Do you squirm before taking your blood pressure reading in fear the result will be astronomical? Has your doctor advised you to make healthy lifestyle changes to lower your pressure numbers… or else?
Well, you’re not alone. About 108 million Americans (45%) live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (AHA) published new guidelines defining hypertension as ≥130/80 mm Hg.1
Methods to Managing Healthy BP
Here are 9 fantabulous ways to naturally lower your blood pressure to healthier levels, even back to normal, without meds. Each of the following methods has a significant effect on your blood pressure. By combining several of the methods listed below, or all of them, you can multiply their effectiveness by leaps and bounds.
- Join the Mediterranean or DASH Diet Revolution. Tied for the top spot with #2 as the most significant aid to lowering your BP, is your diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
- Studies show that adding more veggies to your diet can reduce your systolic number by 7 mm Hg. Combining both the cutting down on meat products plus adding more veggies can lower your pressure by 11 mm Hg.5 A predominantly plant-based diet can drop your systolic reading by a humongous 18 points. The Mediterranean/DASH diets include:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains
- Legumes and beans
- Heart-healthy fats, including avocados, fatty fish, nuts, seeds
- Low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and nuts
- Eliminate high saturated fatty foods, processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats
- Eliminate refined carbs, desserts, sodas, and juice.
- Movin’ & Groovin’. One of the most transformational ways to improve your health and lower those pressure numbers is to exercise 30-60 minutes a day. Studies show that after 3 months of aerobic exercise, your systolic pressure can drop by 9 points.i Getting that blood pumping throughout your body boosts oxygen and nutrient delivery to every cell and ramps up your energy levels.
- It elevates your mood, adds strength to muscles, and helps balance blood sugar. Staying active reduces your risk for diabetes, brain, and heart diseases significantly. If you’ve been inactive for a while, it’s essential to start slow, perhaps even talk to your doctor about safe routines.7
- Walking, biking, yoga, and Tai chi are great ways of getting some sunshine and fresh air while slashing those BP numbers. The AHA recommends lifting weights, doing push-ups, or other resistance exercises that build lean muscle mass and supports your posture and bones.8
- Lose Belly Flab. There’s a direct link between your waistline and high blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds can drop your pressure by 7 points and make an impact on your heart health. Belly fat triggers inflammatory markers that increase your risk for heart disease. This type of fat is called visceral fat.
- It surrounds your organs, causing major health concerns, including reducing insulin sensitivity, blood clotting, and raising blood pressure.
- Fatty acids released by this fat can enter the portal vein and travel to the liver. It raises blood cholesterol levels that lead to plaque and hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis.9 It’s recommended that men keep their waist measurements less than 40 inches and women less than 35.10 11
- No Added Salt, Thanks. Salt drives up your blood pressure by holding onto water, making your heart work harder. According to the AHA, it’s best to keep your intake between 1500 mg and 2300 mg per day. That’s less than 1/3 to less than 1/2 a teaspoon for an entire day. Restricting your salt intake can drop your systolic blood pressure by a whopping 16 points.12
- Choose no-salt-added foods and stop reaching for the saltshaker because those grains add up quickly. You can reduce the harmful effects of salt by eating potassium-rich foods, including avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and peas.13
- Nix the Nicotine. Did you know that every cigarette drives up your blood pressure for several minutes? In heavy smokers, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods. Smoking, including second-hand smoke, dramatically increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.14 15
- Limit Alcohol. A glass of red wine with dinner can be advantageous for heart health. But drinking excessive amounts can lead to health risks, including high blood pressure. It can also reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications. The AHA recommends that men limit their alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day and women 1 drink per day. Alcohol restriction can drop your systolic pressure by 5 points.16 One drink equals:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
- Find Ways to Destress. In today’s world of hustle and bustle, relaxation has become work. It takes time and effort to STOP what you’re doing and clock out of the madness for some ME-TIME. But stress can push up those BP numbers. And stress is toxic to your health. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and Tai chi are just a few popular methods to balance your life and lower your blood pressure.
- Entering a green space automatically puts your mind into a state of meditation called “involuntary attention.” Walking in a Nature setting or barefoot on grass reduces stress hormones, boosts endorphins, and clears your mind. Deep breaths or breathing exercises reduce tension and delivers a calming effect due to the burst of oxygen.17 Gardening offers physical activity and can be therapeutically meditative.
- Cut Back on Caffeine. Caffeine can play a factor in increasing blood pressure levels in those who rarely drink it. If a cup of coffee raises your BP by 5-10 mm Hg, you might be sensitive and should avoid it.18 19
- Intermittent Fasting (IF). This new easier way of fasting has immense health benefits. IF involves restricting your food intake to an 8–10-hour window during your day. That means if you eat breakfast at 7 am, then your last meal for the day should end by 3 or 5 pm.20 Studies show that fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood glucose, and reduces inflammation. It helps flush toxins, enhances brain function, and lowers your risk for cancer.
- Researchers found that fasting rejuvenates stem cells and lengthens telomeres, the DNA indicator of your lifespan.21 Studies also show that people with blood pressure readings averaging 140/93 mm Hg reduced to 126/83 mm Hg. The higher group averaging 160/100 mm Hg, dropped down to 135/87 mm Hg with IF.22 That’s a drop of 14-25 points!
- That said, however, if you have diabetes, an eating disorder, or are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should not attempt fasting without the supervision of a physician.
diseases-conditions /high-blood-pressure/ in-depth/ high-blood-pressure/art-20046974
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health/high-blood -pressure-home -remedies#exercise
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- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM. “How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally with Lifestyle Changes” (2020): March 16th, Volume 49https://nutritionfacts.org
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edu/blog/ intermittent-fasting- surprising-update- 2018062914156
- The impact of fasting on high blood pressure (2020) | Buchinger Wilhelmihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v
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