In my previous post I talked about how to lower blood pressure naturally – at home – and I focused on what I believe are 2 key lifestyle changes which can make a difference if you are dealing with slightly raised BP (pre-Hypertension) or actual Hypertension itself.
Those two aspects of daily living which will make a vital difference to managing blood pressure are:
However these are by no means the only factors which can make a difference… and today I am going to look at some other important components which also have a role to play in controlling your blood pressure levels, namely
LIMIT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
FIND BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE (Stress Control)
Can Alcohol Raise Blood Pressure?
Studies have shown that regular excessive consumption of alcohol – and it doesn’t appear to matter in what form i.e. whether it be beer, spirits or wine leads to hypertension.
And alcohol has the potential to affect various body systems in a negative manner. This includes the Central Nervous System, the Sympathetic Nervous System where stimulation of adrenaline results in increased blood pressure and the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System where alcohol induced spikes in Angiotensin II levels cause constriction of blood vessels, and thereby raised blood pressure.
The question then becomes how much alcohol consumption is enough to cause blood pressure to rise, since some studies have shown that a small amount of alcohol, notably red wine helps blood pressure – with its resveratrol which contains antioxidant-like polyphenols – and this can also be healthy for the heart.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following: Men should limit their consumption of alcohol to 2 drinks a day, and women to 1 drink per day.
And how do you determine quantity of the different types of alcohol? Here is the AHA’s criterion
A drink is one:
- 12 oz. beer
- 5 oz. of wine
- 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits
- 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits
In a paper presented by Professor Ian B Puddey, (Dean, The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Western Australia) which was given at a Symposium in Melbourne, December 2005 some significant conclusions were noted. The summary below shows Prof. Puddey’s findings:
So if you tend to overindulge and imbibe regularly, why not try cutting back on consumption of alcohol to the recommended levels, or below, and see how this lifestyle change is reflected in your BP readings?
To recap then …
Aim for Less Stress
This is another lifestyle change which if attended to will bring dividends. Many of us are so busy every day dealing with all the demands of modern day life that we actually don’t realize how much stress we are actually under – and how ongoing it may be.
The stress response (Fight or Flight) stood us in good stead in former times but the type of stress our ancestors faced was usually over relatively quickly so that things soon returned to normal:
… But not so much nowadays.!!!
The problem is that there are simply so many stressors, which are so much more complex due to the pace at which we lead our lives. They may be work-related, financial, relationships, family issues to name a few. And as a result we can find ourselves in a situation of constantly being on our guard and not able to take the all important time to relax. Even that feeling of being in control of less and less things in our lives can take its toll on our health.
There is no doubt that the physiological response to stress – the release of stress hormones to prepare the body for fight or flight – leads to a quickening of the heart rate and increase in blood pressure. The question being examined more closely today by researchers is whether frequent episodes of high stress spikes can over time lead to the development of hypertension.
It has been established that the hormones released because of stress can damage blood vessels and vital organs, such as the kidneys and the heart, so even if a direct correlation between stress and hypertension may not exist, being able to deal with stress effectively still has an important role to play in helping to manage blood pressure.
Recognize Stress to Manage Stress
Once you are able to acknowledge that stress has taken a hold on your life and you have been able to identify exactly what those stressors are, you will be able to do something positive to change the situation. As mentioned above most people are simply too wrapped up in the everyday chaos of their lives to even realize how much stress is affecting them.
Reducing stress can be achieved by using some of the following strategies.
- Identifying what your stress triggers are and what may upset you, avoiding them if it’s possible – e.g. not driving in rush hour, or not shopping on weekends.
- Managing your time and recognizing your limits. Not being afraid to say “No” at times, and simplifying the number of things on your daily list.
- Building in time for just you! This can include some form of relaxation each day, or just pamper time spent on yourself and your needs – visit to the spa, walk in nature, meditation – whatever leisure activity works for you!
- Be accepting that there are many things in life you cannot control. But you can control how you choose to respond to them emotionally and psychologically.
- Deal with issues so they don’t fester or become suppressed. Try to work things out and problem solve with others, both at home and at work and negotiate solutions.
- Maintain supportive relationships with people you can trust and with whom you can share a problem. In some cases support groups are perfect for this since others are dealing with similar stresses/problems and can thus be supportive without being judgemental.
So when it comes to managing stress, remember you are at the control column!!
Both managing alcohol intake and coping effectively with stress can play an important role in overall blood pressure management.
It is worth noting that responses to ongoing and unmitigated stress can actually lead some people down a pathway to making even more unhealthy decisions. It may cause them to overeat, not get enough sleep, actually drink more alcohol, or even smoke more cigarettes, all of which are factors in themselves which may lead to increased blood pressure.
However if you make the commitment to alter your lifestyle to embrace the approaches suggested in both this post and the previous one, there is a very good chance that you will not only be helping your blood pressure levels, but your overall health and sense of well-being also.
It all comes down to choice-making!!
If you would like to contribute to today’s discussion please feel free to comment in the section below.