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Summary: In this article, you’ll learn the importance of optimal microcirculation to your health and the best foods and technology to improve it.
Micro Circulation: The Life Force
February is Heart Health month and a healthy circulation is at the heart of the matter. The circulatory system – or put simply: the heart, blood vessels, and cardiovascular system – pumps blood from the heart to the lungs to capture oxygen and then moves oxygenated and nutrified blood through arteries to the rest of the body. The veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart to start the circulation process over.
It’s easy for most of us to visualize the major vessels (arteries and veins) that carry blood around the body. However, most don’t think much about the tinier vessels in charge of microcirculation called the microvasculature. The microvasculature, including the capillaries, is found within all of your muscles, organs, and tissues.
Capillaries are most famous for their role in the lungs where their job is to release carbon dioxide and take in oxygen. However, there are so many other key roles they play. In the bone marrow, capillaries enable new blood cells to enter your bloodstream. In the brain, they form the blood-brain barrier which delivers nutrients to the brain while preventing toxins from passing through. In the endocrine system, they deliver hormones to specific organs. For the kidneys, capillaries produce urine and absorb water and sodium. In the liver, they remove defective red blood cells and bacteria. In the lymphatic system, they are responsible for the ability to collect fluid from tissues and direct it back to the lymph nodes. In the small intestine, they are always working to transport digested nutrients so they can nourish all the cells of your body.
Most capillaries are only about 8 to 10 micrometers in diameter (a micrometer is 0.001 mm). They’re so tiny that red blood cells have to pass through in a single file line. There are approximately 12 million capillaries in the human body which is an incredible amount of surface area for oxygen and nutrient exchange. Amazingly, if you were to lay out all of the arteries, capillaries and veins in an adult, end-to-end, they would stretch about 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers). What’s more, capillaries make up about 80 percent of this length!
Vascular smooth muscle cells are an important component of blood vessels. These cells are located in the inside of a blood vessel, where they are oriented in a circle around the inside which is in contact with the blood. Smooth muscle found in these blood vessels respond to diverse stimuli and work by contracting and relaxing, changing their diameter and tone to move blood cells in and out of their destination tissue. The capillaries, however, do not have this smooth muscle in their own wall, and so any change in their width or dilation is passive. However, it is important to know that pre-capillary vessels – otherwise known as precapillary “sphincters” found at the transition into capillaries – also smooth muscles to regulate blood flow. In fact, science now believes that the pre-capillary vessels to be the “gate keepers” of blood flow regulation into your tissues and organs.
Circulation is the life force and it is naturally increased and decreased depending on an organs needs and is directed by nerve and hormone signals. A good micro-circulation is what makes marathon runners perform better at the same heart rate. Scientists have discovered that optimal microcirculation is linked to a longer life. Perfusion of organs and muscles of the centenarians – those that live beyond their hundredth birthday – was as efficient as that in people who were 30 years younger.
However, nerve and hormone signals can often be disrupted due to suboptimal nutrition, toxin accumulation, and poor lifestyle choices. When this happens, energy slumps, sleep can be interrupted, libido may be affected, weight gain ensues, and you start to fall apart.
Foods for Better Circulation
Many foods and spices can contribute to better circulation. Cayenne pepper can help boost blood flow. A compound called capsaicin in the red pepper helps relax muscles that line blood vessels allowing for blood to flow more easily and it decreases blood pressure.
Beets are root veggies that are rich in nitrate, a compound your body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps widen blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Antioxidant-rich berries protect artery walls and improve blood flow. They are rich in a compound called anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant responsible for berries red and purple hues. Anthocyanin protects artery walls and keep blood vessels flexible. They also stimulate the release of nitric oxide to lower blood pressure.
Essential fatty acids lower your blood pressure and keep arteries healthy. Certain fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and halibut are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats boost circulation and lower resting blood pressure.
Pomegranate seeds are rich in nitrates that boost blood circulation because of their abundant nitrates and antioxidants that boost circulation.
The ingredient allicin in garlic helps blood flow more efficiently and helps blood vessels relax. When blood flows through the heart more easily, this reduces the workload on the heart. Blood pressure is decreased when your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood.
Eating walnuts regularly improves blood vessel health, lowers blood pressure and blood vessels become more flexible.
Antioxidants in grapes encourage blood vessels to relax and curb inflammation. But reach for the deep purple grapes that are richest in antioxidants that boost blood flow by relaxing blood vessel walls and helping blood vessels work better.
Curcumin found in turmeric spice can – like beets – also boost production of nitric oxide which in turn widens blood vessels. When blood vessels are wider, blood flows more easily and reaches your heart, brain, organs, muscles, and tissues.
People reach for oranges and other citrus fruits because they are rich in vitamin C, but there are other reasons to make citrus a regular part of your diet. Antioxidants in citrus fruits decrease inflammation, boost circulation, and help prevent blood clots.
Chocolate benefits blood vessel health, blood pressure, and boosts blood flow. But not the milk chocolate kind. Choose dark chocolate to reap the benefits, but also be mindful of portion sizes. 1-2 squares of 70% or higher should do the trick.
Ginger is a vasodilator which means it widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Many people know ginger aids digestion and helps relieve nausea, but it is also great for circulation. You can consume ginger as powder in soup, chopped in stir fries, or to make a tea.
The Latest Tech for Improved Circulation
BEMER is a technology that can improve microcirculatory blood flow by up to 30 percent!
It also stimulates healthy muscles in order to improve and facilitate muscle performance and temporarily improve local circulation in healthy muscles in just 8 minutes twice a day. For more than 20 years, the benefits of BEMER have impacted millions of people around the world. This technology delivers a patented therapeutic signal that has been shown to enhance nutrient and oxygen delivery, local blood flow, waste removal, stress reduction, and sleep management.
Research at BEMER partner universities in Europe, and at the Institute of Microcirculation in Berlin, Germany, have shown actual footage (download: before and after videos) of the incredible effects BEMER can have on the circulatory system. These videos show microvessels operating inside the human body. Microvessels are only seven (7) microns in diameter (0.0003 inch) – the same as red blood cells, which need to deform in order to pass through them.
Perhaps the highest validation of the science behind BEMER is their collaboration with NASA. They have been chosen as a cooperative partner for the development of the next generation of spacesuits paving the way for integrating BEMER technology into human space flight.
The BEMER device is cleared by the FDA and registered and licensed by Health Canada.