Blood pressure. That dreaded squeazy cuff that makes your arm go numb and brings either good news or bad. Thanks to genetics and diet I myself have been brought bad news about my blood pressure as soon as I hit 20 years old. But at such a young age does one really want to go on blood pressure medications? Usually the answer is no. Every medication a person takes is going to have some kind of side effect. The more medications you are on the more complications you are at risk for and the snowball effect starts piling up.
How then can we at least get our blood pressure down without taking some darned pills? Here are eight steps you can take to help naturally lower blood pressure. It wont be easy, but modifying these things can help other things in your life as well such as weight, heart disease, organ damage, and other risks associated with high blood pressure.
1. Weight loss. I know you were dreading to hear those words as much as I was but it is a proven fact! Losing just 10 lbs can make a different on your blood pressure. Getting below an obese BMI or even below an overweight BMI will DRAMATICALLY help your blood pressure! As we know losing weight is a lifestyle change. You have to change how you eat, what you eat, and what you do every day! For more information on weight loss, check out some of my articles here.
2. SALT SALT SALT. By simply changing what you eat, you can literally change your life. Salt has been known to raise blood pressure in most individuals that are salt suceptible. By lowering the amount of salt you consume, and increasing the amount of fresh veggies and fruit you eat, you can lower your blood pressure by at least 2 to 8 mm of Hg pretty much guaranteed. Check out my article on the top foods loaded with Salt and try to avoid them. Try adding bigger servings of vegetables and fruit to whatever you are eating and lowering your consumption of processed, packaged foods.
3. Eating Right. Tagging off #2, by eating more fruits and vegetables to your diet, consuming more whole grains, as well as low fat dairy products you can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm of Hg!!! That is incredible! The key thing is to make your veggie portions bigger and your saturated fat contents smaller. Add more broccoli to your dinner plate and less steak. You can still have the fun stuff, just eat a little less of it. As a personal goal to help myself, I try to eat 3 salads a week.For one of my favorite side salad recipes, click here!
4. Exercise! Just 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day or even a few days a week can make a huge difference in your blood pressure and overall health. That may seem like a lot, but walking the dog, walking on your lunch work breaks, parking far away and many other simple activities can help increase your daily exercise routine. My advice is make it something you enjoy. Walk your kids to the bus stop. Walk your dog who needs some exercise too, heck, even walk with your kids, and make a habit out of talking about the day before starting dinner or homework. Make it happen!
5. Alcohol. Interesting fact. Low amounts of alcohol such as one drink a day for all women, and men over the age of 65, or up to two drinks a day for men under 65 can lower the blood pressure by 2-4 mm of Hg according to the mayo clinic. When you start consuming more than that, like many of us do, you run into problems and you can increase your blood pressure as well as reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
6. Potassium. Potassium has an indirect relationship with sodium. On the cellular level, for every potassium that goes in, a sodium ion goes out of the cell. On a larger scale, such as our entire body, the more potassium rich foods you consume, the more it can help combat sodium and high blood pressure.
7. Cut back on smoking and caffeine. Both of these vices have been known to cause higher blood pressure. Smoking can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm of Hg for an hour after you smoke, according to the mayo clinic. A pack a day can be continuous high blood pressure. As for caffeine, some people are susceptible to caffeine with their blood pressure, the more you drink, the more the risk. Try to stick to 1-2 cups of coffee a day or 1 small energy drink if you must.
8. Stress. This one is the no brainer that we have all heard, but it is still just as important. If you are in a high stress job, or home environment, it can have a significant effect on your health. Try stress reducing techniques such as 10 minutes of yoga or exercise a day, or a few deep breathing techniques.
All in all, lowering your blood pressure is going to depend on you and how bad you want to change your health. Just trying a few of these simple steps can have a dramatic effect on your heath, and many of them go hand in hand such as eating right, exercising and losing weight. Give a few of these a try and you would be amazed at what you can do.
Keep up the good work,