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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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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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