Recognising the signs of poor circulation is essential for early intervention and preventing potential complications.
THE circulatory system is a vital part of the body as it works to pump blood from the heart to the lungs to get oxygen.
The US’s Cleveland Clinic added that bodily arrangement – also known as the cardiovascular system – continues with its functions as the heart then sends oxygenated blood through arteries to the rest of the body.
“The veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart to start the circulation process over. Your circulatory system is critical to healthy organs, muscles and tissues,” the renowned medical organisation added.
Healthcare provider Affinity Health added that good circulation was crucial for several reasons.
Affinity Health CEO Murray Hewlett explained that this included:
Efficient circulation ensures all cells have enough oxygen and nutrients to operate correctly.
Proper circulation reduces the strain on the heart, which in turn lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes.
Circulation helps regulate body temperature by distributing heat evenly throughout the body.
Adequate blood flow to injured areas promotes faster healing and tissue repair, Hewlett noted.
Efficient circulation supports the body’s natural detoxification by removing waste and toxins.
Hewlett explained that muscles require a steady blood supply to function correctly, which makes circulation essential for physical performance.
Signs of poor circulation
Hewlett believes that recognising the signs of poor circulation is essential for early intervention and preventing potential complications.
He said that common symptoms include:
Persistent cold hands and feet can indicate restricted blood flow to these areas.
Numbness and tingling
Reduced circulation may cause a tingling sensation or numbness, which Hewlett said many refer to as pins and needles.
Swollen ankles and legs may result from poor circulation, as blood and fluid accumulate in the lower extremities.
Reduced oxygen supply to cells can lead to unexplained fatigue and weakness.
Hewlett stressed to be mindful of wounds, cuts, or bruises that take longer than usual to heal.
Skin discolouration, such as pale or bluish skin, may also be a sign of poor body circulation.
Hewlett noted that another sign of poor circulation are enlarged and visible veins, particularly in the legs.
The role of diet in improving circulation
Certain foods can help enhance blood flow, reduce inflammation, and support cardiovascular health. Here are Affinity Health’s list of the 12 foods that can improve circulation:
Strawberries, cherries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, and raspberries are strong antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which can enhance circulation by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress in blood vessels.
“They also increase nitric oxide synthesis, a chemical that relaxes blood arteries and improves blood flow,” Hewlett said.
Omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, can decrease blood pressure and minimise the risk of blood clots.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, naartjies, limes, lemons, and grapefruits, are abundant in vitamin C, which helps blood vessels work correctly.
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are excellent sources of nitrates, which can enhance blood flow by relaxing blood vessels and improving arterial elasticity, Hewlett noted.
“They are also rich in vitamins and minerals that support overall cardiovascular health.”
Hewlett explained that garlic has been known for its medicinal properties for centuries.
“It contains allicin, a compound that can help relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, leading to improved circulation and a reduced risk of heart disease,” he said.
Almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, and walnuts are rich in healthy fats, fibre, and antioxidants, contributing to better cardiovascular health.
Hewlett added that the unsaturated fats in nuts can also help reduce harmful cholesterol levels and improve blood vessel function.
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content – which Hewlett suggested should contain 70% or more – contains flavonoids that can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Beets contain a high concentration of nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide.
“This substance relaxes blood arteries while increasing blood flow,” Hewlett explained.
Affinity Health said that turmeric contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that can help decrease inflammation and enhance blood vessel function.
“Ginger has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including its ability to improve circulation,” Hewlett said.
He added that it can help reduce blood pressure, relax blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
Watermelon is high in citrulline, which Hewlett believes can increase nitric oxide synthesis, which improves blood flow and circulation.
Green tea contains catechins, which have been demonstrated to enhance blood vessel function and lower the risk of blood clots.