There are a lot of people with higher than normal blood pressure these days. If your doctor has expressed concern about your blood pressure, don’t worry – there are ways to lower your blood pressure naturally, and hopefully you can avoid medication. However, if you leave it too long, it will be too late to lower it naturally and you’ll have to depend on medication. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney and heart failure, and stroke – to name a few! This condition is definitely worth taking seriously.
High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of issues: stress, existing health problems like kidney disease, genetics, obesity, too much sodium, and many more. Sometimes people look at a list like this and think “how will I ever find the time to fix all of this?” People lead busy lives these days, but these solutions won’t take too much of your time. In fact, by making different decisions each day, you can lower your blood pressure and impress your doctor! Here are 10 changes you can make that are proven to lower blood pressure:
1. Reduce Sodium Intake
This is probably the easiest and fastest one on the list. All you have to do is taking a quick look at the sodium amount listed in the nutritional content of any food and pick the healtheir option. Many restaurants are now listing which menu items are lower in sodium or fat content, so eating out won’t require too much added research either. You can also reduce sodium by gradually decreasing the amount of salt you add to your meals. Over time your taste buds will adapt and you won’t notice the difference.
2. Add More Vitamins and Minerals to Your Diet
Specifially, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. All of these are proven to naturally lower blood pressure, and they all have other health benefits as well. For example, did you know that a high number of people don’t have enough magnesium? However, before taking any additional supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor, particularly if you are already on any other medications. Because of drug interactions, you may need to take these supplements at different times or you may not even be able to take one or two of them.
3. Lower Your Blood Sugar
High blood sugar is a growing problem because of all the refined sugars and carbs available today. (Too bad they are cheap and delicious!) You don’t necessarily have to elminate these foods completely, but if your blood pressure is very high, you may want to avoid them completely until your health is under control. After that, you can probably indulge in a sweet treat once in a while, but be careful not to overdo it. Another product that increases blood sugar is sodas and other sugary drinks. If you the fizz of these drinks and carbonation will make water easier to drink, try mineral water like Perrier or San Pelligrino. You can find them wih natural flavors like lime and lemon.
4. Try Some Cardio
Cardio is a good way to lose excess pounds and get your heart pumping, both of which will help to lower your blood pressure. Busy people don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, but you can get some excercise in throughout the day, just by making some changes. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever you have the option. If you work or live in a building where you are constantly taking the elevator, this alone will be a dramatic increase in your cardio exercise. You can also buy a step counter and wear it each day. Set some step goals and challenge yourself to increase the amount of steps you take each day.
5. Weight Training
Just like cardio, weight training can help you get in better shape which will result in lower blood pressure. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, try putting ankle weights on for part of the workday or using weights while watching Netflix in the evenings. You don’t have to carve out a hige amount of time to lift weights; you can get creative about it and do two things at once.
6. Yoga or Pilates
Relaxing and beathing deeper are two keys to lower blood pressure. Yoga will help you to breathe deeply, relax your body and your mind, and stretch out your muscles. Pilates will make you sweat a little more than yoga, but ithis low-impact exercise will also help you to relax and is good for your muscles and joints. If you have time, try to do one or both of these at least twice a week.
Something as simple as going for a walk can do wonders for your mind and your body. In addition to helping you lower your blood pressure, walking will help you to lose weight, realx your body, give you new perspective on a problem, and it also gives you a much needed break from your busy day. Try taking some time out of your lunch hour to go for a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds around you.
8. Sleep More
Because of the nature of the typical Western lifestyle these days, sleep has become a precious commodity that no one gets enough of. Over time however, lack of sleep can be a cause of high blood pressure. If your sleep cycle has become disrupted after too many late nights and early mornings, you can try taking Melatonin, (consult your doctor first) a naturally-occuring sleep hormone in your body. You shouldn’t take too much of it, and it should only be used for a short time to get your sleep cycle back on track. You can also ask your doctor for something stronger to help you sleep. Your to-do list will have to wait until morning or the weekend to get some, because sleep is (and should be) very important.
9. Kick the Bad Habits
If you smoke, it will be very hard for you to lower your blood pressure naturally unless you quit. If you are serious about it, there are many options available today that have made it easier for a lot of smokers to quit. Cognitive beavior therapy, the Nicotine Patch, and the Nicotine Inhaler have all been successful. If you drink too much, this will also cause your blood pressure to rise. However, a glass of red wine has been proven to help lower blood pressure. You can still have a drink to unwind after a busy day, but you may have to change your drink of choice.
10. Learn to Relax
We live in a fast-paced, busy world that demands we rush to get to work, rush to get things done, rush home to spend time with our kids before going to bed and starting all over again the next day. The stress of this lifestyle is taking a severe toll on our bodies, and high blood pressure is one of the results. If you want to lower your blood pressure naturally, this is one of the most important ways to do it. You can (and should) take care of all the other items on this list, but if you fail to learn to relax and destress, you will be fighting this battle with your body for the rest of your life. Stress is very powerful and can severely harm your body if left unchecked. To successfully lower your blood pressure you will have to find a ways to relax. You may need to go to counselling to learn how to destress, schedule some “me time” where no one will bother you, or even change your job. In the long run, stress is just not worth your health. You don’t have to do it all at once – start with small, managable steps like taking the long way home a couple times a week, scheduling a day off here and there to spend with your family, or making time for a massage a couple times a month.
Featured photo credit: Piotr Marcinski via shutterstock.com