Millions of Americans are affected by high blood pressure. Whether it's related exercise, diet or genetics, they're afflicted with the constant trials of keeping their blood pressure within the desired range. While you are you are your doctor will determine the best course of treatment if you're diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are some lifestyle changes you can make on your own.
Lose Weight and Get Active
There's a simple formula to this: the more excess weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure gets. Losing even 10 pounds can help drop your blood pressure by a couple points.
It's also important to get out and exercise regularly. If you can find a way to the get to the gym a few times a week or just exercise at least 30 minutes everyday, you can drop your blood pressure by four to nine points. It won't take long for you to feel the difference either. You may start to see improvements in your blood pressure within a few weeks.
Eat Heart Healthy Foods
Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and low in saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure. Bananas, grape juice and most berries contain antioxidants like polyphenols as well as minerals potassium. Combing these fruits with a low-fat yogurt (which is chock full of calcium, magnesium and potassium) can reduce your blood pressure naturally by up to 31 percent. If you're lactose intolerant, try throwing some fruits in with your oatmeal. Studies have shown those with high blood pressure who eat whole grain oats rich in soluble fiber every day had a significant dip in their blood pressure numbers.
If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, try dark chocolate, which enhances the effects of insulin in sugar utilization. It's recommended you look for nonsweetened or minimally sweetened dark chocolate containing at least 70 percent cocoa.
Hold Back on the Booze
Drinking alcohol regularly falls into the category of a double-edged sword. In small amounts, alcohol can actually lower your blood pressure by two to four points. That being said, alcohol consumed in excess interferes with the liver's ability to metabolize hormones. When these hormones aren't metabolized, they can cause significant spikes in blood pressure. Studies also suggest consistently consuming alcohol decreases the level of magnesium in your bloodstream which actually raise your blood pressure, even when you aren't drinking.
Cut Down On Caffeine
Most of America cannot function without their morning cup of coffee. Ever been in an office building with a broken coffee machine? It's a horrifying place. For most people, consuming 250 to 300 mg of caffeine per day would be considered safe (equivalent to three normal sized cups of coffee). Although coffee hasn't shown long-term effects on blood pressure, it can still cause hypertension ingested in large amounts. So while it's still acceptable to have your morning cup of joe, keep it within reason.
Soda, on the other hand, puts you at a greater risk for high blood pressure. A recent study conducted by Dr. Wolfgang Winkelmayer of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital showed women are 15 percent more likely to develop hypertension if they consume an average of one soda per day.
Try a Vitamin D Supplement
If you aren't getting out and getting enough sun on a daily basis, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Lack of sunlight reduces your vitamin D stores and increases parathyroid hormone production, which increases blood pressure. A combination of vitamin D and calcium have shown to be very effective at lowering blood pressure. It's believed calcium actually enhances the effects of vitamin D as they pertain to blood pressure.
Stay Stress Free for a Bit and Relax
When you're stressed, your body produces a surge of hormones which temporarily raises blood pressure. If you're constantly stressed, your blood pressure is going to stay elevated. Taking a few moments every day and practicing the art of meditation cannot only clear your mind, but help you stay less stressed throughout the day. Stress also causes people to drink, overeat, etc. which all raise blood pressure.
These tips are meant to help you lead a life free of high blood pressure but may not work for everyone. Once again, it's important to have a plan in place with your doctor for managing your blood pressure to prevent any future complications.
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