Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Managing High Blood Pressure - Naturally

High blood pressure is a problem for many people. As discussed in Monday's post, it can lead to a variety of other dangerous health concerns like stroke and heart disease. Luckily, blood pressure is one of those things that it's relatively easy to control by natural means, without resorting to potentially dangerous drugs. To keep yourself on the right side of health, today I'll share a few tips to help you lower your blood pressure naturally. (Please Note: This blog is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult an experienced health care provider if you have high blood pressure or another medical condition.)

Aneroid sphygmomanometer with stethoscope, use...
Aneroid sphygmomanometer with stethoscope, used for auscultatory blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
High blood pressure can be a problem for both young and old alike. When blood vessels are narrowed by cholesterol plaques, it increases the pressure on the walls of the vessels to push blood through. This can lead to a dislodging of the plaque. That can cause strokes.

Unhealthy eating habits can also raise blood pressure. Eating foods high in sodium and other preservatives can put a lot of pressure on the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Here are some ways to go about lowering blood pressure naturally. Medicine is a useful resource but making lifestyle changes will last for a lifetime - without subjecting your body to the side effects of chemicals or surgery.

Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally

* Exercise – Exercise has a lot of useful benefits - especially when it comes to blood pressure. It relieves stress and increases oxygenation. Increased cardiovascular health can lower your blood pressure. Avoid exercising right before bedtime, though, or you may have a problem getting to sleep.

English: A glass of red wine.
A glass of red wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Drink alcohol in moderation – If you don’t already drink, don’t start. But, if you like a glass of wine, try red wine. It is helpful for heart health, and can even help to lower blood pressure. For women, one drink a day has been shown to be helpful, and men should limit their intake to 2 (4-oz.) glasses per day.

* Reduce caffeine intake – There is caffeine in coffee, tea and soft drinks. Caffeine can increase blood pressure by narrowing the vessels. If you already have issues with high blood pressure, adding caffeine can raise it even higher. Those with high blood pressure should avoid caffeine altogether if possible, or limit it to no more than 1 cup of coffee per day at maximum.

* Learn to relax – Stress can be a contributing factor to blood pressure issues. Learn to reduce your stress levels. Try listening to soft music or deep breathing and meditation techniques. A good warm bath can also help drain away stress from your day. Finding ways to cope with stress can help you control not only blood pressure but also other health concerns.

* Cut the salt – Sodium can raise blood pressure if you are sensitive to salt. Don’t just look for salt in the shaker but also in your other food items in the pantry. Processed foods contain a lot of salt as preservatives. This includes frozen "healthy" frozen meals. The average person should consume no more than 2-3 teaspoons of salt per day.  Also balancing sodium with potassium can help (see next point).

* Eat potassium – Sodium and potassium are two elements that work together in the body. The levels are balanced to keep your electrolytes in check. Eating more potassium can counteract too much sodium. Try bananas, cantaloupe, potatoes, beans and raisins. Keeping potassium in balance with your sodium can help mitigate its effects on your body, so eating a potassium/sodium mixture such as Salt Balance in place of regular table salt can be helpful.

If you are having problems with high blood pressure, these simple tips are easy lifestyle changes that you can make to lower blood pressure naturally - you won't spend an arm and a leg on any of these tips, and they are all safe and work naturally with your body to help it regain a healthy balance.

For more healthy tips on lowering blood pressure naturally, be sure to check out Friday's book reviews!
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