Table of Contents
- What is Blood Circulation
- Health Conditions Caused by Poor Circulation
- What Affects Blood Circulation
- How to Spot Poor Circulation
- 20 Ways to Improve Blood Circulation
- Eat Super Fruits
- Wear Proper Clothing
- Stay Warm in the Winter
- Get Enough Exercise
- Quit Smoking
- Get a Massage
- Elevate Your Legs
- Drink Plenty of Water
- Eat Nuts
- Reduce Caffeine in Your Diet
- Use Herbs
- Green Tea
- Dark Chocolate
- Limit Salt Consumption
- Use Hydrotherapy
- Manage Stress
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption
- Rebounding Therapies
- Dry Skin Brushing
- Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy
What is Blood Circulation
In simplest terms, circulation is the constant movement of blood throughout the body, which is made possible by pumping of the heart.
The red blood cells are the specific cells that carry oxygen to all the body’s organs.
The continual flow of blood takes place through a series of tubes called blood vessels.
Arteries are the vessels that carry blood away from the heart, while veins carry the blood back toward the heart.
Returning the blood from extremities, such as feet and legs, can be hard work because the blood must be pushed uphill.
Circulation is an important part of our health for several reasons.
The oxygen from the air we breathe is carried through the blood from the lungs to all other parts of our body.
Through circulation, waste is taken through the blood to areas of the body where it can be broken down.
Our circulation also carries a variety of nutrients and minerals through our body to promote cell growth and healthy organ function.
Health Conditions Caused by Poor Circulation
Several health conditions can be caused by poor circulation.
Dark circles under the eyes as well as general eye problems can result from circulation that isn’t as good as it should be.
Varicose veins and leg cramps can occur, and inadequate circulation can sometimes cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Some of the more serious health conditions associated with poor circulation include cardiovascular disease and blood clots.
Blood flow to the brain that is impaired can cause a stroke.
Plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries can also restrict blood flow to the brain and other areas of the body.
Even memory loss is associated with circulation problems.
Headaches and dizzy spells can result from poor circulation to the brain.
If you are increasingly finding that you are slow to respond mentally, this condition may also be caused by poor blood circulation.
What Affects Blood Circulation
Many factors can affect our blood circulation.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that can affect our circulatory system and lead to a variety of serious health conditions, including narrowing of the blood vessels.
This kind of reduced blood flow can cause tingling, numbness, and even nerve and tissue damage over time.
Sometimes blood flow can become restricted in certain areas of the body.
Nerve disorders, thyroid disease, diabetes, and anemia are all medical conditions that can affect your circulation, and even pregnancy may also affect it.
Besides disease and medical conditions, an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to poor blood circulation, for example, smoking, drinking excessively or drinking too much caffeine, and sitting for long periods of time at work can have a negative impact on your circulatory system.
How to Spot Poor Circulation
Poor circulation means that oxygen being carried throughout the blood isn’t being transported effectively to all areas of the body.
WebMD states that several signs and symptoms indicate poor circulation, such as having less energy and feeling tired or experiencing numb, tingling, or cold feet and hands.
Cramps and aches in the legs could be other symptoms.
A weak circulatory system can also manifest itself with leg ulcers, discolored skin, and leg swelling.
You may also experience pain in your calves, and if you have sores, cuts, or scratches that seem to take an unusual amount of time to heal, this could also be a sign of poor circulation.
Hypertension and high blood pressure are other symptoms of poor circulation, and you may even lose your appetite.
The liver sends hunger signals to the brain when it doesn’t receive the proper amount of blood flow.
Finally, men with weak circulation may experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
20 Ways to Improve Blood Circulation
Improving blood circulation doesn’t have to be difficult, and almost everyone can do it.
Improving your circulatory system normally involves a combination of adding certain foods and activities into your daily diet and routine while at the same time eliminating other foods and activities.
Sometimes just cutting back and enjoying certain things in moderation will help improve circulation.
The important thing to remember is that it isn’t always necessary to take prescription drugs to improve your health.
You can do it naturally.
Eat Super Fruits
According Revitive, eating several different types of fruits can improve circulation.
These include oranges and other fruits that are high in vitamin C.
These types of citrus fruits are not only natural blood thinners but can also strengthen capillary walls.
Goji berries, which can look like raisins, can also help improve blood circulation because of their high fiber content.
Watermelon is another super fruit that can help as well.
Watermelon is high in lycopene, which has been linked to improved circulation.
Wear Proper Clothing
Certain types of clothing are recommended to improve circulation.
Compression socks are said to help with good circulation by targeting arch and ankle areas.
While wearing the right clothing may help with circulation, other types can hinder it.
Most doctors warn not to wear extra tight clothing for long periods of time.
Skinny jeans and other extremely tight pants can hinder circulation.
Wearing either loose or appropriate clothing can help keep circulation flowing as it should.
Stay Warm in the Winter
During colder weather, our extremities, particularly toes and fingers, often get cold.
This often happens because the cold can cause the vessels carrying our blood to contract.
Cold hands and feet are not necessarily a sign that you may be suffering from a medical condition, but in some cases it could be a symptom.
It could be a sign that the arteries in the legs are starting to harden.
Making an effort to stay warmer during the winter months can help improve blood circulation.
Several things can help keep you warm during the colder months, including wearing layers of loose fitting clothing.
It’s also recommended to keep moving.
If you’re sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time, stand up and walk around even if it’s only for a few seconds.
Get Enough Exercise
According to many scientific studies, exercise is a great way to improve circulation.
Almost any type of activity that gets your blood pumping will be good.
If you haven’t exercised in a long time, start out slowly.
Even something as simple as walking for twenty minutes can improve blood flow.
See your doctor to make sure you’re working out in a way that is healthy.
You can build up the intensity over time and move on to more strenuous activities, such as running, biking, swimming, or another type of sport.
Be sure to include stretching in whatever fitness routine you choose.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
If you already smoke, it’s ideal for overall good health to quit as soon as possible.
According to many studies, smoking can harm the ability of your blood to circulate properly.
Smoking can increase the pressure that the flowing blood puts on the walls of the arteries, which can ultimately raise blood pressure.
Smoking also contributes to narrowing of the blood vessels, which keeps the blood from flowing as easily as it should.
Another way smoking can harm circulation is by making the blood stickier.
The effects of smoking can also include reduced blood flow to toes and fingers.
Overall, smoking can reduce blood flow in all your extremities.
Get a Massage
A good massage can stimulate blood flow in a way that is similar to exercise.
A study performed by Dr. Nina C. Franklin and her team shows that massage improves peripheral vascular function after exertion.
When you’re getting a massage the movement should be directed toward the heart.
This will promote venous blood and lymph flow.
The movement used should be firm but also gentle.
Different types of oils can also be used during the massage.
Some recommended oils include coconut, olive, and almond. For most people, it’s healthy to enjoy a good massage a few times a week.
Elevate Your Legs
Doing so is not only a good way to directly improve circulation but may also help you relax.
It immediately feels good as soon as we elevate our legs because it takes the pressure off the veins in the legs.
Lifting your legs will empty the veins and relieve the stress from the vessels in that area of the body.
Legs normally should be elevated above the heart level to promote vein drainage and improve circulation.
This may also help eliminate swelling in the legs, which should be elevated for about twenty minutes.
Do this periodically throughout the day.
It’s also a good idea to rotate your feet and wiggle your toes while your legs are elevated to help with circulation.
Drink Plenty of Water
Our organs need to stay hydrated to function at their highest levels.
According to Dr. David Katz, water makes up a large part of our blood volume.
Water can also be helpful in flushing toxins out of our system.
It is recommended to drink approximately eight glasses of water each day.
You can also add something healthy, such as a wedge of lemon or a slice of cucumber, for flavor.
You shouldn’t chug the water all at once.
It’s better to drink or sip slowly throughout the day.
Eating a variety of healthy nuts is a good way to keep your blood circulating at optimal levels.
A study by Dr. Emilio Ros reports that such nuts as walnuts and raw almonds will help with blood flow.
Several types of nuts are high in vitamins A, B, C, and E and also high in magnesium and iron.
Each of these nutrients can contribute to better blood circulation.
It’s recommended to eat nuts raw if at all possible.
Once they are cooked, nuts tend to become more acidic.
Reduce Caffeine in Your Diet
While some research has indicated that moderate amounts of coffee may improve cardiovascular health, it’s not necessarily true for all types of drinks that have caffeine.
Caffeine can have a dehydrating effect on our bodies.
Since staying hydrated can improve blood circulation, this is one reason why it’s important to watch our caffeine consumption.
Some studies have found that caffeine may reduce cerebral blood flow.
Sugary drinks are generally not good for our overall health.
It makes even more sense to avoid drinks that are both sugary and caffeinated when trying to improve circulation.
Research shows that such herbs as cayenne and ginkgo biloba can aid in healthy circulation.
Cayenne can stimulate the heart and strengthen capillaries and arteries.
It can even be used externally in creams and infused oils.
Ginkgo biloba is most famous for its reported ability to help with memory because of increased and improved blood circulation.
This herb is supposed to help blood flow through the brain.
Even though these herbs are known to help with circulation, it’s recommended to use a combination of herbs to get the best results, for example, ginkgo biloba, cayenne, garlic, and ginger.
Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, provides many health benefits, including improved blood circulation.
Drinking this type of tea is known to help widen the blood vessels in the body, which can ultimately increase blood flow.
To get the most benefits from drinking green tea, several steps are recommended.
Start by putting the green tea bag in a cup of hot water for about five minutes.
Then squeeze out any extra tea by pushing the tea bag against the side of the cup.
After removing the tea bag, you can add a bit of honey to sweeten the tea.
It is recommended to drink two to three cups of green tea each day.
Dark chocolate contains cocoa, which is known to improve blood flow.
Studies have shown that dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the legs.
This is done by affecting chemicals that help arteries to widen.
Flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the lining in our arteries.
This stimulation can produce nitric oxide (NO), which can then send signals to the arteries to relax.
This can lower resistance to blood flow.
It can also lower blood pressure.
It’s important to choose a type of dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa.
Limit Salt Consumption
Most people know that too much salt is not good for our overall health.
Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure and cause bloating.
Studies have shown that too much salt can also have a negative impact on our circulation.
High salt intake can harden the arteries, which can affect blood circulation.
Sometimes just not adding extra salt to your food is not enough.
Many foods have a high level of sodium.
Such processed foods as ketchup, canned soups, lunch meat, and frozen pizza, have a very high salt content.
Not only putting down the salt shaker but also limiting foods that are already high in salt is necessary to improve blood circulation.
Use hot water, either in a shower or a bath, to help improve your body’s circulation.
Warm water can help ease tense muscles, and the improved circulation will help oxygen flow throughout your body.
Hydrotherapy can help dilate the blood vessels, which will improve circulation.
Both hot and cold showers can also help.
When the body is subjected to cold water, blood flow is directed toward the internal organs.
Hot water will cause blood flow to be directed back out toward the extremities.
Alternating between hot and cold while in the shower will cause the blood to flow back and forth accordingly, which will increase overall blood flow and more easily move nutrients through the body.
Over time high levels of stress can have a negative impact on several aspects of our health, including circulation.
Many activities can help an individual feel calm and relieve stress.
Laughing will not only help reduce stress but also help with circulation.
Laughing can stimulate circulation and promote muscle relaxation.
When you’re experiencing high levels of stress, your body goes into the fight or flight mode.
According to a study, this in turn causes the central nervous system to limit blood flow in the body.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
A moderate amount of alcohol can be healthy for many individuals.
What would be considered moderate would vary for each individual but would normally be no more than two standard drinks.
Drinking in excess can lead to hardening of the arteries, which hinders healthy blood flow.
This can be especially true with binge drinking and can even affect otherwise young, healthy adults.
Excessive alcohol use can also raise blood pressure and cause dehydration.
Various research shows that rebounding therapies can help improve blood circulation.
Rebounding therapy includes such activities as jumping on a trampoline.
This type of movement will obviously get your blood flowing.
More specifically, when jumping on a trampoline, the force of gravity will help push your blood upward toward your heart, which will reduce pressure on the veins in your legs.
It’s recommended to do rebounding five days a week for about thirty minutes at a time.
Dry Skin Brushing
Dry brushing involves vigorously brushing the skin with a dry brush.
This can remove dead skin cells and improve overall circulation.
Stimulating your skin externally will increase blood flow to the skin and promote elimination of metabolic waste.
Start at your feet and work your way up your legs toward your heart.
Use circular motions while brushing.
Make sure to use a brush with bristles that are made from natural materials.
Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy
This type of massage therapy can help unclog swollen lymph nodes and improve circulation.
Studies show that increased lymph flow can assist in distributing immune cells throughout the body as well as removing toxins.
This type of therapy may also reduce stress, which helps improve overall circulation.
The lymph system runs parallel to the blood vessels and doesn’t have a pump, such as the heart, to keep fluids moving freely.
Since systems in the body are interrelated and work together to ensure overall good health, a healthy lymph system will improve blood circulation.
There is a considerable chance that at some point of your life, you will experience issues with blood circulation.
Due to various factors that are out of your control (ecology) or not (lifestyle), there is a big chance that you will have to deal with this issue.
What you have to keep in mind is that you don’t have to panic, and with some easy lifestyle changes, you can improve your blood circulation considerably.
So before going to your doctor to ask for that new drug that is being advertised on TV, try these strategies and see if they will help you.