If you've been a fan of Crazy Compression for a while, you're probably already familiar with how compression socks are an excellent tool to improve blood flow and circulation. There are so many benefits to wearing compression socks that we love talking about and sharing with you. But did you know there are other steps you can do right at this moment to help improve circulation along with compression therapy?
Along with compression therapy and movement or exercise, you can help improve your circulation by adding certain foods and nutrients to your diet. As blood is our body's means to carry essential nutrients and oxygen to everything, like the heart, brain, muscles, and skin, it's crucial to do our best to maintain healthy circulation.
Improving our diet is one way to optimize our blood flow, and we're excited to share some diet tips to improve circulation! So, next time you head to the grocery store or get ready to order online, try adding these suggestions to your cart!
If you adore food with a bit of heat or love the challenge of spicy food, you are in luck! Capsaicin is the main chemical that makes many chili peppers hot. How much capsaicin is in a pepper determines how spicy it is. The measurement of capsaicin is called Scoville heat units, or SHU. Scoville heat units are the number of times capsaicin needs to be diluted by sugar water. Therefore, the higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the pepper.
Capsaicin promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators (compounds that help expand your blood vessels.) Vasodilators work to allow blood to flow easier through veins and arteries by relaxing tiny muscles found in blood vessel walls.
Research indicates that ingesting more capsaicin in your diet can:
• Increase blood circulation
• May help the thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels (endothelial function)
• Slow the progression of the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls (atherosclerosis)
• May help reduce the enlargement of organs or tissue (hypertrophy)
• Can help lower high blood pressure (also known as hypertension)
• And can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
That's a lot of good things! And while not everyone is a fan of spicy or their stomachs be able to handle much of it, even a little capsaicin can help, like a tiny bit of cayenne pepper on your food.
If you're interested in adding more peppers and chilis into your diet, here are some pepper suggestions ranked from mildest to hottest at #1.
21. Banana Pepper: 0-500
20. Pepperoncini Pepper, also known as Tuskan or Sweet Italian peppers: 100 – 600
19. Cubanelle Pepper: 100-1,000
18. Anaheim Peppers: 500-1,000
17. Peppadew: Scoville rating of 1,100-1,200
16. Ancho Pepper: 1,000 – 1,5000
15. Poblano Peppers: 1,000 – 2,000
14. Cherry Bomb: 2,500 – 5,000
13. Chipotle Pepper: 2.500 – 8, 000
12. Jalapeno Pepper: 2,500 – 8,000
11. Sport Pepper: 10,000-23,000
10. Serrano Pepper: 10,000-23,000
9. Cayenne Pepper: 30,000-50,000
8. Tabasco Pepper: 30,000-50,000
7. Thai Pepper: 50,000-100,000
6. Charleston Hot: 70,000-100,000
5. Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-350,000
4. Habanero: 100,000-350,000
3. Ghost Pepper: 800,000-1,041,427
2. Caroline Reaper: 1,400,000-2,200,000
1. Pepper X: 3,180,000
Many athletes supplement with beet juice, and you may have noted that many energy juices, wellness shots, or at-home juicing recipes recommend beets. Beets are relatively famous for their energizing properties and contain natural nitrates.
Nitrates are compounds that involve nitrogen and oxygen molecules, and green, leafy vegetables like beets are rich in nitrates. Our body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscle tissue.
Not only do beets have high nitrates, but pomegranates do, too. Along with nitrates, pomegranates are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, both potent vasodilators. In fact, according to David Heber, MD, and founding director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, a pomegranate "has the largest and most potent polyphenol antioxidant known." (2)
Consuming a pomegranate, drinking its juice, or taking it as a supplement could improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue.
Garlic isn't just great on bread or to keep the vampires away. Garlic contains sulfur compounds, one of which is known as allicin. In a study published by NPJ in January 2022, conducted on mice and humans, it was found that allicin has TMAO-reducing effects. TMAO stands for Trimethylamine N-Oxide, which is a potential biomarker for diseases.
Garlic and allicin are believed to help lower the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease.)
Additionally, garlic was noted to lower γBB levels. γBB, or y-Butyrobetaine, catalyzes (causes a reaction and begins the process) the formation of L-carnitine. Carnitine is essential for transporting activated fatty acids across what's known as the outer mitochondrial membrane of cells.
What's so good about lowering yBB for improved circulation? Well, L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, has been reported to accelerate atherosclerosis. As we explained above, atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls, called plaque. Plaque in the arteries can cause them to narrow or block blood flow. Plaque can also burst, which leads to a blood clot.
Last but just as important, garlic is another potent vasodilator that can help lower high blood pressure and improve the symptoms of hypertension.
What Else Can You Add To Your Diet to Improve Circulation?
Are you wondering what other foods to eat to improve circulation? We got you! Try adding more:
• Fatty fish rich in Omega-3-fats
• Leafy Greens
• Citrus Fruits
Incorporating these foods along with compression therapy and exercise can help improve circulation, but remember that other lifestyle changes can also make a huge impact, such as quitting smoking if you do, lowering weight, and exercising when possible.
There are many natural ways to improve your circulation! With the help of good food, staying active, and compression socks, you could boost your blood flow, overall health, and mental well-being!
1. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health, as published in BMJ journals. https://openheart.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000262
2. Health Benefits of pomegranates extend through the body, UCLA Health. https://connect.uclahealth.org/2022/03/18/health-benefits-of-pomegranates-extend-throughout-the-body/
3. Atherosclerosis amelioration by allicin in raw garlic through gut microbiota and trimethylamine-N-oxide modulation, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41522-022-00266-3