6 min Read
Why you need to protect your circulation and the 2 little known supplements to keep your heart pumping
Did you know your heart beats 100,000 a day, 35 million times a year, without you even having to think about it?
This adds up to three billion beats over an average lifetime. The blood that your heart pumps could travel about 60,000 miles through blood vessels (including all your arteries, capillaries and veins) that’s 2.5 times around the planet. Let that sink in for a moment to fully appreciate just how incredibly efficient your circulatory system is.
But due to our sedentary lifestyle, sitting down for prolonged periods of time is now considered as serious a health risk as smoking. Once the health of our circulatory system was something we previously didn’t even consider, or maybe only considered on a long haul flight or before an operation. With a surge in stand up desks to boost productivity, poor circulation and deep vein thrombosis have become a hot topic. So it’s time to revisit those school biology lessons to fully understand what our circulatory system does, what the signs of poor circulation are and how you can support it with supplements containing vital nutrients to improve circulation.
Blood is approximately 10% of our adult weight, and ensuring our circulatory system is working efficiently to deliver blood and nutrients to all the body’s organs including extremities, is vital.
The circulatory system is made up of blood vessels that carry blood away from and towards the heart. Arteries carry blood away from the heart and veins carry blood back to the heart. The circulatory system carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to cells, and removes waste products, like carbon dioxide.
The circulatory system is divided into two separate loops: the shorter pulmonary circuit that exchanges blood between the heart and the lungs for oxygenation; and the longer systemic circuit that distributes blood throughout all other systems and tissues of the body. Both of these circuits begin and end in the heart.
Signs of Poor Circulation are:
- Cold, numb hands and feet
- Hair loss on your legs
- Dry or cracked skin particularly on the feet
- Brittle toenails
- Slow healing of wounds or sores (particularly problematic in Diabetics)
- A pale blue colour to the skin of your legs
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Tingling, numbness, throbbing or stinging pain in your limbs
- Poor vision
- Muscle cramps
You should always check with your GP if you consistently suffer from any of the above conditions as they may be related to an underlying health condition. Some of the most common tests your GP may carry out include testing your antibodies, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
Among the most common circulatory disorders are Diabetes, Peripheral Artery Disease and Raynaud’s Disease and Varicose Veins.
It’s no surprise the causes of poor circulation are a result of health issues arising from:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
As with most things, the good news is that your circulation can improve with some slight adjustments to your lifestyle, namely movement and exercise.
Lifestyle Tips for Optimal Circulation
Regular cardiovascular exercise supports the health of the cardiovascular system and improves the body’s ability to utilise oxygen.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps promote good circulation.
High Blood Pressure:
Hardens the arteries and reduces overall blood flow. You can work to reduce blood pressure by reducing salt intake and eating foods rich in potassium such as banana and nuts.
Sitting at a desk for hours can poorly affect circulation so consider getting a standing desk, taking regular short walks and stretching or mobility exercises throughout your working day to keep your circulation in check. Moderation always wins. Neither standing nor sitting are great for long durations, even working from a standing desk all day can lead to swollen ankles if you don’t move. It’s best to mix it up and sit when concentrating on complex work that requires deep thought, whilst standing when taking calls or doing light admin that doesn’t require so much deep cognitive focus.
Adding yoga into your wellness and self care regime can help with your circulation especially poses such as Downward Dog, where your hips are above your heart and your heart above your head. This means gravity helps facilitate blood flow to your head whilst strengthening and improving the circulation in your limbs.
Put a bit of squeeze on your legs so your blood doesn’t hang around too long, instead moving it back up to your heart without obstructions. People with vein related conditions can wear compression socks to alleviate swollen ankles, heavy or aching legs, fatigue and pain, restless legs and night cramps. Compression socks can provide many benefits in situations that aggravate venous conditions such as prolonged standing or sitting, travelling on a long flight or any forms of transport with limited leg room, during and post an operation and of course, pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help on which length and amount of pressure are best for you as there are 4 main levels of compression to choose from: Mild compression for mild chronic venous activity, moderate compression for spider and varicose veins and firm and extra firm for more serious cases including deep vein thrombosis, leg ulcers and lymphatic edema.
Dry Body Brushing:
Is said to energise the body, increasing circulation and blood flow, and stimulating drainage from the lymphatic system. Start brushing from your feet upwards towards the heart.
Beet it Up:
Beetroots are particularly rich in nitrates, which your body can convert to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to naturally loosen up your blood vessels and improve the flow of blood to your tissues and organs. Researchers have found that beetroot juice can lower your blood pressure too1.
Blood is 92% water, so it is no secret that you need to stay hydrated for optimal hydration. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day if you’re a woman and 12 if you’re a man.
Circulation and Exercise Performance
Exercise supports optimal circulation in the body but exercise performance can be severely impacted if one suffers from regular cramping. Choosing supplements which can support blood flow and help reduce the incidence of cramping can increase the efficacy of training programs and reduce any painful muscles while you are on your morning jog. If you are a professional athlete, you will be happy to hear that JetFuel products are Informed Sports Certified, which means they go through a full manufacturing audit, and every batch is tested for a wide variety of WADA banned substances.
Supplements for Circulation
Few people realise there are groundbreaking trademarked ingredients with circulatory health benefits. It’s easy to integrate these vitamins as part of your supplement regime to support your circulation system.
Fruitflow® is the first European Food Safety Authority-approved natural cardio-protective functional ingredient2. Derived from a water-soluble tomato extract, this ingredient is rich in antioxidants such as lycopene. Tomatoes are crushed to a paste and then the skin and seeds are removed. The compounds are then extracted from the clear juice and concentrated to create Fruitflow®.
The mechanism of action of Fruitflow® is to act as an antiplatelet agent. A double randomised control trial with 47 healthy subjects found that platelet aggregation was significantly reduced after consuming Fruitflow3. This is essential for circulation, as increased platelet aggregation can increase the risk of vessel thrombus and vessel obstruction.
Similarly, a double-blinded human intervention study of 12 adults showed that a single 150mg of Fruitflow® resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure and platelet aggregation compared to placebo. This pilot study clearly shows the beneficial effects of Fruitflow® on two important cardiovascular risk factors, high blood pressure and platelet hyperactivity4.
In contrast to Aspirin, Fruitflow® acts reversibly, slowing the reactions of blood platelets down, but letting them clot normally if they receive a strong stress signal from the body. Due to its reversible action, Fruitflow® has been shown to have no effect on normal blood clotting, so is a good alternative for healthy adults who want to support their overall cardiovascular health.
A vast number of pharmacological and clinical studies indicate that Pycnogenol®, a standardised extract of French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster), bears various favourable health benefits for the cardiovascular system5. Pycnogenol is primarily composed of phenolic acids, derivatives of benzoic and cinnamic acid, and procyanidins.
A study assessing Pycnogenol® treatment on 24 patients for 3 months showed statistically significant improvement microcirculation compared to placebo6.
When it comes to blood circulation, Pycnogenol® has been found useful in helping treat venous ulcers, protecting against deep venous thrombosis and improving venous blood circulation in the legs.
A recent study assessed 98 patients diagnosed with severe chronic venous insufficiency for an average of 6 years were given either 150 mg of Pycnogenol® per day, elastic leg stockings (control group) or both Pycnogenol® and leg stockings (combination group) for 8 weeks. By the end of the study, there was a 41% decrease in ankle swelling in the combination group, 35% decrease in the Pycnogenol® only group and only 13% decrease in the stockings group. There was also an 8% increase in oxygen levels in the legs in the combination group7.
So whilst our circulation isn’t something we’d ever normally think about, keeping our circulatory system functioning optimally is extremely important. Making slight tweaks to your lifestyle keeps blood flowing so it can keep your heart beating 100,000 a day without you even having to think about it.
Discover more and shop our circulation friendly product range here
1. Baião, D. D. S., Conte-Junior, C. A., Paschoalin, V. M. F., & Alvares, T. S. (2016). Beetroot juice increase nitric oxide metabolites in both men and women regardless of body mass. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 67(1), 40-46.
2. O’Kennedy, N., Raederstorff, D. & Duttaroy, A.K. Fruitflow®: the first European Food Safety Authority-approved natural cardio-protective functional ingredient. Eur J Nutr 56, 461–482 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-016-1265-2.
3. O'Kennedy, N., Crosbie, L., Song, H. J., Zhang, X., Horgan, G., & Duttaroy, A. K. (2017). A randomised controlled trial comparing a dietary antiplatelet, the water-soluble tomato extract Fruitflow, with 75 mg aspirin in healthy subjects. European journal of clinical nutrition, 71(6), 723-730.
4. Uddin, M., Biswas, D., Ghosh, A., O’Kennedy, N., & Duttaroy, A. K. (2018). Consumption of Fruitflow® lowers blood pressure in pre-hypertensive males: A randomised, placebo controlled, double blind, cross-over study. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 69(4), 494-502.
5.Watson, R. R. (2004). Pycnogenol® and cardiovascular health. Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 1(1), 27-32.
6. Steigerwalt, R., Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M. R., Di Renzo, A., Grossi, M. G., Ricci, A., ... & Schönlau, F. (2009). Pycnogenol® improves microcirculation, retinal edema, and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy. Journal of ocular pharmacology and therapeutics, 25(6), 537-540.
7. Greg Arnold, D. C. Pycnogenol Again Found to Help with Leg Circulation.