With winter upon us, good circulation is important to  increase blood flow to the hands and feet, helping to keep you warm and increase immunity. Poor circulation is a common problem caused by a number of conditions. Often this is made worse in cold weather. If you’d like to get tips on how to improve blood circulation, this article should give you some great ideas.

What are the causes of poor circulation?

Peripheral artery disease , diabetes, obesity, smoking, anemia and Raynaud’s disease, are some of the many causes of poor circulation. As iron is vital for transporting oxygen around the body to the peripheries ie. the hands and feet, even slightly low iron levels can affect circulation and make you feel the cold more. Smoking affects your circulation and damages blood vessels, affecting the blood flow. With diabetes, high blood glucose levels over time can damage the blood vessels, leading to plaque formation which renders the blood vessels unable to deliver sufficient blood to neighbouring cells.

What are the symptoms of poor circulation?

Poor circulation can cause many symptoms, such as pain, muscle cramps, numbness, digestive issues and cold hands and feet. There are many different ways to improve blood circulation.

Spice up your life and your circulation with these tasty additions to your meals : 

Diet -Cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper and cumin are excellent warming spices – add to soups, curries and stews. Cinnamon is tasty on stewed or baked fruits or oats. Cayenne pepper increases circulation.  Turmeric has been used since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation.

– Leafy greens like spinach, cabbage and kale are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator which dilates blood vessles, allowing blood flow. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids which dilate the blood vessels. 

Vitamin E – Avocado, nuts, seeds, wheat germ and olive oil have vitamin E which supports blood flow to the arteries. Chicken or bone broth soups with spices will warm and help circulation. Herbal teas with ginger and lemon will keep you warm and aid circulation.

Iron – iron is vital for oxygenation and blood flow. Heavy menstrual cycles and low dietary vitamin E with vegans and vegetarians can be the cause of low iron, as well as malabsorption caused by digestive issues like leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome.

Not smoking is vital for healthy circulation. Exercise will increase circulation and blood flow, as well as relieving stress and insomnia.