On today’s episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, we are going to discuss how reduced blood flow in the body can drive cellular inflammation, with a focus on three primary factors: deficiency, toxicity, and low energy.
Our Modern Vital Fact of the Day is that reduced blood flow can also significantly impact our microbiome, leading to disruption of the balance of microorganisms within the gut, and to dysbiosis and imbalance in the composition and function of the microbiome.
Hence, having areas of our body where blood flow is reduced, where there is not enough, can indirectly impact our gut. For example, exercise can improve blood flow to our cardiovascular system, which eventually leads its way to our gut. So a lack of exercise may lead to reduced blood flow to the gut and then throw off the microbiome.
In medicine, we refer to this as the splanchnic circulation, which consists of the blood supply provided to the GI tract, liver, spleen, and pancreas. Splanchnic is just a fancy word which refers to the internal organs or viscera of the abdomen. Remember, in medicine we have at least three words for everything.
Proper blood flow and adequate oxygen levels are crucial for our overall well-being. And the modern world is currently facing an epidemic of oxygen deficiency.
It is essential to recognize that inflammation itself is not a root cause, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. For instance, trauma to a particular body part can result in inflammation and subsequent hypoxia If blood vessels are damaged, for example, leading to impaired blood perfusion in the affected area. Blood, which carries oxygen, which is picked up by hemoglobin and essential nutrients for healing, plays a critical role in the recovery process.
Therefore, reduced blood flow can hinder healing and perpetuate inflammation. The phenomenon of cellular inflammation due to reduced blood flow can be attributed to three main factors.
The first factor is nutrient deficiency due to reduced blood flow. This can cause inflammation because nutrient and oxygen deficiencies cause cellular stress impairing normal functions triggering the release of pro-inflammatory molecules.
Reduced blood flow leads to waste accumulation in the cells, irritating tissues causing inflammation. Adequate blood flow is essential for immune function. Nutrient and oxygen deficiencies impair immune cell function, causing imbalances in inflammatory molecule production, and increased inflammation.
Reduced blood flow impairs endothelial function in blood vessels, for example, in the heart increasing pro-inflammatory molecule production and heightening the inflammatory response. And it can significantly impact the blood vessel’s ability to relax and contract overall. Nutrient and oxygen deficiencies, and I include oxygen as a nutrient, due to reduced flow can trigger a cascade of events driving inflammation in the body.
The second factor is impaired cellular detoxification due to reduced blood flow which can drive inflammation. Cells need blood flow for essential nutrients and oxygen to function properly, including detoxification processes. Reduced blood flow limits their detoxifying ability.
For example, lysosomes, which are organelles in the cytoplasm of our cells, are responsible for cleanup and they can be impaired. This whole process is called autophagy. It’s the body’s process for cleaning up dead debris and cells, and it can become impaired, especially by things like oxidative stress over time, which is engendered by nutrient deficiency.
Adequate blood flow delivers energy sources for ATP generation. Reduced blood flow compromises energy dependent detox processes like phase one and phase two in the liver. Reduced blood flow can limit liver and kidney function affecting their toxin filtering abilities, again, impacting cellular detoxification. Hypoxia, which is basically a lack of oxygen or a low level of oxygen, drives oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is toxic because free radicals are generated in the body. These are little free electrons that are due to broken bonds and other events, they can ping around the body and damage cells, damage proteins, damage RNA and DNA N. These free radicals are called reactive oxygen species or ROS.
For example, let’s say we have a rotator cuff tear. I was recently reading a study about fibroblasts. Fibroblasts make our connective tissue and are critical in the repair process, let’s say in a torn rotator cuff injury. In order for them to be fully operative, they require nutrients like vitamin C.
They also require oxygen, and when they don’t have proper oxygen, they become apoptoic. They begin to die. One of the reasons is because they’ve also become damaged by oxidative stress. As you can probably begin to see everything’s connected, deficiency can drive toxicity. Toxicity can drive lack of energy.
Lack of energy can go around in a circular fashion and drive deficiency. Blood flow is critical for cellular detoxification.
The third factor is that reduced blood flow, and we already touched on this a little bit, affects ATP production and promotes. Blood flow delivers oxygen needed for ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria.
We don’t need to get too into this, but reduced blood flow impairs ATP production. Insufficient blood flow limits essential nutrients like glucose, fatty acids, et cetera, resulting in decreased ATP synthesis. Compromised blood flow leads to waste accumulation. We talked about this a little bit, and then as ATP production begins to fall rapidly, cellular stress ensues. Mitochondrial function is impaired. Again, ATP synthesis declines.
Blood flow is crucial for ATP production. Oxygen deficiency is a growing concern due to factors like air pollution, deforestation, poor indoor air quality, sedentary lifestyles, improper breathing habits, having to wear multiple masks or masks throughout one’s day, and chronic stress.
As oxygen is crucial for overall health, it‘s essential to explore some evidence-based strategies to increase our oxygen levels and to counteract these factors.
Oxygen, primarily carried by hemoglobin in red blood cells, travels from high to low pressure areas, moving from the air into our lungs, to our bronchi, to our alveoli, eventually to our capillary beds. And then it’s picked up by hemoglobin and moves in our bloodstream to our tissues, eventually to our cells, and then eventually inside of our cells to our mitochondria.
Henry’s law is a law about pressure gradients and gases in the body. Things like oxygen always move from a higher to a lower pressure gradient until equilibrium is achieved.
And this is how it works in the body.
To maintain proper oxygen delivery, it’s important to address the factors contributing to oxygen deficiency. Wouldn’t you agree? So here are some strategies. A lot of them are pretty common sense.
Let’s reduce our exposure to air pollution by using air purifiers, if we can, indoors, opting for green spaces and green plants. Being outdoors around trees and plants as much as possible can counteract declining oxygen. Engaging in regular physical exercise, it can strengthen our respiratory system, improve our lung capacity, promote deeper breathing, and then it can ensure adequate oxygen intake and distribution throughout the body.
Learning and incorporating proper breathing techniques like diaphragmatic or deep breathing. These things could also enhance oxygen intake, stress management, mindfulness meditation, yoga. Proper indoor ventilation.
Now, exercise is probably the most well known and effective way to increase oxygen levels in the body. Circulation is promoted. We know that improved circulation promotes the distribution of oxygen throughout the body. Things like nitric oxide release are stimulated, blood vessels can become dilated, blood flow can move to areas of restriction. Spending time in nature, forests, parks, et cetera. There are much higher levels of oxygen in these areas because of photosynthesis.
Forest bathing, this is where one immerses oneself in a forest environment. There are lots of health benefits that have been studied. Stress is reduced, mood is improved. Even white blood cells are generated in the immune system.
Four square breathing, also known as box breathing, is another technique that can enhance oxygenation.
We basically inhale, hold our breath, exhale, and then hold our breath again. Each time for a count of four, creating kind of a rhythmic pattern that’s beneficial for not only our mental wellbeing and our physical wellbeing, but oxygenation.
Now, hyperbaric medicine, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is an awesome evidence-based approach to increasing oxygen levels.
Basically we’re breathing pure oxygen in like a pressurized chamber. And the oxygen levels become so high with the help of the pressure. Oxygen can diffuse acros our cellular membranes right through our skin and right into our plasma, and kind of skip the whole hemoglobin process.
Oxygen is delivered to our cells at a much more rapid and effective rate, and HBOT is used to treat a lot of conditions. There are 14 conditions that are very, very serious that are approved by Medicare, in hospitals. And then there are at least 150 different chronic diseases in other conditions that HBOT is really good for now.
A hyperbaric chamber has compressors and oxygen concentrators. Now concentrators provide 94% oxygen. These can further increase oxygen availability when combined like in a soft chamber by 800 times.
Now let’s talk about several naturopathic practices that can improve oxygen.
Drinking water, right? You hear about drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
This maintains optimal blood flow. Water is required for our liver in phase one and phase two for detoxification.
Oxygen and nutrients are transported more readily and rapidly throughout the body. Waste removal occurs more efficiently and this also allows oxygen to be delivered more readily.
A balanced nutrient dense diet, obviously a diet rich in the colors of the rainbow, rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and even nitric oxide precursors.
These can all support blood flow and overall health.
Stress management practices, mind body awareness, meditation, yoga, et cetera.
Adequate sleep getting, at least seven or eight hours a night, can support growth hormone production, melatonin production, and also engender restorative and processes such as tissue repair, optimal blood flow to the brain, and even lower inflammatory processes in the brain and throughout the body, which can then promote the diffusion and delivery of oxygen.
Herbal support, which depends on the person, depends on the situation, but things like Hawthorne or garlic or even ginkgo can improve circulation and potentially drive more blood flow to areas that are in need.
Consult an naturopathic doctor for personalized advice.
Good posture also can promote good blood flow and improve oxygenation in the body.
So, to summarize, reduced blood flow can drive inflammation in our bodies because of three main factors. We could even call them causes.
Basically these are deficiency, toxicity and mitochondrial insufficiency, or fatigue, or not having enough energy.
There are so many ways to talk about this. By supporting blood flow in our bodies, making sure we are well oxygenated and engaging in therapies like hyperbaric medicine, we can replete deficiency, lower toxicity, optimize our energy levels and lower inflammation in the body.
I recommend consulting your naturopathic doctor to put together an individualized healthcare plan for your health journey.
And that concludes this episode of The Modern Vital Podcast. We would love to hear from you. We value your feedback. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please leave us a review if you enjoyed this episode. We look forward to having you join us next week for another exciting episode of The Modern Vital Podcast.
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