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5 Drug-Free Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Woman enjoying a nutritious breakfastAccording to some estimates, 1 in 3 people in the United States has high blood pressure. Another 1 in 3 have pre-hypertension. High blood pressure or hypertension is typically considered 140/90. However, updated guidelines are now labeling 130/80 as hypertension. Having an elevated value in one of those numbers may be enough for a hypertension diagnosis.

When the pressure required to circulate your blood is high it places an abnormal amount of stress on your heart muscles and the small arteries and reduces the amount of oxygen that’s delivered to the smallest blood vessels in your body. Those with high blood pressure are at increased risk for stroke, dementia and other serious health conditions.

The good news is there are many actions you can take to lower your blood pressure naturally. Here are five:

#1. Adopt a healthy diet.

What to eat less of

Cut out or reduce the sweet stuff. One 2020 study found that those who consumed 74 grams or more of fructose a day (about 2 ½ sugary drinks) had a 77% greater risk of high blood pressure levels. It’s also important to eliminate trans fats and cut back on salt. The easiest way to avoid sugar and bad fats is to eat unprocessed whole foods.

What to eat more of

You also should strive to increase the consumption of foods rich in potassium. The average reported intake of potassium from food is about half the 4700 milligrams that are recommended per day. Research shows that low levels of potassium have a significant impact on blood pressure. In the typical Western diet, we should take in three times as much potassium as we do sodium.

Add more cultured or fermented foods into your diet such as kefir or sauerkraut. Eat fatty fish that’s low in mercury (wild-caught salmon, anchovies and sardines are great choices).

Adding beets to your diet is also a great way to keep your heart healthy as beets contain naturally high levels of nitrates which the digestive system converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and widens the blood vessels which in turn lower blood pressure. A narrow vessel increases pressure but a widened vessel decreases pressure.

Try one of these dietary approaches

Specific diets to consider for lowering blood pressure are the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet, the ketogenic diet, and Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean Diet.

#2. Get moving.

Inactive people have a 30-50% greater risk for developing hypertension than their active counterparts. So it’s no surprise that regular exercise is good for your heart. Aim to engage in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day which can help lower your blood pressure.

Whether it’s brisk walking, cycling, running or working out at the gym, movement is what matters. Exercise is considered the first line of treatment by several authorities including the World Health Organization (WHO) and The International Society of Hypertension.

#3. Maintain a healthy weight.

Blood pressure often is elevated as weight increases. Being overweight also disrupts breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further elevates your blood pressure. Besides paring pounds, you should keep a trim waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can increase your risk of high blood pressure.

#4. Kick the habit.

Smoking causes an instant spike in blood pressure and can increase systolic blood pressure levels by as much as 4 milliliters of mercury (mm Hg). Stop smoking and your heart and the rest of your body will thank you.

#5. Manage stress.

The connection between stress and hypertension is well documented. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful but the lack of ability to cope. Those with heart disease can lower the risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70% by learning to manage stress.

There are strategies that you can use to transform your negative emotions. Meditation, journaling, talking to other people, sharing your experience, yoga and the emotional freedom technique are all ways to help you manage stress.

For more information, see Dr. Kalaba‘s recent video on YouTube.

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