In today’s world, high blood pressure, aka hypertension, is one of the most common lifestyle diseases. Stress, inactive lifestyle, unhealthy eating and inadequate sleep are a few prime reasons for hypertension. are a few prime reasons for hypertension. High Blood pressure affects one out of every three adults in America, one out of every four adults in India, and one billion people worldwide. Furthermore, if not controlled in time, it can cause complications to your heart, kidneys, vision, and memory.
The causative factors are unknown in 95% of people with high blood pressure. Most people believe that high blood pressure is a lifelong disease. However, it is essential to note that this is a lifestyle disease rather than a lifelong disease. As a result, correct lifestyle changes can treat the root cause and reverse it.
Types Of High Blood Pressure
Primary Blood Pressure
It is the most common type, and the cause is usually unknown. The absence of specific symptoms characterises primary blood pressure, but it can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and nosebleeds. This type of blood pressure usually takes a long time to develop. It’s most likely the result of your lifestyle, surroundings, and the changes in your body as you age.
Secondary Blood Pressure
Any damage to the arteries can trigger secondary blood pressure. Other causes include sleep apnea, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, or medication that causes your blood pressure to rise. In other terms, secondary hypertension happens by some other medical condition.
High Blood Pressure: Risk Factors
High blood pressure can affect anyone, but certain factors can increase your risk.
As you get older, your risk of developing high blood pressure rises. As we age, the arteries tend to lose elasticity making them stiff and causing hypertension.
Studies have shown that high blood pressure is more common in Asian and African people than white people. It often develops at a younger age in Asian and African people. Serious complications such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure are also more common.
A family history of high blood pressure increases the likelihood of developing it. In addition, there is a probability of 30-60% of acquiring high blood pressure due to genetic reasons.
Being Obese or Overweight
As your weight increases, the pressure on your artery walls increases, leading to blood vessel damage. When the blood vessels are damaged, it experiences more pressure during blood flow. Thus, causing high blood pressure.
Being Physically Inactive
People who follow a sedentary lifestyle have higher heart rates. The faster your heart beats, the harder it has to work with each contraction, and the greater the pressure exerted on your arteries. A lack of physical activity also increases obesity.
High Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol causes arteries to harden and narrow with cholesterol plaque and calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the constricted blood vessels. As a result, blood pressure rises to abnormally high levels.
Various studies have shown that both sleep deprivation and insomnia have been linked to increases in incidence and prevalence of hypertension. One study suggests that lack of sleep in hypertensive patients may increase sympathetic nervous activity during the night and the following morning, leading to increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Tips to Lower Blood Pressure Levels
Small changes in your lifestyle can significantly impact your blood pressure levels. However, you don’t have to go through a significant lifestyle change to see a difference in your blood pressure. Here are some simple and effective actions to help restore your blood pressure to normal levels.
It’s no secret that exercise strengthens your heart. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. As a result, the force on your arteries decreases, resulting in reduced blood pressure. In addition, 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you control your weight and lower stress levels, resulting in more stable blood pressure. The key is to stick with something you enjoy doing, such as walking, dancing, swimming, or cycling. However, before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor about what will be safe.
Exercise also promotes the formation of new blood vessels and improves blood flow, among other things. For example, 150 minutes of activity per week can reduce blood pressure by 5 to 8 mmHg.
Cut Down on Sugar and Refined Carbs
High carb diets increase the production of insulin and leptin in the body. Leptin is a hormone that tends to influence nitric oxide production, thereby leading to sodium retention, systemic vasoconstriction, and blood pressure elevation.
As insulin levels rise, insulin resistance develops. As a result, magnesium can no longer be stored and excreted through urination. When magnesium levels are too low, blood vessels cannot fully relax, causing blood pressure to rise. A study showed that excess sugar intake raised 5.6 mm Hg of diastolic and 6.9 mm Hg of systolic blood pressure.
Another study compared various popular diets and found that low-carb and low-fat diets lowered diastolic blood pressure by an average of 5 mmHg. It also lowers systolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg within six months of following it.
Eat High Protein Foods
Particularly plant protein may lower blood pressure because it is digested more slowly than carbohydrates, resulting in less insulin and leptin production. As a result, the heart has to work less hard to pump blood, which leads to lower blood pressure. On the other hand, a high protein diet might not be appropriate for everyone. For example, those suffering from kidney disease should exercise extreme caution. It is best to seek advice from your doctor.
Examples of high protein foods include eggs, poultry, freshwater fish, beans and legumes like kidney beans and lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and oilseeds.
Eat Less Processed/ Packaged Foods
Salt is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure. That is because most of the salt in your diet comes from processed foods and restaurant foods, not from your salt shaker at home. Pizza, chips, canned soups, frozen foods, and fried Indian snacks like bhujia, mixtures etc all are popular high salt products that we consume daily.
Another critical ingredient in processed foods is fats. Fat is what gives food its flavour and keeps you full. Some products contain “low fat” or “no fat” labels. However, high salt and sugar are in these products to compensate for this fat loss. Cutting back on or, better yet, eliminating processed foods will help you consume less sodium, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. All of which can lead to a reduction in blood pressure.
The best way to limit your intake of processed foods is to read nutrition labels and look for the amount of salt added. The sodium content of 5% or less on a food label is low, while the range of 20% or more is considered high. Another way is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods rather than refined products.
Medicinal Herbs May Help
Since ancient times herbs have treated a variety of diseases. You can control high blood pressure with various medications, such as beta-blockers and dietary and lifestyle changes. However, many herbs can also help lower blood pressure and have less to none side effects, such as basil, parsley, celery seeds, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Magnesium deficiency relates to elevated blood pressure. However, this is because magnesium stimulates nitric oxide production, a signalling molecule that aids in the relaxation of blood vessels. A study found that you can reduce blood pressure with dietary sources including nuts, seeds, legumes and green vegetables.
Several B vitamins can help lower blood pressure. For example, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplements help lower blood pressure in adults with MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene mutations. MTHFR increases the likelihood of high blood pressure.
Folic acid and folate supplements (vitamin B9) can also help people with heart disease lower their blood pressure. Furthermore, higher folate intake in adolescence might protect against this condition later in life.
Use Prescribed Medications
Along with all the lifestyle modifications, it is essential to take the medicines prescribed by your doctor. Blood pressure medications work as follows:
- Relaxing blood vessels
- Lowering the force of heartbeats
- Blocking nerve activity that can cause blood vessel constriction
- It makes your body eliminate water, reducing the amount of water and salt in your body to a healthy level.
Consult a healthcare professional to determine the best blood pressure medication for you. To keep your blood pressure under control, you might need to take multiple medicines. You can also discuss the duration of the drug course and make adjustments accordingly with your doctor.
It would help if you took your blood pressure medicines precisely as per the prescriptions. However, please do not stop the medications without consulting your physician, as it could have serious counter effects.
Effective Foods to Manage High Blood Pressure
Yes, chocolate lovers, you read that correctly. Consuming dark chocolate in moderation can lower blood pressure levels. But only those dark chocolates that contain 60 to 70% cacao.
According to a study on dark chocolate, eating one to two squares per day can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation. The flavonoids present in chocolate with higher cocoa solids and high magnesium content provide these benefits. In addition, flavonoids aid in the dilation, or widening, of your blood vessels.
Buchu (Agathosma betulina) is a South African native plant. Isomenthone and diosphenol, two compounds found in buchu, are thought to have diuretic properties. In addition, buchu assists your body in excreting excess water and salt through urine. As a result, both blood volume and artery pressure decrease.
According to a study, garlic can help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure. Adults who consumed 300 mg of dried garlic extract reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 7 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by about 5 mmHg. Garlic is best when used in conjunction with hypertension 1 to 2 cloves of garlic in a day is recommended.
In traditional Chinese medicine, basil treats various cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure. Also, basil contains a lot of eugenols, a plant compound that lowers blood pressure. In addition, sweet basil essential oil also has antihypertensive properties. Due to its ACE inhibitory properties, it prevents the narrowing of arteries.
Parsley is another well-known diuretic. It is rich in nitrates, which help dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow while lowering blood pressure. A study establishes that parsley extract lowers systolic, diastolic, and average blood pressure in rats with and without hypertension. However, more human trials are needed to confirm these benefits.
Ginger appears to have antihypertensive properties. It contains substances that inhibit angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE), lowering blood vessel pressure. As per a study conducted on people under 50, ginger treatments resulted in an average 6 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 2 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a variety of functions in the body, including maintaining the health of blood vessels. Some good sources include oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines. In addition, omega -3 is in some vegetarian sources such as walnuts and chia seeds. But some may require supplements if they are not getting enough omega-3 from their diet.
Research on omega-3 rich fish oil and blood pressure revealed a reduction of 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure in those with high blood pressure.
A large proportion of the world’s population suffers from high blood pressure. While medications are one option for treating the condition, many other natural treatments are available. In addition, lifestyle changes can be effective tools for managing or even reversing your diagnosis. The fundamental changes are adding more nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs to your diet and increasing physical activity. In addition, you have to remember to limit your sugar and carb intake and the consumption of processed foods. Prevention is always better than cure, it is a condition that can easily be prevented by changing lifestyle and habits.
Because hypertension frequently manifests without symptoms, it is critical to check your blood pressure at your yearly medical checkups. Severe hypertension can lead to serious health problems; therefore, the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be managed — and possibly even reversed!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can drinking water lower blood pressure?
A. One of the healthiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to lower blood pressure is to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated and drinking water allows the heart to pump more efficiently, allowing blood to flow freely throughout the body. Water also inhibits the release of the hormone vasopressin in the brain, causing blood vessels to relax and the body to excrete excess sodium.
Q. Does tamarind reduce high blood pressure?
A. Tamarind is high in fibre and potassium, effective at lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and reducing blood pressure.
Q. Which medicine controls high blood pressure?
A. The type of medication prescribed by your doctor for high blood pressure is determined by your blood pressure measurements and overall health. Some common medications are diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers.
Q. Why reduce salt for high blood pressure?
A. To keep the concentration in the blood balanced, salt attracts water. When the blood contains too much salt, the salt draws more water into the body. As a result, it causes fluid retention, which raises blood pressure by increasing the pressure exerted by blood against blood vessel walls.
Q. Does garlic reduce high blood pressure?
A. Garlic contains Allicin, which inhibits the production of angiotensin II, a hormone that causes your blood vessels to constrict and raise your blood pressure. Allicin’s effects prevent the production of angiotensin II, making it easier for your blood to flow freely and lowering your blood pressure.
Q. What exercises should be avoided with high blood pressure?
A. Patients with high blood pressure should avoid any exercise that is very intense for a short period, such as sprinting or weightlifting. They quickly raise your blood pressure and put undue stress on your heart and blood vessels.
Q. At what time of day is blood pressure highest?
A. There is a daily pattern to blood pressure. Blood pressure usually begins to rise a few hours before you awake. Then, it increases throughout the day, reaching a high point around midday. In the late afternoon and evening, blood pressure usually drops. When you’re sleeping, your blood pressure is generally lower during the night.