As autumn approaches and we wave goodbye to summer, it’s time to prepare ourselves for a strong immune system and good circulation. Do you have cold extremities and red or blueish hands and feet in winter? You could be suffering from poor circulation.
The blood stream is required to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the organs around the body and to move toxins and waste products out. Poor circulation is generally a symptom of diseases such as diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, so it’s always best to address the cause rather than the symptom.
Raynaud’s disease is a condition where the arteries narrow to the skin in hands and feet, restricting blood supply and circulation. Facial features such as the nose, lips and ears can also be affected. Those who live in colder countries can suffer from this the most.
Blood clots can also be a cause of poor circulation as they physically block the blood vessels, and can become dangerous.
Poor circulation generally effects the extremities and can be accompanied by numbness, tingling, pain and muscle cramps, and if left untreated could lead to nerve and tissue damage.
Warming Herbs and Spices
For circulation we need to be taking a note of traditional Chinese medicine and opt for warming (yang) foods with red and orange pigments that generate hot energy. Turmeric, ginger and capsicum are considered the go-to for blood circulation. Garlic can be used too as it is a vasodilator (opens the blood vessels) to allow good blood flow around the body.
Consuming root vegetable stews in the winter months are an example of how seasonal eating has its place in our diets. Sweet potatoes, winter squash and carrots are orange-pigmented beta-carotenes for good blood circulation. Turnips, onions and rutabaga are other examples you can include.
Vitamin K2 is a blood thinning vitamin which can be used where blood clotting is a problem. Not to be taken alongside blood thinning drugs unless advised by your GP. It is also used to support against atherosclerosis which can cause a narrowing of blood vessels by inhibiting calcification and redirecting calcium deposits to the bone.
Kale contains a good amount of vitamin K, and it is for this reason that in traditional Chinese medicine kale is used to move qi as K2 has blood thinning properties and promotes flow.
According to the university of maryland, Gingko biloba is useful in blood circulation.
Hot and Cold Showers
Alternating between hot and cold water in the shower gets the circulatory system working. When you’re in a warm shower the blood rushes to the skin to oxygenate the tissue. When you switch to a cold stream the blood rushes to the organs to protect them.
Be sure not to neglect exercise in the colder months where we need to keep the body moving and blood flowing. Cardio is of course good to get the heart pumping, be it a 15 minute walk, run or swim. You can also do simple daily stretches like yoga or pilates as these lengthen and oxygenate the muscles.