The network that delivers blood to every nook and cranny of the body, blood vessels are the highway of the cardiovascular system. While many consider the blood vessels to be deeply buried in the body and untouchable, modern technology is not necessary to influence their health. In fact, blood vessel function is surprisingly easy to access.
Responsible for most of blood vessels’ action, smooth muscle cells are located in blood vessel walls. Smooth muscle cells have evolved to perform two primary functions:
- Contract and Dilate – Under everyday conditions, smooth muscle cells contract and dilate to help regulate the distribution of blood.
- Tissue Repair – When a blood vessel is damaged by a wound or injury, smooth muscles cells change form and lead the repair effort.
Unfortunately, typical consequences of the modern lifestyle can hamper blood flow by their affect on blood vessels’ smooth muscle cells. More specifically, stress can cause blood vessels to constrict, and accumulation inside blood vessel walls can trigger smooth muscle cells to help form plaques.
Mental stress causes the inner layer of the blood vessels to constrict. According to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers believe that this ability may explain why stress increases the risk of sudden cardiac death. Stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Smoking and eating a diet high in saturated fat are well known to facilitate atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. When these plaques rupture, they release tissue that can block blood vessels in the heart, causing a heart attack.
Supporting blood vessel health could be as simple as making several lifestyle adjustments. Whether diagnosed with atherosclerosis or hypertension, anyone concerned with their cardiovascular health could benefit from the five following changes:
- Meditation – While meditation can come in many different forms, the common denominator in all types of meditative practices is relaxation. By learning how to reduce stress through meditation, individuals can essentially will their blood vessels to dilate.
- Stop Smoking – Admittedly, quitting a nicotine habit is far from easy. However, this lifestyle change is crucial for preserving blood vessel health. Smoking delivers a double whammy to the cardiovascular system by instructing the nervous system to constrict blood vessels and enhancing plaques to formulate in blood vessels.
- Minimize Saturated Fat – Major culprits of blood vessel plaque, saturated fats lurk in many common foods. They are relatively easy to identify because saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature. Typical culprits include fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, cream, butter, cheese, full fat milk, baked goods, fried foods, palm oil and coconut oil.
- Limit Sodium – Because salt (sodium) intake is directly related to blood pressure, those with cardiovascular concerns must limit how much salt is consumed. Most of us eat more salt than we should – likely because it is hidden in modern packaged foods. Label reading comes in handy for choosing foods lower in sodium.
- Try Nattokinase – A popular supplement made from fermented soybeans, Nattokinase helps break down plaque formations in blood vessels. While a physician should be consulted before any new supplement regimen is attempted, this unique substance is worth investigating for anyone with atherosclerosis.
Taking care of your blood vessels is the answer to America’s rising rate of cardiovascular disease. Through meditation, stopping smoking, minimizing saturated fat and sodium, and looking into Nattokinase supplementation, you can influence your blood to flow freely and healthfully throughout your cardiovascular system.