Maintaining good blood circulation is an important part of health.
There are about 60,000 miles of blood vessels that transport blood to every cell in your body.
If you exhibit symptoms of poor blood circulation, it may be time to consider a variety of solutions.
In the following sections, we’ll explore some effective ways to improve blood flow. Among other approaches, home red light therapy can increase circulation and has numerous other benefits for health.
Why Is Good Blood Circulation So Important?
Healthy blood flow is essential to every system and function in your body. When you have poor circulation, your cells can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to thrive. This has a strong negative ripple effect on your overall health.
You may need to improve circulation if you experience:
- Low energy
- Poor focus and concentration
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Numbness in the fingers or toes
- A blue tinge (if you’re fair-skinned)
- Constantly feeling cold, especially in the hands and feet
- Slow wound healing
- Dry skin
- Varicose veins/spider veins
- Brittle nails
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive problems
- Frequent colds and infections
- Erectile dysfunction
Some of these symptoms can have other causes, but improving blood flow can help significantly.
What Causes Poor Blood Circulation?
Poor circulation can have a number of causes:
- Being sedentary
- Peripheral artery disease
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High alcohol consumption
- High blood pressure
Some of these causes of poor blood flow are lifestyle-related. Improving circulation should include committing to a healthy lifestyle.
Home Remedies to Increase Blood Circulation
These home remedies are ways to improve circulation:
Increase Iron Intake If You Are Anemic
Anemia results in too few red blood cells, which circulate oxygen in the body. You could eat more iron-rich food such as spinach and other dark leafy greens, or take an iron supplement if recommended by your doctor.
Manage Blood Pressure
Arteriosclerosis is one of the effects of hypertension (high blood pressure). Arteriosclerosis causes the walls of your blood vessels to become hard and inflexible, which inhibits blood flow. Hypertension can be managed with a healthy diet and medication.
Dietary Solutions for Increasing Blood Circulation
Let's take a closer look at some of the dietary solutions for increasing blood circulation.
Some of these can improve blood circulation by stimulating the release of nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator.
Beets are high in nitrates that are converted into nitric oxide in the body.
Berries are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and may contribute to vasodilation and lower blood pressure.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, stimulates the release of nitric oxide.
Meanwhile, cinnamon promotes vasodilation and reduces blood pressure.
Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants, which can decrease inflammation that may be contributing to vascular problems.
The sulfur compounds in garlic lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
Ginger can improve your circulation and lower blood pressure. It also inhibits angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACEs), which are vasoconstrictors.
Leafy green vegetables promote the release of nitric oxide and support lower blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids promote the release of nitric oxide. They also cause the vascular smooth muscle to relax, which promotes circulation. Fatty fish, chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, and walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Onions contain flavonoid antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Pomegranate, a sweet, juicy fruit, is high in antioxidants called polyphenols, which are powerful vasodilators.
Tomatoes inhibit (ACEs), and contain antioxidant compounds.
Meanwhile, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory that increases nitric oxide production.
Walnuts contain L-arginine, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and vitamin E, which are associated with increased nitric oxide production.
Plant-based diets are exceptionally good for cardiovascular health and circulation. Most of the above dietary solutions should fit well into an ordinary diet, so they’re worth a try!
Now, setting diet aside for a moment, let’s take a look at some of the behaviors and activities that may contribute to healthier blood circulation.
Behavioral Tips for Increasing Blood Circulation
A few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in circulation. Included in these are the following.
Make sure that you are hydrated!
More than half of your blood volume is water. Plasma is 90% water. The rest of your blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Dehydration causes the plasma volume to shrink, turning your blood into ‘sludge’ that has a hard time moving through your circulatory vessels.
Many people are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration leads to the secretion of vasopressin due to the increased concentration of sodium in the blood. This can cause vasoconstriction and reduced blood flow as well as increased blood pressure.
Did you know that the thirst and hunger signals you get from your body are very similar? When you think you’re hungry, you could just be thirsty long before you even experience a dry throat.
Recommended water intake varies depending on body size, age, activity level, and the presence of various health conditions. Various health authorities recommend drinking from 50oz to 130oz of water per day.
In general, drinking plenty of water can improve blood consistency and circulation.
Meanwhile, consuming too many drinks with sugar can increase inflammation.
What about the world’s favorite morning beverage, coffee?
While caffeine is a mild diuretic, it shouldn’t cause hydration problems as long as most of your daily fluid intake is water. Caffeine also has vasodilating properties which will temporarily boost circulation. Caffeine may also increase blood flow to the brain.
When choosing a coffee product it is always recommended to look for certified organic coffee that is free of pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals to the body in order to maximize the health benefits.
Daily movement is essential, especially aerobic exercise. Walking, dancing, cycling, running, and swimming are all great cardio workouts. 30 minutes of exercise or more on a daily basis is enough to make a significant positive impact.
Your exercise sessions don’t necessarily need to be intense. What matters more is that you get your body moving every day to get your blood flowing.
Effective non-cardio exercises to increase blood flow include stretching, yoga, gardening, and tai chi.
Strength training also boosts poor circulation, and you don’t need a gym membership to work out. For example, squats, pushups, and even stationary poses like planks strengthen the large muscle groups in the lower body while getting your heart pumping, and they encourage good blood flow.
There are dozens of reasons to quit smoking. Poor circulation is at the top of the list. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, constricts blood vessels, thickens the blood, and worse, it causes severe damage to blood vessel walls.
Meditation, yoga, gardening, hobbies, and even pets can help you de-stress. Stress can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
This wonderful invigorating technique involves using a body brush before showering to brush your skin and improve circulation. Using long strokes, start at your feet and work your way up toward the heart. Do the same from the fingertips to the shoulders.
Compression socks squeeze the vessels in the lower legs, which pushes blood up toward the heart. Wear compression socks while sitting to prevent blood from pooling in your feet.
Elevating your legs while sitting helps push blood to your heart and prevent swelling in the feet and ankles. You can also lie on the floor and rest your legs on a couch or chair to circulate blood away from the legs and to the heart.
Frequent Position Changes
Sitting for long periods slows blood flow to the legs, which could potentially lead to blood clots. It helps to get a standing desk, to take short breaks every hour to stand and stretch, or go for a quick walk.
Take a Soak
Baths or hot tub soaks can temporarily increase circulation by relaxing your muscles, including the smooth muscles of circulatory vessels.
Stretching and Yoga
Twisting, reaching, stretching, inverted yoga positions, and constant flowing movements keep your blood circulating freely.
A massage is relaxing, and it helps improve poor circulation. The pressure applied by a massage therapist acts like compression to push blood and lymph through the body.
Obesity puts a lot of pressure on the cardiovascular system. It can also lead to plaque buildup and other complications that can cause poor circulation.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
If you have more than one alcoholic drink a day, take it down a notch. Excessive alcohol consumption has many negative effects on your cardiovascular system:
- Cardiomyopathy: The muscles in the heart stretch and become flaccid, which interferes with the heart’s pumping action.
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
- High blood pressure: Initially, alcohol works as a vasodilator; however, if drinking continues, alcohol begins to act as a vasoconstrictor which increases blood pressure.
Limiting alcohol consumption to one drink a day or less will help improve circulation.
Red Light Therapy for Increasing Blood Circulation
Red light therapy is a natural light-based remedy that can boost circulation. This remedy is unique in that it doesn’t require ingesting any substances that could cause allergic reactions.
And, it’s completely natural. Light therapy has been used for millennia. Today, we have isolated the benefits of each wavelength of natural light.
This treatment uses light-emitting diode (LED) devices that emit precisely calibrated wavelengths of red and/or near infrared light, resulting in numerous health benefits:
- Red wavelengths absorb into the dermis and epidermis, where they increase circulation in the tiny capillaries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the outermost parts of the body.
- Near-infrared wavelengths absorb deeper to target problems such as varicose veins and blood clots.
You might think it’s strange that shining light on your skin can boost blood flow. As red and/or NIR wavelengths absorb into the body, they interact with light-sensitive molecules and excite them. This triggers a chain reaction of a variety of beneficial physiological effects, as follows.
Enhanced Cellular Energy Production
Red light therapy stimulates the mitochondria in your cells to produce more adenosine triphosphate (the primary cellular fuel). Supporting cellular function has an incredibly powerful positive ripple effect on your entire cardiovascular system.
Increased Nitric Oxide Production
Red light therapy stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that helps your arteries, veins, and capillaries to expand their diameter to allow more blood to flow through.
Reduced Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause poor circulation. Inflammation has been linked to strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Red light therapy can protect blood cells against oxidative stress. Inflammation and oxidative stress harm cells’ ability to repair and protect themselves and interfere with cellular energy production.
Red Light Therapy Solutions
Thanks to LED technology, high-powered light therapy panels are now available for home use.
These are far superior to small hand-held devices, both due to their intensity and size, which allows for full-body treatment.
The key is to deliver red and/or near-infrared light as deep as possible. While some blood vessels are clearly visible through the skin, you’ll get the best results by also targeting vessels deeper in the body.
To stimulate circulation throughout the body, we recommend the larger BIOMAX 900 panel, which is the premier light therapy panel available today. The smaller BIOMAX 300 panel is ideal for targeted applications, like facial rejuvenation and treating rosacea.
To achieve the best results with photobiomodulation, PlatinumLED therapy lights should be incorporated into a daily routine. With consistent and appropriately dosed treatments, the body is able to relentlessly pursue a higher level of homeostasis.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical TherapyDr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Enjoy Better Circulation with Red Light Therapy
You might be surprised at just how versatile red light therapy is. In addition to promoting healthy circulation, it can be used to treat sore muscles, arthritic joints, low back pain, wounds, and neuropathy.
Check out the Learning Center, where we constantly share new research on the many benefits of using red light therapy.
Explore the BIOMAX series of light therapy panels to take a step towards better circulation.