Having poor blood flow is something that many people in today’s society struggle with.
Due to environmental, nutritional, lifestyle, and psychological factors, the ability to obtain proper blood flow naturally can be almost impossible.
Why is promoting healthy blood flow important?
Promoting proper and healthy blood flow can lead to a whole host of benefits, including:
Warmer hands and feet
Improved recovery from exercise
Pump and vascularity during exercise
A stronger immune system
But the most important of all is nutrient delivery - blood ensures that nutrients from food are shuttled around the body. When blood is flowing at a healthy rate, nutrients get where they need to go and the human body is able to operate as it should.
STEP 1: Understand Blood Flow
The more you understand about your own body, the better you will be able to improve your overall health.
This is a mission we stand by here at UMZU, so the first step to improving your lifestyle to promote better blood flow can be done right here, right now.
Here are some terms surrounding blood flow that you should understand:
The constriction of narrowing of blood vessels due to the contraction of the muscular wall of those vessels
The widening of the diameter of blood vessels due to relaxation of the muscular wall of those vessels
Production increases when the oxidative metabolism is increased
Nitric Oxide increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure
How Do Organs Play a Role?
Role of the Heart
The heart's main function is to propel blood throughout the body. Whenever we have high amounts of vasoconstriction present it puts more stress on the heart, making it work harder to pump blood through the system.
Role of the Liver
The liver is known as the chemical factory of the body. With over 500 different functions this organ is extremely important. Within the context of the cardiovascular system, the liver acts like a “filter.” It takes out different toxins and chemicals from the blood and gets them out of the body through the digestive system and urinary system.
Role of the Lungs
The lung’s main purpose within the context of the circulatory system is to deliver oxygen to the blood and export CO2 from the system.
How Do Hormones Play a Role?
Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted from the adrenals during times of stress. Cortisol is the key stress hormone in the body and leads to vasoconstriction.
This is why when you are in a state of stress your fingers and toes become cold. Cortisol and adrenaline are redirecting the blood away from the extremities, and shuttling blood to the muscles and brain. This allows you to react and either fight the challenge to come or flee and escape the situation.
This is also known as the fight or flight response or the sympathetic state.
Estrogen, contrary to popular belief, is a stress hormone. Estrogen is necessary for the proper functioning of the body for both genders, but only in moderation.
Progesterone is THE female hormone produced at 1000 times the amount estrogen is produced inside the female body. That was not a typo. There is 1000 times more progesterone than estrogen when looking at the hormonal status of most healthy women.
Estrogen, when it comes to the cardiovascular system, leads to vascular permeability. This is why women, during the menstruation period, bleed in excess and can even experience nose bleeds.
Estrogen is one of the hormones that are responsible for excessive water retention within the cells. This tends to lead to premature cellular division and a whole host of other nasty things. When excessive estrogen is in the bloodstream we see increased retention of water in the endothelial cells (the cells that make up the walls of the blood vessels).
This swelling of the endothelial cells leads to less diameter in the blood vessel. Less diameter in the blood vessel equals a smaller area for blood to flow through. A smaller area for blood to flow through increases blood pressure and puts more stress on the heart.
When it comes to the health of the heart there are things that are inotropic (increase the power of contraction of the heart) and things that are lusitropic (things that promote relaxation of the heart). Estrogen has a negative relationship with both of these. Meaning that it is a negative inotropic and a negative lusitropic hormone.
Estrogen interferes with optimal functioning of the heart whenever it is in excess in the body.
Progesterone is also known as the hormone of youth. Whenever you see a woman who has recently become pregnant she will more than likely have the “pregnancy glow.” She might even look as if she has aged backward by about five years. This is due to the increased amount of progesterone that is being produced because of the pregnancy.
Progesterone is protective to the human body in an almost countless amount of ways.
Progesterone and testosterone work together to antagonize (fight against) the action of excessive estrogen. This is gender apathetic (works the same for both men and women). By decreasing vascular permeability and mitigating endothelial cell fluid retention, progesterone allows for blood to flow through the body with ease.
Progesterone also acts by increasing the flexibility of red blood cells, allowing them to more easily pass through capillaries.
Progesterone and testosterone both have a positive inotropic and lusitropic function, increasing the health and function of the heart so it can work at its highest possible capability
Thyroid hormone is the main energy regulating hormone that is present within the human body.
Without a sufficient amount of active thyroid hormone (t3) being produced, the energy production in the body goes down, leading to an energy deficit.
Energy creates order, and allows for more complex and abstract functions to take place in the organism. When the production of energy is hindered, it leads to disorder within the organism.
In the presence of less thyroid hormone production and conversion, the body goes into a state of energy deprivation. During this time of energy deprivation, the body is more susceptible to the influences of stress hormones - most commonly estrogen, cortisol, and adrenaline.
By increasing the production and conversion of thyroid hormone, you will increase the amount of energy within the system. Allowing for higher order functions to take place. All while down regulating stress hormones and mitigating their detrimental effects.
STEP 2: Meditation for Increasing Blood Flow
Meditation has been proven time and time again in clinical studies to have the ability to lower blood pressure effectively.
The psychological component of high blood pressure and poor circulation is overlooked by most people who struggle with this problem. Due to the tremendous complexity of the human psyche and the relationship that it has to our physiology, stress has a major impact on our body.
Psychological stress manifests itself on the physical level in the body. It does this by increasing the various stress hormones that we have talked about.
Meditation, when utilized correctly, can decrease the impact that negative thought patterns have on the body.
Allowing stressful circumstances to not have an impact on the amount of stress hormones produced in the body.
Research has shown that subjects who focused on taking six deep breaths were able to significantly decrease blood pressure and promote vasodilation.
Some good areas of meditation are:
Experiment with different types and find out which one is best for you.
ACTION ITEM: Spend around 10 minutes at the beginning of each day meditating in some way.
STEP 3: Breathing for Increasing Blood Flow
Breathing is another surefire way to ensure that you are effectively lowering the amount of stress hormones in the body. It also ensures you are exchanging gases properly in order to increase vasodilation.
Most people are completely unaware of the way that they are breathing. They go throughout their day mildly hyperventilating. This hyperventilation is relaying to the body that it is in a stressful situation promoting stress hormones.
By focusing on your breath and correcting your breathing patterns you begin to allow your respiratory system to function the way that it is meant to. This allows for the proper exchange of gas between the lungs and the blood.
Your body begins to tell itself it is not in a state of stress, allowing for optimal circulatory health and contributing to optimal health in general.
Some good tactics to begin working on your breathing patterns are:
Box breathing (breathing in for 7 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and letting the breath out for 7 seconds)
Equal breathing (sama vritti - breathing in for the same amount of time you breathe out)
ACTION ITEM: As you go throughout your day be intentional about your breathing patterns. Imagine yourself pushing out your belly button with the air you are breathing in. Every time you find yourself a little anxious or tense, stop where you are, take six deep breaths, and continue your day.
STEP 4: Sociability for Increasing Blood Flow
Sociability decreases amount of stress hormones that are present in the body much like meditation. This then decreases vascular resistance and promotes vasodilation, playing a beneficial role to improved blood flow.
However, for the introverts who might be freaking out reading this, have no fear.
You don't have to go out and be the center of attention, but finding even one person who you enjoy being around and being present with has been shown to have a massive impact on stress and blood pressure.
ACTION ITEM: Spend ten minutes a day talking to someone you enjoy spending time with. Whether it is in person or a ten minute phone call, this will make a significant impact on your day.
STEP 5: Exercise for Increasing Blood Flow
Everyone knows that exercise is beneficial for your health; however, most people think that the wrong type of exercise is most beneficial in the scope of cardiovascular health.
Resistance training is one of the most beneficial things that anyone can do to increase all areas of his or her health. Resistance training slows down the aging process and allows for a more friendly internal environment in the long term, even though that exercise itself is a stressor. Resistance training is extremely beneficial for increasing the strength and resiliency of the heart.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is endurance training, which has been shown to increase stress hormones and over stress the heart, leading to a weakened heart in the long term. This is one of the reasons that endurance athletes have such a slow resting heartbeat.
Resistance training decreases the body's susceptibility to injury allowing it to be more resilient against trauma and other forms of shock.
So if you have the decision to go run a few miles or do some pull-ups and push-ups I would opt for the latter.
ACTION ITEM: Find a good workout program. Whether it's bodyweight workouts you can do at home or a powerlifting routine, finding a good workout program is the first step. Workout every day. It doesn't have to be a lifting session every day but even stretching on a daily basis is good to keep the body moving and functioning properly.
STEP 6: Walking for Increasing Blood Flow
Walking is the most beneficial form of movement that anyone can do, especially if you have the ability to walk out in nature. Walking has a significant impact on the hormonal status of the body. It allows for more protective and youth associated hormones to be produced and reduces the amount of stress hormones in the body.
Walking also regulates many different functions throughout the body. One of the most significant systems that is regulated by walking is the digestive system. Walking for around 45-60 minutes a day allows for proper peristaltic contraction of the intestine, helping to move waste through the system and promoting proper digestion.
Walking promotes proper circulation to the lower half of the body, helping to get unoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs to be replenished with nutrients.
If you have the ability to walk outside in an unknown place this also becomes very beneficial for increasing brain function and helping to promote creativity through different neural patterns being integrated.
ACTION ITEM: Walk for 20-60 minutes a day with a step goal of 10,000 steps.
STEP 7: Nutrition for Increasing Blood Flow
Nutrition plays a foundational role in the health of the circulatory system, as well as all other areas of health. Providing the body with the material that it needs in order to support proper hormonal status and a high functioning metabolism is extremely important.
At UMZU, we promote The Thermo Diet, which is built upon the metabolic theory of health and is designed in a way that allows you to eat to support proper hormonal status within the body and alleviate micronutrient deficiencies.
Cutting out foods and other things that block the flow of energy through the body and adding in things that will enhance it is the most ideal approach.
At the fundamental level of this way of eating you should:
Eat plenty of nutrient rich carbohydrates (fruits and roots)
Get in just the right amount of protein from the right sources (animal sources)
Eat adequate amounts of the right types of fats to support hormonal production and cellular repair.
The biggest thing that you can do right now in terms of nutrition for blood flow is eliminate polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are numerous adverse effects with these type of fats as they are extremely unstable, breaking down and forming free radicals in the body, and can even lead to metabolic degradation.
ACTION ITEM: Start cooking your food. Go to the grocery store and buy whole foods that are rich in nutrients. Use better oil (saturated fats are best).
Got Your Lifestyle in Order? Now Get Your Micronutrients in Order
The ingredients in Redwood can help support healthy blood flow and circulation, making this supplement a perfect pairing for a healthy lifestyle: