Your circulatory system pumps blood throughout your entire body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells, while removing metabolic by-products and toxins.
The main components to circulatory health are vein/arterial health, proper cholesterol functioning and proper blood flow, which is dependent on both carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO).
Circulation Controls The Transport Of Nutrients
The circulatory system in your body acts like a highway throughout your body, facilitating the physical transport of nutrients and building blocks throughout your body.
It’s also closely tied with the immune system and hormonal control of blood glucose, which acts to provide a consistent supply of glucose to all cells in your body, especially those that can only use glucose.
The blood is typically where most people get their diagnostic test numbers from, which may or may not always be the best measure of what’s actually happening in the body.
For example, cellular uptake of the active thyroid hormone, T3, can in some cases be impaired (especially when there are a lot of polyunsaturated fats in the cell), meaning that even if blood values of T3 were high, it still wouldn’t have its actual, intended effect because it can’t get into the cell. If you were to only measure blood thyroid levels, however, it wouldn’t look like anything was wrong, and it might lead you to believe your thyroid isn’t an issue, when it might be the exact issue you’re dealing with.
This is just an example, but it can also be true for most blood values you measure. These values only tell you how much of which hormones are in your blood, not whether they’re having their desired effect or how or why your body is producing more or less of those hormones to begin with.
It can get complicated, and this is part of the reason why we tend to rely on real world outcomes as measurements, like waking body temperature, temperature of your extremities, quality of sleep, heart rate, etc.
Circulation Connects The Systems Of The Body To Each Other
Regardless, your blood flow and circulation are heavily dependent on each of the other systems in your body and will similarly have an effect on each of them in return.
Most notable is the connection with gut health, since the gut is where your body absorbs all of the nutrients from food into your blood in the first place. When blood flow is poor (due to poor circulation), or when stress is rerouting blood flow away from your gut for extended periods of time, the result is weakened gut cells that can’t as strongly control what gets into your blood from your digestive tract. Often, this means increases in endotoxemia and absorption of pathogens, burdening your immune system and liver and raising levels of stress even higher.
LEARN MORE: What Does Gut Health Mean?
Circulation and blood flow also involves maintaining good levels of blood sugar to supply fuel for the systems throughout the body and maintaining proper blood lipids to ensure you are able to produce all the digestive acids needed, to produce the steroid hormones and to eliminate toxins from your body (cholesterol is even involved in the removal of endotoxins from the bloodstream).
Poor blood flow can also lead to sexual problems, poor exercise capacity and recovery, poor nutrient and hormonal action throughout the body, brain fog and cognitive decline, and so much more.
Without proper circulation, none of your body’s systems would be able to function properly.
How To Improve Blood Circulation
As we discussed, the main areas to focus on and improve when it comes to blood flow is blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar.
All three of these can be drastically improved by including exercise in your lifestyle. We recommend two to three high intensity resistance training sessions per week (either using weights or bodyweight movements) along with daily walking and other low intensity movement.
The combination of these two types of exercise will have massive health benefits for not only your circulation but your entire body. We do recommend limiting the longer duration, endurance type of training, which elevates the stress hormones for a long time without creating enough adaptation to counteract it.
In addition to exercising, antioxidants are incredibly important for the cardiovascular system, which is often where a lot of oxidative and free radical damage takes place. In fact, this inflammation in the veins (one example is varicose veins) and arteries is what is actually responsible for heart disease, not cholesterol as is commonly believed.
Consuming adequate amounts of vitamins C and E, along with natural antioxidants found in fruits, will help keep inflammation and oxidative damage low, which will keep your blood flowing as it should. In fact, by combining vitamin C and garlic, there is a synergistic improvement in both blood pressure and blood lipid profile.
START TODAY: How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Since cholesterol is actually an antioxidant and building block itself, making it a crucial nutrient for the body, you don’t need to be worried about consuming cholesterol or saturated fats in foods, and you should, in fact, include this as your main type of fat, as it will protect your liver and supply this cholesterol for hormone and bile acid synthesis.
On the contrary, polyunsaturated fats will lower your cholesterol by preventing your liver from exporting fat, leading to a condition known as “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” or NAFLD, which causes insulin resistance and the gamut of symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. It’s important to understand that just because PUFAs lower blood cholesterol does not mean they’re doing something beneficial for your body. They are actually hurting your liver function and setting you up for longer-term problems.
If your blood cholesterol level is high, it’s much more important to get your thyroid hormones working properly, since thyroid combines with vitamin A and cholesterol in cells to produce pregnenolone, the “mother” steroid hormone from which all other steroid hormones are made. Often, simply improving your metabolism or supplementing with natural desiccated thyroid will help to lower blood cholesterol levels in a healthy way.
Too much fat storage in the liver is one of the main causes — if not THE cause — of insulin resistance because this stored fat releases free fatty acids into the blood easily, which competes with glucose for entry into the cells (a well-known process called “The Randle Cycle”). This means that the sugar in your blood can’t easily be absorbed and instead elevates beyond what is normal before being converted to fat and stored in fat cells simply to get it out of the bloodstream.
This of course makes the problem worse, as this elevated fat and lack of proper use of glucose leads to higher amounts of free fatty acids in the blood, which means even poorer insulin sensitivity. Since saturated fats help protect your liver from storing fat, they can help reduce this from occurring in the first place, while PUFA will make the problem worse. In addition, ensuring proper intake of the B-vitamins and choline/betaine (found in egg yolks and beef liver) will provide the necessary nutrients for your liver to properly create cholesterol instead of storing fat.
At the core, healthy liver function is crucial for circulation, as well as all other areas of health in the body.
Ways To Improve Blood Circulation & Increase Blood Flow Naturally:
- Exercise regularly (two to three higher-intensity resistance training sessions per week along with daily walking or other low intensity activity).
- Consume lots of antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, by consuming lots of fruit.
- Consider taking vitamin C and garlic together to synergistically improve blood pressure and blood lipids.
- Eat saturated fats and cholesterol while avoiding polyunsaturated fats.
- Consume adequate B-vitamins and choline/betaine from egg yolks and beef liver.
- Consider supplementing with desiccated thyroid to keep cholesterol level in check.