Your circulatory system nourishes and maintains every cell in your body – it’s important to keep it in optimal working order. Good circulation depends on a number of factors: healthy blood, which is able to carry oxygen and nutrients to all the body’s cells; a strong heart, capable of efficiently pumping this rich blood to all the body’s extremities and organs; a normal blood pressure; and strong, unclogged blood vessels. Here are some quick tips on boosting your circulation.
1. Dilate Your Blood Vessels With Hawthorn
“Herbalists use and recommend it as a circulatory tonic,” says nutritional therapist Elizabeth Harfleet. “It can help in cases of reduced circulation, heart problems and high blood pressure – consult a qualified practitioner before using.”
2. Eat Oily Fish Once Or Twice A Week
“Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, mackerel and herring make the blood thinner and a lot less viscous, reducing the risk of thrombosis – or blood clotting – and heart disease,” says nutritionist Brigid McKevith. “These fatty acids may also have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.”
3. Eat Less Saturated Fat
“You don’t have to cut back on meat,” says Brigid. “Just choose leaner cuts – and try not to have too much full-fat dairy too.”
4. Change Positions
“Sitting in the same position for long periods can give you bad circulation,” says trainer and fitness expert Andy Lambourne. “While at your desk, try not to cross your legs as it is bad for your posture, and for circulation too. Take time to lift your legs and do leg extensions under your desk – they will do wonders for your circulation.”
5. Increase Your Intake Of Phytoestrogens
Soya products, linseed, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds are good sources of phytoestrogens, which help reduce cholesterol levels, making for a more efficient circulatory system.
6. Eat Iron-Rich Foods To Fortify Your Blood
Ensure you’re regularly including at least some of the following in your diet: red meat, wholegrain cereals, dark green vegetables, lentils and kidney beans. Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin, the blood’s oxygen transporter, and deficiency in this vital mineral is the most widespread in many parts of the world.
7. Quit Lighting Up
Carbon monoxide in tobacco reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Other poisons in smoke destroy valuable antioxidants, while nicotine raises blood pressure. Elizabeth also warns that smoking can cause clogged arteries in the legs, leading to gangrene, and possible loss of a limb.
8. Get Your Folate
Increase your intake with generous portions of fruits, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, dried beans, peas and folic acid-fortified cereals. This particular B vitamin plays an essential role in the production of blood cells and contributes to the formation of haemoglobin.
9. Strengthen Capillary Walls With Rutin
The best source of rutin, a natural bioflavonoid, is buckwheat. Try it instead of rice or couscous, or any other starchy grain – but consult a qualified practitioner before supplementing.
10. Take Time Out To Destress,Relax, Think Positively
Observational studies have found that chill-out exercises like yoga, meditation or tai chi have a positive effect on heart function and circulation.
11. Keep Fit
“Any cardiovascular exercise – walking, running, cycling – that gets you moving and raises your heart rate will get your blood pumping around the body and boost circulation,” says Andy.
12. Take Garlic...
This renowned blood cleanser and all-round tonic can be easily added to all savoury dishes.
This widely recognised circulatory aid is terrific in stir-fries or taken as an infusion.
14. Keep To A Healthy Body Weight And Blood
If you are overweight, losing some kilos can help control blood pressure. Decreasing your salt intake and increasing your potassium intake can also help. “Sodium, while a valuable mineral, tends to be stored in excess in the body,” says Elizabeth. “This can cause contraction of blood vessels, particularly affecting those individuals with circulatory disorders.”
15. Try An Aromatherapy Massage
Use a blend of carrier oil with an added drop or two of active essential oils. “Cypress and juniper both speed up your circulation, while lemon is a good stimulant,” says aromatherapist Glenda Taylor.
16. Get Your Trace Minerals
Zinc, copper, manganese and selenium are all needed to help keep the arteries clear and functioning properly. Nuts, particularly Brazil and cashew, are a good source of all, as are seeds such as pumpkin. Snack on them regularly.
17. Brush Your Body Regularly
Prior to bathing, brush your skin briskly with a body brush or loofah to stimulate blood circulation and aid your lymphatic function. Use long, firm strokes in the direction of your heart.
18. Consider Ginkgo Biloba
A clinical study from the University of Dundee’s Institute of Cardiovascular Research in Scotland demonstrated that the herb can help relieve the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease – a condition characterised by blood vessels in the body’s extremities constricting severely (usually in the fingers and toes), causing poor circulation, and feelings of cold and pain – by dilating blood vessels.
19. Drink Your Teas
White, green and black tea all increase the blood’s antioxidant status. A study published in the specialist publication Circulation suggested that tea rich in antioxidants can help flow-mediated dilation of the body’s arteries, a test to indicate arterial health. Further studies have suggested that tea drinking can help prevent heart disease too.
20. Bounce Your Way To Cardiovascular Health
Make use of the trampoline at your local gym or, better still, buy one for yourself. Trampolining is three times more effective than jogging in boosting fitness.