Home Remedies lower blood pressure!
Got high blood pressure and wondering what you can do to help bring those worrying systolic and diastolic numbers down?
For many people who are either already dealing with high blood pressure itself, or whose BP levels are working upwards into the pre-hypertension category (this used to be classified as 120 – 139 mmHg for systolic, and 80 – 89mmHg for diastolic**) – there are options other than having to go straight to pharmaceutical intervention.
**(The new Hypertension guidelines released in November 2017 by the American Heart Association (AHA) actually lowered the classification of BP levels making it “Elevated” if the Systolic Reading fell in the range of 120 – 129 mmHg, even if your diastolic was < 80mmHg!!).
In other words if your BP reading was 130/80mmHg – or above – this used to be considered prehypertension, but since the reclassification of the Guidelines it has become Hypertension Stage 1!
No Need to Stress!
You may well feel a certain anxiety about this lowering of the BP Guidelines, but really you don’t have to….
There are things you can do for yourself which will help manage your blood pressure – and Doctors are being encouraged by the AHA to direct people, whose BP overnight became an issue because of the changing guidelines, to look at lifestyle changes first and foremost before needing to go on prescription blood pressure medications.
From the information I have collected and reviewed since I started this website, together with anecdotal evidence of many others, I am convinced that it is worth investing time and energy into finding natural alternatives to deal with blood pressure issues. Indeed, there are many alternatives out there…
Keeping it Simple
When someone says: “You need to make lifestyle changes!” this can be quite a daunting prospect, especially when it comes to health-related concerns.
Usually the response accompanied by a sense of exasperation is: “But where the heck do I start?”
Making changes like this is challenging, but in my experience it’s manageable if undertaken in small steps. Wholesale change will often only result in frustration and likely failure followed by a reverting to old but familiar habits and practices.
So the key is to keep it simple and take it gradually.
Where to start?
There are two areas of lifestyle change which I believe can make a significant difference to your BP readings right off the bat. And I never get tired of recommending these two approaches for taking control of your blood pressure issues.
- DIETARY MODIFICATION
- BECOMING MORE ACTIVE
Out of the two options I believe that Diet is probably most important. However, looking at the amount of activity and movement in one’s daily routine may be an easier place to start.
NUMBER 1 – Stepping on out!!
Our bodies were designed to be on the move and active, yet the development of technology over the last half century has led to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, both in the workplace and at home. It’s simply too easy to sit down and stay seated which is not at all good for you!! Check out my post about sitting and its effect on blood pressure by clicking HERE
Exercise is vital for good health in so many ways, and in particular it helps lower blood pressure because when you engage in some sort of demanding physical activity your body steps up production of Nitric Oxide which is a natural blood vessel dilator. The importance of this is that this then enables blood to be circulated more easily whilst exerting less pressure on the arterial walls. It also conditions the cardiovascular system thereby making the heart perform more efficiently, which is turn helps to lower blood pressure.
For those of you who are not fans of high intensity Gym-style workouts, no problem!! Research has shown that everyday activities such as a brisk 30 minute walk 3-5 times a week can have just as much benefit. If you have a pet dog all the better. Then you can both benefit from the activity!!
Try using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Or park a distance from the doors of the shopping mall and walk a little further. All these small improvements can become accumulative over time.
The key is to work regular movement and activity into your daily routine so that it becomes the norm and thus isn’t something you have to find extra time to do in your already busy and demanding schedule!! Using some form of a fitness tracker, or smart phone Ap to track steps taken is a great idea as it helps you monitor how active you have been on a given day.
The recommended number of Steps per day is 10,000, although some recent research shows that reaching 15,000 steps per day is even better both for cardiovascular health and for blood pressure management. In the one study the subjects – a isolated group (the Tsimane) living in the Bolivian Amazon, who are hunter-gatherers and whose daily activity of 5 to 6 hours a day on their feet equated to 15,000 – 17,000 steps per day – had very healthy hearts!
The study coauthor, Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, found that
“In terms of the Tsimane’s coronary calcium scores, which are a very sensitive measure of artery disease,
their hearts were on average 28 years younger than [Americans’],”
There is a lesson in that for all of us.
As far as daily distance goes, I would opt for a happy medium of 12,000- 14,000 steps myself!!
NOTE: If you haven’t been too active for a while, it is always best to get a check-up and clearance from your Doctor before you begin a new exercise regimen!
NUMBER 2 – Diet, Diet, Diet or “You are what You eat!”
This is the topic, when it comes to helping to manage blood pressure issues, which I like to focus on the most – simply because it is so influential to the health of the organism we call our body, and because if we are discerning about the food and liquid we are putting into our bodies, we can get the results we desire.
To put it another way; you would not want to infect your computer with a virus-ridden piece of software which may cause it to malfunction, or stop working altogether. Similarly you do not want to stoke your body with unhealthy foods which have basically zero nutritional value and which, like the computer virus, can wreak havoc on the internal workings of the host.
And yet this is exactly what so many people are doing nowadays!!!
The typical Western Diet with its availability of cheap and convenient fast foods, processed foods loaded with salt, sugar, simple carbs, chemicals and additives and all washed down with excessively sugary sodas has led to an epidemic of adverse health side effects, the worst of which are manifested in increasing cases of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues and of course high blood pressure problems – and in many situations at a younger age in the population than ever before.
The human body requires quality fuel to keep the engine ticking over smoothly and to allow for best performance!
There are several Diets which have research has shown can counteract this trend of unhealthy nutrition. The most well known is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, more popularly known as the DASH DIET
In one of my previous posts I examined the DASH DIET menu eating plan closely to see what exactly it was about this particular diet which made it the recommended diet plan for people wanting to lower their blood pressure naturally…
And one other beneficial advantage of the DASH Diet is that it will also help with weight loss! Weight loss is one of the first things that many Doctors recommend to their patients who present with hypertension and are also overweight.
Research has found that overweight people are more likely to develop blood pressure issues than those people who are able to maintain a normal weight.
Another Diet which has many devotees when it comes to eating healthily, and which has also been shown to lower blood pressure as a result is the MEDITERANEAN DIET
And why does the Mediterranean Diet for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system work?
The basis for the Mediterranean Diet itself – which is in many ways very similar to the DASH DIET – is the reliance on plant foods.
It includes veggies, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains and uses olive oil. Fish is on the menu several times a week and there is a moderate consumption of eggs and dairy products like cheese and yogurt (or kefir) a few times a week as well. Poultry is consumed but in small amounts, but red meat and sweets hardly at all. And the beverage of choice is usually red wine!
Just like the DASH DIET the benefits are derived from the balanced dietary nutrition offered by this eating plan which depends upon foods which are heavily anti-inflammatory in nature and provide the necessary nutritional value the body needs for optimal functioning in their most natural and healthiest forms.
Breaking it down a little further:
- Vitamin and mineral needs are satisfied by a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables which are eaten in large amounts.
- Proteins and fats – most of the protein comes from fish, seafood, legumes and nuts, rather than meat. These are considered to be much better sources of proteins because the fats in them are healthier. And the coup de grace comes from the generous use of Olive oil in cooking and salad dressings in lieu of butter, or other less healthy vegetable oils. Olive Oil contains phenols (antioxidants) which have been shown to be highly effective in combatting inflammation and free radical damage. In addition it contains monounsaturated fat in the from of Oleic Acid which is extremely heart healthy.
- Carbohydrates – the main carbohydrate sources come from legumes, vegetables, beans and whole grains – which are high in fibre and low in sugar.
My take on this is that if you are looking at changing your diet to help with both weight loss and to keep your BP in check, this is most definitely a good diet to consider:
And to add some further proof of the suitability of the Mediterranean Diet, the Harvard School of Public Health noted that:
”Together with regular physical activity and not smoking, our analyses suggests that over 80 percent of coronary heart disease, 70 percent of stroke, and 90 percent of type 2 diabetes can be avoided by healthy food choices that are consistent with the traditional Mediterranean diet.”
Now that’s a pretty strong recommendation!!
In Part 2 of this post I will look at some other home based approaches which can be applied to help manage blood pressure naturally and maintain good health.
But for me the two areas which I have featured today – Exercise and Diet – really are central to the lifestyle change which will be necessary if you want to have success lowering your blood pressure naturally.
So, in the meantime stay active… and I wish you good and healthy eating!