Your circulation involves your heart, the arteries, the tiny arterioles, capillaries, venules, veins, and even the lungs that exchange de-oxygenated blood for oxygenated blood, which is what every cell needs in order to have normal cellular processes.
Circulation is Necessary for Life
- Some parts of the body have what’s called “dual circulation,” which means that the arteries have doubled up so that if one is blocked, other arteries can provide circulation to the same area so no cell death occurs.
- Some areas of the body aren’t so lucky. The heart, for example, has little duplication of arterial supply so that, when an artery gets blocked, cell death occurs and you have a heart attack.
- The brain also has very little duplication of arterial supply so that strokes can happen when arteries are blocked.
Blood circulation is necessary for the body to function and remain healthy. Your heart pumps blood through blood vessels throughout the circulatory system. Red blood cells carry oxygen to vital organs, which provides you with energy and vitality. Together, your vital organs and circulatory system form a unit that works constantly to make sure the body has adequate blood flow. Certain diseases inhibit this flow.
Causes of Poor Blood Circulation
Blood clots can slow or block blood circulation, and when this happens either a stroke or severe arterial damage can occur. Raynaud’s Disease can cause poor blood circulation along with heart disease and deep vein thrombosis.
5 Ways to Improve your Blood Circulation
- Exercise aerobically. When you do aerobic exercise, the blood flows to all the parts of the body, and the arteries circulate. Exercise is part of a heart-healthy program that gets the blood pumping through the heart and through the arteries of the heart. Exercise is known to decrease your risk of common circulatory disorders, such as heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
- Eat low cholesterol foods. Cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the inner lining of the arteries. They gradually narrow and eventually narrow so much that the flow of blood through the arteries is so sluggish that blood clots form (these are called thrombi). If thrombi happen in the brain, you can get a stroke. If thrombi happen in the heart, you can get a heart attack. If thrombi develop in the arteries of the legs, you get peripheral vascular disease. Low cholesterol foods don’t contribute to getting cholesterol plaques.
- Eat soluble fiber. Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol in the gut so that less cholesterol is absorbed by the GI tract. Common sources of soluble fiber include:
- Oatmeal and oat cereal
- Dried peas
Soluble fiber, and in particular, decrease the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, which is the kind of cholesterol that makes arterial plaques.
- Build strong leg muscles. Circulation is more than just about arteries. In order to keep blood flowing, you need to have your veins bring the blood back from the periphery of your body. Veins that aren’t supported by strong valves and strong muscles can be sluggish and the flow can stagnate in the legs. This leads to venous dilation called varicose veins. You can prevent varicose veins and improve your circulation by keeping the muscles of your legs strong, avoiding standing for long periods of time, and by wearing compression stockings, especially if you don’t exercise much or if your job requires long periods of standing. If the veins become sluggish and dilate, you can get leakage of blood from the veins so that the veins become irritated, creating a condition called superficial thrombophlebitis, a painful condition involving inflammation in veins that have poor circulation.
- Stop smoking. Good circulation requires excellent air exchange between the de-oxygenated blood and the oxygenated blood taken in when we breathe fresh, oxygenated air. Smoking can do damage to the small bubble-like alveoli that are where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange places within the lungs. You need healthy lungs for good circulation and for good air exchange that will provide enough oxygen to tissues in the rest of the body. Smoking also contributes to vascular disease and increases the risk of various types of heart disease.
Diabetes and Blood Circulation
Those who have diabetes need to pay special attention to overall health and blood circulation by getting regular medical checkups. Diabetes can cause poor blood circulation throughout the whole body, and especially in the feet and legs. According to the American Diabetes Association, exercise is very important to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of serious complications that poor blood circulation poses in those who have the disease.
Healthy blood circulation not only makes you healthy, it improves how you look by promoting a healthy skin color and glow. It also supports and promotes healthy brain function by keeping your mind focused and sharp.