How To Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally | How To Prevent High Blood Pressure Naturally
How to Naturally Reduce Blood Pressure
Reducing high blood pressure, or hypertension, is vital for living a full and healthy life. Having high blood pressure is dangerous. It causes your heart to work harder to pump blood out to the body, which can contribute to heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and other medical problems such as atherosclerosis or the hardening of arteries.Aside from taking medications prescribed by your doctor, there are many natural ways to reduce your blood pressure like doing exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and decreasing your sodium intake.
Reducing Blood Pressure in a Nutshell
Reduce the amount of sodium you eat.You want to aim for less than 2300mg a day, preferably staying below 1500mg.There are some easy steps you can take to reduce your sodium intake right now:
- Don't add salt to your meals. When possible, season your food yourself.
- Stay away from processed and packaged foods. Fast-food is also notoriously high in sodium.
- Purchase items with "No-Added Sodium." Many canned goods and vegetables have sodium added to help them stay fresh longer.
Run, bike, swim, or exercise for one hour a day, 3-5 times a week.Regular exercise is essential to help control your blood pressure. Your goal is to raise your heart-rate for the entire time, so look for an activity that makes you sweat and breathe a little heavier. Even a long walk once a day is a great way to fight high blood pressure.
- Find an exercise partner. You're both more likely to keep exercising regularly if you motivate each other.
- When possible, take the stairs. Use the push-mower on the lawn, try a standing or treadmill desk, and find ways to incorporate movement into your everyday routine.
Find times to relax each day.High anxiety leads to higher blood pressure. Stress has a profound effect on your physical health, so you need to find ways to "flick off the switch" when you're home from work and ready to relax.
- Make 15-30 minutes of "me time" each and every day. Close the door, turn off your phone, and sink into an activity all by yourself.
- Pick up a good book or listen to music before bed. Take the time to shut out distractions and stress before sleeping.
- Learn to say no to new responsibilities.
- Use your vacation days. You'll be happier and more productive in the long term.
Eat healthy, smaller portions for each meal.A good diet will have lots of lean meats, like chicken, turkey, and fish, a variety of complex carbs like oats, quinoa, and whole wheat, and large servings of fruits and vegetables. You can eliminate sodium with ease, bringing your body to a happier, healthier blood pressure.
- Wait 10-15 minutes before getting more food. Your body takes time to process the feeling of fullness, meaning you may keep eating even though you aren't really hungry.
- Aim for at least one fruit and or vegetable at each meal. Potassium and Magnesium, found in natural foods, may help combat high blood pressure.
- Focus on healthy snacks, like hummus, fruit, carrots, low-sodium crackers, and yogurt. Snacking is when most people break from their healthy diets.
Decreasing Sodium Intake
Aim to eat less than 1500mg of sodium per day.Some days, it may not be possible but you should definitely not have more than 2300 mg a day.
- Table salt is 40% sodium, so this equates to about ½ tsp of salt.
- Try to avoid foods with more than 200mg of sodium per serving
- Generally, processed foods with long shelf lives have higher sodium contents than fresh or plant-based foods.
Use spices to season food instead.If you get creative with the spices and flavourings you add into a dish, you can decrease your intake of condiments and salt that have high concentrations of sodium.Some examples of low sodium alternatives include:
- Herbs:basil, bay leaf, cilantro, dill weed, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, tarragon, and marjoram.
- Spices:cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, ginger, mace, and nutmeg.
- Seasonings:chives, garlic, lemon, dried or chopped onions, and vinegar.
Choose foods with "low sodium" labels.However, not all "low sodium" labels mean there is no sodium or low levels of it. For example, a food labeled as “reduced sodium” is not necessarily low in sodium but just has less sodium than it used to have. Here is a list of common sodium claims and their meanings:
- Sodium-free or salt-free:each serving contains 5 mg of sodium at most.
- Very-low sodium: each serving contains 6 to 35 mg sodium.
- Low sodium:each serving contains 36 to 140 mg sodium.
- Light or lite in sodium:each serving contains 50% of the regular version’s sodium quantity. Some of these products might still be high in sodium.
- Reduced or less sodium:each serving contains 75% of the regular version’s sodium quantity. Some of these products might still be high in sodium.
- Unsalted or no salt added:no salt has been added during the processing of a food that normally contains salt. Some of these products might still be high in sodium.
Substitute high sodium foods with lower-sodium options.You can often find lower-sodium options for certain foods that don't change the taste, texture, or the shelf life of a food. For example, canned and frozen peas can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Yet, canned peas have 3 times more sodium than frozen peas.
- Generally, processed foods have more sodium than their fresh version.
- Generally, foods with long shelf lives have more sodium than their shorter lived counterparts.
- Restaurants rarely know exactly how much sodium or salt is in a dish. Research how to make the dish yourself, or look up the sodium content of the ingredients.
Find alternative snack options.Snacks are the enemies of most low-sodium diets, especially salty snacks. If you like snacking, try eating different flavours with less sodium or make your own, healthier versions of your favourite snack.
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables as snacks. If you like to munch on crunchy snacks, try eating carrots. If you like sweet snacks, try apples or plums.
- Try healthy snacks that are bursting with flavour. For example, frozen berries are great in the summer, especially in yogurt.
- Try the non-salty version of a snack, or make it at home. For example, nuts are often available unsalted. While popcorn made from scratch without salt has a much lower sodium count than popcorn bought from a store.
Cut back on sodium gradually.Change is slow to happen, slower to notice, and even slower to become your default lifestyle. The key is to create achievable, realistic expectations for yourself. Go at a pace that you are confident in.
- Cut out foods one at a time. If your diet is high in salt and sodium, it might take a couple of weeks to transition into a diet lower in salt and sodium, and maybe months before you are happy and used to these changes.
- Manage cravings. If you cut out too many foods too fast, or stop consuming a food your body is accustomed to, you will probably experience a craving for that food. Try to eat a healthier version of the food, but if needed, decide to eat a reasonably sized portion to satisfy your craving.
Eat 4,700 mg of potassium each day.Potassium counters the effects of sodium. Eat foods that contains high levels of potassium, like fruits and vegetables, or use vitamin and mineral supplements. Some examples of potassium-rich foods are:
- Bananas: 422mg
- Baked potato with skin: 738mg
- Orange juice: 496mg
- Low-fat yogurt: 540mg
Include more vitamin D in your diet.Research shows that people with higher levels of vitamin D have lower blood tension.Include vitamin D by:
- Getting some sun. Sunlight is loaded with vitamin D and about 20 to 25 minutes of sunlight a day can become highly beneficial.
- Eating fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, or eel. Fish is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which is beneficial for your heart health.
- Eating dairy products like low-fat yogurt and milk. However, avoid cheese which is higher in fat and sodium.
Drink less caffeine.Caffeine can increase blood pressure in people who rarely consume caffeine and especially in people who are already diagnosed with hypertension. Caffeine creates a big jump in the stiffness of arteries, causing the heart to pump harder which increases blood pressure.
- To see if caffeine affects your blood pressure, drink a caffeinated beverage and check your blood pressure within 30 minutes. If your blood pressure has increased 5 to 10 mmHg, then caffeine likely causes an increase in your blood pressure. Confirm with your doctor.
- Although most researchers believe coffee increases blood pressure, there is also research that says if you consume caffeine regularly, lowering your caffeine intake does not seem to lower your blood pressure.
Drink less alcohol.In very small quantities, alcohol can lower your blood pressure. However, drinking more than moderate amounts can raise your blood pressure and reduce the effectiveness of many blood pressure medications.
- Different people have different alcohol limits. Ask your doctor how much you should drink.
- Drink alcoholic drinks that are lower in sodium and salt than others.
Avoid cigarette smoking.Smoking a cigarette will increase your blood pressure for a few minutes, and smoking is also very bad for your health overall. If you smoke cigarettes, your body will be less equipped in general to maintain health, as well as experiencing spikes in your blood pressure. Many people smoke cigarettes to handle stress, so it is important to find an alternative stress reliever.
- Cigarette smoking can lead to health complications that will also cause you stress and limit your lifestyle.
- Cigarettes are expensive, and heavily taxed in some areas. They can cause financial stress to some people with tight budgets.
- In some cultures and cities, there is a social stigma against cigarette smoking. Experiencing pushback for smoking from your friends or coworkers can cause you stress.
Keep a food diary.This will make you more aware of the food you are consuming. Record quantities as well as what kind of foods you eat. You might be surprised by how much, or little, of one food you eat.
- Write down everything you eat, how much, and when you eat.
- After you have this food diary for a week or so, reread your entries and see if you are happy with what food you are eating.
- If there are any meals, snacks, or food items that you think you should cut out, do so.
- Keep up the food diary and use it as a source of information about your diet.
Exercising Towards A Healthy Weight
Create an exercise routine with the help of your doctor.Devise an exercise regimen that fits into your lifestyle, schedule, and blood pressure concerns. It is important that you create a realistic exercise plan, because your blood pressure will rise again if you stop exercising.
- Your doctor will be able to tell you your target weight and size for your body which can become a goal to work towards. A body carrying extra weight puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, so losing weight can help you maintain and control your blood pressure.
- Don’t quit. If it helps, think of your exercise like a prescription: the doctor ordered that you walk for X minutes, just like the doctor might order you to take a pill.
- Be honest about your schedule, lifestyle, and motivations. Do you really have time to walk 40 minutes? Can you afford to subscribe to a gym membership? If not, there are still many alternative ways to get active for free, with little time and space. Ask if your doctor knows what other patients have found successful.
Do your everyday chores.You might not realize it, but doing your daily activities and moving around the house are significant ways to stay active. Most household chores are can be physically vigorous like:
- Doing the laundry.Carrying weighty baskets of clothes and walking around and standing up lightly exercises your body.
- Sweeping and mopping.You walk around while pushing a weight with your arms.
- Doing garden or yard work.Depending on the activity, you might be planting, raking the leaves, collecting branches, or pulling out stubborn weeds.
- Washing the car.Washing your car takes arm strength and endurance.
- Moving furniture.A room in your home might need a mini-makeover or you might need to clean the floor underneath the couch. However, be careful moving heavy objects and avoid harming your body.
- Doing the dishes by hand.Washing dishes while standing up doesn’t burn a lot of calories, but it can keep the extra weight off. Even loading and unloading the dish washer counts as exercise.
Do fun activities with others.Exercise can be fun and rewarding if you incorporate it with fun activities that you can do with your friends, family, or in groups.
- Look into joining an exercise, fitness, or sports groups. For example, you can often find boot camps, yoga classes, or walkers and joggers who routinely meet at parks. There, you can meet new people with similar goals to motivate you to be active.
- Find a fitness buddy. Most people find they stick to their exercise schedule more closely when they have a partner or buddy who is also trying to exercise. You can try to find someone who wants to run at around the same time and pace.
Use your feet to go from place to place.When possible, try to walk, run, or bike to certain places instead of driving, taking the escalator or riding an elevator.
- One simple difference like taking the stairs instead of the elevator every day at work can help keep you from gaining weight.
Get creative.There are infinite ways to exercise beyond walking and running. Take a dance or aerobics class, join a local or company team for a sport, or start doing yoga and pilates at home. If you haven’t found the right regimen and schedule yet, look around online or at your local community for activities to do and ask your friends and family for suggestions. You will eventually find the right kind of exercise, but it might take some time to decide what you like most.
- For example, you can use the playground as a gym instead of going to a fitness gym. You can exercise by walking up slides, hanging onto monkey bars, or climbing onto platforms. However, make sure you aren't disrupting children from playing on the playground. Use the park in the early mornings, during the school day, or late at night when children are least likely to be at the park.
Get support.Changing your lifestyle is difficult and takes a long time, so trying to lower your blood pressure can cause stress. However, stress also raises blood pressure, so it is important to reach out for support and help when needed. Having support from your family, friends, workplace, and living space can help you manage stress and your blood pressure.
Practice gratitude.Expressions of gratitude can help lower levels of stress. Many believe that there is a relationship between focusing on what you are thankful for, and having less stress in life.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for every day. You can do this before going to sleep, at dinner, or halfway through the day. You can do this out loud and with others, or only in your head to yourself.
- Say thank you to people. After someone has done something nice for you, telling them that you appreciated them can not only make others feel good but can make you feel good as well.
- Tell your loved ones why you love them. Showing people that you care and are grateful for them can make you less stressed. In addition, your loved ones are more likely to respond positively, and your relationship will be less stressful.
Know what triggers your stress.For many people, there are certain things that happen that cause stress. Some people find it helpful to recognize in advance what events, things, or people cause them stress (called a “stress trigger”) and remove themselves from the situation.
- Create a list of times when you get stressed, or what stresses you out.
- Identify repeating or important factors: “my mother-in-law” or “when it’s 10pm and I still have the dishes to do.”
- Decide how you want to handle these situations to avoid getting stressed. Often, people find it helpful to think of a reason or way to excuse themselves or ways to communicate with others about their stress in a situation.
- Try to recognize when stressful events will happen such as looking for warning signs. You want to get good enough that you can anticipate your stress, and take action to avoid getting stressed. For example, if you become stressed when you still have dishes to do late at night, you can avoid your stress trigger by choosing to do the dishes right when you get home. Alternatively, you can ask someone else living with you to do the dishes earlier.
Make time to relax.It is easy to try to do too many things and overwork yourself. If you do not take time explicitly just to relax, you might increase your stress level. Make sure you unwind during the day to handle your stress and blood pressure.
- Do something calming that you enjoy. This might include reading, watching TV, yoga, window-shopping, walking, or doing a crossword.
- Do nothing. Some people consider meditation and focused breathing to be incredibly relaxing. Some also say meditation helps with control over their emotions and thoughts.
Be with people you like.Your social life is incredibly important to your happiness and health. Spend time around people you enjoy to have a good time and destress. Regardless of the activity, spending time with friends can help you relax.
- Being alone or stuck in one environment can close your perspective about many things. Opening yourself up to new activities and spending time outside of where you are normally can give you a new outlook on life and lower you stress.
Sticking with Your Lifestyle Change
Make achievable goals.Creating difficult goals and failing to reach them can make you feel discouraged. By speaking to your doctor or health care professional, you can come up with a doable plan and stick to it. If your needs change over time, adjust your plan accordingly.
- A common mistake of people who embark on changing their lifestyle or habits is expecting too much, too fast, and then becoming discouraged when their expectations are not met. Think realistically about what changes you can make, and in what time frame. Use numbers to calculate calories, sodium intake, hours of exercise or rest, and so on when possible.
Find someone who will make changes alongside with you.Eating is an inherently social thing, and light exercise can be a great socializing activity. Ask your family and friends to make some lifestyle changes with you to make your transition seem more feasible.
- Even if family and friends do not want to eat the same food or exercise the same amount as you, they can still support your decisions and help encourage you to go to the gym, or to eat certain meals.
- Start first with the changes that are easiest for everyone. For example, adding fresh fruits to everyone's diet is easier than eliminating a certain food all together. Or start with light walks around the neighbourhood before asking friends or family to go on marathons or to the gym.
- Ask people you trust and are comfortable with for support. It can make changing your lifestyle less stressful if the people who support you are positive, encouraging, and non-judgemental.
Make a contingency plan.Some people try to motivate behaviour change by making a contract with themselves in case they fail. These contracts might promise something bad will happen if the person fails to uphold their end of the contract and encourage them to avoid the negative result. Some ways to incorporate contingency plans are:
- Tell a friend what goals you will be working towards and ask them to make sure you complete them. For some, just telling someone you're planning to achieve something is a good enough contingency plan. By telling someone what your goals are, you are making yourself accountable to that person. You don't want to disappoint them by not completing your goals and you want to make them proud by working hard to achieve them.
- Give yourself negative consequences for not completing your goals. For example, if you smoke regularly, you can tell yourself that for every cigarette you smoke, you have to put a money in a jar and donate that money to a charity or an organization that helps smokes quit. Or you could say to yourself, "I’m working on having a healthier diet. If I cheat and have unhealthy snacks after dinner, I have to clean all the bathrooms in the house.”
Have faith in your hard work.Permanent behavioural change is difficult to implement, and will not happen in a day, week, or even for months. There will be days when you don’t want to eat healthily, or when you don't exercised. The important thing is to remember that every little bit counts. Hard work and an honest relationship with your body will pay off in the future, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment.
- Remind yourself of your goals and motivations.
- Ask friends and family to help you reinforce your rules and goals even when you are unmotivated.
- At the beginning, write a list of the reasons why you are doing this, or goals you hope to achieve. Reread this list when you start to feel unmotivated.
To reduce your blood pressure naturally, try to limit your sodium intake by avoiding processed foods, since too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure. For example, you can season your food with herbs and spices instead of salt, and eat fresh vegetables instead of canned. Also, try to exercise for around an hour 5 times a week to help control your blood pressure and relieve stress. Even just listening to calm music or spending 30 minutes on your favorite hobby can help lower your blood pressure.
- Talk to your doctor about any health concerns you have.
- Find what works best for you. It’s your body, health, and life. The key to longterm behaviour change is finding a routine that works for you.
- Don’t be discouraged by failures or mistakes. Everyone has setbacks occasionally, and the important thing is that you stay determined and continue to try.
- Stay hydrated and drink enough water.
- If you feel woozy, lightheaded, or dizzy, contact 911 or your primary care physician.
- Your blood pressure might not decrease enough through natural methods only. Consult your doctor to ask if medication is necessary.
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