What do icy fingers, puffy feet, and tight socks all have in common?
These can all be the result of a lack of circulation.
It’s a fact that motion is necessary for life. And while pumping around 5 liters of blood per minute seems like an impressive feat, your body does this even when you’re resting (12).
But what happens when your body can’t circulate blood like it’s supposed to?
It can lead to poor circulation symptoms (1), which can look like a variety of things depending on what’s causing it. For example, you may find yourself experiencing:
- Swelling in the feet or hands
- An uncomfortable “pins and needles” feeling in your skin
- Feeling numb
- Pale skin, either whitish for blue
- Bulging veins
- Feeling cold
These feelings and sensations are typically isolated to one or two areas, such as your hands or feet.
What Causes Poor Circulation?
Before we discuss what causes poor circulation, it’s helpful to understand what poor circulation is.
Your body contains a complex infrastructure of vessels and veins. Think of it like a highway. These veins and vessels carry blood, oxygen and other nutrients all over your body. They also carry waste to your lungs to be converted into carbon dioxide (2).
When something happens that keeps the blood from flowing freely, it can keep your tissues from getting the nutrients they need. This can lead to swelling, numbness, and tingling sensations.
Now that you know what poor circulation looks like, what are some reasons that would happen?
Certain health conditions can make it more difficult for your blood to flow, such as:
- Varicose veins: These unsightly, twisting, bulging veins can make blood flow difficult. Why they appear is still a mystery, but they affect over 33 million people in the United States alone (7).
- Obesity: Carrying a lot of extra weight puts a strain on your organs, tissues and veins. It also puts pressure on the walls of the veins and restricts blood flow.
- Diabetes: Having chronically high blood sugar can make the walls of your blood vessels less elastic. This leads them to become narrow and more challenging for blood to come through (3).
- High blood pressure: When your blood is being pumped through your veins with more force than normal, your arteries can begin to restrict. This creates resistance. This leads to your blood flow slowing down as it tries to make its way through the vein (8).
- Atherosclerosis: This is a term used for when plaque builds up inside the arteries. This happens due to several of the health conditions above. This plaque can harden the artery walls, impeding blood flow to the receiving organs (4).
- Raynaud’s disease: Also called “Raynaud’s phenomenon”, this condition is when the vessels in certain parts of your body spasm and restrict excessively. This can happen when exposed to the cold, stress, or emotional triggers. The most common extremities are the fingers, but the ears, toes, and nipples can also be affected (5).
- Smoking: It’s been shown that smoking cigarettes stimulates your heart to work harder. This puts pressure on your veins, limiting the amount of blood that is able to adequately reach your tissues (6).
- Thrombosis: This is when a blood clot develops in your vein. This creates a 100% blockage, which prevents blood from continuing the circulation path.
As you age, the risk of you developing a couple of these disorders increases. And if you’re already there, you need ways to find relief.
How to Improve Poor Blood Circulation
Improving how well your body circulates blood can depend on several factors. Your mobility, whether you’re on medications, diet, and lifestyle can all play a role.
There are both external and internal ways you can get better blood flow. There are also traditional and natural ways to improve circulation.
What is external stimulation? It simply means you take something outside of your body and use it to help boost blood flow. Some examples can be rubbing your hands together, dry brushing your lower legs, or wearing compression socks (9).
Applying heat can also stimulate circulation, as it can help open vessels to allow more blood to flow through. Hand warmers, rice bags, and heated blankets may be a great option.
Check Your Diet
Is eating for better circulation really a thing? Yes, in a way. Eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, whole grains, and colorful fruits and vegetables fight inflammation. This keeps your health healthy, and this can ultimately help keep your veins in good shape (10).
Nix Bad Habits
Substance abuse can cause harm in more ways than one. If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, it is best to work with your medical professional on ways to stop the habit. The ingredients in these products have been proven to contribute to a host of health problems (11).
Consider Herbs and Supplements
More research is revealing the power of nature’s herbs. Some of the best herbs and spices (12) to keep your heart and veins happy include:
Proper circulation is important for your body to operate at its best. Blood supplies your organs and tissues with necessary nutrients through arteries and veins.
Disruptions or blockages due to health conditions can slow down the flow of blood. This can lead to poor circulation.
Some areas may be more affected by poor blood circulation than others, like your hands and feet. Those tingling, numbing sensations can often feel uncomfortable. Thankfully there are tips you can try to help improve blood flow to those areas.
Rubbing your hands together and applying warmth can stir up a slugging blood flow. Eating more herbs and foods that are specifically designed for heart health can help. Not only will it keep your weight in check, your heart will be stronger, and your veins will be freer and clearer.
We at KaraMD know how important circulation and heart health is. Check out Heart Guard, our special herbal blend specifically made to protect all aspects of your heart!
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author