High blood pressure is often described as the “silent killer” because often times, there are no clinical symptoms before a fatal event like a heart attack or stroke. The problem with high blood pressure is that over time, it damages the inner lining of arteries. This damage encourages formation of fatty deposits called plaques which narrows the arteries and strangles the blood supply serving vital organs. Narrowed arteries increases the risk for a complete blockage or clot. When a clot blocks the blood supply completely, the portion of the end organ that it supplies will die.
Scary stuff! So, don’t let this happen to you.
The good news is that for the majority of cases, blood pressure can be lowered naturally through lifestyle modification. If blood pressure can be controlled naturally, it can allow some people to come off their blood pressure medication safely. Though blood pressure medication may be a quick fix solution, it can come with a cost to your health as medications have damaging side effects.
Understand the Risk Factors:
Most of the items on the following list are modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure. A bit of motivation is all you need to get started in the right direction.
being overweight or obese
excessive salt intake
inadequate potassium intake
drinking too much alcohol
certain chronic diseases (5-10% of cases)
family history of high blood pressure
How to Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally:
It is best to first discuss your blood pressure problem with a health professional before making drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle. A health professional will be able to give you more specific advice for your particular case and any precautions you may need to take.
Fix Your Diet
A healthy diet will encourage a healthy weight and a healthy body composition. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are a must. They contain healthy proteins, antioxidants and fibers. Reduce your intake of sugar, sodium, fast foods, beef and pork, highly processed foods and caffeine. Eat potassium rich produce such as sweet potatoes, bananas, peas and honeydew melon.
With physical fitness, the heart becomes healthier and more efficient. Athletes have a lower resting heart rate on account of the increased efficiency. Over time, blood pressure also improves. If you are completely sedentary, start with something easy like 15 minute power walks and then build from there. People should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity for most days of the week to enjoy health benefits.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Sodium encourages fluid retention and thus, with greater fluid volume, blood pressure increases. These days, reducing sodium intake means more than just going easy on the salt shaker. Read food labels. You would be surprised by how much sodium is in processed foods! Better yet, avoid processed foods and make you own – seasoned with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Give Yourself a Break from Stress
Work a little less. Relax with music. Take deep breaths with yoga. Do something just for you and find balance between work and play. Stress and anxiety releases hormones into your blood that increase blood pressure. Many people find that manual therapies, such as chiropractic or massage help with stress too.
Tobacco use will cause an immediate temporary increase in blood pressure. So, the longer you smoke, the longer your blood pressure will be high. Beyond this, toxic chemicals from smoking also accelerate damage to blood vessels and atherosclerosis. Smoking is one of the biggest factors increasing risk for heart attack and stroke, even in younger people! Second hand smoke is also bad.
Go Easy on Alcohol
Having 2-3 drinks in one sitting can temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women per day.
Shed Some Pounds
Losing as little as 10-20 pounds can improve blood pressure significantly. Accomplish this through a healthy diet and some exercise.
Kick the Coffee and Drink Hibiscus Tea
Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Limit coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Drinking hibiscus tea has been shown in several studies to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Hibiscus tea is a beautiful red colour and tastes delicious. It is made from the calyces of Hibiscus sabdariffa (or roselle) plant.
Supplement with Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is involved in energy production. Organs with high energy requirements (such as the heart and liver) require more coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is synthesized naturally in the body but it is also available through diet. For example, it is found in meat and fish, vegetable oils (especially soybean oil) and vegetables (especially parsley). Medications such as statins and beta blockers (which are used to treat cholesterol and high blood pressure respectively) inhibit biosynthesis of coenzyme Q10. Studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 can lower high blood pressure.
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Dr. Elisabeth Miron