Revitalizing Vascular Health: Top Nutrients and Life Hacks for Stronger Veins and Arteries
“Did You Know? Nearly 1 in 3 adults suffer from high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke”
When we consider our cardiac health, most of us think about our hearts or avoiding clogged arteries. Yet, veins and arteries are a critical aspect of our well-being. Ensuring the vessels that carry our blood everywhere in our body remain healthy is crucial to maintaining optimal health in the long run.
Yet, modern life makes keeping our arteries healthy challenging. From sedentary lifestyles to poor diets to stressful lives, our blood vessels often struggle to maintain their structure. The good news is, though, that we can start taking steps today to preserve the health of our arteries.
Why Arterial Health is Important
Our arteries and veins play an important role in our health. They ensure that the blood continues to flow throughout the body. While the beating heart helps push out the blood to the body, the veins carry the blood back to the heart using one-way valves instead of muscle.
However, when the valves are overworked through sedentary lifestyles or do not have the nutrients they need to build strong structures, they begin to sag, and blood begins to pool in them. This leads to a number of conditions, ranging from cosmetic concerns to more severe conditions, including:
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Varicose and spider veins
- Thoracic aorta aneurysm
- Carotid dissection
- Carotid artery disease
Many risk factors can lead to the development of these conditions:
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Weight gain
- Chronic constipation
Many people struggle to maintain the health of their arteries, especially as they age. Almost 55% of women and 45% of men have some sort of vein issues, according to the Department of Health and Human Science.
How Plants Can Help
Considering how widespread vein and artery problems are and how critical they are to our health, many of us need to protect our blood vessels. In addition to lifestyle changes, many herbs, roots, and other plants can boost blood vessel health.
In many ancient health traditions, the look and feel of a plant gave clues as to which part of the body it aided. As opposed to their green tops, the root of beets was believed to help the blood because of their deep red color. They were often used during the Middle Ages and ancient Rome. The greens were usually considered a cuisine, while they reserved the root for medicinal usage.
Today, researchers have found that beets provide extensive benefits for the heart, blood, and blood vessels. A couple of properties in particular help maintain the health of the veins: betacyanin and rutin.
The pigment that gives beets their deep red color, betacyanin, can help reduce the amino acid homocysteine. This amino acid is particularly harmful to blood vessels and can weaken them. One 2019 study on 48 men found that supplementing with betacyanin helped reduce their homocysteine concentration.
Rutin, sometimes called vitamin P, is another potent property. It is a flavonoid that helps strengthen and enhance flexibility in the blood vessels. One 2018 review of multiple studies found that rutin was reported to have a number of benefits stemming from improved circulation. Some of these included significantly reducing leg pain, relieving leg swelling, and reducing leg itching, heaviness, and cramping.
Beets are a rich source of rutin, leading to their ability to enhance blood vessels.
This beautiful tropical flower has long been used as a sour tea worldwide. For centuries, health practitioners have long used the hibiscus flower, seeds, leaves, and stems to support heart health and enhance fluid balance. It has been used as herbal medicine in China, the Caribbean, Central America, India, and Africa.
Today, researchers have identified a number of properties in hibiscus that make it so potent for artery and vein health.
Hibiscus is an extremely rich source of vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C plays a critical part in creating collagen, which is vital for blood vessel health. In addition, it helps stimulate cell growth and inhibit cell death to maintain the strength of the blood vessel structure. Researchers have long considered it a critical nutrient for the health of veins and arteries.
Iron is also a critical part of maintaining healthy veins. Researchers have linked anemia, or low iron levels, to a number of venous diseases. For example, one study found that patients with venous ulcers had a high prevalence of iron deficiency. Another study found an association between anemia and cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT). A 2021 study found anemia was a rare risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Not only does hibiscus confer a healthy amount of iron, but vitamin C helps improve absorption in the body.
Hibiscus also helps maintain vein health with its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a significant role in blood vessel conditions such as varicose veins. Not only does inflammation break down the vessel walls, but it also affects the soft tissue and skin around the veins.
Researchers have found that hibiscus contains potent anti-inflammatory properties that help keep blood vessels healthy.
Weight gain is another factor in many vein conditions. The extra weight puts pressure on veins and arteries, leading to vein dysfunction. Hibiscus can help combat this by enhancing weight loss efforts.
One randomized control trial of 36 overweight participants took hibiscus extract for 12 weeks. In the end, they found those who took the extract reduced their body weight, body fat, hip-to-waist ratio, and body mass index. Another study on obese mice also reduced weight after supplementing for 60 days.
With its many benefits, hibiscus is a potent ally to overall vein health.
Garlic is one of the most popular cooking ingredients globally. Technically a vegetable, many cultures use its unique taste to flavor their foods. For thousands of years, many health practitioners have also used garlic for its medicinal properties. There is documented use for the vegetable amongst the Romans, Chinese, and ancient Egyptians.
Researchers today have affirmed many of the heart and vein-healthy properties of garlic.
Healthy blood vessels require flexibility to enhance blood flow. However, they sometimes become stiff, which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Research shows that garlic can help maintain and enhance flexibility in the artery wall. One study demonstrated an 80% reduction in plaque, leading to healthy arteries. Another study found that those who consumed garlic powder tablets had a 50% improvement in blood flow.
In addition, garlic is full of anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are critical for protecting veins from the onslaught of inflammation most of us face in modern life.
Garlic is also rich in antioxidants. These properties help protect cells from damaging oxidative stress. One study found that taking garlic extract for one month increased antioxidant enzymes in participants. Research shows that oxidative stress plays a significant role in developing certain blood vessel conditions, such as varicose veins.
With its many benefits for the veins, arteries, and blood flow, garlic is a potent boost to combat blood vessel disorders.
There are two significant types of ginseng today: Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng, or “true” ginseng) and American ginseng. As one of the most commonly used medicines in Traditional Medicine, health practitioners have long known about its advantages. Panax ginseng provides significant and unique benefits that can help strengthen blood vessels and enhance overall well-being.
Ginseng is a potent source of both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Test tube studies found that one of the properties of ginseng, ginsenoside, inhibited inflammation and increased antioxidant capacity in cells.
There are studies on people demonstrating its anti-inflammatory effects as well. One study on athletes found that their inflammatory markers were significantly lower 72 hours after ingesting ginseng. Another survey of postmenopausal women (who are very vulnerable to blood vessel dysfunction) found that it reduced their oxidative stress after 12 weeks.
It’s no surprise, then, that research is starting to show the benefits of ginseng on blood vessels. A 2020 study on rats found that “ginseng intake can improve blood vessel health.” They found that it benefitted blood vessels through vasodilation and combating pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress.
As a hardy tree, the pine is found in nearly every climate. Many cultures, recognizing its strength and resilience, used parts to harness these qualities. The Indigenous North American cultures would use bark in tea to utilize its benefits.
Today, researchers have found that pine bark has multiple benefits, especially for blood vessels.
Hardening blood vessels is a serious issue that leads to heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Research has found that pine bark can help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce the formation of atherosclerosis. One study on mice found that even with an unhealthy diet, those who took pine bark didn’t experience atherosclerosis.
Pine bark is also rich in antioxidants, which benefit the blood vessels. One 2019 study on rats found that it inhibited oxidative stress and DNA damage.
Aging is another significant factor in vein and artery health. It is considered a major risk factor for conditions such as thrombosis and varicose veins. Pine bark helps promote healthy aging to help combat this. One 2019 study found that pine bark enhanced healthy physical aging.
With its many benefits, pine bark can enhance and maintain the health of blood vessels at any age.
Health practitioners have long known that ginger provides significant health benefits. In fact, there is evidence that both Indians and Chinese produced ginger tonics over 5,000 years ago to treat ailments.
Studies now show that ginger has multiple potent properties that help keep blood vessels strong and healthy.
In addition, studies show that ginger helps reduce fibrin in blood vessels. This research is significant because fibrin is what causes blood vessels to get lumpy and hard. Many people struggle to break down fibrin in the body, so ginger can provide a needed boost.
While more research needs to be done, it is promising for improving overall blood vessel health.
Life Hacks for Arterial Health
Natural compounds can provide a critical boost to overall health. However, it’s important to remember that nothing beats making good lifestyle choices. For healthier blood vessels and better general well-being, consider some of these life hacks:
Get moving. One of the best ways to keep the blood moving back toward the heart instead of pooling is through movement. The muscles surrounding the veins help push the blood back up to the lungs and heart. The calf muscle is often called “the second heart” because it pumps blood upwards back toward the heart. Those with a sedentary job should make it a habit to regularly get up and walk around every hour to keep the blood moving.
Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Like the rest of the body, blood vessels cannot make something out of nothing. Without the right building blocks, arteries and veins are forced to build themselves out of inferior properties. This can lead to significant dysfunction down the road. In particular, vitamins C, E, magnesium, and the various B vitamins are all critical for blood vessel health.
Drink more water. Water retention and swelling put significant stress on blood vessels. One of the best ways to combat this is through drinking enough water. Also, fresh herbs, celery, cucumber, asparagus, fennel, and dandelion are all potent diuretics.
Find stress-busting activities. Stress quickly breaks down collagen production and harms arteries in the long run. Although avoiding stress is unavoidable in modern life, stress-management techniques help keep it from overtaking our lives. Regular meditation, prayer, hobbies, time in nature, and talking with loved ones are all powerful ways to bust stress.
Get a massage. The lymphatic system is intricately connected with the health of our blood vessels. Lymphatic vessels run parallel to the veins and drain into two veins under the collar bone. Maintaining regular lymphatic flow is critical to avoiding stress on the veins. Getting a massage is one crucial way to ensure the lymph system is maintaining circulation.
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