It takes hard work and dedication to get the vascular system healthy again. The great thing is that by doing all the recommendations at the same time, you make gains faster and easier than doing only one at a time. After trying a few of the recommendations, I am sure that you will see a great improvement in overall health. A new feeling starts to take over, powered by a better understanding of your body. Changing habits is hard, but the changes you see in your self and outlook makes it easy. By taking the mystery out of disease, you can make better decisions to improve your health the real way. I think deep down we all knew there were shortcuts to getting and staying healthy, now it is time to start doing them!
1. Exercise. Get moving! Cardiovascular exercise is the best preventative for vascular disease that exists. The muscles are natural pumps. As they contract and relax while exercising, blood is circulated much more quickly. This produces nitric oxide naturally, which dilates and relaxes the artioles and arteries of the body. The heart muscles becomes stronger and more flexible to absorb the extra blood returning. As your body becomes used to regular workouts, it becomes easier and more fun to keep pushing your limits. 30 minutes a day of walking is minimum. As that becomes easy, consider higher intensity or longer workouts. Heart rate is an excellent gauge to exercise with. Mix in strength workouts. When lifting weights, make sure to relax between reps for a second or two. This lets blood back into the muscles vascular system. The idea is to build the vascular system in the muscle as well, so that the muscle have good blood flow throughout the week, not just when working out. Torn up and tight muscles do not lead to healthy vessels or muscle fibre. Health muscles lead to improved vascular health of the whole body.
2. Eat less fat. A diet high in fat prevents many of the tissues from absorbing nutrients and getting rid of waste. Some fat is necessary, but try to limit any foods high in fat(cheese, excess nuts or seeds, and high fat meats). Some nuts are OK, as well as low or non-fat dairy. Become friends with the nutrition label on foods, as well as stick to healthy meals when eating out. Big meals when dining out are just as bad as most fast foods. Cutting fat down to 40 grams of fat a day is a good starting point. This clears up the lymph system after awhile (the lymph system absorbs fat from the digestive tract and empties it into the bloodstream via the lymphatic duct. The lymph system needs to be able to flow easily to remove toxins and break down toxins.) It is OK to occasionally eat more fat, just not on a regular basis, and not when trying to recover from a particular affliction or disease. The human body wants to continually build new capillaries, but can’t when always inundated with a high fat diet.
3. Eat more greens and fish. Besides lots of other good benefits, they are high in magnesium, which in turn helps to break up calcium deposits in the vascular system. I highly recommend a chelated form of magnesium supplement( or magnesium malate) to increase intake to balance with modern calcium intakes. The RDA of 1000mg of calcium is a great goal. More calcium than that doesn’t necessarily make it into the bone where it needs to be. It ends up lining the blood vessels, creating a hard, rough surface that become increasing thicker with fat, calcium, mineral buildup, and inflammation of the underlying cells. Try to take in at least half as much magnesium in the diet as calcium (500mg for every 1000mg of calcium).
4. Get the muscles loose. Tight muscles don’t let blood flow easily. Get a massage and pay attention to areas that hurt or are tight. These are trouble spots and affect the blood flowing though them to other areas of the body. Trigger therapy or massage is a good daily routine to get into.
5. Eat less carbs, plus drink more water. Carbohydrates (notice the hydrate in the name?) absorb fluid out of the bloodstream. Dehydration means capillaries have to shut down for longer periods of time. Combined with fatty foods, you have the start of atherosclerosis. Carbohydrate likes to be in a 7% solution with water. Overall throughout the day, these balance out, but the constant pull from the bloodstream has a negative effect on vascular health. In addition to dehydration, excess carbohydrate also leads to high triglyceride levels. Carbohydrate is converted to fat (triglycerides). These are another substance which tends to block capillaries and coat vessels. Plus, high carbohydrate foods tend to increase growth of bad bacteria in the gut, as well as create excess inflammation of the gut (see # 7 as to why this is important).
6. Add niacin to your diet. Start with 10 mg and work up to 100 mg a day. This (in the b-3 niacin form, not time release or no-flush nicotinamide). This a potent vasodilator of the capillaries, increase flood flow to all the tissues, not just your skin. A harmless flush appears quickly and disappears within an hour. You may feel hot and itchy at first, but these are areas of the body that need to be healed. After a week or two, the pain will start to subside, but you will still get very flushed.
7. Keep the digestive tract healthy. Any inflammation or infections in the digestive tract lead to increased permeability of undigested food into the blood stream. The body can easily deal with digested protein and fats. But when whole proteins or undigested fat makes in through, this is not absorbed by the cells of the body. It easily clogs the vascular system and must eventually be broken down or removed by the liver. Increase intake of water, healthy intestinal flora (l. acidophilus, l. bifidus, etc.) , garlic (a potent anti-fungal agent). Some fiber is important, but you don’t need huge amounts. Digestive enzymes or dried papaya is a very good idea. Keep regular. Increased motility is important to keep toxins from building up. Avoid excess alcohol and coffee. These tend to irritate the digestive tract if overused. Avoid “cowboy coffee”, the kind that leaves coffee on the bottom of the cup. These extra bitter solids end up in the stomach and digestive tract. Don’t sweat it too much if things aren’t perfect right away. It took years to create unhealthy situation, so be patient for results.
8. Add other supplements that affect healthy vascular system. L-arginine relaxes the muscles surrounding arteries and artioles(.5-5 mg a day). Drink the juice of watermelons(include the white part of the rind) if you don’t like l-arginine(or the price). Eat fatty fish or take fish oil supplements. These are the fats that the body can really use to rebuild cell walls with, which helps the digestive tract as well as the vascular system. Fruits, vegetables, and many herbs are chock full of anti-oxidants that help keep inflammation to a minimum. A cup of coffee in the morning in a good source of antioxidants, niacin, as well as help to keep you regular. (Although more than that has a tendency to cause stress on the digestive tract, as well as affect deep sleep).
8. Quit smoking. Smoking is the #1 cause of heart disease. By smoking, you may be negating anything healthy that you do for yourself. Smoking quickly irritates all of the pulmonary arteries and capillaries, causing arterial plaques. This causes enough problems as is, but the tar and chemicals being absorbed by the lung tissue (remember, lungs have the surface area of a tennis court) must be removed quickly before cells start to die and revert to scar tissue. A weakened cardio-pulmonary system can’t push blood through the body nor oxygenate it well. No wonder you get stressed out easy and need frequent cigarette breaks (talk about a vicious circle). Plus anything healthy is no fun nor enjoyable anymore. You can’t taste healthy food, nor enjoy a hike without coughing up a lung. Quitting smoking not only save you money and health problems, but those around you too.
9. Quit excessive drinking. A glass of red wine is often thought to be good for the heart, but more than that, and the body has too many toxins to deal with. The blood thinning properties of alcohol also tends to circulate any fatty acid in the digestive tract as well as in the circulatory system. The liver quickly backs up after a few drinks, leaving the toxins in the bloodstream, causing further damage. Alcohol is the bloodstream tends to destroy the lining of the capillaries, as well as the arteries. Excessive release and thinning of the fatty acids builds up on the damaged circulatory walls. Then to top it off, most people go for horrible choices of food when drinking (pizza and beer?). Keep it to a minimum, and keep your wits about you when eating afterward.
Of course, it is hard to do all of these recommendations consistently. But by keeping on top of most of them, you should eliminate most common causes of an unhealthy vascular system. In addition, you start feeling really good, looking better, and enjoying life more. Which in the long run is what we really want. When you are a kid, you want your cake, ice cream, chocolate, Cheetos, all the time. But as you grow up, you see that what really makes you happy isn’t some temporary fix, but long term peace of mind and happiness. Sometime it is so long since you felt deep health and happiness, all you have are the easy pleasures, but in the long run, that is all you life ends up being.
When talking about heart disease, the first thing that comes to mind is fatty deposits clogging up large arteries. But the body normally will take excess blood lipids(fat) and deposit them in appropriate fat storage cells in the body. But if the arteries are rough and hard from inappropriate calcium uptake, then the lipids accumulate on the inflamed lining of the arteries. It is the hardening of the arteries that one must fight as well. When the arteries have taken up calcium in the lining, then you have atherosclerosis. Why is calcium deposited in the lining? It is magnesium levels that affect the uptake of calcium the most. When magnesium levels are low, calcium tends to be taken up by all cells, especially the lining of arteries. Common recommendation is to keep a 1:2 ratio between magnesium and calcium intake. Most people in America easily meet the 1000mg recommended by the FDA (it is 700 mg in Canada). In fact we are still worried about getting more calcium, and often take supplemental calcium just to make sure(often putting most people above 2000mg a day). But what about magnesium? Magnesium is prevalent in leafy green vegetables(especially spinach) and fish(especially halibut). But the amount of these foods necessary to balance with common calcium intakes is staggering(meaning several cups of cooked spinach every day). So the daily supplements we take should help, right? Unfortunately, magnesium oxide is the common form used in supplements. This is a cheap version that tends to stay in the digestive tract, never making it into the bloodstream to be carried to cells. Worse, it tends to pull water into the digestive tract, causing stomach trouble.
So, look at how much calcium you are getting (dairy, supplements, and energy/protein supplements, etc.) If excessively high, cut back, since you need good capillary bed getting to you bones for the calcium to get where you want anyways. Then get a good form of magnesium to supplement with(magnesium malate, chelated forms of magnesium). Increased vegetable and fish intake is important too, but if you have eaten a normal diet most of your life, you need a little extra help to break up calcium deposits.