So, you got home with a blood pressure monitor and have been tracking your BP for over a month now. That’s a great initiative towards a healthier body and will help you immensely in the latter stages of your life. But the numbers don’t seem very promising. What next? Are you staring at a life where you have to pop pills every single day?
Not necessarily. The mere mention that you have hypertension can set panic bells ringing in a lot of people because there is a general misconception that high blood pressure therapy lasts for life. While that is partly true, the fact is that you may not always need medical attention. Many a time, you can control your blood pressure naturally by employing some simple but effective lifestyle habits.
Here are 15 of them.
- Your waistline is linked to your pressure: The rising numbers in the blood pressure monitor may be linked to your waistline. It is believed that carrying some extra pounds around your waist may increase your risk of high blood pressure. Not to mention that if you are obese, you probably have disrupted sleep patterns due to breathing problems which further contributes to BP. On the other hand, just reducing 10-12 pounds of your weight can bring down your blood pressure significantly.
- Get off the couch: Sitting is the new smoking. Ok, that was clichéd. But that’s probably the truest statement that I have heard in recent times. Most of us are forced to sit all day on a couch because of our career demands but that’s not a reason to not exercise. You need to get active physically because it can help lower your blood pressure by almost 9mm if you just exercise for 30 minutes each day. And nothing is written in stone when it comes to exercise. Just do whatever catches your fancy. That may be running, sprinting, jogging, dancing or anything else.
- Cut down on the sodium: Sodium is hidden in almost every single packaged food that is sold and widely consumed around the world. And it has a critical impact on your blood pressure levels. If you have a salt sensitivity or are already diagnosed with high BP, then you need to track your sodium intake and keep it below 1500 mg per day. Even if you are not diagnosed with it, keeping the intake limited to 2300 mg per day will help you prevent high BP. And tracking it is easier than what you’d imagine. Be diligent whenever you eat anything out of a packet. Read labels. Keep a check on the amount of salt you add to your food.
- Reduce alcohol intake: That weekend binge with your buddies may be taking a toll on your health after all. Alcohol abstinence can be tough. But you can always limit the amount that you drink. Men should keep it below 2 drinks or 12 ounces of beer and women should limit it to one drink a day. Drinking more than this not only increases the risk of high blood pressure, it also hampers the effectiveness of your blood pressure medications.
- Monitor your pressure regularly: If you are still monitoring your blood pressure once a year at the doctor’s you need to get a blood pressure monitor home and start monitoring the pressure more often. Regular monitoring is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep track of your blood pressure. And it comes with a whole range of benefits. If you are skeptical, then here are 10 reasons to monitor your pressure at home.
- Stress management: Stress is considered to be one of the commonest causes of high blood pressure. And if you have chronic stress, then it can physically lead to elevated heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. Stress Management can help to lower your blood pressure considerably. And it is a lot easier than you think. Just listen to some music, reduce your work hours and like we said earlier, start exercising.
- Quit the butt: While there is lack of scientific evidence to link smoking with high blood pressure directly, it is one of the direct causes of another life-threatening condition, cardiovascular disease. Also, smoking has been linked to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. That’s enough reason for you to quit the butt.
- Add fruits to your diet: Fruits, especially the ones that are rich in Polyphenols and antioxidants are very good for your heart.
- Supplement your diet: The importance of a healthy diet is underrated in blood pressure management. The fact is that a lot of people have been able to control high blood pressure with diet and exercise alone. If your diet lacks the nutrients or you are unable to eat a balanced diet due to work schedules, then supplement your diet. White tea, garlic, fish oil and whey protein are known for their effectiveness in helping reduce blood pressure.
- Reduce refined carbs: Any refined carb source in your diet can get converted into sugar instantly, thereby potentially increasing the risk of high blood pressure. There have been numerous studies that support the link between sugary foods and blood pressure. So, every time you pop a soda or any sweetened beverage, you are putting yourself at a greater risk for high BP.
- Add Magnesium to your diet: You may not necessarily be magnesium deficient. But adding magnesium to the diet can help you regulate high BP. And it does not necessarily have to be supplemented either. There are ample sources of natural magnesium including lean meat, chicken, whole veggies, whole grains and dairy sources.
With these simple changes, you can effectively manage blood pressure without the need for using expensive and sometimes toxic pills for life. The key lies in timely detection, regular monitoring with a blood pressure monitor and taking remedial action before the condition becomes difficult to control.
Important Note: Notwithstanding any of the information in this article consult your doctor to monitor your personal health situation.