Blood flow is your body’s life force. Oxygen-rich blood that travels through flexible, clear arteries to reach to the very tips of your fingers and toes keeps your organs, muscles, bones, tissues, ligaments – everything! – healthy and well. Robust, unimpeded veins and effective venous pumps return that now oxygen-depleted blood to begin the cycle all over again.
What’s key in the above description? The words flexible, clear, robust and unimpeded. To properly circulate your blood for a healthy body, your vascular system needs to be healthy.
You can keep your 60,000 miles (yes – nearly two and a half times around the Earth, all packed inside your amazing body) of vascular system – and therefore your body in good health by following these bits of advice from Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan, Dr. Alhalbouni and Dr. Qureshi.
First – and we really can’t say this often enough – quit smoking and all tobacco products. Not only do they stiffen the walls of your arteries, they also made your blood thicker, making it even more difficult to move through your system.
Achieve and maintain a blood pressure reading of 120/80. High blood pressure causes arteriosclerosis, which hardens your arteries, inhibiting healthy blood flow.
Eliminate added sugar and sugar substitutes. Even if you’re not overweight, these empty calories raise blood pressure and worsens cholesterol. Dig into fresh fruits and vegetables and say “no” to meats, which raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and heightens your risk of arteriosclerosis.
Now, add in water. Your blood is about half H2O, so drinking a lot of water each day – and more when it’s hot or you’re exercising – improves the quality of your blood flow and your vascular system.
Get up and move. Too much sitting and not enough aerobic exercise inhibits your oxygen intake, weakens the muscles that support your vascular system and raises your blood pressure.
Stretch, twist and bend. Yoga, pilates and similar exercises help you move blood into organs. Get into “Legs Up the Wall” which helps blood flow up legs to your torso. This position is illustrated in the photo above, courtesy of Healthy Kids Running Series.
Ask us about compression stockings. If you’re seeing signs of challenges in your vascular system, consider compression stockings, which help send blood back up to your heart. Don’t use these without your physician’s advice as you will need the right size and compression strength to be effective.
So what happens when you don’t have a healthy vascular system? Your skin, hair and nails will all suffer, becoming dry, brittle and cracked. You may lose all the hair on your legs. Your toes and fingers could turn bluish, and be cold and numb. You’ll experience erectile dysfunction – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The worse your vascular system gets, the worse your overall health will get. Scratches, scrapes, cuts and open wounds will take a great deal longer to heal, leaving you at risk for infection and amputation. You could experience kidney failure, peripheral artery disease, stroke and deadly aneurysms.
Keep your vascular system healthy and your entire body will be healthier! If you have questions about this advice, or your vascular system in general, make an appointment with Vascular Specialist by calling 815-824-4406 – and we’ll be happy to help!