High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the silent killer because it cannot be felt and produces no outward symptoms. High blood pressure is considered anything higher than 140/90 mmHg and it is caused primarily by diet and lifestyle. The thing that makes it so dangerous though is that it produces no outward symptoms and if left untreated can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Here are nine habits to adopt that will help you lower your blood pressure naturally, without resorting to drugs.
#1: Reduce or Eliminate White Foods
Making food your medicine, like Hippocrates said, is still the best place to start. However, the problem is that many people have no idea where to begin. The easiest thing to do that requires no specialized knowledge about nutrition is to simply not eat anything that is white, or made from a white food. This would get rid of refined flour, white bread, table sugar and salt, every one of which strongly contributes to high blood pressure. If you did only this one thing and nothing else, your health would drastically improve.
#2: Increase your Intake of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain potassium and fiber, both of which aid in lowering blood pressure. Study after study has found that people whose diets contain the most plants also have the lowest rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and many forms of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s best source of vitamins and beat any pill that you can buy in a store. Buying a good commercial quality blender and learning to make smoothies is a super-easy way to always ensure you get enough.
#3: Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Consuming two or more drinks at a time dramatically raises blood pressure, so alcohol use should be avoided if you already have high blood pressure. Alcohol also acts as a severe diuretic, dehydrating you and flushing your body of essential vitamins and minerals, like potassium. It is also a huge source of empty calories.
#4: Increase your Activity Levels
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself on every front. It has been proven to not only lower blood pressure but also helps with weight loss, as well as relieving stress, depression and anxiety, all of which are contributing factors in high blood pressure. Even a moderate twenty to thirty-minute walk provides these benefits.
If you have high blood pressure and are also overweight, walking in the evening after your last meal is ideal, because your metabolism will run a little bit higher after you stop, helping you to burn off a few more calories while you sleep. Cycling and yoga are also good choices. If it has been awhile since you were active, it is fine to ease yourself into a new routine. Give your body time to adjust, then increase when you feel ready.
#5: Go See a Professional Massage Therapist
Chronic and persistent stress in your life is a definite contributor to high blood pressure. As health care professionals are recognizing the disastrous effect that chronic stress has on human health, more and more of them are recommending massage therapy as an effective treatment method. A professionally trained therapist will have state certification and have been through a training program of at least 500 hours.
#6: Learn How to Meditate
Meditation is not the strange, esoteric practice that people thought it was in years past. It has become mainstream and can be found everywhere, from yoga studios to corporate boardrooms. Meditation doesn’t only lower stress, but has been shown to inhibit the release of cortisol, a hormone released in times of great stress However, when cortisol is chronically present, as it is in many people who operate under constant stress, it can contribute to high blood pressure as well as related factors such as excess belly fat.
Practice meditation by sitting comfortably and slowing your breath, breathing in and out for 5-10 seconds each. Just focus on your breath; when the mind wanders off, gently let it return to the breath. Start with five minutes and work up from there. Twenty minutes daily provides amazing benefits in a very short amount of time.
#7: Quit Smoking
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and damages literally every part of your body, not just your lungs and heart (although they get the brunt of the damage.) The Center for Disease Control found that people who smoke have twice the risk of heart disease and stroke when compared to non-smokers. Smoking immediately raises your blood pressure and heart rate, and they stay elevated for up to twenty minutes after the last cigarette. It also damages arteries, including the large coronary arteries that surround your heart.
#8: Get a Pet
Studies confirm what we instinctively know: Pets are relaxing and fun to be around. They also have been proven to lower stress and blood pressure. In fact, one study found that the survival rate among those who suffered a heart attack to be five times greater among those who had a pet to those who did not.
Plus, there is nothing better to help you get in the habit of daily exercise as having a dog to take for a walk.
#9: Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the CDC,over 60 percent of adults are considered overweight, with obesity being considered the second leading cause of preventable death. Excessive weight is also one of the leading causes of high blood pressure, so it is imperative to maintain a healthy weight if you want to control blood pressure naturally.
There are many ways to lose weight; following the above suggestions is a great start. The best thing to do if weight loss is your goal is to not over-complicate anything. A confused mind takes no action, so keep it simple. Learn the difference between what is healthy and what isn’t. Stick to whole foods, and avoid the freezer section and food that comes in boxes. Whole foods are easy to recognize – they came out of the ground or they had a mother. Eat them as close to natural as you can. Avoid “going on a diet.” They only work while you are “on” them and will make you crazy in the meantime.