According to the CDC, over 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. (That’s about 1 out of every 4 people!) Those with high blood pressure are in jeopardy of eventually suffering a heart attack or stroke. Yep, it’s time to do something about this. In an effort to be proactive & have to avoid prescription drugs we wanted to highlight 6 easy life changes you can impart on your life to help lower your blood pressure.
Remember to always consult your doctor or physician before embarking on any drastic lifestyle changes.
- Watch your weight
Reducing that waistline will make your blood pressure levels fine! (Protip: singing makes everything more fun). Studies show that losing weight reduces blood pressure significantly. It sounds like an obvious task – but planning a diet and setting goals to lose those pesky extra pounds can be the perfect way to kickstart the task of lowering your blood pressure. Remember – the goal isn’t always to ‘be skinny’ it’s to feel healthy.
- Exercise and boost your activity levels
One of the best ways to lose weight is to exercise and adopting a more active lifestyle. It is well-documented how essential exercise is to heart and lung health. By improving your physical fitness levels, your heart and lungs become stronger, putting less strain on your arteries. This leads to lower blood pressure.
Health experts suggest at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-high intense exercise 3 to 4 days per week. These exercises include:
- Brisk walking
- Rock climbing
And if you think running around the world or becoming a crossfit champion is the only way to improved health, don’t panic. Simply boosting your activity levels in your everyday life will lower blood pressure too. It’s about baby steps. Here are some ways to do so:
- Performing household chores
- Riding a bike
- Walk your dog an extra few blocks
- Mowing your lawn ( Need extra exercise? Get a neighbor’s lawn too! Sit down mowers don’t count)
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking your car further from your destination
- Playing sports with friends
- Dark Chocolate
Who said all chocolate is bad for you? Dark chocolate is a superb food for high blood pressure sufferers. It contains antioxidants that have been linked to lowering blood pressure as well as improving heart function. When preparing your protein smoothie or eating a bowl of oatmeal substitute any chocolate or sweetener for raw cacao.
But we know sometimes the sweet tooth is inevitable. If you are opting for chocolate for dessert make sure to find a dark chocolate that contains 70% cacao or cocoa to maximize its health benefits.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been a hot topic in health news for the past several years. It provides users with a wealth of health benefits, even being used topically to treat body pain. Another one of those benefits is the ability to lower glycemic response, a terrific way to reduce blood pressure.
Studies have discovered that ingesting a few teaspoons of ACV prior to eating a high-carb meal (e.g., bread, pasta, etc.) may significantly reduce how high blood sugar levels spike post-meal. This would greatly benefit those who have type-2 diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure may put you at risk of eventually having the disease.
So, if you tend to eat high carb/glycemic index (GI) foods, consider adding drops of ACV to water (or any non-sugar beverage) and drinking it prior to eating.
- Eat Low GI Foods
If you want to avoid the bitter taste of ACV, then redirect your diet to low GI foods. When you eat high GI foods, this raises your insulin levels. Raised insulin levels makes your body withhold fluid & salt and thicken the tissue around blood vessels, elevating your blood pressure. Obviously, you don’t want those problems.
Eating low GI foods will regulate your insulin levels, in which should keep your blood pressure levels down. Also, a low-carb diet, in which is considered a low GI-diet, is linked to a decrease in blood pressure. To see if a food has a low GI, see if it’s certified by the Glycemic Index Foundation. (Note: Foods are considered low GI when rated at 55 or lower.)
Here is a list of low GI foods:
- Most fruits and vegetables
- Sweet potatoes/yams
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole grain products
- Legumes (e.g., black beans, kidney beans, etc.)
- Brown rice
- Avoid Taking Substances That Drives Up Blood Pressure
“I’m fit and healthy, so why do I have high blood pressure?”
This is a question some athletes and avid exercisers have asked their doctor. Despite living a healthy lifestyle, some people suffer from high blood pressure. While some instances are hereditary, other reasons are due to certain substances they frequently use.
The following are substances that have been known to increase blood pressure:
- Common painkillers (e.g., Ibuprofen, Diklofenak, Ipren, etc.)
- Coffee (Caffeine)
- Nicotine (Smoking or chewing tobacco)
- Heavy alcohol use
- Cortisone pills (e.g., Prednisolon)
Many prescription drugs have raised blood pressure as a side effect so it’s important to ask your doctor about the specifics of what you might already be taking for other issues.
Bonus Tip: Get 7-8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep per day. People whose sleep is disturbed, especially middle-aged individuals, have an increased risk of high blood pressure. Also, reducing your stress levels help big time.
These tips will lay the smackdown on your blood pressure levels! Before you do anything, remember to visit your doctor for a physical to create a plan to lower your blood pressure. It’s best to know where your current health stands before beginning your journey towards lower blood pressure.