Humankind has almost always understood the importance of blood. Blood is what provides nourishment to all the tissues in your body; it carries the cells responsible for fighting infections and the hormones that keep every system functioning properly. When the body doesn’t have enough blood, cells around the body begin to suffer from a lack of oxygen, and when blood is especially low, cells begin to die.
You need your blood to be as healthy as possible — but contrary to popular belief, healthy blood has nothing to do with “toxins.” The wellness and diet industry tends to market detoxifying products and practices that are supposed to help your blood and body eliminate nebulous “toxins,” but the truth is that the blood and body are already quite efficient at identifying and removing waste.
Instead, you can focus on a few key elements of healthy blood, such as blood pressure, circulation, and oxygenation.
How to Stabilize Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is one of the vital signs that will almost always be tested whenever you visit a healthcare provider. To measure blood pressure, a provider will cuff your arm with a band that fills with air to cut off circulation. As the pressure from the cuff is slowly reduced, blood flow slowly returns, creating vibrations that can be measured by sensors or the human ear.
There are two types of blood pressure: systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart beats; it is higher because the heart is actively forcing more blood around your body. Diastolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats, or when your circulatory system is briefly at rest.
Blood pressure is how blood is able to move around your body to deliver vital nutrients. If your blood pressure is too low, vital organs aren’t receiving the support they need from the blood; sufferers of low blood pressure often experience weakness, fainting, and irreversible damage to the heart and brain. Likewise, high blood pressure is also dangerous. When blood pressure is too high, critical organs experience undue strain that can result in life-threatening conditions in the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.
Generally, you want your blood pressure to remain stable and within a healthy range. The best way to keep your blood pressure stable is to exercise. Workouts that get your heart pumping harder than normal will temporarily increase your blood pressure, which encourages the body to devote resources to strengthening the circulatory system as a whole. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day or about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Moderate exercise involves brisk walking, biking, or intense chores like lawn mowing; vigorous workouts include running, swimming, or strength training.
How to Boost Circulation
Circulation is the movement of blood through your body. Your body contains over 60,000 miles of blood vessels, and it is critical that blood moves freely and easily through every nook and cranny to ensure your cells are getting the nutrition and support they need to function properly.
If your circulation is poor, you might frequently feel cold or numb in your hands or feet; your limbs might swell up or your muscles cramp and twitch. In severe cases, skin can discolor and develop sores, and blood vessels can swell and become visible, creating varicose or spider veins. Circulatory problems sometimes develop as a result of high or low blood pressure, but other issues can also cause your circulation system to operate inefficiently.
Roughly 78 percent of blood is water, so dehydration can severely impact how blood flows around the body. You should strive to drink enough water per day; common recommendations suggest around 3 liters of water per day, but that figure can change depending on the size of your body, the climate of your region, your activity level, and more. If you identify other signs of dehydration — thirst, dark urine, fatigue, dry skin — you might want to increase your water intake to boost your circulation.
Tobacco products are disastrous to circulation, causing the blood vessels to harden and cells to die. However, the “new smoking” is sitting or remaining stationary for most of the day. A seated position compresses a number of blood vessels in the back, butt, and legs, which reduces blood flow to the lower extremities. Too much sitting can cause blood clots to form deep in the blood vessels of the legs, which is a life-threatening issue. Therefore, quitting smoking and increasing exercise are both good methods of improving circulation.
How to Get More Oxygen in the Blood
One of the most important functions of the blood is to deliver oxygen to cells around the body — which is why oxygen-carrying red blood cells comprise about 45 percent of blood’s volume. As with blood pressure, the blood-oxygen-level is a typical vital sign collected by healthcare providers; the small clamp that goes around your fingertip is the pulse oximeter, which senses the oxygen in your blood.
As long as your lungs are functioning as normal, your blood oxygen level should remain stable — even if you are wearing a face-covering like a mask. Thus, if you are healthy, there isn’t much you can do to supercharge your blood-oxygen level. Those suffering from respiratory illnesses, like asthma, can use inhalers to decrease inflammation, which can allow airways to inflate with more oxygen to fill the blood. Likewise, those suffering from anemia might consider eating iron-rich foods or taking iron supplements to grow more red blood cells to carry larger amounts of oxygen.
One possible way of increasing the oxygen in your blood is to practice different breathing techniques. Slow, deep breaths can help you take advantage of the full capacity of your lungs, providing the body with more oxygen for red blood cells to carry. You might start with daily breath meditations, to draw attention to your breathing patterns and get yourself in the habit of drawing in larger breaths on a regular basis.
Fears about toxins in the blood are largely unfounded. Like other systems in your body, blood has evolved over millennia to function effectively despite the presence of contaminants. It should be telling that no blood donation process involves checking for toxins; in fact, even issues like high blood pressure and poor circulation are hardly reasons to prevent a blood donation. Still, you can improve the health of your blood and your body as a whole by eating healthy whole foods, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and reducing your stress. Then, you can be certain that your blood is keeping you in the best possible health — and that any blood you donate will be good for recipients, as well.
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.