Blood Vessel Health
How To Improve Blood Vessel Health And Circulation
Proper blood circulation is a vital part of proper functioning and healthy life. It involves a vital organ- the heart and blood vessels. Many people go through life without taking care of their blood vessel health and circulatory system until it's too late. Indulging in unhealthy lifestyles, smoking, and leaving blood clots untreated can lead to some serious health consequences down the road.
It is important for us to understand our cardiovascular system and to try and keep our circulatory system healthy. Many methods of blood vessel healing and blood vessel strengthening are now coming into focus after people are paying attention to their cardiovascular health.
What Are Blood Vessels?
The health of your heart and your entire body depends on your blood vessel strength and function. Blood vessels are veins, arteries, and capillaries that work with the heart and make up the circulatory system.
Arteries are the biggest and strongest and carry blood pumped from the heart. Veins return the blood to the heart. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that connect the arteries and veins and allow blood to come into contact with tissues for oxygen, carbon dioxide, food, and waste.
Blood vessels do two important things- they deliver essential nutrients to the entire body and cleanse toxins. Blood vessels can open and contract, they deliver blood flow to part of the body where it is needed or constrict and decrease the blood flow.
If your blood vessels are not able to open and narrow, then essentials like blood, oxygen, and nutrients won’t be able to reach your organs or make it back to the heart. Illnesses that can form include clogged arteries, varicose veins, aneurysms, and peripheral arterial disease.
The circulatory system is made up of the heart that pumps the blood, and these blood vessels that carry the blood to and from the heart to the rest of the body. The blood from the heart carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to the entire body. On the way back, it collects toxins and wastes like carbon dioxide.
Importance Of The Endothelium
The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines all the blood vessels. Its main function is to provide a barrier between blood and the outer muscles, nerves, and tissues of the blood vessels. It also acts as a regulator of blood vessel health and acts as an organ, responding to physical and chemical signals in the body.
The endothelium allows for the opening and narrowing of blood vessels. Endothelial cells make and release nitric oxide that causes the opening of the blood vessels that allow blood flow. They also produce endothelin that allows them to constrict and lessen blood flow. These molecules are released to allow the blood vessels to react and open and shut according to the demands of the nearby tissues.
The endothelium also does not allow white blood cells to stick and burrow into the inner walls of blood vessels. These attachments lead to the eventual formation of cholesterol-rich plaque.
The endothelium helps prevent blood clots. If the endothelium is damaged, the person is more susceptible to blood clot formation.
A healthy endothelium protects our blood vessels from injury and threats with an inflammatory response.
The endothelium acts as a protective wall to our blood vessels, so its damage leads to the loss of blood vessel strength.
Benefits Of A Healthy Blood Vessels
When the endothelium is healthy and producing nitric oxide as required, your blood vessels are healthy, and in turn, your whole body is also healthy.
Healthy blood vessels are more elastic. This means that they can easily open and narrow to allow for blood flow and the opposite, blood flow reduction.
When your blood vessels are healthy, your body’s normal blood pressure can be maintained. In men, healthy blood vessels mean hearty sexual arousal and erections.
Overall, healthy blood vessels contribute to good circulation and cardiovascular fitness.
Consequences Of Damaged Blood Vessels
Damaged blood vessels can lead to several health conditions like kidney disease and failure, strokes, heart attacks, loss of vision, and blindness. It can also weaken the entire immune system, which puts you at risk of more diseases and infections.
In women, a scary effect of bad circulation is alopecia or hair loss. In men, an undesirable effect is an erectile dysfunction.
Blood circulation transports healing white blood cells and platelets that help with clotting. A damaged or slow blood flow may cause injuries like cuts to take longer to heal and increase the chances of infection.
It can also cause nerve damage, which leads to tingling, pain, or numbing of the feet, legs, and hands.
Ways To Improve Blood Vessel Health And Circulation
Circulatory and blood vessel strengthening is very important for those suffering from damage or improper working of their cardiovascular system. A person’s cardiovascular system starts seeing effects from childhood, so maintaining a good overall lifestyle is necessary to prevent health conditions. People can, however, get themselves to recover and replenish their circulatory and blood vessel health by adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking supplements or medication.
Stop smoking! And if you haven't started- stay far away from it! Quitting smoking has huge benefits for your cardiovascular system. You might also want to cut back on the amount of alcohol consumption. Alcohol can lead to the hardening of the arteries, not allowing for proper blood flow.
Try and maintain a healthy weight. Diabetes and obesity are causes of circulatory problems as well as cardiovascular diseases.
Exercise regularly. A small period of exercise every day can vastly improve the functioning of your circulatory system. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging, running, taking a walk, or dancing are great ways to keep your blood pumping as it should. You could also do workouts like yoga, or even join the gym.
Along with regular exercise, it is also important to stretch! A consistent stretching routine after working out can help get your blood flowing to all the extremities of your body.
This might be an obvious one, but it's important to mention it anyway. Drink enough water! It's one of the easiest ways of making sure your sodium levels are optimum, and your heart is pumping blood efficiently.
Try and manage your stress levels. Indeed, we can’t be completely stress-free, but spending time doing hobbies, being with loved ones, or even spending time with yourself to unwind can drastically decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.
Blood vessel health depends largely on a nutrient-rich, healthy diet. Several foods are beneficial and necessary for blood vessel healing.
Consuming fatty fish has been proven to improve the elasticity and repair damage of blood vessels. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are said to promote vision, joint, brain, and immune health. These types of fish are salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, arctic char, and tuna.
Eating a lot of dark leafy greens and colorful vegetables adds a lot of nutrients to your system. Nitrate Oxide comes from vegetables that contain nitrate and amino acids arginine and citrulline. Nitrates are found in beets and green vegetables. Citrulline is best found in watermelon, and arginine is in a lot of fish, lean meat, fresh vegetables, and whole grains.
Greens like kale and arugula provide us with vitamins, fibers, minerals, and phytonutrients. Polyphenol, a type of phytonutrient, helps cardiovascular functioning and also decrease blood pressure and inflammation. Blueberries, dark plums, and grapes are also good sources of polyphenols.
Onions are a great source of flavonoid antioxidants that boost heart health. Flavonoid antioxidants help your arteries and vein widen, helping blood flow.
Carotenoids that protect the heart are found in spinach, bell peppers, asparagus, and broccoli. Broccoli and bok choy also are full of B vitamins and folic acid that help against clots and artery hardening. B-3 can also help lower cholesterol levels.
Vitamin C, found in citrus fruit, tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries, support the blood vessel repair and blood vessel strengthening.
Antioxidants like lycopene find, neutralize and get rid of free oxygen radicals. This protects blood vessels from being damaged. Lycopene is found in foods with reddish colors like watermelon, apricots, tomatoes, and pink grapefruit.
You can also add foods that are sources of conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. CLA is found in meat and dairy products like ghee and feta cheese. CLA can be antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory and may also lower fat and blood pressure.
Raw nuts like walnuts and almonds are also recommended. They are rich in nutrients like vitamin A, B, C, E, magnesium, and iron.
Dark chocolate lovers can rejoice because chocolate with 70% or more cacao percentage is rich in flavonoids that can aid heart function.
We must also monitor our salt intake. Very less salt can lead to less absorption of water into our blood-stream. On the other hand, high levels of salt can lead to dehydration and thickening of the blood in your body.
Herbs And Spices
Herbs add flavor and health to your meals. Adding in these herbs to your meal can boost blood vessel health.
Basil is an antioxidant and also an anti-inflammatory agent that helps control blood glucose levels. Oregano is high in antioxidants, omega-3, iron, and vitamin K. Mint is high in vitamin C, fiber, and iron and has antioxidant properties.
Cayenne pepper gets its spice from a phytochemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin helps blood flow to tissues by lowering the blood pressure and stimulating the release of Nitric Oxide and other vasodilators that help blood vessels expand.
Cinnamon and Turmeric are also warm spices that are known to be boosters of blood circulation and blood vessel dilation. Cinnamon is known to increase vessel dilation and blood flow to the coronary artery. Curcumin is a phenol found in turmeric that also acts as an antioxidant.
Garlic and ginger intake are also recommended for circulation and heart health. Garlic has sulfur compounds that include allicin that increases blood flow and lower blood pressure by allowing blood vessels to relax.
Vitamins And Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are also taken in the form of supplements if these are not easily available in diets in the required quantities.
Vitamin B12 supplements help keep the body’s blood cells and nerves healthy. B12 also helps a body make DNA and prevent conditions like anemia.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) helps in blood vessel dilation and reduces inflammation, which is important for blood vessel health. Taking B3 supplements is great for the cardiovascular system and our metabolism. It helps control our cholesterol levels, which are very crucial to our circulation and our blood vessel strength.
Vitamin K consumption has been shown to prevent our arteries from hardening. It also assists in the proper clotting of blood and prevents uncontrollable bleeding.
Vitamin D supplements can help with blood vessel healing as they keep their endothelial cells healthy.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, and its deficiency is known as anemia. Iron supplements increase hemoglobin production and help transfer oxygen from the lungs to our tissues. This can help relieve fatigue, cold hands and feet, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
Magnesium supplements can help with the dilation of blood vessels, allowing it to flow easier throughout the body. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscles tensing up and causing arteries to decrease in size, restricting blood flow.
Green tea is highly recommended to those who want to stimulate body function. Green tea helps widen blood cells and increase blood flow. Matcha tea is also very popular nowadays as it contains polyphenols that protect against heart disease, regulate blood sugar, and reduce blood pressure.
A glass of red wine a day is beneficial for your body! It contains resveratrol, a polyphenol present in grapes that is a natural cure for cardiovascular disease. Just make sure you aren’t drinking too much by sticking to the recommended daily amount.
Avoid energy drinks. Energy drinks have already been linked to heart, nerve, and stomach problems. Recent studies have also shown that energy drinks can harm blood vessel health.
The study showed that blood vessels dilated lesser after consuming an energy drink.
Omega-7 supplements like sea buckthorn oil in supplements and capsules are found to have palmitoleic acid. This acid helps lower cholesterol, unhealthy triglycerides, and raise beneficial cholesterol.
Coenzyme Q10 supports circulation and protects arteries by preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol. Our body’s natural stores of this enzyme decrease as we age, so taking supplements of it can restore its levels.
L-arginine is an amino acid that helps protect arteries by boosting nitric oxide levels. This helps blood vessels to relax and open up, permitting blood flow. This amino acid gets depleted as one age, so supplements are taken to restore its levels. L- arginine is also used in medication for erectile dysfunction.
Red ginseng extract, which is a form of Panax ginseng, increases blood flow and circulation by inhibiting platelet coagulation.
Systemic enzymes work directly in your bloodstream. Enzymes like protease and serrapeptase are known for their anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting effects.
Tree bark extracts are also known to be used by natural healers to improve circulation. Yohimbe (from a tree native to Western Africa) has been used for years to cure erectile dysfunction by stimulating blood vessels and circulation. Pine tree extract has been shown to increase the production of Nitric Oxide and boost blood and oxygen circulation to all areas of the body.
Nattokinase is an enzyme found in fermented soybeans that dissolves excess fibrin in blood vessels, that improves blood vessel strength. It can also reduce bad cholesterol and increase levels of good cholesterol. It can also reduce the thickness of blood and improve its flow.
Horny goat weed is an ancient Chinese remedy used for erectile dysfunction and other sexual complaints. It is believed to contain a compound that blocks an enzyme that does not allow blood to flow to the penis.
Butcher’s broom is a common remedy used by herbalists to increase circulation and ease swelling. Its active ingredient is ruscogenin, which tones veins and helps blood vessels constrict.
Additional Steps You Can Take
Wearing compression socks can help by squeezing your feet and forcing blood flow upwards to the rest of your body.
You can also try lying down or sitting with your feet elevated in order for the blood to flow towards the upper portions of your body.
Dry brushing is a technique people use where they take a large dry brush and scrub their skin daily. The technique involves starting at the feet and then rubbing the brush in circles till the heart. This is not only good for blood circulation; it is also useful in removing dead skin.
Acupuncture is an ancient method of promoting blood flow and blood vessel health. Acupuncture increases levels of nitric oxide and results in blood vessel strengthening and circulation.
If you are not into needles, a much more relaxing alternative is getting a massage. A massage not only relieves stress, but it also helps to circulate and move blood into all areas. The squeezing and kneading motion releases lactic acid and benefits the circulation of lymph.
Hydrotherapy is a new method where one alternates between hot and cold-water during showering. The hot water makes the blood rush through the skin, oxygenating tissue as it flows. Then the cold water makes the blood go back to the internal organs taking their waste with it.
The health of our blood vessels and our circulatory system is one we should start paying attention to from a younger age. Waiting until we face problems or reach old age is often when our conditions are severe. Thankfully, there are many changes we can make to our lives to enhance our cardiovascular system and help with blood vessel healing.