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Baby It’s Cold Outside – Improving Circulation in the Winter

Dr. Douglas VanderPloeg - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Brr! This time of the year, it’s much more pleasant to sing about walking in winter wonderlands than actually taking a stroll in one. 

The cold time of year is certainly relative – your region might break out the sweatshirts and crank up the heat when the mercury dips below 60, while a visitor from a cooler clime may think it’s downright balmy.

But if it’s something you’re not used to, your body can still feel the chill, which can be aggravated further if you have circulation problems. Your toes or fingers can tingle or even turn a blue hue.

While it’s tempting to want to stay inside from the first cool breeze of fall to the last spring shower, or maybe move closer to the equator, it’s not always realistic. So instead, it’s important to find ways to improve your circulation when you’re out and about.

(It’s equally important to get any circulation issues looked at, since they can also be indicators of more serious health conditions, including diabetes, high or low blood pressure or varicose veins.)

Try these cold weather strategies to help your health.

Cut down on caffeine. 

Though coffee or tea can warm you up on cold days, caffeine actually can constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure. Too much caffeine can also release stress hormones, causing agitation and irritability.

Switch to herbal teas.

You’ll still warm up, feel better and even boost your blood vessels and reduce your stress with blends such as yarrow, linden, hawthorn, rosemary or gingko.

Move. 

Sitting in the same spot, even indoors, can negatively impact your health, reduce blood flow to your hands and feet, and increase the risk of blood clots. Sitting with your legs crossed for a prolonged period of time can even cut off circulation even further. If you’re not able to get up from your seat and walk around at least once an hour, at least take the opportunity to raise your legs and flex your feet. Then keep your legs uncrossed.

Modify your diet.

If you’ve been considering eating better, this is a good time to get started. Begin by reducing how much processed food or trans fat you eat. Then look to eat more food with Omega 3 fatty acids, like olive oil instead of margarine or shortening. Fish from deeper and colder water zones also are healthier for your circulation, such as halibut, herring, salmon and mackerel.

Bundle up.

You don’t have to wait for heavy snow or high winds to put on your gloves or thick socks. If you have poor circulation, neuropathy or related health conditions, even a slight wind could feel like the bitter cold, so extra insulation goes a long way.
Remember your vitamins. While extra minerals doesn’t seem directly connected to beating the cold, supplements like Vitamin C plus bioflavonoids can give your whole body a boost.
For other suggestions on methods to improve circulation or other non-surgical options to promote healing, contact us to arrange a free consultation.  

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Dr.  Douglas VanderPloegDr. Douglas VanderPleog, Maine Spine & Nerve Institute
Dr. VanderPloeg has been a guest lecturer at multiple hospitals and has served on several professional boards. He is a Diplomat of both the American Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Canadian Board of Chiropractic Examiners. 
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