9 December 2021
Blood pressure or hypertension is the amount of blood the heart is pumping and the measure of resistance in your arteries. Any numbers lower that 120 over 80 is normal but 130 over 80 is high. The two numbers are the force of pressure through the body (upper number of systolic) and pressure in the blood vessels between beats (bottom or diastolic).
The easiest way is through diet.
- Sugar and Carbs – Studies show that sugar raises your blood pressure more than salt. Low carbohydrate and low sugar eating plans means you are increasing the amount of protein and fat. The result is you should feel fuller.
- Potassium and Sodium – We are frequently told to cut back on salt, and that is correct. Potassium reduces the effect of salt which will relax the tension in the blood vessels which should improve the bottom number. Potassium is not for everyone. Check with your doctor. If you would prefer to avoid another pill some of the natural sources of potassium include:
- Low fat dairy
- Bananas, apricots, avocados, oranges
- Dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes and tomatoes
Salt is another issue altogether. It is a situation where “everyone is different”. Well not everyone but there are two categories:
- Salt-insensitive means the person’s body naturally excretes excessive sodium through urine without increasing blood pressure.
- Salt-sensitive is the opposite.
- Processed Foods – Sadly, those low fat products are often high in salt and sugar. That deli sandwich with a bag of chips are now forbidden…sigh!
- Garlic – In 2009 a study revealed that time-release garlic extract is better than powder tablets. Fresh is also a good choice.
- Dark Chocolate – With a content of 60% to 70% cacao, you will benefit from the flavonoids dilating the blood vessels. Moderation is a key with only one or two squares per day.
- Protein – More protein equals lower risk of high blood pressure, or so a 2014 study says. Regular fiber intake also decreased the risk by 60%.
And now we come to the far less easy and generally dreaded:
- Increased exercise – Aerobic and resistance training has shown to decrease blood pressure around 4% for those who were previously sedentary. Working up to 30 minutes a day of moderate activity seems a good plan.
- Walking or at least parking the car further away
- Taking the stairs
- Weight loss – As little as 5 or 10 pounds can make a significant difference.
- Smoking – Even second-hand smoke can damage arteries.
- Caffeine and Alcohol – Reducing both to a moderate level is recommended.
Finally those areas over which we have seemingly no control:
- Reduce excessive stress – This includes breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massages and saunas.
- Sleep – A full night of sleep
Of course, there is always prescription medications that will do the job.