The cardiovascular system is the body’s transport network, getting vital nutrients and oxygen to nearly every cell in the body. And like any effective transport network, the cardiovascular system relies on quality fuel and maintenance to stay in top shape. For us, that means better diet, digestion, and exercise.
If that sounds like work, that’s because it is. But the work is well worth it if cardiovascular disease statistics are to be considered. In the U.S., cardiovascular disease is the number one cause for mortality, and poor cardiovascular health is closely associated with early death.
Signs and Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease can emerge in many forms, as it’s a body-wide network. Arrhythmia, heart failure, coronary artery disease, valve disease and peripheral artery disease are the most common forms, and they can all be fatal.
Given the range of heart disease presentation, symptoms will also vary from person to person. In general, they may include the following:
- Chest pains, pressure, or a “heavy” sensation in the upper torso
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramping and pains in the extremities
- Swelling (edema) in the extremities
- Sores on the extremities that won’t heal
- Numbness and difficulty walking or speaking
There are numerous risk factors that can drive up the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Some of them include:
- Elevated blood pressure or cholesterol levels
- Certain chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune, and inflammatory conditions
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet, including diets high in sodium, fat or sugar
Many of these risk factors are common among U.S. adults, which is why it’s a health emergency for Americans. According to the CDC, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, for example. Another example – 25 percent of U.S. adults are physically inactive.
Reversing these two trends would go a long way in reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease.
How Does Better Cardiovascular Health Support Whole-Body Health?
Given this tight connection between mortality and cardiovascular health, our heart and circulatory network obviously play an important role in whole-body health. Medical research backs this notion, and better circulation also means the following:
- Better mental performance and cognition
- Better mental health and mood
- Better respiratory performance and oxygen transport
- Better energy levels
- Better tissue health in the extremities
- Better digestion and nutritional uptake
- Better immune response to infection and illness
As you can see, if cardiovascular health goes, the rest of the body goes with it. To keep your organs running strong, support your cardiovascular health with activity and better nutrition.
Boost Your Heart and Circulatory System with Exercise and Dietary Supplements
The cardiovascular system thrives on being worked, and that means regular exercise. There are several ways a good round of cardio can help this area. For example:
- Exercise improves vascular wall function and oxygen availability – Research shows that regular exercise enhances blood vessel dilation, which corresponds to better vascular wall function. As a result, exercise effectively improves how efficiently your muscles can take in oxygen and function.
- Exercise can help reduce body weight and blood pressure – While diet is the primary contributing factor to weight control, exercise can help reduce weight as well. Also important, exercise builds muscle and reduces fat tissue in the process, which is better for circulation and reduces blood pressure.
- Exercise helps regulate cholesterol levels – Multiple research studies have shown that exercise lowers levels of low density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad” cholesterol) and increases levels of high density lipoproteins (HDLs, or “good” cholesterol). As a poor HDL and LDL balance is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, exercise is a proven heart disease preventative.
And you don’t have to become a world-class athlete to achieve cardiovascular benefits. The CDC’s recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day, 4-5 days a week. That’s a brisk morning walk around the neighborhood, or a quick hike through your favorite park.
In addition to exercise, dietary supplements can also support better cardiovascular health. It may not be intuitive as to why, but it makes sense when you consider the link between the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Our bodies transport the nutrients unlocked by digestion using circulation. Eventually, everything that’s digested ends up in the blood, which pulls nutrients through the intestinal wall and distributes them to other cells.
When digestion is working properly, it efficiently eliminates waste material in the intestines. If digestion isn’t working properly, it builds up in the intestines and reduces cardiovascular access to nutrients. Further, as waste builds up, it will eventually get picked up by the blood and “clog” your cells.
To keep your blood and body free of waste material, better digestion is needed. This can be achieved through the use of digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes – like amylase, protease, and lipase – are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats as they pass through our GI system. When we’re young, we have plenty of these enzymes on reserve and ready for digestion. The aging process and our diets, though, cause these enzyme counts to decline. Supplementing digestive enzymes can restore ideal levels and facilitate efficient waste-reducing digestion.
Better Digestion, Better Elimination, Better Circulation
There’s a tight connection between our cardiovascular and digestive systems, and a tight connection between cardiovascular health and whole-body health. By maintaining both organ systems, you’ll reap the life-extending benefits of improved circulation.