High blood pressure (hypertension) often has no visible signs or symptoms, so it has long been called “the silent killer.” Doctors usually can’t point to one factor that brings on this condition. There are many factors that can increase the risk of getting it, including:
- Stress – This activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing arteries to be more rigid.
- Sodium – Large quantities can cause water retention, expand blood volume, and increase blood pressure.
- Caffeine – Stimulates the cardiovascular system and raises blood pressure.
- Calcium, magnesium, and potassium deficiency – Any of these can increase blood pressure.
- Insulin resistance – This can cause kidneys to retain sodium and increase blood pressure.
- Regular alcohol consumption – Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure.
- Being overweight (obese) – Excess weight increases blood pressure.
- Medications – Steroids, birth control pills, decongestants, NSAIDs, and diet pills have all been linked to hypertension. Also, some over-the-counter (OTC) remedies that contain licorice root, ephedra, guarana, kola nut, yerba mate, ginseng, and yohimbe can raise blood pressure.
- Limit caffeine intake
- Limit or avoid alcohol intake
- Maintain your true weight
- Relax – Find a relaxation method that works for you. Take walks, do yoga, or practice breathing exercises.
- Sleep deeper and better – Those who do are less likely to get hypertension.
- Don’t smoke – If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smoking contributes to heart disease and many other life-threatening diseases.
- Exercise – Thirty minutes a day (three times a week minimum) of moderate, low-impact exercise can have a significant effect on reducing high blood pressure.
- Yoga – The exercises can be performed with out the typical meditation. You can also meditate on calming instrumental music or scripture reading.
- Current Medications – Discuss your current prescriptions, herbal supplements, vitamins, and OTC medications with your healthcare provider. Changes may be necessary to reduce your blood pressure.
There is a diet specifically designed to lower high blood pressure; it is called the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The most important parts of this eating plan are:
- Generous quantities of fruit and vegetables
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Foods high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium
- Lower sodium intake –2400 mg or less total sodium intake daily is optimal.
- Reduce sugar intake – Too much raises blood sugar levels. People who eat large amounts of fructose – like high fructose corn syrup – are more likely to have high blood pressure.
Those with hypertension should include these components of the DASH diet into their daily routine. In addition, doing the following will help you lower your blood pressure:
- 8 to 10 servings daily of fruit and vegetables. These have flavonoids and other components that dilate blood vessels.
- Say no to salt – Cooked food is usually salted in the process, so avoid adding more when it gets to the table.
- Eat 4 to 5 servings of seeds, nuts, and legumes each week (2 tablespoons of seeds or nuts or ½ cup of dried beans).
- Eat fish – Adding three servings per week of cold-water varieties – salmon, tuna and sardines – will add the Omega-3 fatty acids needed. Taking fish oil capsules can also help your intake. If you have problems with burping and fish-odor breath with the capsules, try freezing them. They will not thaw until they are into the intestine, so no burps or bad breath.
- Calcium and magnesium supplements – Women should consume 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily, and men should have 500-600 mg daily.
- Vitamin C – 1000 mg or more of this antioxidant daily has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower the risk of several types of cancer. Unused quantities will not be stored in the body, but spill out with urination.
- Garlic – Eating fresh garlic (cooked or raw) with meals is best. If you don’t cook with garlic, you can get capsules. Like with fish oil, these may cause burping backlash, so freeze them to bypass that effect. Garlic and fish oil also have limited shelf life, but freezing will extend it.
- Reduce intake of hydrogenated oils, lard, and bacon.
- Hawthorn berries – These lower pulse rate, increase stroke volume (how much blood is pumped with each beat of the heart), and dilate peripheral vessels to improve circulation.
- Coleus – This increases stroke volume, reduces risk of blood clots, and elevates cyclic AMP, which boosts metabolism.
- Olive leaves – A traditional Tunisian remedy for hypertension, studies show it has been effective in lowering blood pressure – total reductions of 18mm for systolic and 10mm for diastolic pressures.
- Lily of the valley – This works in a similar manner to Hawthorn and Coleus, plus it also has a slight diuretic action, regulates pulse, and has been prescribed in situations of mild heart failure associated with aging. It is considered safer (with less side effects) than foxglove (digitalis).
- Fo-Ti (Chinese knotweed)
- Stinging nettle
- Pau d’Arco
- Wild yam
- Black walnut
- Cat’s claw
- Lemon grass
As with any treatment for medical conditions, check with your healthcare provider before beginning anything new or discontinuing current treatments.
Good health to ALL!
©2011 Off the Grid News