Written by Health Writer Gerda Venter
Medically reviewed by Dr. Daniela Steyn
Your tissues and organs need oxygenated blood circulating through your body to survive and function properly. Your heart is the organ that circulates blood through your body. When your heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of tube-shaped blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. High blood pressure (HBP or Hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high.
High blood pressure causes harm by increasing the workload of the heart and blood vessels. Over time, the force and friction of high blood pressure damage the delicate tissues inside your arteries. Taking measures to control high blood pressure and prevent life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia, kidney disease, kidney failure or stroke is vital.
If you're one of the millions of people with elevated blood pressure, you may be looking for ways to lower high blood pressure naturally. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to lower blood pressure that are safe and effective. Some of the most effective methods are to:
1. Eat for Optimal Health
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing even a little weight if you're overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure.
One of the most straightforward strategies to lose weight and lower your blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet. Eating nutritious foods helps keep your blood pressure in check. The DASH diet has proven to be very efficient in lowering blood pressure.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It's a specific type of diet that has been shown to help lower blood pressure in people who have Hypertension. The basic idea behind the DASH diet is to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting your intake of salt and unhealthy fats. Optimal food choices include:
Celery, garlic, onions, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. These are full of calcium and magnesium, ideal for lowering blood pressure
Legumes and whole grains
Vitamin C rich foods such as broccoli and citrus
Foods rich in flavonoids like berries, cherries, grapes, red kidney beans
This combination of foods helps control blood pressure by providing your body with crucial nutrients and minerals essential for good health. It's not easy to change your diet, so be kind to yourself while making small changes every day.
Reducing your salt intake (or sodium intake) has proven to be highly successful in obtaining normal blood pressure levels. To decrease the sodium content in your diet, consider these tips:
Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives to the foods and beverages you usually buy.
Eat fewer processed foods. Only a tiny amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
Don't add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of dietary sodium. Use herbs or spices instead to add flavour to your food.
If you don't feel you can drastically reduce salt intake in your diet, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
Supplementing with CoQ10, fish oil, flaxseed oil, Hawthorn, olive leaf, and hibiscus botanicals can also help to lower high blood pressure.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, following a DASH diet is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. In addition to lowering blood pressure, a DASH diet can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and it's one of the best ways to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of possible health conditions associated with HBP.
Physical activity can help lower blood pressure because it strengthens your heart muscle and makes it work more efficiently. When your heart is stronger, it doesn't have to beat as hard to circulate blood throughout the body. This lowers the force exerted on your arteries, thereby decreasing blood pressure.
Exercise is also beneficial for weight loss. To experience the health benefits of regular exercise, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. Brisk walking, biking, swimming, and dancing are good examples of moderate-intensity exercises. You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity. Strength training can also help reduce blood pressure. Aim to include strength training exercises at least two days a week.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time. It's essential to be consistent because your blood pressure can rise again if you stop exercising.
3. Adjust your Lifestyle
Making lifestyle changes is a vital part of lowering blood pressure levels. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine in moderation is essential for optimal heart health and reduced blood pressure levels. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and make it harder for your heart to pump blood. Aim for moderate alcohol consumption as drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is well-known that stress can lead to high blood pressure. When you feel stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause the heart to beat faster and the arteries to constrict, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. There are several ways to manage your stress levels and prevent it from leading to high blood pressure. Some methods include relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and counselling.
Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what's causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress. If you can't eliminate all your stressors, try to at least cope with them in a healthier way by living mindfully. Living a mindful life includes:
Changing your expectations. For example, plan your day and focus on your priorities. Avoid trying to do too much and learn to say no. Understand there are some things you can't change or control, but you can focus on how you react.
Focus on issues you can control and make plans to solve them. If you have problems at work, try finding a new job or try talking to your manager. If you have a conflict with your kids or spouse, take steps to resolve it.
Avoid stress triggers. If rush-hour traffic on the way to work, for example causes stress and high blood pressure, try leaving earlier in the morning, or take public transportation. Avoid people who cause you stress if possible.
Make time to relax. Take time each day to meditate. Meditation helps you to become aware of your thoughts. Stop and think your thoughts through during the day. Use different strategies like a mantra, bible verse, prayer, image, or focused breathing techniques to help your mind focus and be calm.
Make time to enjoy the activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as taking a walk, cooking, or volunteering.
Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude to others can help reduce stress. By showing appreciation to others, you will notice that your life will become more positive.
Making changes can be difficult, but it is worth it to protect your health and lower your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about which methods are best for you and how you can make these changes in your life. Together, you can lower your blood pressure naturally and improve your health.
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