How to keep blood pressure low
This month we will have blood pressure awareness week. Make this month one where you make conscious efforts to reduce your blood pressure.
This month we’ll have blood pressure awareness week, so I want to keep you all aware of how to keep your blood pressure low, or reduce your blood pressure if it’s already high. High blood pressure is something which you’ll generally never see symptoms for until it’s too late, so it’s important to create habits which keep our blood pressure low.
Your blood pressure dictates the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats (and pumps blood around your body), and the pressure in your blood vessels between your heart beats (when your heart is resting). If your arteries become clogged up and therefore more narrow, it’ll increase your blood pressure.
The following 6 methods can reduce your blood pressure – these should be adhered to daily and incorporated into your lifestyle routine:
1) More activity in your lifestyle – Notice here I said activity and not exercise. Not all of us can hit the gym or workout at home, but we can all be as active as we possibly can, whether that be through more walking, gardening, standing, skipping and so forth. The more active you are, and thus the more your heart rate increases, the stronger your heart becomes over time. This means your heart can pump blood around your body with less effort and relieves pressure on your arteries.
2) Less sugar and refined carbs – There’s an undeniable link between high sugar levels and high blood pressure, so it makes sense that reducing your sugar and refined carb intake reduces blood pressure. Refined carbs will be your white bread, rice, pasta and potatoes which spike your blood sugar levels quickly, as opposed to Complex carbs such as brown bread, pasta, rice and sweet potato.
3) Less processed foods – this leads on from reducing your sugar and refined carbs. Processed foods include everything from your pastries, to fast food and takeaways. “Low-fat” and “diet” foods also fall into this bracket, as they have higher levels of sugar and salt to make up for the lower fat levels. Reducing or cutting out all processed foods will reduce your salt, sugar and refined carb intake
4) More potassium and less sodium (salt) – Potassium is an essential mineral for reducing blood pressure. It eases tension in your blood vessels while lessening the effects of salt in your body. Bananas are extremely high in potassium, but you can also get it from vegetables and dairy products. Ultimately, having less processed foods will reduce your sodium (salt) intake
5) Reduce stress (yoga, dark chocolate, sleep) – There’s a few reasons why reducing stress can lower your blood pressure. When we’re stressed we may turn to junk food and excessive eating…our stress hormone (Cortisol) increases and raises our heart rate while shutting down other vital functions in our body. When we’re stressed our thinking is more reactive than logical. Activities such as Yoga, going for a walk or generally changing your scenery are great for reducing stress. Getting a good night’s sleep also helps, as sleep deprivation is directly linked to higher blood pressure. You can also try eating 60-70% dark chocolate – the dark cocoa can help reduce inflammation and widen your blood vessels
6) Reduce smoking, drinking and caffeine – The chemicals in tobacco can, over time, damage your blood vessel walls and narrow your arteries, causing increased blood pressure. This can also be the case if you’re constantly breathing in smoke from someone else too. With alcohol and caffeine, blood pressure raises temporarily. If taken in moderation, it’ll have limited effect on your blood pressure. However, if taken consistently and out of moderation they can have long term effects on your blood pressure. If these are all kept under control, then your blood pressure can be kept under control too
Make this month one where you make conscious efforts to reduce your blood pressure and adopt healthier habits!