Health Bites

Go For the Flow

Did you know that, if placed end to end, the blood vessels found in the average adult circulatory system would span about 60,000 miles? Through this incredible network of passageways, our cells and organs receive life giving oxygen and nutrients, while toxic waste products are whisked away.

In general, the better the flow, the more optimally every cell will function, so it pays to keep those streams flowing smoothly. A number of conditions go hand in hand with poor circulation—either as a cause or effect—such as peripheral artery disease, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease, blood clots, varicose veins, and even obesity.1

While some of these conditions are serious, potentially deadly, and require expert medical treatment, many of us can take positive steps to enhance our circulation today. So what can you do to rev up the pipeline? Since water, temperature, movement, and even food can all have a dramatic impact on your blood flow, here are a few ways you can harness these factors to improve circulation and boost your health:

    •  Drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day to thin the blood so it can be pumped more easily by the heart. Additionally, use warm and/or cool water externally—through a shower, bath, or other hydrotherapy—to stimulate blood flow.
    • Foods such as cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger, nuts, onions, garlic, berries, beets, and leafy greens can improve circulation. Many of these are vasodilators that relax and/or widen the blood vessels to some extent, allowing blood to flow more freely.2
    • Avoid temperature extremes. Becoming overheated stresses the heart, the circulatory system’s essential pump, while overexposure to cold can slow circulation to the extremities as the body struggles to maintain its core temperature. Take care to keep adequately warm clothing on your arms and legs during the cooler months.
    • While regular exercise is excellent for circulation, research shows that once a day may not be enough, especially for those who sit for long periods of time. In fact, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that taking regular breaks from sedentary time may save your life.3

Dozens of other studies have come to similar conclusions, with many researchers and physicians now recommending taking a ten-minute exercise break per hour—while some advocate shorter but more frequent intermissions. For sedentary workers, moving more often is likely to boost productivity as well, as better blood flow enhances brain function.

Good circulation benefits every part of your body. It increases the efficiency of your skin and other organs and makes you more resistant to disease. It lowers blood pressure and heart rate, improves muscle function and energy, and gives a healthy glow. You’ll think better, look better, and feel better!

Just as vibrant circulation through our body is critical to our physical health, we need an energetic flow in our Christian life as well. We need to eat the proper spiritual food—the Bread of Life, keep our heart warm with the love of Christ, frequently exercise our spiritual muscles by serving Him, and stay well hydrated with the Water of Life. Jesus invites you today, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37, 38).