Natural Ways to Fight High Blood Pressure
Everybody knows somebody – and probably multiple people – that deals with high blood pressure. It has become a serious problem in America, and, unlike other ailments or conditions, lifestyle choices can help to lower high blood pressure. For the most part, high blood pressure can be addressed by improving eating habits, getting plenty of exercise, and getting caffeine and tobacco out of your life.
The American Heart Association reports that nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure (aka hypertension). According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute there are normal, above normal and below normal readings for blood pressure. The top or first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure and the lower or second number is the diastolic pressure.
Here are blood pressure guidelines to help determine what is considered normal:
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
- Pre-hypertension is systolic pressure that’s between 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89.
- Stage 1 hypertension is systolic pressure between 140 to 159 or diastolic pressure between 90 and 99 mm Hg or higher.
- Stage 2 hypertension is systolic pressure higher than 160 or diastolic pressure of 100 or higher.
Diet and Blood Pressure
When trying to get your blood pressure under control, diet is one of the most important factors. Just about everything you eat can have some kind of effect on blood pressure, so it is essential to maintain a healthy diet. Blood pressure and weight are often times correlated, so when dealing with high blood pressure, losing weight can help. Keeping a trim waist line can also help, and men are at a greater risk when the waist is more than 40 inches, while women are at a greater risk when the waist is more than 35 inches.
When first starting to combat high blood pressure, you’ll want to take a look at your consumption of sodium. Sodium is a vice for many people, and cutting out foods high in sodium can initially be very difficult. Rest assured though, you will get used to it and your palate with adjust over time. As a general rule, you shouldn’t consume more than 2300 mgs of sodium a day, but if you’re older, you may want to consider a lower number, like 1500 mg. Reducing the amount of processed foods in the day can also be an easy way to lower sodium in the diet. Fast foods, chips, lunch meats, and many other foods are packed with sodium, so limiting these foods can be very beneficial. You should also read the food labels while shopping. Many people are shocked to find that foods they thought were healthy are actually high in sodium, so take nutritional inventory of the foods that you buy and eat.
Alcohol should always be imbibed in moderation, and this is especially true when dealing with high blood pressure. Drinking small amounts of alcohol can actually help to lower blood pressure, but more than two drinks a day for men or more than one for women can lead to poor cardiovascular health. Alcohol not only boosts blood pressure levels, but it can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
Exercise can help you to lose weight – which as previously stated can help with high blood pressure – and regular exercise can also help to lower blood pressure in just a few weeks. Creating an exercise program can have an immediate impact on cardiovascular health, and it can also help to promote a lean and healthy body. Spreading exercise throughout the week is important. Trying to jam a week’s worth of exercise into a Saturday morning isn’t as beneficial, and inactivity followed by intense exercise can be potentially dangerous. If you’re in poor health you may also want to meet with a doctor or trainer to make sure that you don’t over work the body.
Caffeine and Tobacco
Caffeine and tobacco are two substances that nobody needs, but also two substances that are frequently consumed. It should come as no surprise that caffeine raises blood pressure, because many can instantly feel their heart rate increase after just a few sips of coffee. Caffeine causes a short term boost in blood pressure, but it is unclear as to whether it has a long lasting impact on blood pressure.
Smoking is one of the most detrimental habits for cardiovascular health, and tobacco products can increase blood pressure by up to 10 points for as long as an hour. Many smokers have more than one cigarette in an hour, and this can keep blood pressure levels elevated throughout the day.
High blood pressure is incredibly dangerous, but you can make changes in your life to combat unhealthy blood pressure levels. Eating health, getting exercise, and not consuming tobacco or alcohol can help to keep you feeling healthy and to promote healthy blood pressure levels. Here are some tips to prevent high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Controlled Naturally
To lower blood pressure naturally, there are specific lifestyle changes and natural remedies that have been deemed effective, but as high blood pressure can be life threatening, it is important to work with your medical doctor when implementing any treatments for your individual condition.
- Garlic. According to scientific studies, garlic appears to lower blood pressure by nearly 10% in people with high blood pressure. While this may not seem like much, using this remedy along with a balanced diet and regular exercise when allowable by your physician can make a significant impact. Also please note that garlic isn’t safe for use with many common medications and conditions.
- Fish Oil / Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are found in fish and some plant foods. Human research studies indicate that this may help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. If you’re going to take a fish oil supplement, always use one that’s molecularly distilled, to assure all of the heavy metals are removed.
- Hibiscus. Hibiscus tea and supplements have been found to lower blood pressure in scientific studies.
- Chocolate / Cocoa Extract. Several scientific studies in humans demonstrate that eating dark chocolate or chocolate or cocoa products enriched with flavonols may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure or pre-hypertensive people. One thing to keep in mind is that chocolate also contains caffeine and sugar, among other ingredients. Large amounts of caffeine (greater than 400 mg day) can increase blood pressure and the sugar content may affect blood sugar levels.
- Magnesium. A number of studies suggest a small yet significant reduction in blood pressure with the use of a magnesium supplement.
- Vitamin D. This vitamin is found naturally in fish, eggs, fortified milk, cod liver oil and is produced naturally during exposure to the sun. In fact, low levels of vitamin D is thought to have a role in the development of high blood pressure.
- Diet and Weight Loss. As mentioned above, diet is very important to maintaining proper blood pressure. Being overweight is a leading cause of high blood pressure and heart disease, putting increased pressure on artery walls and leading to other health conditions. If overweight, bringing your body weight into a healthy range may help reduce blood pressure. Also, eating a diet rich in whole, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein is very beneficial.
Check your blood pressure regularly. If changing your lifestyle and diet hasn’t help to lower your blood pressure, then it’s imperative that you seek your doctors advice on the best course of action. Medication may be indicated until you can get it under control naturally.