KNOW YOUR NUMBERS: How to lower blood pressure naturally
It is often said the higher your blood pressure the lower your life expectancy. High blood pressure—medically known as hypertension—affects about 30 percent of adults. If untreated, it increases your risks for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and dementia. Fortunately, a number of natural strategies can help normalize blood pressure without prescription drugs or other invasive measures. Among those strategies include a whole-foods diet, targeted supplementation, exercise, and stress management. Dietary approaches to lower blood pressure: Reduce sugar intake. Increased consumption of sugar—especially sugar-sweetened beverages like soda—is associated with high blood pressure, and reducing sugar intake has been shown to lower blood pressure. Increase Potassium consumption. High dietary intake of potassium is associated with lower blood pressure. Sources of potassium include starchy vegetables like potato, sweet potato and plantain, fruits like banana, and some species of fish, like halibut, rockfish, and salmon. If you’re not eating these foods you may wish to supplement. Eat fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. There are numerous health benefits of EPA and DHA, the fats found in cold-water fish. Studies have shown that DHA, in particular, is very effective at reducing blood pressure. You don’t need to take a fish oil supplement to get this benefit; eating cold-water fish three times a week is just as effective as taking a high-dose fish oil supplement, and the protein in the fish may also have a blood-pressure lowering effect. Canned salmon is great added to wraps or salads and smoked salmon makes a wonderful addition to any breakfast. Magnesium. A high dietary intake of magnesium has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Nuts, seeds, spinach, beet greens, and chocolate are high food sources of magnesium. Magnesium’s effect on blood pressure is magnified when combined with increased potassium intake. In fact, increasing potassium and magnesium intake together while moderately reducing sodium intake can lower blood pressure as much as a single medication. Lifestyle approaches to reduce blood pressure: Weight loss. Excess body fat can raise blood pressure, and reducing it can lower blood pressure. About 60 percent of Americans with hypertension are overweight but losing 10 or 20 pounds can normalize blood pressure. Exercise. Endurance exercise, strength training, high-intensity interval training and simply moving around more during the day have all been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure. Sleep. Both short sleep duration and poor sleep quality increase the risk that you’ll develop high blood pressure. Correcting sleep apnea has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Sunlight. Exposure to ultraviolet light increases the production of a chemical in our bodies called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator; it helps our blood vessels to relax, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Meditation. Several studies have shown that meditation can be effective for lowering blood pressure via its relaxing effects on the nervous system. Deep breathing Even short periods of deep breathing have been shown to modestly lower blood pressure, and using deep-breathing techniques over weeks to months may lead to long-term reductions in blood pressure. Research suggests that three to four fifteen-minute sessions per week of deep breathing are sufficient to have this effect.
Supplementary approaches to reduce blood pressure:
Several supplements have been shown to be quite effective for lowering blood pressure. In fact, research suggests that when combined together, diet and lifestyle changes and supplements can be even more effective than drug treatment.
Some supplements you can ask your doctor about include:
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Garlic. Magnesium. Vitamin C. and Potassium if dietary intake is inadequate.