Ways to lower high blood pressure naturally
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1 billion people worldwide. If left uncontrolled, it raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. But there's good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication. Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.
Walk and exercise regularly: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure. Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries. In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health. What's more, doing even more exercise reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers' Health Study.
Reduce your sodium intake: Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods. For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry. In many studies, salt has been linked to high blood pressure and heart events, like stroke. However, more recent research indicates that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear. One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people process sodium.
About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt. If you already have high blood pressure, it's worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices, rather than salt.
Drink less alcohol: Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world. While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by negative effects. In the US, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Eat more potassium-rich foods:
Potassium is an important mineral. It helps your body get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessels. Modern diets have increased most people's sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake. To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include -
* Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes
* Fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots
* Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
* Tuna and salmon
* Nuts and seeds
Cut back on caffeine: If you've ever downed a cup of coffee before you've had your blood pressure taken, you'll know that caffeine causes an instant boost. However, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase. In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who don't. Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don't consume it regularly. If you suspect you're caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it lowers your blood pressure.
Lose weight: If you're overweight, losing weight can make a big difference for your heart health. According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure. In previous studies, losing 17 pounds (7.7 kg) was linked to lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg. To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg. The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise. Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Quit smoking: Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease. Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels. Surprisingly, studies haven't found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because smokers develop a tolerance over time. Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help reverse that risk.
Eat foods rich in magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax. While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don't get enough. Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical studies has been less clear. Still, eating a magnesium-rich diet is a recommended way to ward off high blood pressure. You can incorporate magnesium into your diet with vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat and whole grains. (excerpt)
The writer is a registered dietitian and nutritionist.The write-up has appeared on www.medicalnewstoday.com