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8 Effective Home Remedies For High Blood Pressure

8 Effective Home Remedies For High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure a.k.a the “silent killer” has reached near epic proportions in the U.S.   This dangerous condition affects a whopping 30 percent of Americans and leads to 60,000 deaths annually. High blood pressure or hypertension, has earned the moniker “the silent killer” [1] as it typically has no symptoms until after it has done significant damage to the heart and arteries. In fact, almost 20 percent of Americans who have high blood pressure don’t even know they have it and are unaware that they are at risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and eye disease. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to be screened for it by a medical professional for it [2].

If you have been diagnosed or are predisposed to developing hypertension, there are a few things you can do to assist in managing or preventing this dreaded condition.

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1. Lose excess weight and pay attention to your waist line

This first home remedy for high blood pressure is widely known but very unpopular. However research shows that there is a direct correlation to one becoming overweight and an increase in blood pressure. [3] Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further elevates your blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. When shedding the weight, experts suggest that you pay special attention to your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.

2. Exercise regularly

This next home remedy for high blood pressure seems to be the cure for everything. Exercise is hugely important in longevity and quality of life. Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury [4]. It’s important to consistently incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle, because once you become sedentary, your blood pressure can rise again. If blood pressure is only slightly high (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can assist in maintaining lower pressure levels.

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3. Modify your salt intake

Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to be particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive. [5] However, there is no precise way to determine whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, so everyone should lower their sodium intake, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, [6] a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How much should we lower it? According to Dr. Obarzanek, to about 1,500 mg daily,  which is about half the average American intake (half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium). Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.

4. Indulge in dark chocolate

This, by far, is my favorite home remedy for high blood pressure. Dark chocolate varieties contain flavanoids, which make blood vessels more elastic and lowers blood pressure. One particular study found that dark chocolate, the kind that contains at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa, lowered blood pressure in all participants, but most notably in those with hypertension. During the experiment, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease [7]. All it takes is half an ounce daily.

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5.  Reduce stress

Research is definitive when it comes to stress–chronic prolonged stress can kill you. Research shows that most chronic stress is generally, work related. Working more than 41 hours per week increases your risk of developing hypertension by 15%, according to a University of California, Irvine, study of 24,205 California residents. Putting in overtime makes it hard to exercise and eat healthy, says Haiou Yang, PhD, the lead researcher in the study [8]. It may be difficult to leave early or even on time every day in today’s tough economic times, but try to leave at a decent hour—so you can go to the gym or cook a healthy meal—as often as possible. Rest and relaxation also is a huge stress reducer. Be sure to take breaks during the day and try to take non-working vacations as often as possible. Breaks make you more productive which will help ease some of that work place tension.

6. Eat a healthy well balanced diet

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and goes easy on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. When possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy and eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing and preparation.

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7. Use herbs and herbal supplements

Herbs combined with a healthy lifestyle are a natural way to help your body heal itself. If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical purposes, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplement, always consult a physician. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications [9]. Some herbs that are believed to assist with lowering blood pressure are:

  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hawthorne
  • Celery Seed
  • Lavender

8. Go easy on the caffeine

Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. Some studies have shown no correlation between the two, but one study that came out of Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500 mg—roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee—increased blood pressure by 4 mm Hg, and that effect lasted until bedtime. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and magnify the effects of stress, says Jim Lane, PhD, an associate research professor at Duke and the lead author of the study. His study found that when you’re feeling stressed, your heart, beats faster and  pumps a lot more blood which raises your blood pressure. Adding caffeine to the mix exaggerates that effect. Researchers suggest switching to decaf drinks or going with tea [10].

Hypertension is a medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a licensed health care professional. Once diagnosed patients are often given medicine to help regulate their blood pressure and most often the doctor outlines a list of lifestyle changes the patient should make in order to assist in lowering blood pressure. In many cases, a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle can shorten the span of time requiring medication and may eliminate the need for it altogether.

Featured photo credit: Администрация Волгоградской области via commons.wikimedia.org

Reference

[1] http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13118
[2] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofHighBloodPressure/How-High-Blood-Pressure-is-Diagnosed_UCM_301873_Article.jsp#.WDS7F9UrKUl
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072415/
[4] http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/safe-exercise-tips#1
[5] http://www.gbhealthwatch.com/Trait-Salt-Sensitivity.php
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219218/
[7] http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html
[8] http://www.ucirvinehealth.org/events/health-classes/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/
[9] http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/herbs-to-lower#CelerySeed0
[10] http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/health-facts-about-caffeine

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Denise Hill

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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