The Circulatory System In the average human body, over 7,500 liters of blood travel through roughly 95,000 kilometers of blood vessels. The human heart beats about 100,000 times each day, that's about 36 million beats each year! The blood circulating through the body delivers nutrients and removes wastes from cells, travelling through blood vessels that range from the size of a garden hose to the thickness of a hair. In fact, when blood travels through our smallest capillaries, the red blood cells can only fit single file!
According to Statistics Canada, 29% of all deaths in Canada are due to cardiovascular disease. In 2011, every 7 minutes a Canadian died of heart disease or stroke. That makes heart disease and stroke the second and third leading causes of death in Canada (cancer is still the top cause of death).
What are some signs of an impaired circulatory system? Cold hands and feet, numbness, cramping, high blood pressure, declining memory and impotence are all possible signs of impaired blood flow.
What are some risk factors? Eating a poor diet, eating foods high in rancid fats, low intake of antioxidants, chronic stress, lack of exercise and high homocysteine levels. (Homocysteine is an amino acid, if its levels are high, it may promote blood clotting and compromise the repair of collagen, which the walls of the blood vessels are made of.)
So, how can we keep our circulatory systems healthy? By preventing cellular damage of the cells that line our blood vessels. Contrary to popular opinion, cholesterol does not cause heart disease, rather it's a symptom of a repair process set in motion by cellular damage.
Foods for Circulatory Health
Omega 3 fats- These heart healthy fats lower inflammation, increase HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels. Found in salmon, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts and whole oats.
Fiber rich foods- A diet high in fiber helps to remove toxins from the body. Foods rich in fiber include whole oats, raspberries, beans and legumes.
Antioxidant rich foods- Vitamins A, C, E, CoEnzyme Q10 and glutathione are all antioxidants that help to protect our body from free radical damage. Eating a variety of whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables helps to keep our antioxidant reserves high. Choose whole grains, blueberries, kiwis, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, acorn squash, cantaloupe, pomegranate, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts and spinach.
Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium rich foods- These minerals in the right balance help to maintain good blood volume and prevent the hardening of our blood vessels. Calcium is found in kelp, carob, collard greens, kale and almonds. For magnesium try cacao, almonds, cashews and buckwheat. Potassium is found apples, avocado, banana and cantaloupe.
Filtered water- Dehydration leads to inflammation which reduces circulation. Choose filtered water and aim for roughly 8-10 glasses throughout the day, but away from meals to prevent diluting digestive juices.
Heart Hugging Juice -makes 300 ml
2 small carrots
1/2 medium beet, scrubbed
-Juice beet, carrots and apple, followed by grapefruit. Include grapefruit seeds for antimicrobial activity, but remove skins. -Pour juice into blender, add strawberries and blend. -Enjoy immediately for highest antioxidant and enzyme levels.
Grapefruit and carrot nourish the liver, while beets benefit our kidneys and circulation. Strawberries provide nutrients to promote good circulation and apples support our adrenals and spleens.
*Disclaimer: this post is intended to give general health and nutrition suggestions for the circulatory system. If you are experiencing serious problems, new symptoms or a chronic issue, please see your health professional.