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Millions of Americans are plagued with what is often called the “silent killer” — high blood pressure. Often, elevated blood pressure goes entirely unnoticed and undiagnosed until it is too late.
Hypertension occurs when the force of blood against artery walls rises. During this process, the heart kicks into overdrive trying to pump blood throughout the body. Some people inevitably suffer from a genetic predisposition to elevated blood pressure. Nevertheless, others experience this condition due to lifestyle choices such as smoking, stress, excess drinking, dehydration, or a lack of exercise.
Complications that arise from having elevated blood pressure include insomnia, vision loss, dementia, kidney problems, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries can occur as a result of a high blood pressure condition. In the worst cases, this can lead to heart attack or stroke. According to experts, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack or stroke by anywhere from two to four times.
Understanding The Numbers
A blood pressure reading consists of two measurements – systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the first number and diastolic is the second one. Systolic shows the pressure of the blood vessels as the heart is contracting while diastolic shows the pressure with the heart at rest.
- Normal blood pressure range: 90-119 (systolic), 60-79 (diastolic)
- Pre-hypertension: 120-139 (systolic), 80-89 (diastolic)
- Hypertension: 140-plus (systolic), 90-plus (diastolic)
An Honest Look At Drugs
Although the conventional way to treat high blood pressure is to use drugs, this in itself can be quite dangerous. First of all, taking drugs to control blood pressure does not address the underlying problem that caused the increase in the first place. Instead, it merely masks the problem. This means that you can carry on with dangerous lifestyle choices that can impact your health in other ways.
In addition, drugs such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics all carry with them side effects such as the following:
- Increased risk of kidney damage
- Risk of digestive problems
- Vision loss
- Elevated triglycerides and bad cholesterol
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of essential minerals such as potassium
Making Positive Lifestyle Changes
For many, making positive lifestyle changes results in a dramatic reduction in blood pressure with no need for pharmaceutical intervention. Some people take medication initially but are able, in time, to reduce their dependence. They can achieve this by taking steps to control the underlying cause of the blood pressure increase in the first place.
Here are five steps to prevent and control high blood pressure naturally:
Step #1 For Lower Blood Pressure: Limit Alcohol Consumption
For reasons that are not yet clearly understood, excess alcohol consumption (above 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men) can cause elevated blood pressure. Ironically, consuming the recommended one or two drinks a day may actually help decrease the risk of heart disease. But if you are a consistently heavy drinker, slowing down on consumption may result in a reduction that leads to the normalization of blood pressure. Furthermore, taking this action will substantially decrease your risk of having a serious condition.
Step #2 For Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise Consistently
Americans are more sedentary than we have ever been before. We are a nation that spends an astronomical amount of time behind a desk, in a car, or on the couch. We are experiencing an obesity epidemic like never before, and it is undoubtedly contributing to a rise in blood pressure. This alarming lifestyle trend also influences a number of other serious conditions such as the increased risk of diabetes and cancer.
Although exercise temporarily raises blood pressure, it also trains blood vessels to expand and contract easier over time, thus normalizing blood pressure. Consistent exercise — even walking briskly every day — can help to lower and manage blood pressure. In fact, many people find that if they just adopt this one healthy habit then they can forgo the need for drug intervention. Adding a moderate amount of strength training has been found to increase the exercise benefit as it pertains to blood pressure.
If you have not been active for a long time, consider seeking the consultation of a trained health professional and start slow until your body has time to adjust.
Step #3 For Lower Blood Pressure: Relax Daily
Many people live in a constant “fight or flight” condition where stress hormones rule the body and blood pressure rises. Pushing the body into a state of constant alertness takes its toll over time and can seriously impair proper body function and raise blood pressure. If you are often angry or feel yourself being tense more often than relaxed, it would be beneficial to learn ways to control the stress in your life.
Slow down and take note of how you live your life. How often do you relax, do something fun, let go, and unwind? Give yourself even a few minutes each day to breathe deeply, get outside in nature, take a walk, and just sit still. It can do wonders for your blood pressure.
Step #4 For Lower Blood Pressure: Stop Smoking
Millions of Americans have missed the memo on smoking and still continue to regularly participate in this destructive habit. Smoking, among other things, causes blood vessels leading to the arms and legs to constrict and can also cause hardening of the arteries. All of this can cause hypertension. The good news is that when you quit smoking, blood pressure often normalizes and overall health improves significantly.
If you need help to quit, reach out and find support from friends, family, and the professional medical community. They can all assist you in your efforts. Quitting smoking is one of the single best things you can do for your health today.
Step #5 For Lower Blood Pressure: Eat Clean
The lack of vital nutrients in processed and fast foods, as well as the addition of refined salt, makes them a significant contributor to poor health. In addition, they can also contribute to hypertension. In order to function optimally, the body requires energy in a form it can use. Make sure that you avoid boxed, canned, and fast food.
Contrary to what we have been told for a very long time, the healthy saturated fat found in grass-fed meat, butter, and coconut oil does not cause heart disease and hypertension.
(You can read our previous story, “The Truth About Saturated Fats The Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You,” here)
Eggs do not disrupt cholesterol balance, nor do they contribute to heart disease. In fact, consuming free-range organic eggs on a regular basis can increase the size of LDL particles. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of heart disease.
A colorful diet loaded with fresh, organic fruits, herbs, vegetables, and healthy fat has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension due to protective compounds found within the whole foods themselves.
Stay clear of processed foods and take a bagged lunch to work instead. All in all, avoid the temptation to buy into the fast food mentality that is such a huge contributor to poor health.
Note: You should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, especially if you have any risk factors. A home blood pressure kit is an inexpensive and wise way to stay on top of your health.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 7 Delicious Off-Grid Foods That Fight High Blood Pressure
What other all-natural ways do you use to lower blood pressure? Leave your reply in the comments section below.