The human body comprises of many organs, which function via oxygen and other essential nutrients being supplied by blood flow. Poor blood circulation is reduced or limited flow of blood to vital organs. Left untreated, poor circulation may lead to many diseases and complications such as varicose veins, kidney damage or stroke and can even become life threatening.
The reasons for poor blood circulation are many. The most common ones are arteriosclerosis, poor nutrition, diseases such as obesity and diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking or inhaling smoke and stress.
Three of the most common ways to improve blood circulation are exercise, dietary interventions and technology based solutions.
Exercise improves blood circulation, to increase the pumping of blood by the heart.
The most popular exercises to boost circulation are day-to-day activities such as walking or riding a bicycle, when done regularly and systematically. A fast walk three to times a week for about half an hour or the same time cycling strengthen and enlarge the heart muscle, improving the pumping efficiency.
Muscle-toning exercises, such as flexing the foot at the ankle strengthen the muscles. Strong muscles pump more blood.
While research has not conclusively proven any food to cure poor circulation, some foods prevent blood clotting and poor circulation.
Salicylates, a natural plant-based chemical prevents blood platelets from sticking and retard the formation of blood clots. Foods rich in salicylates include ginger, turmeric, garlic and onion.
Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acid inhibit clotting and decrease the production of the pro-inflammatory compound leukotrienes. Some Omega-3 rich foods include mackerel, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, beans and olive oil.
Pumpkin seeds, soya based foods, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds contain phytoestrogens that improve blood circulation by increasing dilation and thereby expanding small arteries.
Red fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and tomatoes contain lycopene that prevent buildup of plaque.
Green tea and grape juice contain catechins that improve circulation by stifling the growth of arachidonic acid. The pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid makes blood platelets to stick together.
Foods Containing Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin C and Vitamin E improve blood circulation by strengthening the capillary walls and making the blood vessels wider. Example of foods rich in such vitamins are almonds, most nuts, green leafy vegetables, potatoes and carrots.
Technology Based Solutions
Improvements in technology now make it possible to improve blood circulation through artificial methods.
One common non-surgical intervention is Hydrotherapy or subjecting the body to hot and cold showers. Blood rushes in to the skin when it suddenly encounters the sensation of piping hot water. A sudden change to extreme cold water causes the blood to rush to the internal organs.
Also, circulation boosters are becoming increasingly popular. They use Electrical Muscle Stimulation to stimulate nerve ends in feet.
Another technique growing in popularity is Far Infra Red Heat Therapy. Far Infra Red (FIR) ray is the portion of sun’s heat that sustains life. FIR therapy is subjecting the body to such FIR rays, which penetrate 1.5 inches to the skin and warm up the cells. This causes the cells to revitalise and thereby stimulate blood circulation.
Jonathan is a freelance writer who knows people who suffer from cold feet and hands due to poor circulation.