Unchecked high blood pressure increases the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. It can also lead to a poor quality of life with fatigue, breathing difficulties, nose bleeds, and irregular heartbeats. However, you can naturally lower your blood pressure through diet and exercise.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure indicates how easily blood flows through the arteries. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle encourage the arteries to gradually become lined with layers of sticky cholesterol. Your heart then has to work harder to push the blood through the narrowed blood vessels. Blood pressure, or hypertension, often goes undetected until it reaches a critical point. So, it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly to ensure it stays under control. Once it reaches an advanced stage, you may need to take medication indefinitely. But in its early phases, or to prevent it from ever occurring, you only need to make a few modifications to your diet and lifestyle to effectively lower your blood pressure.
Smoking causes the arteries to fill with tar and cholesterol. It also releases a variety of toxins into your bloodstream, hindering the flow of oxygen and placing a greater strain on your heart.
Reduce Salt and Fat
Salt increases blood pressure by unnecessarily storing water, as confirmed by many studies. Reduce salt intake by avoiding highly processed foods such as cold meats, sausages, and bacon. High levels of fat also increase cholesterol. Change to reduced salt versions or gradually replace them with alternative low-fat protein, such as lean chicken, fish, or eggs.
Alcohol encourages the production of adrenaline, which increases your systolic blood pressure as your heart beats faster. A 2018 study found that consumption of alcohol beverages increases the odds of elevated blood pressure, especially among excessive drinkers. There’s also a high sugar content in alcohol that increases the risk of obesity.
Water is essential to keep your body hydrated and working efficiently. It also helps to flush out toxins and excess salt from your bloodstream. Aim to drink up to 1.5 liters of water throughout the day.
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate, leading directly to increased blood pressure. It’s present in coffee, tea, and many soft drinks, including high-energy beverages. Limit tea and coffee intake to three cups a day or change to decaffeinated varieties. Replace soft drinks with cranberry or beetroot juice that both help to lower blood pressure.
Helpful Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium, potassium, and magnesium can help to reduce blood pressure. Skimmed milk is high in calcium, but low in fat. Vegetables such as leafy greens and beetroot contain healthy vitamins and nitrates, which can help lower blood pressure. Bananas are particularly rich in potassium, while strawberries and blueberries contain useful flavonoids and magnesium. Peanut butter contains potassium, magnesium, protein, and fiber.
Grains, including wholemeal bread and sunflower seeds, provide fiber. Oats contain beta-glucan, which is particularly effective at removing cholesterol from the arteries.
Instead of salt, use herbs and spices. When cooked, garlic acquires a mellow flavor and retains enzymes that protect the heart. Parsley purifies the blood of toxins, while cinnamon may reduce blood pressure.
Daily exercise helps the circulation work efficiently. Aerobic exercises that prompt feeling out of breath are the most effective. Try brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. Exercising for just 150 minutes a week can help to keep weight at an acceptable level.
Relaxation relieves the strain on your heart, while essential oils, including lavender, may reduce harmful stress. Elevate the legs whenever possible to improve their circulation.
By introducing small changes, it’s possible to lower your blood pressure naturally. However, always seek medical advice, take any prescribed medication, and have regular blood pressure checks to control harmful levels of blood pressure.