Looking after your blood vessels
Freshly oxygenated blood leaves the heart through the aorta under high pressure through major arteries with pressure reducing as it branches into smaller arteries. It finally travels through beds of capillaries where cells are nourished before being collected and returned to the heart through veins.
Blood vessels are a lot more than just pipes to hold blood. They are living tissue and can be greatly affected by disease. Unhealthy blood vessels offer greater resistance to blood which can impede circulation making the heart beat under greater pressure to compensate. If the lining of blood vessels becomes damaged by free radicals or inflamed, the surface of vessels offers greater resistance thus increasing blood pressure.
Research by Rodrigo, R et al. (Hypertension Research, 2007) concluded that free radical damage to blood vessels is a cause of hypertension. In a following paper they conducted a double blind placebo trial on 110 people with essential hypertension and found a close relationship between antioxidant levels and blood pressure. Of real interest they noted significant decreases in blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) after giving antioxidant supplements. I have found that many people with essential hypertension can respond well to intensive nutritional therapy aimed at restoring the health of our blood vessels.
I am regularly contacted by people with various problems caused or worsened by poor circulation in their legs. These include general muscle weakness, muscle pain, cramps, swollen ankles and feet, restless legs, and chilblains. People with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or people who smoke are at much higher risk of these common circulatory problems.
In most cases these problems respond well to nutritional therapy. Adding the nutrients that promote good circulation can have significant benefits. I used to suffer from leg cramps and abnormal bruising but adding these circulatory nutrients now means I can sleep without being woken by cramps and no longer bruise easily.
The most important nutrients to help blood vessels are some antioxidant vitamins especially vitamin C and vitamin E and a wide range of botanical antioxidants including flavanols found in grape seed extract (OPC), anthocyanins (in blackcurrant and bilberry extracts) resveratrol and citrus bioflavonoids such as hesperidin.
These nutrients help blood flow by reducing blood platelet aggregation (clumping together impeding blood flow) and additionally help to maintain the integrity of blood vessel walls. These antioxidants strengthen the walls of blood vessels by ensuring that the proteins collagen and elastin are protected from destructive enzymes and from free radical damage.
Circulatory problems can respond very well to increased nutrient intake through careful food selection and appropriate supplementation. Using Abundant Health products, Cell-X and Omega 3 fish oil are the perfect place to start. Cell-X has 150mg of high grade Oxifend™ OPC (grape seed extract) and 30mg of Oxifend™ Blackcurrant extract in a normal daily dose of 2 capsules. Omega 3 helps blood flow and reduces inflammation in blood vessels.
Beetroot is one of the best foods for blood pressure. It is high in dietary nitrates that the body converts to nitric oxide which temporarily dilates blood vessels allowing for better blood flow. You can either juice half a beetroot or add (we stock this) freeze-dried beetroot powder. I also have a Nutribullet recipe for circulation and blood pressure. Just email me if you want a copy.
Once you have had medical advice it is worthwhile considering a complementary nutritional programme to help restore healthy circulation and in doing so you may gain a real improvement in your quality of life.
John Arts (B.Soc.Sci, Dip Tch, Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.) is a nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. If you have questions or need help you can contact John 0800 423559. You can email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that the health advice given through this column is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problem. © John Arts 2021