Blood circulation is vital for your body's survival. Blood transports oxygen, fuel and nutrients to all organs of the body, including the brain. It also moves toxins and waste products to the appropriate organs for excretion. When blood flow to your brain is disrupted, you can succumb to a stroke.
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Your circulatory system includes your heart, veins and arteries. Their job is to circulate blood throughout your body. The heart is a muscle and needs to be strong while your arteries and veins should be pliable and without obstructions for you to maintain optimum health. One common cause of poor circulation is high cholesterol levels, which can cause platelet aggregation, or arterial build-up, and lead to heart attack or stroke, depending on where the blockage occurs.
Exercise to Strengthen Your Heart
Since your heart is a muscle, it needs to be exercised or it can weaken. A cardiovascular workout several times a week can help keep it pumping efficiently. Proper exercising can also negate obesity, which can strain and weaken your entire circulatory system and reduce overall circulation. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can stretch all your muscles and teach you breathing techniques that can increase blood flow. Because certain exercises can be dangerous to people with underlying health issues, you should speak to your physician before starting any exercise routine.
The foods you eat can have a huge impact on your circulation. An abundance of saturated fats can lead to blocked arteries. Large amounts of salt can lead to or exacerbate high blood pressure. Processed foods, such as white flour and white sugar, can deny your body the necessary nutrients to run smoothly. To help reduce high cholesterol, the Mayo Clinic suggests eating plenty of soluble fiber found in foods such as oatmeal and apples. Soluble fiber can absorb cholesterol before it gets to the blood stream. Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish such as herring or salmon can reduce blood pressure. Olive and canola oils, and nuts can keep arteries healthy and pliable.
Herbalist Michael Tierra suggests using cardiovascular stimulants such as cayenne, ginger or ginseng to improve circulation. The University of Maryland Medical Center mentions that hawthorn and rosemary can help with poor circulation by providing antioxidants. Herbs such as ephedra and guarana may have stimulant attributes but are considered dangerous, as they can make the heart rate and blood pressure rise rapidly. In 2009, the FDA banned the sale of supplements containing ephedra. Always speak to your physician before adding any herbs or supplements to your diet.
- Mayo Clinic: High Cholesterol
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise-Highlights
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Herbs and Supplements for Circulation, Poor
- "The Way of Herbs"; Michael Tierra; 1998.