15 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

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15 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
15 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photos – Pixabay / Pexels (PD)

Are you hypertensive? According to the AHA, an estimated 100 million adults in the United States were affected by hypertension in 2018. That’s half of the adults in the United States living with hypertension. Because of aging, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and various co-morbidities, this number is expected to get even higher in 2019. Updated guidelines on how to diagnose hypertension were released in November 2017, bringing the threshold lower to either a systolic pressure of 130 and/or a diastolic pressure of 80 (previously, the lower limit of a hypertension diagnosis was 140/90). That means a blood pressure of 120/80 already makes a person pre-hypertensive and should be adjusting his or her lifestyle to get the blood pressure within normal limits. [1]

Pediatric Hypertension

These days, kids are growing up with a diet of junk food and severely sedentary lifestyles. Your child might be hypertensive, a diagnosis typically made for adults, and you wouldn’t know it. Statistics say that 3.5 percent of children and teenagers have hypertension (a rise from previous data reports of 1 to 2 percent). Congenital problems with the kidneys or the heart can cause hypertension but otherwise, the hypertension is completely lifestyle-related. The diagnostic guidelines for adults also apply to children. [2]

How do you lower your blood pressure the natural way? Barring severe hypertension which will require you to take anti-hypertensive medication, there are different healthy lifestyle choices you can make in order to lower your blood pressure naturally:

1. Regular Exercise: Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the most effective ways to keep your blood pressure at bay. Healthy adults should typically have 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week; that’s 30 minutes for five out of seven days a week. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking and dancing while vigorous intensity exercise includes running, cycling, and aerobics. If you opt for vigorous exercise, you can decrease the number of minutes of activity you do each week to 75 minutes. A mixture of these two types of activities will work as well. [3]

2. Cut Back On Salt: Aside from exercise, a healthy diet can also help you lower your blood pressure. A diet high in sodium causes fluid retention, which in turn causes your blood pressure to rise. An estimated 86 percent of hypertensive adults have a high sodium diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans means reducing your sodium intake to less than the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day (the American Heart Association actually recommends an ideal amount of 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day). Instead of using salt to flavor your meals, opt for herbs and spices instead when you cook. [4]

3. The DASH Diet: A better diet than one that has low sodium is the DASH diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet significantly lowers sodium, but also increases your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products – food that is high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Like previously mentioned, the standard DASH diet recommends 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day while a lower sodium DASH diet recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Being on this kind of diet can lower your systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points. The DASH diet is composed of 6 to 8 servings of grains, 4 to 5 servings of vegetables, 4 to 5 servings of fruits, 2 to 3 servings of dairy, 6 or less servings of lean meat, poultry, and/or fish, 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes, and 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils per day. Sweets, if you really can’t avoid them, should be 5 servings or less per week. [5]

4. Probiotics: Probiotics are as healthy as the advertisements say. In a study published in 2014 found that involving probiotics in the diet can help lower blood pressure. Over nine trials and more than 500 participants were involved in the study and the results concluded that probiotics lowered their systolic blood pressure by 3 to 4 points and diastolic blood pressure by 2 to 3 points. The study recommends that probiotic intake should be done over 8 weeks or more to show significant changes in blood pressure. [6]

5. Avoid Eating Out: Fast food is not only high in sodium but fat as well. Even non-fast food restaurants can have high sodium in their dishes. Remember, high sodium food doesn’t always taste salty. In 2016, the CDC reported that restaurants used a lot of salt, which in turn largely affected the sodium intake of the American population. The best option is to cook your own meals; do meal-prep if you can so you can bring home-cooked meals to work or school. [4]

6. Monitor Your Blood Pressure At Home: If you’re blood pressure is on the fence, say 120/80 to 130/90, you can start monitoring yourself at home. Digital blood pressure monitors or sphygmomanometers are widely available, either online or in stores, and can either run on batteries or electricity. If you are already a diagnosed hypertensive, it is a must that you monitor yourself at home. Ideally, blood pressure is monitored in the morning and in the evening, before eating, drinking, or partaking in moderate to vigorous activity. This kind of monitoring is ideal so you can gauge yourself and the adjustments you need to make to your lifestyle.

7. Stop Smoking: Nicotine plays a big role in blood pressure elevation, especially among chronic smokers. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors in cardiovascular disease because it affects the blood vessels in the body, causing arterial stiffness, inflammation, and lipid modification, which in turn can raise blood pressure (and even cause a heart attack). You should also take into consideration that the mere act of smoking, even just one stick, causes the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight response and causes a sudden increase in blood pressure; prolonged smoking, in conclusion, can increase your risk for, if not directly cause, hypertension. [7]

8. Cut Calories: Aside from exercise, an additional way you can use to help you lose weight and decrease your risk for hypertension is to reduce the amount of calories you include in your diet. While the DASH diet is specifically targeted towards people who are already diagnosed hypertensives, simple dieting or cutting carbs and calories may be an effective way to fend of hypertension among healthy adults. Avoid white carbs like rice, pasta, and white bread and opt for their whole-grain counterparts instead to help you lose weight.

9. De-Stress: Stress is one the contributory risk factors for hypertension. In fact, the Mayo Clinic cites stressful situations as a direct cause of acute hypertensive emergencies. However, studies that link long-term stress to hypertension are still unclear. In 2010, a study published by Spruill focused on stress and its link to hypertension. The study found that various psychosocial factors such as occupational stress and racial discrimination, especially among high risk groups. To combat this, the study encourages stress reductions activities like muscle relaxation and meditation in order to help combat the effects of stress on blood pressure. Remember to take a break when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. [8]

10. Include Strength Training: While regular aerobic exercise is an excellent way to lose weight and keep your blood pressure within the normal range, adding regular strength training can help diversify your exercise regimen and improve these benefits. While lifting weights could make your blood pressure increase acutely, long-term benefits outweigh the risks if the exercise is done properly. Stronger muscles and longer stamina from strength training reduces stress and demands on the heart, which can help reduce blood pressure. [9]

11. Cut Back On Drinking: Lowering your blood pressure includes a lot of cutting back — and that includes drinking alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption, which means one drink a day for women and two drinks for men, could have potential benefits on blood pressure. However, any more than this can be quite detrimental to your health. Different studies have focused on alcohol-induced hypertension but the mechanism on how it causes high blood pressure is still something to be studied further. A study done on women in 2018 found that women who had more drinks per day had higher baseline blood pressure than those who didn’t. [10] [11]

12. Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee: Actually, avoid caffeinated drinks in general. Coffee, however delicious it may be, contains caffeine, a substance that works very similar to nicotine. While your cup of joe may give you your need energy boost, it may also be boosting your blood pressure and contributing to hypertension. Moderate coffee intake may not have immediate effects on your blood pressure, but prolonged drinking of caffeinated beverages (including tea and chocolate) may be a deciding factor in whether or not you become diagnosed with hypertension in the future. [12]

13. Get Your Daily Dose Of Sunlight: Did you know that vitamin D deficiency, the vitamin that you get from sunlight, is linked to hypertension? A 2017 study focused on the associations between blood pressure, sunlight, and vitamin D and concluded that there was an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels in the body and blood pressure. While this association still needs to be researched further, it wouldn’t hurt to get your daily dose of vitamin D each day by taking a walk in the sunlight. [13]

14. Good Quality Sleep: Good quality sleep doesn’t mean sleeping for longer hours, but rather sleeping that is uninterrupted for a set period of time, not necessarily eight hours. When you’ve had good quality sleep, you will feel well-rested instead of tired, despite the number of hours you’ve managed to get some shut eye. Aside from good energy levels and better productivity at work or school, good sleep can also help reduce your risk for hypertension. A 2016 study reported that short sleep duration among insomniacs in particular was associated with an increase risk of comorbid hypertension. [14]

15. Build A Good Support System: As with any healthy lifestyle, having a good support system is the best way to make sure you maintain good health habits. Exercising, dieting, and laying off bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating fast food is easier (and more fun!) when you have your friends and family supporting (or doing those things with) you! Fighting hypertension is better in numbers; you help yourself and you help your loved ones as well.

References:

[1] American Heart Association (2018). More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, AHA says. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/01/more-than-100-million-americans-have-high-blood-pressure-aha-says

[2] Scutti, S. (2017). Many more children will suddenly be diagnosed with high blood pressure. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/21/health/new-pediatric-hypertension-guidelines/index.html

[3] American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

[4] Salt. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm

[5] DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

[6] Khalesi, S., et. al. (2014). Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469

[7] Virdis, A., et. al. (2010). Cigarette smoking and hypertension. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20550499

[8] Spruill, T. (2013). Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Hypertension. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694268/

[9] World Health Organization. What is Moderate-intensity and Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity? https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/physical_activity_intensity/en/

[10] Husain, K., Ansari, R. & Ferder, L. (2014). Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038773/

[11] Fisher, N., Orav, E. & Chang, G. (2018). Effects of alcohol consumption on blood pressure in hypertensive women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28806102

[12] Chei, C., et. al. (2018). Coffee, tea, caffeine, and risk of hypertension: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28251341

[13] Rostand, S., et. al. (2017). Associations of Blood Pressure, Sunlight, and Vitamin D in Community-Dwelling Adults: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (Regards) Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5341698/

[14] Bathgate, C., et. al. (2016). Objective but Not Subjective Short Sleep Duration Associated with Increased Risk for Hypertension in Individuals with Insomnia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4835301/

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