By Enyeribe Ejiogu
The good state health of the circulatory system is of absolute importance to the optimal functionality of the body, sustenance of life and longevity in general. The circulatory system, which is also referred to as the cardiovascular system is made up of vital organs that enable blood to flow round the body. Beyond allowing blood to flow, the system transports nutrients (such as amino acids, glucose, fatty acids) derived from digested food to reach the tissues and cells of the body. The circulatory system also transports oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells, all of which provide nourishment and help in fighting diseases, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis. The circulatory system is subdivided into blood and lymph circulation, which medically described as the lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic drainage plays an important role in assisting the body fight disease.
Essentially, the blood is a tissue in fluid form and comprises red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets, which is circulated round the body by the heart and the blood vessels. It carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells and takes metabolic waste materials away from all body tissues. Lymph is essentially recycled excess blood plasma after it has been filtered from the interstitial fluid (between cells) and returned to the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular system essentially comprises the blood, heart, and blood vessels while the lymph, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels form the lymphatic system, which returns filtered blood plasma from the interstitial fluid (between cells) as lymph.
The circulatory system breaks into two major parts – systemic circulation whereby blood is taken from the heart round the body and the pulmonary circulation in which blood is taken from the heart to the lungs for oxygenation and back to the heart.
From the foregoing, the importance of the circulatory is very apparent as the blood can be likened to the superhighway of then body through which nutrients, oxygen, hormones, get to the organs of the body and waste materials are removed from them.
To keep it functioning well, it has to be fed with a healthy diet, coupled with exercise, hydration and weight management. It is also important to avoid smoking. Below, listed in no particular order are some foods and food condiments that help the body to improve circulation. Please read one…
This bright red pepper does more than just spice up your food. Thanks to a compound called capsaicin, cayenne pepper can help your arteries work well. It can also help relax the muscles in your blood vessels so blood can flow easily. And that’s good for your blood pressure.
This root vegetable is rich in nitrate, which the body can convert to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to naturally loosen the your blood vessels and improve the flow of blood to the tissues and organs. Researchers have found that beet juice can lower systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading), too.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, including one that’s particularly good for your blood vessels: anthocyanin. It is the compound that gives red and purple produce that deep-coloured hue. Anthocyanin can help protect the walls of the arteries from damage and keep them from becoming stiff. Plus, anthocyanin spurs the release of nitric oxide, which helps to lower your blood pressure.
If you’ve always wondered why fish is good for your heart, here’s one reason: fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and halibut are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that these compounds are good for circulation. Eating fish not only lowers your resting blood pressure, it can help keep your arteries clear and unclogged, too.
The tiny juicy red seeds inside a pomegranate are packed with nutrients, in particular antioxidants and nitrates. These can boost circulation. And they widen (dilate) the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. That means that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscles and other tissues.
Garlic is good for more than keeping vampires away. It contains a sulphur compound called allicin that helps your blood vessels relax. Studies show that in people who eat a diet rich in garlic, blood flows more efficiently. That means the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to move blood throughout the body, which helps keep your blood pressure down.
Go nuts for nuts, especially walnuts. These crinkly-skinned nuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, which may help blood move smoothly. A study found that eating walnuts regularly for eight weeks improved blood vessel health, helped those vessels stay elastic, and brought down blood pressure.
They’ll help keep your arteries healthy and improve blood flow. It is all well tasting and naturally sweet. A study found that the antioxidants in grapes encourage blood vessels to relax and work more efficiently. Plus, grapes curb inflammatory and other molecules in the blood that could make blood sticky, which can get in the way of circulation.
The golden yellow spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, thanks largely to curcumin, a compound found in turmeric. Studies suggest that curcumin may boost production of nitric oxide, which can help make your blood vessels wider. That, in turn, makes it easier for blood to flow and get to your muscles and other tissues.
Nitrate-rich foods like spinach may improve your circulation. These compounds help enlarge your blood vessels and create more room for blood to move through. Also, a study found that a diet rich in spinach helped keep arteries flexible and helped lower blood pressure.
Vitamin C isn’t the only reason to make citrus fruit part of your diet. The antioxidants found in the fruit may help lower inflammation, prevent blood clots, and improve blood circulation. And if you’re an orange juice fan, you’re in luck. A study found that regularly drinking orange juice lowered blood pressure.
• With additional material from webmd.com