What is Blood Circulation? and How to improve blood flow in your body
The blood circulation in our body is driven by the heart that provides a constant supply of blood to the body through the blood vessels. This process ensures the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body, and there is also removal of metabolic waste from the body. Blood circulation is essential for a healthy body in order to maintain cell-level metabolism, maintaining body pH levels, osmotic pressure, stabilize body temperature and protecting from microbial and mechanical harms.
The problems start when blood flow becomes restricted to certain parts of the body. Although it can affect any part of your body, usually people notice it at the toes or fingers.
What affects blood circulation?
There are several factors that affect blood circulation. One of them is aging. As the body ages, the arteries lose some of their elasticity and become smaller. Then the heart needs to work harder to push the blood through the arteries to the body, and the result is a decrease of blood flow in the body and an increase in blood pressure.
Other common causes are excess weight that contributes to swelling in your lower legs and feet, smoking and the build up of plaque on the insides of the blood vessels and capillaries, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems and more. Also years of no exercise can lead to bad circulation, eating too much junk food which usually leads to being overweight and sitting too long at a computer for years, especially if you don’t take regular breaks or exercise a few times a week.
How to improve blood flow in your body?
Here are some tips and suggestions that can make a big improvement to your blood flow and improve blood circulation:
Exercise whenever you can to boost your circulation. Get into the habit of finding activities you enjoy doing, as any type of physical activity that gets your blood pumping is good. You can walk, bike, run, swim or anything else that you like. If your circulation is already poor, start by doing some gentle exercise and move on gradually to something a bit more challenging.
Make sure that every hour you get up to stretch your body or do small exercise for 3-5 minutes. This is especially important for people who sit at the desk all day and don’t have the habit of walking around. You can try doing little arm circles, touching your toes with your hands or have a short walk. It’s important not to stay too long in one position and take regular breaks.
Massage, like exercise, increases circulation by stimulating blood flow in the area being massaged. Many times you feel certain part of your body to be tight and tense and you may even have inflammation. By massaging these muscles, you will release natural occurring toxins within the body and achieve better blood circulation. You can add to the massage essential oils diluted in a carrier oil, such as rosemary essential oil which is good to treat circulation problems. Other good essential oils to promote circulation are cypress, ginger and peppermint. If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.
- Elevate your legs
Elevating your legs is a good way to increase your circulation and relax at the same time, and it gives you a break from standing for extended periods of time.
- Healthy eating
Eat healthy foods and avoid unhealthy foods. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (found in fish oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds). Avoid consuming processed foods, foods rich in sugar or salt, and foods rich in unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats). You can also have a look at my article about the best foods to prevent clogged arteries. Also eat spicy foods, such as cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger, as they increase your body’s temperature, which increases blood flow.
- Ginkgo biloba
There are also a number of herbs which have been shown to improve circulation. Other than cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger, ginkgo biloba can help promote healthy circulation. In my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide, I’ve already mentioned the ginkgo leaf as a remedy to several ailments. It is a versatile herb that strengthen memory and improve circulation. The University of Maryland Medical Center website mentions that laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky. Ginkgo is a available as liquid extract, tablets, capsules or dried leaf for teas. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to see any effects from ginkgo. If you already take medication for circulatory problems, always consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedies.
- Drink enough water and reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption
Staying hydrated during the day is essential for the organs to perform their daily functions. When you drink enough water, oxygen levels in your blood increase, leading to better circulation and improving your overall health. Most experts recommend consuming 8-12 glasses of water a day. It’s also beneficial to reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Try taking a hot bath or a hot shower. You can add Epsom salts to your bath which have healing properties and relax for 20 to 30 minutes. Hot water helps to relax tense muscles and increases blood circulation and allows oxygen to flow more smoothly throughout the body. You can also use a body scrub to stimulate circulation. It’s also a good idea to inhale the steam from the bath or shower, as it helps to relieve congestion and opens nasal passages. Thus you are able to breath better which helps with oxygen flow and blood circulation.
- Use hot and cold treatment
This involves alternating between cold and warmth on the affected body part. Apply heat, such as hot packs for 30 seconds or so, and then switch to cold pack. This could even be be a bowl of warm water and a different bowl of colder water.
- Quit smoking
If you can, quit smoking. I know it’s not easy, otherwise it wasn’t the problem of millions of people. Not only is smoking bad for your health, nicotine is among the leading causes of circulation problems.
- Manage stress levels
Over time stress can have negative effects on the body’s circulation. When we are stressed, the stress effect shifts blood flow away from the skin to support the heart and muscle tissues. Find ways to relieve stress, such as regular exercise, listening to a music, breathing exercises, meditation or psychotherapy.
Remember that good circulation will have an overall good effect on your body and mind, so start moving to a healthier lifestyle and diet.