This week I am talking about circulation. We have probably all heard someone comment that they have ‘Poor circulation’, but what does this actually mean, and what can we do about it?
Circulation relates to the system of how our blood travels around our body and its functions.
Like everything else, we want good circulation, as it’s essential for good health.
Circulation is one of the most important functions of the body, as it supplies our vital organs with oxygen and nutrients.
Someone with poor circulation can be at risk of heart, kidney, or brain damage. It can also lead to strokes, atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis.
Our arteries make up the major part of our blood circulatory system. Healthy arteries have thick muscular walls which are essential for the pressure of the blood moving through them.
As we get older, the arteries can become thickened (atherosclerosis) or hardened (arteriosclerosis). Ageing can also mean we breathe more shallowly, which also influences our circulation. This is especially true in people who have a more sedentary lifestyle.
Another factor that can affect our circulation is blood pressure. This increases with age, so it is worth getting it checked regularly as high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Signs and symptoms of poor circulation
If you experience any of the following regularly, then maybe your circulation needs a bit of a boost:
- Cold hands and feet
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Varicose veins
- Feeling exhausted and feeling cold at the same time
- Poor cognitive function
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Weak nails
Foods to limit and avoid
If you have any of these symptoms, then it would be a good idea to look at your diet as it could be causing some problems.
Sodium based salts can harden arteries. Your arteries need to be elastic. Too much salt will also cause high blood pressure. It’s sensible to avoid processed foods as they are full of added salt.
Avoid foods that contain saturated/hydrogenated trans-fats found in margarine, lard, pies, pastries and cakes.
Reduce animal fats in your diet, try to cut down on eating meat, especially red meats. Have regular meat-free days every week.
Reduce fried foods, and if you have to fry something you can add a little water, I often do this.
Cut down on caffeine intake as it is a stimulant that can lead to the constriction of your blood vessels.
Always consume alcohol in moderation.
Foods to include in your diet which can help your circulation.
It’s always better to cook everything fresh from scratch. You get more nutrients that way, and you know exactly what goes into your food.
Instead of using sodium-based salts, use nori flakes or kelp to season food. If you want to use salt, then choose pink Himalayan salt or mineral-rich sea salt.
Vitamin C is very good for the circulatory system. Include blueberries, kiwis, cherries, sweet potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and kale leaves in your diet every week.
Use garlic, onions and ginger in your cooking. Garlic contains allicin, a compound produced when garlic is chopped or crushed, which helps blood vessels relax.
Include cayenne pepper in your cooking. It increases circulation.
Include more omega 3 essential fatty acids like linseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, wild salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Add in nuts, such as brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and especially walnuts. These are high in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega 3 fatty acid, which may help blood move smoothly. It goes without saying when having nuts make sure they are unsalted.
Up your fibre intake – vegetable and whole grains, oats, nuts and some fruits are excellent sources of fibre.
Other useful tips which can help to improve your circulation
Exercise is essential to increase your circulation, so get moving!
I would recommend going for a brisk 30-minute walk every morning and afternoon. You really want to keep that circulation flowing.
If your lifestyle requires lots of sitting down, then take regular breaks, get up and move, even 10 minutes of exercise or movement every couple of hours will help.
Natural supplements which can help include pycnogenol which is pine bark extract is excellent for blood vessels. Take 80mg daily, and vitamin C take 2 grams a day. If you are new to vitamin C then start with small amounts like 500mg a day and slowly increase. Larger doses can cause diarrhoea.
Avoid stress! If you experience a little stress, then you need to really take care of yourself and find ways to reduce it. Long term stress impedes circulation and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. If you are under a lot of continual stress, then I would recommend mediation, yoga and regular movement, anything which requires you to focus on your breathing and calms your mind.
Massage is a wonderful way of getting the circulation moving in the body, if you can find a therapist who suits you then try to see them regularly. It’s a great excuse for some relaxation!
Skin brushing every morning before jumping in the shower is also excellent for stimulating circulation. Always brush up from the feet towards the heart. For added benefits, follow your warm shower with a blast of cold water, the cold water constricts circulation on the surface of your body, which causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature.
If you are a smoker, then you should really stop. Because smoking affects your breathing, it is terrible for circulation.
I hope you have found this helpful. I believe we can all take simple steps to improve our health as we get older, keeping us healthy and full of energy.
If you have any questions. then please get in touch.