High blood pressure is also called hypertension. It is a prevalent condition. A prolonged high force of the blood against your artery walls is enough to eventually cause health problems such as heart diseases and stroke.
For a healthy individual, the average blood pressure range is 120/80 mmHg. Usually, hypertension is defined as the condition when blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg. Furthermore, it is severe if the pressure is above 180/120 mmHg. 29.8% of the population of India and almost 50% of the adult population of The United States suffer from hypertension. If this condition does not get cured timely, it can pose a severe threat to your health.
Research shows that high levels of inflammation in the body are associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. On the other hand, a rise in blood pressure causes chronic endothelium inflammation. However, this, in turn, can be responsible for further damage of endothelium and worsening of BP control.
The cells of the endothelium, a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels, release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction and enzymes that regulate blood clotting, immune function and platelet adhesion.
Inflammation and Blood Pressure
There has been enough evidence to prove that high levels of inflammation in the body are associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. On the other hand, a rise in blood pressure causes chronic endothelium inflammation. However, this, in turn, is responsible for further damage of endothelium and worsening of BP quote from the nutritionist.
Certain metabolic disorders can cause endothelium inflammation. These are dyslipidaemia, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. However, this can cause a rise in arterial blood pressure. Moreover, ageing is also known to reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Thus, inflammation and ageing contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases in the body and vice versa. Therefore consuming a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods can be beneficial in preventing and fighting inflammation in the body. It eventually helps prevent high blood pressure and keep the risk of cardiovascular diseases at bay.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Blood Pressure
Anti-inflammatory foods can help maintain the blood pressure in your body. The first step that strikes the mind is decreasing the sodium content in your diet. Increased inflammation can lead to increased oxidative damage and stiffness in blood vessels, leading to hypertension if persistent for a prolonged period.
Reducing inflammation by consuming anti-inflammatory foods and regular exercises and lifestyle changes can be beneficial in controlling high blood pressure. Some of these foods are:
Lycopene is a substance in tomatoes that gives them their red colour. It is a phytochemical that helps reduce blood pressure by hunting free radicals. This action helps to minimise oxidative damage and reduce inflammation. Potentially, it decreases systolic blood pressure, i.e. the top number in the blood pressure reading. Systolic blood pressure is the measure of the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
The cooking process utilises the lycopene in tomatoes. So, you can consume tomatoes to reduce inflammation in the body. However, the best ways to consume them are low-sodium tomato paste, roasted diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and roasted or grilled tomatoes.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Magnesium is a mineral involved in blood pressure regulation. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are excellent sources of magnesium. Consuming magnesium-rich foods can help relax blood vessels. Moreover, leafy greens provide nutrients with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which help regulate blood pressure.
Beans and Lentils
Eating peas, beans, legumes and lentils every day can significantly reduce blood pressure. In addition, legumes are excellent sources of fibre, potassium, and magnesium, which are two essential minerals for blood pressure regulation.
The high fibre content in beans, peas and lentils provides complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. As a result, it prevents a spike in blood sugar levels, preventing agitation in the blood vessels.
Milk and Dairy
Calcium is responsible for the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Therefore, getting adequate calcium in your diet becomes indispensable for regulating healthy blood pressure. Unfortunately, many people, including children, are deficient in calcium.
Dairy products like milk and yoghurt are excellent sources of calcium if you are not lactose intolerant. Moreover, they are naturally low in sodium. In addition, yoghurt can also give an anti-inflammatory edge in cases of hypertension. It is because strains of good bacteria in yoghurt strengthen the gut, which prevents contaminants from crossing over into the blood, reducing the potential for additional inflammation. As a result, it ultimately aids in controlling blood pressure.
Blueberries get their purplish-blue colour from a plant compound called anthocyanins. This compound decreases blood pressure by improving blood vessel dilation and blood flow. A study suggests that eating about one cup of blueberries daily can reduce systolic blood pressure.
All berries that have red or purple colour are good sources of anthocyanins. However, wild blueberries, in particular, have the highest anthocyanin levels.
Bananas contain potassium, the mineral required for blood pressure regulation, heart health, muscle and nerve operation and fluid balance. Moreover, a banana contains 3 gm of fibre, which helps make you feel full.
In addition, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of bananas can help prevent and reduce inflammation in the body.
Adding flax seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, and other dishes is an easy way to significantly decrease blood pressure over time. For example, a study found that people who ate 30 grams of flaxseeds daily saw a reduction in overall blood pressure.
The efficiency of flaxseeds comes from their combination of fibre, an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid and bioactive compounds called lignans. Studies suggest that this combination makes long-term daily flaxseeds one of the most effective dietary changes for reducing blood pressure.
Beetroots are full of nutrients that improve blood circulation and reduce blood pressure. They are a rich source of potassium, folate and the antioxidant vitamin C. Moreover, they have naturally high levels of nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure.
Dietary nitrates are in many fruits and vegetables. They are not the same as nitrites that are in processed foods. Dietary nitrates get converted to nitric oxide in the body, relaxing muscles. It dilates blood vessels and hence decreases blood pressure.
Choosing healthy fat alternatives is the key to preventing cardiovascular diseases. One such oil is olive oil, which contains oleocanthal. It is a compound with anti-inflammatory properties, a type of unsaturated fat better than saturated ones. Unfortunately, cutting out fat from your diet isn’t as beneficial in controlling blood pressure as is choosing healthy fats.
Fats obtained from cold pressed Coconut oil, home made ghee and Olive oil (in salad dressings) and nuts are beneficial in controlling blood pressure compared to fats obtained from unhealthy sources.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Usually, high blood pressure has no symptoms. However, if it goes untreated for an extended period, it can cause heart diseases and stroke. In addition, comorbidities like diabetes and obesity increase the risk of hypertension.
If you have mild to borderline high blood pressure, you may not observe symptoms. Still, if you have severe hypertension, you might observe one or some of the following symptoms:
- Puffiness under the eyes
- Severe headaches
- Nose bleeding
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
Causes of High Blood Pressure
One of the most significant causes of hypertension is psychological stress. It can cause hypertension through a repeated increase in blood pressure and stimulation of the nervous system. On stimulating, the nervous system produces large amounts of vasoconstricting hormones that increase blood pressure.
Overweight and obesity lead to the deposition of fat and cholesterol in the blood vessels. It obstructs the blood flow in the body, causing a rise in blood pressure. As a result, blood flows with greater pressure to pass these obstructions. With significant fat deposition in the arteries, blood flow to the heart faces blockage, resulting in a heart attack.
High blood sugar levels cause stress in the blood vessels and increase constriction. It increases the blood pressure in your body. It can also cause damage to arteries, i.e., the blood vessels which carry blood from your body parts to the heart.
If you do not address diabetes timely, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases and eventually heart attack due to damage caused to arteries.
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining overall health. Like other muscles in your body, it also needs to be exercised regularly to keep it strong and efficient. Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, fat deposition in the blood vessels and other health problems. It eventually decreases the amount of blood pumped to your heart. The body puts extra pressure on the blood vessels to compensate for this. As a result, it leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Other Ways to Control Blood Pressure
It is best to control your blood pressure naturally rather than take medicines daily. Besides consuming a healthy, balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, regular exercise and lifestyle changes play a crucial role in controlling blood pressure.
- Regular exercise is essential to burn calories and strengthen all the body muscles, including heart muscles. Weak heart muscles can also lead to various cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, exercising the heart by practising cardiovascular exercises can be beneficial for the body in controlling blood pressure.
- Waking up early in the morning and going for a stroll in the garden or exercising for 30 minutes daily are good options to keep your blood pressure at a regular rate.
- Other lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, reducing the frequency of alcohol intake, avoiding oiling and fatty foods and consuming a low sodium diet are also helpful in controlling blood pressure.
- Diet alone cannot be a cure for lowering blood pressure. Exercising and lifestyle changes are extremely important to attain a healthy body.
High blood pressure is one of the major causes of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it can happen due to diabetes, obesity or being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle and stress. On the other hand, hypertension is a condition of the prolonged high force of the blood against your artery walls. Therefore, it is best to fall under the normal blood pressure range, 120/80 mmHg, for healthy individuals. In the case of hypertension, blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg and is severe if the pressure is above 180/120 mmHg.
The rise in blood pressure causes chronic inflammation inside the body, and vice versa is also true. Therefore, consuming anti-inflammatory foods becomes vital to controlling and preventing high blood pressure. Some anti-inflammatory foods that can help reduce blood pressure are tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, flaxseeds, yoghurt, beans, peas and lentils. Suppose you have symptoms like puffiness under the eyes, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, nose bleeding, and difficulty breathing. In that case, you might need to consult a doctor.
Besides consuming a balanced diet having foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties, regular exercise and lifestyle changes are essential. For example, low sodium intake, quitting smoking, and reduced alcohol consumption is necessary to control your blood pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?
A. Increasing the intake of anti-inflammatory foods, reducing the consumption of fatty foods, regular exercise, stress management, and weight loss help get rid of inflammation in the body.
Q. Are bananas anti-inflammatory?
A. Yes, bananas’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can help prevent and reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, they contain the mineral potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
Q. What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation?
A. The five classic signs of inflammation in the body are redness, increased body temperature, pain, swelling and impaired function of particular body parts. If you experience these symptoms, you might need to consult a doctor.
Q. How can I tell if my body has inflammation?
A. Inflammation doesn’t always have the same signs in everyone. However, some common signs and symptoms can point towards inflammation in the body. They are puffiness under the eyes, dizziness, swelling, redness, pain, fatigue and irregular heartbeat.
Q. Do anti-inflammatory foods help in bloating?
A. Frequent bloating, gas, or digestive problems are signs of inflammation in the gut. Anti-inflammatory foods can ease swelling in the body, a major cause of bloating. It can help reduce bloating in the body.
Q. How quickly do anti-inflammatory foods work?
A. Since anti-inflammatory foods are natural options to reduce inflammation in the body, their effect is not immediate, unlike medicines. It might take several days or weeks to reduce inflammation in the body. The result of anti-inflammatory foods is gradual with regular consumption. Natural ways to reduce inflammation or cure any disorder, for that matter, are better than medications.