In cold weather, your blood vessels constrict, making it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout the body.
This results in higher blood pressure and slower circulation. Slower circulation can cause muscle aches and cramps, coldness in the hands and feet, digestive issues, and distracting numbness. Fitness Expert, Andrea Marcellus, recommends the below two types of foods to improve circulation.
Vasodilators relax blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow. Look for foods high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and Omega-3’s that stimulate the increase in nitric oxide production in the body to help relax the blood vessels. Try Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Garlic, Onions, Walnuts, Citrus Fruits, Berries, and Leafy Greens
Ace-inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) lower blood pressure by reducing the activity of the enzyme that constricts blood vessels. Best options include Ginger and Tomatoes.
Andrea shared some more advice and facts about food circulation that we’re happy to share.
TFM: What happens to our circulation in cold weather?
Andrea: When our bodies are faced with cold-weather, it goes into protective mode with two actions: shunting and shivering. Shunting is the contraction of blood vessels in your Extremities to keep more blood in the torso To protect your vital organs, and away from the skin where the body loses heat.
When shunting occurs, your blood pressure increases and also your heart rate, as your body works harder to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Additionally, your immune system can be temporarily suppressed.
Why do we shiver?
Shivering is rapid involuntary muscle contraction all over your body in an attempt to generate heat.
Is being cold dangerous?
Generally Reduced blood flow causes temporary discomfort such as muscle aches and cramps, distracting numbness and coldness in the hands and feet, and digestive issues. People with underlying health issues should be cautious of cold because of the increase in blood pressure. And being cold can reduce your immunity. A recent British study linked the common cold in winter to a reduced immune support response in the nasal passages when out in the cold, so you’re mom might not have been totally off base telling you to wear a coat.
How can I use nutrition to improve my circulation?
Foods can help circulation in two ways- either by 1) improving blood flow by relaxing the tiny muscles in blood vessels, or 2) lowering blood pressure by inhibiting the enzyme that makes blood vessel contract (thus increasing blood pressure).
What kinds of foods should I be eating to improve blood flow by relaxing contracted blood vessels:
Foods high in Antioxidants, Anti-inflammatories and Omega-3’s stimulate the increase nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels allowing for improved blood flow. These foods are called vasodilators:
Citrus Fruits & Berries – high antioxidant (polyphenols) and anti-inflammatory properties
Are there any other foods that can help?
Ginger and tomato help circulation in a different way by reducing the activity of the enzyme that constricts blood vessels, therefore lowering blood pressure. These are called ACE-inhibitors.(angiotensin-converting enzyme).
Does vigorous exercise help reduce the negative effects of a cold?
Short bouts of it can be useful to get blood into fingers and toes that are going numb. But exercising in the cold pulls heat to the skin where it’s then lost easily – therefore triggering your body’s defensive response (to increase heart rate and blood pressure). So it’s important to listen to your body and layer appropriately during cold-weather exercise – especially this year when no one needs to be immuno-suppressed!
Daily life has a way of becoming more of a workout on a treadmill than a walk on the beach. Andrea’s mission is to help you climb out from under your to-do lists to discover what you’re truly capable of becoming – and have the time to make it happen.