon and avocados: Both salmon and avocados contain heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which research has shown to increase blood circulation. Just be sure that the salmon is wild as research has shown the farm raised variety to contain elevated levels of mercury.
- Grapes and berries: Aside from being tasty, grapes and berries contain healthy flavonoids. In addition, they have been shown to boost metabolism.
In addition to eating these heart-healthy foods, drinking plenty of water is also vital for good circulation. The human body is mostly made of water, and water is essential for every single function of the body, including proper blood circulation.Experts used to recommend eight glasses of water per day, but that has changed in recent years due to fear of water intoxication. Now, depending upon a number of factors, such as body mass and overall health, a person may need more or less water than eight glasses per day. Just remember that not all beverages are created equal. Sodas and coffee do not have the same hydrating abilities as plain water since they contain caffeine. Caffeine will dehydrate the body, making circulation more difficult.
Medical Concerns that Lead to Poor Circulation
There are a number of medical concerns that can effect blood circulation. Smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol can all affect how blood flows through the body:
- Smoking causes blood to become sticky and causes plaque to form in arteries in addition to the damage it does to the lungs. Along with all the other benefits of quitting smoking, research has shown that circulation can improve in up to several months after quitting.
- Diabetics often have problems with blood circulation because of damage to blood vessels and narrowing of vessels caused by chronically elevated levels of blood sugar. The best thing diabetics can do for their circulatory health is to check their blood sugar often to ensure that they are properly managing their diabetes and exercise regularly. The feet of a diabetic are especially susceptible, so feet should be checked daily for any signs of circulatory problems or injuries.
- Those with high cholesterol have poor circulation because the cholesterol makes blood sticky and causes it to build-up on the walls of the arteries. If one of these clots should break loose, it can travel to the heart or brain, causing heart attack or stroke. A diet rich in whole grains and low in fat can help lower cholesterol and improve circulation.
Natural Treatments for Poor Circulation
There are several treatments that have been used for centuries to improve blood circulation, and are still quite popular in alternative healing circles. They are quite simple and can be done by just about anyone:
- Elevate feet: Propping feet up for short periods of time can improve circulation by allowing blood trapped in the lower extremities to flow back to the heart.
- Take a warm bath: Heat from a warm bath increases blood flow by causing blood vessels to dilate. If a bath isn't convenient, soaking an affected area, such as the hands, in warm water will have the same affect.
There are several supplements widely available to help improve circulation. Many of them also have other health benefits as well.
- B-complex: B-complex vitamins have been shown to increase blood circulation. In addition, they also help with metabolism and the nervous system.
- Ginko Biloba: Ginko Biloba has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and in addition to increasing circulation, it has been widely used to enhance memory.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C benefits the cardiovascular system by reducing oxidative stress.
Other supplements that are helpful in increasing circulation include ginger, cayenne pepper, cod fish oil, calcium and magnesium. Be sure to discuss any supplements with a qualified physician to be sure they are safe and don't interact with any medications.