Normal blood pressure range is 120-129/below 80 (Indian Hypertension Guidelines, 2013). A big challenge in tackling hypertension is the fact that the symptoms are almost always dormant. Due to this, hypertension is often allowed to persist without any treatment. Overtime this leads to other serious conditions such as heart diseases and stroke.
It is recommended to check your blood pressure routinely. This will help you detect hypertension early and take the appropriate measures to lower blood pressure.
In today’s newsletter we will review some of the proven methods to reduce high blood pressure if you happen to have it.
#1 Healthy Diet
We cannot stress this enough. A healthy diet goes a long way in not just lowering blood pressure, but also preventing other conditions.
Here are some pointers:
- Vegetables: Include vegetables in your diet. Spinach and cruciferous vegetables are extremely beneficial and palatable.
- Lean proteins: Include lean sources of protein in your diet.
- Reduce saturated and trans fat: One way to do this is to avoid fast food altogether.
- Lower sodium: Food low in sodium. Again this can be achieved by avoiding processed food and fast food. Freshly cooked meals are both healthy and delicious.
- Food low in sugar: There are several alternatives to white sugar that you can add to your food. Control your intake of desserts and sweetened aerated drinks.
- Increase potassium intake: Include potassium rich food like avocados, white beans, greens, and salmon in your diet.
#2 Regular Exercise
This can be difficult to fit in when you have a tight schedule. You don’t have to start with heavy workouts in the gym. Start by taking a brisk 30 min walk whenever you get some time.
Once this becomes a habit Increase this to 60 min a day. If you need some motivation, take a friend or a family member along to walk with you. If you have children, take them with you. Exposing them to physical exercises from an early age will help them grow into healthy and active adults.
Do this for a couple of weeks and you will certainly feel different. Health benefits of being physically active are so high that it extends from just preventing lifestyle conditions to strengthening immunity and heart health.
#3 Lose Weight
There is no way we can sugar-coat this for you. Stop giving yourself excuses and start taking active steps towards reducing weight. Getting that 30 minutes-a-day walk can be the first step.
Studies have shown that when overweight people reduce their weight they can knock off 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) from their blood pressure reading.
Here are some pointers:
- Set realistic goals: The best way to start losing weight is to set a realistic goal: trying to reduce your blood pressure to stay healthy.
- Do not expect instant results: You do not need to show dramatic results. Track your diet intake and physical activity everyday.
- Monitor progress regularly: Check your progress every week. If you have an encouraging friend or family member, keep them posted about your progress. Their encouragement can be a good source of gratification that will help you move forward.
- Listen to good advice: Stay away from people who tell you that it is okay to be overweight! Their words may sound sweet, but that is not going to help lower your blood pressure. True well-wishers will want you to stay healthy even if what they say may sound harsh to you.
#4 Avoid Unwanted Stress
Everyone gets stressed one way or the other from deadlines, workload, bills, or family issues.
However making a habit out of being stressed is unhealthy. Take a step back, and identify situations that trigger your stress. If you can avoid them, do so by all means. If your stress is unmanageable, then you probably have a health condition that you need to see a therapist about.
Get sufficient sleep- at least 6-8 hours a day. Studies have shown that good sleep improves memory and problem-solving skills in both children and adults.
Learn good breathing techniques. Research shows that taking six deep breaths in thirty seconds reduces systolic blood pressure by about 3-4 units
Do not hesitate about seeing a therapist, or actively seeking help to tackle your stress issues. Remember that your goal is to keep your blood pressure within normal levels and stay healthy.
#5 Vitamin C And Vitamin D
Technically, this needs to be fulfilled by your diet. However, several studies have demonstrated a significant link between vitamin D and C and hypertension.
About 500 mg of vitamin C per day can produce visible reductions in blood pressure levels. Vitamin C is also a diuretic. This means that it can increase urine output, remove excess fluid from the body, and reduce pressure in the blood vessels.
A 2013 review study showed that deficiency in vitamin D increases the risk for hypertension. If you live in an area that gets low sunlight or if your work keeps you indoors all day, consider taking vitamin D supplements. Around 60,000 IU of vitamin D per week is considered optimum dosage.
Other tips include quitting tobacco smoke and reducing intake of alcohol.
In most cases following the steps above can significantly improve blood pressure levels even without any medication.
Try these out. You can even start by getting a basic health examination to know where you stand.