Have you ever felt your fingers and toes going numb? Most of us face this problem once in a while, but if this numbness becomes an everyday thing for you, you need help. Blood serves several important functions in the body. It provides oxygen and nutrients to every cell and organ in the body. It balances body temperature, providing warmth to the fingers, nose and toes.
Poor blood circulation is much more unpleasant than it sounds. It occurs when the blood flow becomes restricted to certain parts of the body like heart, legs, hands, toes, feet and fingers. In mild situations, poor blood circulation causes only discomfort. But if not handled in time, it can lead to several other serious health conditions. The health problems caused due to poor blood circulation include varicose veins, kidney issue and other blood restriction difficulties.
What Causes Poor Blood Circulation?
Circulatory blood problems can be caused due to medical conditions and lifestyle pattern. Some common causes include:
1. Buildup of Plaque:
The most common cause of poor blood circulation is the buildup of plaque on the insides of the capillaries. This is caused due to the build-up of fat on the inner cell walls, which interrupts the normal flow of blood through the vessels.
Some diseases that cause poor blood circulation include high blood pressure, varicose veins, stroke, heart diseases, kidney damage, aneurysms, phlebitis, arteriosclerosis, Raynaud’s disease and phlebitis.
Hypertension is a common cause of poor blood flow in middle aged and elderly people. The cholesterol plaques are deposited along the walls of the arteries, causing poor circulation.
4. Varicose Vein:
Varicose veins occur when the walls of the veins lose elasticity. Lack of activity and increased consumption of junk food escalates the problem from one leg to another.
5. Poor Blood Circulation in Kids:
Not only adults, babies and children can also suffer from poor circulatory problems. Infants born with complex congenital heart defects are at risk of poor circulation problems. Children who consume loads of junk food can also suffer from poor blood circulation. A defect in normal blood flow can have a significant impact on the child’s physical, mental and academic performance.
Pregnancy can upset the normal blood flow in the body. Most women experience blood circulatory changes in the second and third trimesters. The baby in the womb uses most of the nutrients consumed by the mother, leading to poor blood circulation. The pregnant women should make sure that she does everything to maintain the nutritional levels in the body. A brisk walk and regular stretching can help to maintain the blood flow. Gentle swimming and water exercises can support good blood flow in both mother and baby. The water will help the mother to relax while getting the needed exercise. Consult the doctor if you experience sudden redness or swelling in any part of the body.
Other Possible Causes Include:
- Lack of exercise and activity
- Eating too much junk food can cause obesity, which eventually leads to poor blood circulation.
- Staying too long in front of the computer can also cause blood circulation problems.
What are the Symptoms of Poor Blood Circulation?
Apart from the discomfort, there are many other symptoms of poor blood circulation. Some common symptoms include:
- Change in skin temperature like cold hands, feet and fingers
- Numbness or loss of sensation in feet, toes and hands
- Feeling lethargic even after doing small activities like climbing the stairs
- Lack of energy and stamina
- Hair fall and dandruff
- Dry skin, uneven skin tone and blemishes on the skin
- Memory loss or sluggish memory
- Feeling sleepy all the time
- Cramps and headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeats
- Itchy hands, legs and feet
- High cholesterol and blood pressure
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
How to Improve Blood Circulation?
Foods and Herbs to Improve Blood Circulation:
Fruits, vegetables and herbs are excellent for your health. They provide high levels of bioflavonoids that strengthen capillaries, promoting blood flow. Some of the foods that improve blood flow include:
Tomato is a well-known food for blood circulation improvement. It contains lycopene, a compound that prevents plaque buildup, a hindrance to healthy blood flow.
Nuts like pistachio, almonds and cashews provide high levels of vitamin B3, which boost the blood flow. It dilates the blood vessels, improving the circulation of blood. It also helps to lower low-density lipoprotein in the blood.
Garlic is a staple ingredient in European, American and Asian cuisine. It has a host of medicinal properties and is used to treat various ailments. Researchers have found that people who consume garlic on a regular basis are more likely to have a better blood circulation. Garlic relaxes the blood vessels and interacts with the red blood cells, increasing the production of hydrogen sulfide. Increased production of hydrogen sulfide improves blood circulation. Consuming raw garlic reduces the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein in the blood. It also raises good cholesterol in the blood, keeping the blood pressure within normal limits. It also prevents blood platelet aggregation.
4. Cayenne Pepper:
Cayenne pepper not only provides flavor to the curries, but is useful for pumping up the blood circulation level in the body as well. Cayenne pepper like red pepper, paprika and chili prevents platelets from clumping together and accumulating in the blood. It dilates blood vessels, increasing the blood flow throughout the body and other organs. This spice improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system, keeping blood pressure within normal range. Cayenne also helps to warm the hands and feet, which is often caused due to poor blood flow.
Gingko herb is used extensively as a traditional medicine. It can successfully improve a wide variety of blood circulation problems, including cognitive functions. It dilates the blood vessels and prevents the sticking of blood platelets, improving blood circulation. It promotes microcirculation in the tiny capillaries, encouraging blood flow to the extremities. Ginkgo promotes blood circulation in the brain, improving functions like learning, thinking, memory and retinal deterioration. Ginkgo herb is commonly used in the form of tincture or supplements, but you can also include it in your dishes.
Ginger is a common ingredient used for enhancing the taste of several dishes. It also possesses a wide range of medicinal uses. Ginger contains gingeroles and zingerone, the active components that provide a whole range of benefits to the body. It prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the blood and liver. Regular consumption also prevents the clotting of blood in the body. In fact, it is much more effective than aspirin in preventing blood clot formation.
7. Green Tea:
Green tea is rich in antioxidant called epigallocatechin, which improves the health of the cells that forms in the innermost lining of the blood vessels. This helps in the constriction and dilation of the vessels, enhancing the flow of blood. It reduces the formation of bad cholesterol and prevents the rise in blood pressure. Regular consumption also cuts down the risk of heart diseases.
8. Guggulu or Guggul:
Guggul herb has been used since ancient times to fight obesity and arthritis. It contains kenotic steroid compounds called Guggulsterones, which reduces the plaque that builds the inner walls of the arteries, causing poor blood flow. It reduces the possibility of platelet aggregation, preventing blood clot formation. Do not forget to consult a medical practitioner before you begin using this herb.
Onion is also one of the best foods to improve blood circulation in the body. It contains high concentrations of allicin, a substance that is known to improve blood circulation. It also functions as a diuretic, increasing the amounts of fluids to be excreted. This helps to reduce swelling caused due to poor circulation.
Rosemary is one of the great herbal remedies for blood circulation improvement in the body. Fresh rosemary works best, but you can use the dried ones as well.
Hawthorne has been used since centuries to treat heart and blood circulation problems. The berries and leaves of Hawthorne plant contain quercetin, a substance that minimizes histamine release. It is also useful for treating blood pressure problems. This herb should be used under the guidance of a medical expert as it has the tendency to interact with blood thinning medicines like anti-coagulants.
Lifestyle and Diet Changes to Improve Blood Circulation:
Poor blood circulation can be treated with conventional medicines and natural therapies. The primary objective of all the treatments is to prevent circulatory problems, relieve pain and swelling. Natural remedies are the best way to improve and maintain a healthy blood circulation. Along with the herbal remedies, lifestyle and diet changes can also get the blood levels pumping. These methods not only stimulate circulation, but also improve the overall physical, emotional and mental well being of a person.
12. Exercise Several Times a Week:
Regular physical exercises can help to improve blood circulation. Start with mild exercises and advance to activities that are more rigorous. Indulge in some gentle exercises every day like walking, household chores and swimming. These exercises are not too strenuous and will show dramatic results in just a few weeks. But do not go overboard with exercises if your blood circulation is too poor.
13. Take Regular Breaks:
Do not sit or stand in the same position for too long. Take regular breaks every couple of hours. Go for a short walk, shake your arms or climb up and down the stairs. This will help to loosen the muscles, promoting blood flow.
Hydrotherapy is a simple and effective way of improving blood circulation. Alternating application of hot and cold water affect the blood vessels, improving circulation. Another great home remedy for blood circulation you can easily follow. First, immerse yourself in warm water and then cold water. Hot water will stimulate dilation of the vessels near the skin surface, while cold water will close down the blood vessels. Keep alternating between the two every 30 seconds. Hydrotherapy should be performed 4 to 5 times a day for optimum results. Do not begin with very hot or cold water. The temperature should be gradually increased over a period of few days.
15. Wear Comfortable Shoes to Work:
It is very important to wear comfortable footwear to work, especially if you are on your feet for long hours. Avoid wearing high heels to office. Wear socks to keep the feet warm. The socks should not be too tight as it can restrict blood flow even more.
16. Relaxation Techniques:
A little meditation and listening to music can also be beneficial for improving blood circulation. These relaxation techniques lift the spirit and reduce stress levels, improving the blood flow.
A balanced and healthy diet is of utmost importance to improve blood circulation.
- Reduce your coffee and tea intake. You do not need to stop drinking them completely, but cutting down on them can be very beneficial for the body. Two cups a day is more than enough.
- Alcohol can have several detrimental effects on the body. It should be drunk only in moderation. Also, quit smoking in order to lead a healthy life. Smoking increases cholesterol levels, constricts the blood vessels and hardens the arteries.
- Avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats. Saturated fats contribute to the buildup of cholesterol deposits or plaque in the arteries, leading to poor circulation.
- In addition, it is also required eliminate refined foods like alcohol, sugar and oily foods. Eliminating these items from your diet will help thin your blood, whch will enable it to pass easily through the small blood vessels.
- Drink plenty of water every day to hydrate the cells and encourage a regular supply of minerals. It also helps the body to get rid of waste products. Aim to drink at least 2 liters of water daily.
Massaging is much more than just an act of relaxation. A proper massage of the hands and legs calms the muscles and joints and relieves stress. The stimulation of the nerve receptors during the massage therapy dilates the blood vessels by reflex action, increasing blood circulation. Massaging helps to remove the blood clots and any hindrance that impair blood circulation.
Rosemary, coconut and olive oil are most suitable for massaging the body. Massage the hands, feet, legs and ankles—gently yet firmly. Deep pressure will increase the circulation, ensuring that the movements are directed towards the heart. Do not forget to take a warm bath after every massage session. This will promote blood flow. Enhanced circulation also improves the body’s ability to supply nutrients and oxygen to the tissues.
These are simple tips, but can go a long way to keep the blood flowing through your body the way it should. A healthy blood circulation will keep you feeling fit and happy. Try them!
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