Our blood delivers to the tissues in our body all the nutrients we need to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. The same blood then removes from those tissues the end products of the cellular metabolism of those nutrients. The maintenance of good blood circulation is critical to ensuring we stay healthy and active.
Circulation of the blood throughout our body depends primarily on two factors, the output from the heart and the resistance of the vessels through which the blood flows, the arteries, veins and capillaries. Most of us will have noticed that after a long period of sitting at a desk or while travelling, there is some discomfort in our legs and arms. Part of this discomfort is due to the decrease in blood circulation that occurs over time when we are sedentary. Particularly as winter approaches and we are spending less time being active we will feel the effects of poor circulation as a result of this more sedentary lifestyle. More seriously there is evidence that prolonged periods of poor circulation, such as those associated with long periods of sitting, can lead to variety of circulatory diseases including cardiovascular disease and thromboembolism or blood clots.
The good news is that there are a number of things we can do to improve circulation of the blood and decrease the risk of discomfort and disease that can result from being sedentary. Firstly it is useful to move the limbs during long periods of sitting. This can be as simple as regularly performing leg and arm stretches while seated, but ideally should involve from time to time getting up and going for a quick stroll, even just to the end of the office or plane, and back. Secondly we now know that there are foods we can include in our diets that affect blood flow. Clinical studies undertaken in Japan and in New Zealand have shown that consumption of New Zealand Blackcurrants decreases the resistance of the blood vessels and significantly improves blood flow through limbs during long periods of sitting compared to a placebo.
So whether by choice you are spending more time sedentary during this winter, or if your lifestyle dictates long periods of sitting down remember to regularly stretch those limbs and regularly eat New Zealand Blackcurrants.
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