Most of us had that uncle or grandparent that always had ice cold hands and feet. We grew up hearing that their “circulation just wasn’t that good.” Being young and having perpetually warm hands and feet ourselves, we didn’t give circulation much thought.
But then time passed, and as we aged, we sometimes found our own circulation to be less than stellar. And we may have also discovered that poor circulation doesn’t just cause cold hands and feet, but other symptoms like pain, muscle cramps and numbness.
So what causes poor circulation?
There are many different things that can cause poor circulation, including peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, obesity, smoking and Raynaud’s disease, which causes the small arteries in hands and feet to narrow.
Circulatory issues are usually treated with medications, but many of these come with terrible side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea and skin irritations. And as you know, if you’ve read the Primal blog for any time now, we always advocate making healthy lifestyle choices to help alleviate the root cause of diseases instead of relying on potentially dangerous medications.
It turns out, there are quite a few foods that can improve blood flow, and I’m about to share some of them below.
7 Best Foods to Increase Circulation
1. Cayenne Pepper
You have probably heard before that cayenne pepper is good for getting your blood flowing. That’s because it contains a phytochemical called capsaicin.
Capsaicin promotes increased circulation to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators, which are compounds that help expand your blood vessels. This expansion helps your blood to flow more easily through the miles of vascular tubing.
If you can take the heat, then you may want to start eating cayenne and other spicy peppers that contain capsaicin.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, halibut and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are incredibly beneficial for circulation because they release nitric oxide, which allows your blood vessels to open and let the blood flow freely. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to stop your blood platelets from clumping, which can lead to clot formation and a blockage. And omega-3s are linked to reduced blood pressure as well.
Good news, if you don’t like to eat fish and hate the fishy burps caused by many fish oil supplements, Primal Labs offers our readers an omega-3 supplement that is pure and potent and won’t leave you with fishy burps.
Pomegranates are deliciously sweet and juicy fruits that are refreshing on a hot summer day. But beyond delicious, they also happen to be an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which again, open up those blood vessels.
To many of us, walnuts are only meant to be consumed if they are in a brownie or chocolate chip cookie. But walnuts are incredibly healthy and should be eaten on their own.
Walnuts are a rich source of a few beneficial compounds such as l-arginine, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and vitamin E. All of these help to stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which gets those blood vessels open.
As I mentioned, diabetes is one of the biggest causes of circulation problems. Well, in a study of 24 diabetics, those who ate just 2 ounces of walnuts each day for eight weeks saw significant improvements in circulation.
Cinnamon is a warming spice that has been linked to many health benefits over the years. Studies have shown cinnamon can reduce blood pressure and increase circulation by relaxing blood vessels. Animal studies have also shown that cinnamon bark extract improves heart health and circulation.
6. Leafy Greens
If you’ve read this far, you know that nitric oxide is key in opening up your blood vessels. The more foods you eat with nitrates (your body turns nitrates into nitric oxide) the better. It just so happens that leafy greens like spinach and collard greens are particularly high in nitrates. One study showed that eating spinach daily for just seven days provided significant improvements to blood pressure and blood flow.
Let’s end this list with another food that can boast significant amounts of nitrates – beets. Your body will take all of these nitrates and convert them into nitric oxide and your blood vessels will open up and let the blood flow. Beets and beet juice have been shown to help older individuals lower their blood pressure and increase circulation.
Getting to the Root Cause
As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post, diabetes is one of the main causes of poor circulation in people. While eating certain foods can help your blood flow better, it is always wise to tackle the root causes of illness.
Type 2 diabetes is no longer a life sentence as we once thought it was. You CAN REVERSE your Type 2 diabetes, which will improve your entire circulatory system.
How nice would it be to throw away your insulin and other medications once and for all? How nice would it be to never have to worry about losing your vision, or god forbid, a limb, due to poor circulation?
If you pick up your copy of Smart Blood Sugar, you will find out exactly how one doctor is helping her patients reverse their type 2 diabetes and improve their circulation for good.