What can you do to keep your arteries and veins free from obstruction and flexible enough to withstand the healthy flow of nutrient-dense blood? There are many factors that determine your vascular health, but you can make five lifestyle adjustments to improve your circulation and lower your risk of vascular disease.
- Consume a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables get their rich color from flavonoids. These phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants that keep your arteries flexible while reducing your risk of heart disease and even preventing hemorrhoids. This uncomfortable condition is a vascular problem that is related to varicose and spider veins.
If you want to maximize the power of your fruits and vegetables, consume a variety of produce along with legumes and beans on a daily basis. Make sure to include pomegranate and avocado because they contain some of the most beneficial antioxidants and flavonoids.
- Increase your fiber consumption.
Fruits and vegetables are also rich in fiber, which is critical to preventing constipation. When you strain to use the restroom, you put pressure on veins in your lower body. That pressure increases your risk of developing varicose veins because your blood can pool in your legs rather than pumping through your abdomen and back to your heart. Fiber can also lower your cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cholesterol plaques forming in your arteries.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can get quality dietary fiber from chia seeds, beans, nuts and whole-grain pastas or breads. Oatmeal is another fiber-rich food that is also proven to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by improving functionality of the vascular system.
- Improve your daily activity level and perform cardiovascular exercise daily.
Have you ever been told to take a walk to “get the blood flowing?” It’s true that moving your body helps your blood circulate through your body efficiently, which is why medical professionals now recommend that everyone walk or perform another type of cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
It’s also important to stand up and move around every hour or two because prolonged sitting dramatically increases the risk of developing varicose veins. Those veins not only look unflattering, but they also put you at risk for blood clots. Those clots can travel to your heart, causing a life-threatening condition.
- Drink more water to ensure you’re well hydrated at all times.
Research has shown that dehydration and high sodium levels cause inflammation in the lining of blood vessels. This places you at higher risk of atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of cholesterol or other substances that restrict the flow of blood through the arteries and veins. Atherosclerosis often comes with high blood pressure and leads to heart disease, putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
If you don’t enjoy the taste of water, try sparkling water. You can also invest in a fruit infusion water bottle that allows you to add the natural flavor of berries and fruit to your water.
- Give up the cigarettes.
There are many reasons to stop smoking, and the health of your vascular system is just one more to add to the list. Each cigarette that you smoke puts you one step closer to atherosclerosis, allowing cholesterol, fat and other substances to harden your arteries and slow the flow of blood throughout your body. Research has proven the connection between smoking and heart disease, so put down the cigs and give your vascular system a fighting chance.
All of these lifestyle changes come with additional health benefits. Start by making one healthy change this week and improve gradually with time.