Maintaining a healthy blood pressure becomes more and more difficult as we age, as we miss our dieting goals, and as stress rises. There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, most of which can be remedied by taking very simple steps.
According to authoritynutrition.com, high blood pressure affects a staggering 1 in 3 people in the United States! That is nearly 34%! High blood pressure can eventually damage other things in your body, especially if you do not take the steps necessary to correct the issues.
If you have high blood pressure and do not choose to do anything about it – whether that be taking your health into your own hands, have doctor intervention, or take medication – high blood pressure can ruin your life by affecting other body systems. The biggest risk that comes with high blood pressure is the higher chance of heart disease and/or stroke.
Luckily, there are natural ways that you can help reduce your risk for high blood pressure, and can take some of the pressure off of your body.
Here are 15 ways that you can work on blood pressure yourself (without the use of medication) and take your health into your own hands. These are all natural ways to help your body regulate your blood pressure:
1. Walk and/or Exercise Regularly
Of course, we all know that we need to exercise regularly and stay as active as possible. With a hectic schedule and a busy life, it is tough to fit in working out sometimes. Regular exercise is important for not only weight control, but it will also help you make your heart stronger.This will lower the pressure on your veins and arteries, and can help your heart oxygenate your body more efficiently. This is a great move for your health all around, but can help lower and regulate your blood pressure also.It can take as little as 150 minutes (a little over 2 hours) per week to see a difference in blood pressure and overall health. This amounts to only 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week to make a huge difference.
2. Reduce Your Salt Intake
Because of the amount of processed and preserved foods available today, salt is becoming a huge problem. Salt can raise your blood pressure and has been linked to stroke in some cases.Reducing your intake of salt can drastically reduce your risk for high blood pressure and other heart-related issues.Because everyone processes salt differently in our bodies, it is hard to say exactly how much salt will contribute to your diet specifically, but it is safe to say that anyone who reduces salt as much as possible in their diet will reap the benefits in their overall health.
3. Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol is linked to about 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world (according to authoritynutrition.com). reducing your intake of alcohol can help relieve the pressure on other organs also, such as your brain, liver, kidneys, and stomach.Moderate alcohol consumption is considered one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, although the less alcohol you consume the better.
4. Eat Potassium Rich Foods
Potassium is a very important mineral that your body needs in order to function. It helps process sodium out of the body and even helps reduce the pressure on your blood vessels.Many foods in today’s diet have reduced or eliminated potassium, but contain more salt than ever.Both of these factors will up the risk for salt related health problems, so it is sometimes necessary to add a potassium supplement or eat more potassium containing foods. Fresh fruits and veggies (especially bananas and tomatoes) are high in potassium and can help your body get other vitamins and minerals that it needs. Eating fresh fruits and veggies will also help solve the problem of eating over-salted, processed foods, and can help you improve your overall health.
5. Cut Back on Caffeine
Caffeine is known to boost your blood pressure directly after consumption. Drinking caffeine excessively and over long periods of time will help keep your blood pressure high, and can help cause some of the problems that come with higher blood pressure.It is better to drink decaf tea and coffee if you are able to, or reduce your intake to a minimum. Those who are caffeine sensitive may be particularly at risk to the affects on blood pressure, and could potentially benefit the most from reducing it in their diet.
6. Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is a known common cause of high blood pressure and other problems. If you are stressed all the time, your body is battling itself constantly, which means a smaller blood vessels and a higher heart rate.This can cause many problems, one of them being high blood pressure.If you are constantly under stress, it is important for you to figure out a way to manage it and keep it down. Sometimes something as simple as a release can help, but doctors can also recommend some distressing activities that may help.Managing your stress level is critical to maintaining a healthy and strong body, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
7. Eat Dark Chocolate or Cocoa
Small portions of dark chocolate have been shown to help the heart. The reason is, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are elements found in plants that have been shown to help blood vessels dilate.This means they are bigger and can pump more blood through. Studies have shown that cocoa helped heart health over a short period of time after consumption.As long as you eat dark chocolate or cocoa that has little added sugar, these affects may make a difference for you and your blood pressure.
8. Lose Weight
If you are overweight, it is likely that you have higher blood pressure than you would if you were at a healthy weight. Losing the extra weight and being considered at a healthy weight and BMI for your body type and height can make a significant difference in not only your heart health, but your health overall.When your heart has to work harder to pump your blood around a larger body, it can cause high blood pressure and other heart problems. Bringing your body to a healthy weight can virtually eliminate the weight related parts of these problems.Studies have shown that the affect of weight loss is even higher if it is because of exercise and you continue with the healthy habits and activity level (even when the weight is lost).
9. Quit Smoking
Smoking is linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The act of smoking a cigarette raises blood pressure with every puff, but maintaining the habit has been shown to raise blood pressure and leave it high.The chemicals in tobacco cigarettes damage lung tissue, circulation, and blood vessels. In addition to improving your overall health by quitting, you should see a significant different in your blood pressure when you quit smoking.
10. Cut Added Sugar and Refined Carbs
As we discussed above, today’s diet very often contains a lot of processed and preserved foods. In addition to salt being added to many, sugar is as well.Sugar is added to many foods as a flavor enhancer, and it finds its way into a great deal of food choices on the shelf.Unfortunately it also contributes to many health problems.Sugar can raise blood pressure on its own, but it is often added to refined carbs. High-carb diets are also linked to high blood pressure. By eating fresh fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods, you can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure from sugar and refined carbs.
11. Eat Berries
Berries have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The reason for this is most berries contain polyphenols, which have been shown to reduce the risk of many heart related problems (one of them being high blood pressure).Eating foods rich in polyphenols can drastically lower your blood pressure if it is a problem, and can help you prevent high blood pressure if it is not.
12. Try Meditation or Deep Breathing
This step ties into stress relief. Sometimes meditation and deep breathing can help you slow your heart rate, de-stress, and reduce your blood pressure.
13. Eat Calcium Rich Foods
Studies have shown that people who have a lack of calcium in their diet tend to have higher blood pressure. Calcium has not been proven to lower blood pressure on its own, but studies have shown that a diet that has enough calcium tends to lead to lower blood pressure.If you are not able to drink milk or consume dairy, you may take a calcium supplement or get your calcium from leafy greens, beans, and even tofu.
14. Take Natural Supplements
Some natural supplements have ben shown to help regulate blood pressure, and sometimes can help you get back on track. Some of these include garlic extract, berberine, whey protein, fish oil, and hibiscus.
15. Eat Foods Rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is a critical mineral that helps dilate and relax your blood vessels. Most foods contain magnesium, but many people still do not get enough to make a difference.Magnesium is found in foods such as veggies, chicken, meats, whole grains, and some dairy. You can also find it in multivitamins as well if you are not getting enough from diet alone.
Because so much of your overall health depends on having a healthy blood pressure, it is crucial to try to maintain your blood pressure naturally. If these steps are followed, it is sure to show you a difference in not only your blood pressure, but in your overall health as well.