Does inflammation affect circulation?

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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26 March 2021

Does inflammation affect circulation?

Unfortunately, inflammation is known to increase the likelihood of developing circulatory problems such as strokes and heart disease. On top of this, we know that a few indicators of inflammation (such as interleukins, chemokines and adhesion molecules) are connected with atherosclerosis.

This condition occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries. The arteries are responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to the heart so, with a build-up of plaque, this process can become more limited. At this point, there is an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks.

What inflammatory foods are bad for blood circulation?

Inflammation can be caused by poor lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise and a bad diet.

A diet containing lots of red and processed meats, for example, is connected with inflammation. Refined grains (white rather wholegrain breads, rice or pasta), as well as sugary drinks, processed foods and fried foods have all been associated with increased inflammation and, therefore, a higher risk of circulatory problems. On top of this, high salt diets are connected with inflammation and even cardiovascular problems.1

It's also been found that diets with a greater potential for inflammation are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.2 In fact, in research, those consuming pro-inflammatory diets had a 46% greater risk of suffering from heart disease and a 28% higher risk of strokes in comparison to those following an anti-inflammatory diet.

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Which anti-inflammatory foods are good for blood circulation?

One small but mighty food could positively influence inflammation. In research, it's been found that regularly eating walnuts regularly over a long period of time can reduce levels of inflammation in the body and thus have a positive influence on circulatory problems such as heart disease and high cholesterol.3

To help fight inflammation, we also want to rely on plenty of fresh foods that contain antioxidants and fibre. In particular, vegetables such as spinach, kale, cabbage, peppers, and carrots are good options.

The Mediterranean diet is also connected with lower inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease.4 The Mediterranean diet tends to be rich in nuts, olive oil, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and seafood. It also has a lower quantity of red or processed meats.

Summary - Does inflammation affect circulation?

In research, inflammation has been connected with circulatory problems such as strokes and heart disease. A diet high in red and processed meats, salt, sugary drinks, refined grains, processed and fried foods can all contribute to inflammation. Therefore, to help fight inflammation, we should rely on plenty of fresh foods like veg, fruit, nuts and fish, as well as reducing our intake of red or processed meats. Keeping this up in the long term, in addition to following other good lifestyle habits like exercise, will have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce the risk of cardiovascular/circulatory problems.



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