Blood pressure is the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Therefore, the more significant the narrowing of your arteries, the higher your blood pressure is. It can lead to dangerous conditions. High blood pressure can adversely affect your heart, kidneys, vision, and memory. However, bringing down your systolic blood pressure to a maximum of 120 mmHg reduces these risks.
“Blood pressure can be best managed and controlled through mindful dietary and lifestyle practices. The power of food to help lower your blood pressure is widely known. Control your portion sizes, avoid junk packaged foods and consume more home made dishes.
Aim to exercise for 30 minutes and move more during the day, remember after an hour of sitting, you need to move about for 5 min- this small change will make a world of a difference.
Another mindful practice is to deep breathe for 5 min every night before sleeping”-
Praul Dube (HealthifyMe Nutritionist)
Managing blood pressure is achieved 30% through medication and 70% through lifestyle changes. While lifestyle changes alone can help, the two approaches are complementary.
Ranges of High Blood Pressure
- Normal Blood Pressure: Less than 120/80
- Elevated Blood Pressure (Hypertension stage 1): 120-29/ Less than 80
- Hypertension Stage 2: 130-39/80-89
- Hypertension Crisis: Higher than 180/Higher than 120
The majority of people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. For this reason, it is known as “the silent killer.” Therefore, it is critical to check your blood pressure levels regularly.
High blood pressure can cause various health issues. For example, it can cause headaches, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath in some people. However, those symptoms can be mistaken for a variety of other things (serious or non-serious). In addition, these symptoms usually appear after blood pressure has risen to a dangerously high level over time.
Maintaining and managing a healthy blood pressure level is a lifelong commitment. The goal of treatment is to get your blood pressure back to normal range. Your doctor may prescribe relatively straightforward medicines. But it may cause side effects like leg cramps, dizziness, or insomnia. However, the good news is that most people can reduce their numbers without resorting to drugs. Changes in your lifestyle are a natural way to do so.
Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
Try these simple lifestyle changes as natural ways to lower blood pressure:
Eat Less Sodium
The majority of people consume too much sodium without even realising it. Sodium makes the body retain water, putting additional pressure on blood vessels and raising blood pressure. If you have hypertension, even a slight reduction in sodium in your diet can help improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure.
According to the American Dietary Guidelines, adults should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. That is about one teaspoon of table salt. However, some foods, such as processed foods and fried foods, provide more than that in just one serving! If you have hypertension, limiting your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day will lower your blood pressure by 5 to 6 mmHg.
It is advisable to avoid packaged and processed foods containing hidden salt bombs. These are pizza, bread, soup, poultry, and sandwiches.
Potassium is a double winner: it lowers kidney pressure by flushing excess sodium from the body through urine. It maintains electrolyte and fluid balance in the body, which also helps control blood pressure. On the other hand, potassium-rich diets may be harmful to people with kidney disease, so consult your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
A study found that consuming 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium per day can help lower blood pressure by 4 to 5 mmHg. Focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods to achieve a better potassium-to-sodium ratio in your diet.
Potassium-rich foods include leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, fruit (melons, bananas, avocados, oranges, apricots), dairy, nuts and seeds, and beans.
When you consume an excessive amount of alcohol, your blood pressure rises. Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of any blood pressure medications you may be taking due to drug interactions. In addition, alcohol raises blood levels of the hormone renin, which causes blood vessels to constrict.
According to a study, a standard drink contains 14 grams of alcohol, and every 10 grams consumed can raise your blood pressure by 1 mm Hg. As a result, it is best to drink in moderation.
Another study discovered that drinking more than 30ml of alcohol lowers blood pressure in the initial hours. However, after 13 hours or more, systolic blood pressure rises by 3.7 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure increases by 2.4 mm Hg. Furthermore, many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar and calories. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of hypertension by causing weight gain and obesity.
Adopt DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet came into vogue to lower blood pressure without medication. People who follow the DASH diet are more likely to follow low-sodium and high-potassium guidelines and lose weight. The research on this diet has been so positive that it is known as one of the most critical non-pharmaceutical measures for hypertension control. The DASH diet can reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 11 mmHg.
It includes consuming fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. The diet is low in sugary drinks, red meat, processed foods with added salt and sugar, and alcohol. It also establishes a sodium limit of 2,300 mg per day.
It’s no secret that regular physical activity is beneficial to one’s health. Exercise not only helps control high blood pressure, but it also helps you lose weight, strengthen your heart, and reduce stress. Even as simple as walking, regular exercise appears to be just as effective as commonly used blood pressure medications in lowering blood pressure. That is because exercise helps the heart become stronger, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently.
Aerobic exercise is the most effective in reducing blood pressure. That is because aerobic exercise keeps blood vessels flexible by forcing them to expand and contract. It also promotes the formation of new blood vessels and improves blood flow, among other things. A simple, calculated tip is that one and a half hours of aerobic activity per week can help you reduce blood pressure by 5 to 8 mmHg.
Dynamic resistance exercises, such as weighted bicep curls, and isometric resistance exercises, such as pushing against a wall, are also good options. However, how effective these exercises are at lowering blood pressure depends on how often one performs them. In addition, how many repetitions and weights one combines with dynamic resistance exercises matters. Nevertheless, they can reduce blood pressure by 4 to 5 millimetres of mercury.
Losing weight can help your blood vessels expand and contract more quickly, making it easier for your heart’s left ventricle to pump blood. However, being overweight puts additional strain on your heart, raising your risk of high blood pressure and blood vessel damage. Both of which can pose serious health risks.
According to research, losing 17.64 pounds (8 kilograms) can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 8.5 and 6.5 mm Hg, respectively. Moreover, weight loss is even more significant when combined with regular exercise.
We are living in a stressful era. Workplace demands, family obligations, and the outside environment contribute to stress, a significant cause of high blood pressure. When you’re stressed all the time, your body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode. Physically, this translates to a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you’re stressed, you’re also more likely to engage in risky behaviours like drinking too much alcohol or eating unhealthy foods. As a result, they can raise your blood pressure. Therefore, it is critical for your health and blood pressure to find ways to reduce your stress.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all stressors from your life, learning to cope with them is a healthier way. It can help you feel better and lower your blood pressure.
The following are some methods for reducing or dealing with stress:
- Reframe your perspective
- Stay away from triggers
- Practise gratitude
- Take a moment to relax and appreciate yourself
Try Deep Breathing or Meditation
While deep breathing and medication are known as “stress reduction techniques,” they deserve special attention.
Both deep breathing and medication activate the parasympathetic nervous system. It effectively manages the heart rate and dilates blood vessels, thereby controlling your overall blood pressure. According to one study, various types of meditation appear to be beneficial for lowering blood pressure.
Deep breathing techniques can also be very beneficial. For example, participants in one study took six deep breaths in 30 seconds or sat still for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths had lower blood pressure than those who sat.
Try Fermented Foods
A meta-analysis of over 2,000 patients discovered that eating fermented foods, specifically supplements made from fermented milk, was associated with a moderate reduction in blood pressure in the short term. Incidentally, the bacteria living in these foods, known as probiotics, produce certain chemicals that lower blood pressure when they reach the bloodstream.
Examples of fermented foods include yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home
Your blood pressure may not be accurate and representative of you when you’re in the doctor’s office. Some patients have elevated blood pressure when they enter the doctor’s office (a phenomenon known as “white coat hypertension”), despite having normal blood pressure elsewhere.
As a result, it’s critical to take your measurements in a relaxed environment. Regularly checking your blood pressure at home can also assist you in detecting any potential health issues early. If your blood pressure is too high, you and your healthcare team can take early steps to lower it.
How Effective is Medication in Lowering Blood Pressure?
Some medications can help relax your blood vessels, block nerve activity, slow your heartbeat, and restrict your blood vessels. However, there is “really no substitute” for healthy lifestyle factors to lower blood pressure. One can control High blood pressure solely by altering one’s lifestyle. In other cases, one might need medication along with a healthy lifestyle.
Blood pressure is a silent killer, and there is no safe and effective home treatment for high blood pressure. The best way to lower high blood pressure is to make small gradual changes over days or weeks, allowing the body to adapt to the change. If your blood pressure is dangerously high and you need to bring it down quickly, you should seek medical help.
Some effective lifestyle changes include increasing your physical activity, losing weight if you are overweight, reducing salt and adding more potassium-rich foods to counter sodium. In addition, you must reduce all the excessive stress you have to relax your mind and heart.
However, while lowering your blood pressure at home, it is critical to consult with your doctor. First, speak with your doctor and nutritionist about natural ways to lower your blood pressure over time. For example, diet and physical activity recommendations can differ from person to person. As a result, it’s critical to consult with your doctor about the methods you’re using to lower your blood pressure to ensure they’re safe for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How can I instantly lower my blood pressure?
A. There’s no safe and effective way out of medical settings to lower your blood pressure instantly. If you think your blood pressure levels are dangerously high, seek medical care immediately. Losing weight and adopting a healthier diet can help in the long-term management plan of blood pressure.
Q. Can drinking lots of water lower blood pressure?
A. Making lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise and eating a nutrient-rich diet, is the first step in treating and preventing high blood pressure. In addition, drinking water and staying hydrated can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure level. It allows the heart to pump more efficiently, and blood flows freely throughout your body.
Q. What foods can lower blood pressure immediately?
A. Potassium helps the kidneys flush sodium from our bodies, lowering blood pressure. The best example of potassium-rich foods includes leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans and nuts.
Q. How can I lower my blood pressure in 5 minutes?
A. A person may not be able to lower their blood pressure immediately. But changing certain behavioural habits may help keep their blood pressure down and avoid future blood pressure spikes. For example, trying deep breathing for a few minutes and relaxing can help.
Q. Should I lie down if my blood pressure is high?
A. Changing positions has been shown to lower blood pressure by relieving pressure on blood vessels returning blood to the heart. However, more research is needed to determine the effect of lying down on blood pressure readings.
Q. Does walking decrease blood pressure?
A. Yes, walking is the simplest yet most effective way to lower your blood pressure. Moderate walking three times a day or ten minutes of brisk or can help lower blood pressure by reducing blood vessel stiffness and allowing blood to flow more freely. This exercise’s effects are most noticeable during and immediately following a workout.
Q. What should I do if my blood pressure is 160 over 100?
A. You don’t have a choice if your blood pressure is extremely high—higher than 160/100, or when either number is higher. You must take blood pressure medication or contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Q. Can aspirin lower your blood pressure?
A. In high-risk patients, low-dose aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack. It also helps reduce high blood pressure. However, studies on this effect have produced conflicting results.