March is National Nutrition Month! When we consider pain and inflammation, we rarely attribute it to the foods we eat. Therefore, we decided to offer some insight on what foods can be beneficial to improving your circulation and reducing inflammation that can cause pain. By increasing your circulation and maintaining better blood flow, you can experience recovery, at the speed of light!
Why is better blood flow actually better?
Well for starters, blood flow is the reason your body can get what nutrients it needs and how it can eliminate what it doesn’t. If you have reduced blood flow, your body will take longer to heal and recover. Reduced blood flow can often result in symptoms like:
- Muscle cramps
- Numbness or coldness in the hands and feet
- Digestive issues
- Slower recovery time
Three key factors to improved circulation are inflammation, blood viscosity, and arterial function.
According to Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, there are three primary concerns to address when looking at improving circulation: By reducing inflammation, reducing blood viscosity (blood’s stickiness or thickness), and supporting healthy arterial function (ensure the arteries can contract or dilate as needed). So, how can food help us to do that?
Blood flow can be directly affected by the foods we eat.
There are many nutrients within the blood that are vital to your wellbeing. A few of these nutrients are antioxidants, nitrates, vitamins, and other substances which come from the foods you eat. There are many kinds of foods that can have a positive impact on your circulation.
Foods to indulge in:
- Cold-water fish like salmon, cod, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fats, which are the healthiest kind of fats for the circulatory system and the heart. The omega-3s help to reduce inflammation and reduce the “stickiness” of the platelets in the blood, reducing the blood viscosity. They also work to help thin the blood so it can flow more easily as well.
- Nuts contain two primary nutrients vital to improved circulation — magnesium and L-arginine. Magnesium helps to relax the arteries, while L-arginine aids in the production of nitric oxide. Both help to support healthy arterial function.
- Oranges are high in vitamin C which benefits the circulatory system. The body contains thousands of miles of tiny capillaries that carry blood from arteries to the tissues and cells, which is where vitamin C can be beneficial. Additionally, vitamin C is essential in the creation of collagen, which is a vital component in the creation and maintenance of the blood flow through the capillaries, known as microcirculation.
- Garlic is a common aid in lowering blood pressure. The key component in garlic is allicin, which helps arteries to dilate.
- Beets can help improve circulation because they’re rich in nitrate. Nitrate is converted into nitric oxide within the body, which helps to dilate the arteries. Similar to leafy greens, beets can offer many health-supporting antioxidants and minerals the body needs to thrive.
- Dark chocolate is full of nutrients that can improve circulation and blood flow, primarily due to the flavonoids. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants, which means that can help prevent inflammation from taking hold. However, it is still meant to be eaten in moderation.
Blood flow can be negatively affected by the foods we eat.
While the foods we eat can be beneficial to our blood flow and circulation, there are some foods to be aware of as part of a healthy diet. Often, the additives we add to our food by way of sugars, trans fats, and salt can be tasty but with a few negative side effects.
Foods to avoid:
- Excessive sugar can cause the body to release high amounts of insulin, which triggers inflammation. The excess of sugars can also result in diabetes. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the naturally occurring amount of sugar (found in almost all foods) and avoid adding more.
- Trans fats are often found in processed and deep-fried foods. Trans fats can be created from oils when cooked under high heats, such as frying.
- Salt is broken up into two parts — sodium and water. Sodium is essential for maintaining good heart health, but only to a point. Sodium can cause you to retain water. This excess of water can increase your blood volume and result in higher blood pressure.
“Blood should flow like red wine, not ketchup.” -Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra
It’s ok to add some spice to your life!
Many spices can be beneficial to improving circulation as well. A few of the most beneficial to increased blood flow and circulation are cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.
- Cayenne pepper gets its spicy flavor from capsaicin, which promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering the blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, a compound that helps expand the blood vessels. The vasodilators work by relaxing the tiny muscles found within the blood vessel walls. Therefore, allowing the blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries.
- Cinnamon has many health benefits, one of which is increased blood flow. Cinnamon improves blood vessel dilation, increasing the blood flow in the coronary artery. The coronary artery supplies the blood directly to the heart. Additionally, cinnamon can reduce blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
- Turmeric has many health benefits, one of which is to increase blood flow. Turmeric helps to open blood vessels and improve circulation. This is because of a compound called curcumin which helps produce increased nitric oxide, reduce oxidative stress, and to decrease inflammation.
- Ginger works to lower blood pressure and improves circulation. Ginger has helped individuals with high blood pressure to lower their blood pressure, which helps because higher blood pressure negatively impacts blood flow.
There are other lifestyle factors that can affect circulation.
Aside from food, there are things you can do to improve circulation. When it comes to improving your blood flow, it is important to be aware of other lifestyle decisions:
- Quit smoking
- Increase physical activity
- Lose weight
- Follow a healthy diet
- Stay hydrated
- Reduce stress
As an IBD Sufferer, what should I eat?
For those suffering from the painful symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, knowing what your trigger foods are is a necessity. Trigger foods are specific food and beverages that irritate your digestive tract and worsen your IBD symptoms. These are foods that can cause increased cramping, bloating, and diarrhea during a flare-up. While every individual can have different trigger foods, the most common food triggers are:
- Insoluble fiber foods
- Non-absorbable sugars
- Sugary foods
- High-fat foods
- Alcohol or caffeinated beverages
- Spicy foods
During an IBD flare-up, it is recommended to eat foods like:
- Refined grains
- Low-fiber fruits
- Fully cooked, seedless, skinless, non-cruciferous vegetables
- Lean sources of protein
- Lactose-free dairy products
For a deeper look at how these foods can help or hurt your digestive tract during an IBD flare-up, visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website. It’s always best to consult with a physician before making any dietary changes to be sure you’re getting enough nutrition in any diet.
How can better blood flow help with recovery time?
The better your blood flow is, the quicker your body can heal and recover. With better blood flow, the muscle soreness and discomfort after an intense workout can be reduced or a wound can heal faster. This allows for nutrients can get to where they’re needed more efficiently and more quickly. It also helps to flush out the inflammation that can cause a delay in your recovery time.
Gladiator Therapeutics and the benefits of far infrared.
At Gladiator Therapeutics, we know what it’s like to live in pain. In fact, it was pain that inspired us to create the Gladiator Therapeutics Far Infrared Blanket! If you or a loved one is suffering from pain and inflammation, far infrared therapy could be the answer you’ve been looking for. The Gladiator Blanket uses far infrared technology to break down the water molecule clusters within your blood into smaller clusters, which can improve circulation. This also works to reduce the inflammation that can result in many painful symptoms or conditions.