High blood pressure is one of the most common chronic diseases that affects millions of people worldwide. If high blood pressure is not addressed, it can worsen and lead to other health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. A lot of times, high blood pressure occurs without any noticeable symptoms, which is why it is commonly referred to as a “silent killer.”
High blood pressure is typically related to poor lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise and eating an unhealthy diet. Blood pressure medications are often used for treatment but it can also occasionally be corrected with natural methods such as regular physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
Although you should always work with your doctor to treat high blood pressure, there are plenty of steps within your control that will allow you to potentially lower your blood pressure without medications. Keep reading to find out more about high blood pressure and some methods you can try to help lower your blood pressure naturally.
Understanding Blood Pressure: What is it and How is it Measured?
Blood pressure is a crucial indicator of your overall health. In technical terms, blood pressure is the force of blood exerted on the walls of the arteries as it circulates throughout the body. Blood pressure measurements consist of two different numbers: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is the top number and diastolic is the bottom number. The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure as anything above 130/80, however many people have a systolic blood pressure over 139 at the time of diagnosis.
The Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are many different causes of high blood pressure but the most common is lifestyle habits. The good news is, if you have high blood pressure because of your lifestyle choices, this means that there are many steps that you can take to easily lower it on your own.
Other causes include underlying medical conditions and genetics.
Eating an unhealthy diet, living a sedentary lifestyle, drinking excessive alcohol, smoking and experiencing chronic stress are all lifestyle factors that could contribute to high blood pressure. It is important to pay close attention to how your lifestyle choices may be affecting your health, especially if you have high blood pressure or if you have other risk factors.
Adjusting your lifestyle habits is one step you can take to control high blood pressure. Try following a healthy eating plan, use stress management techniques like deep breathing and avoid drinking alcohol. You’ll likely be happy to see how these new adjustments can influence your blood pressure and overall health.
Underlying medical conditions
Underlying medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea all contribute to high blood pressure. Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure because when the kidneys are not getting enough blood, they release hormones that cause the blood pressure to rise.
Diabetes causes fluctuations in blood sugar. When the blood sugar is high, it can damage the blood vessels causing them to stiffen over time. This can lead to high blood pressure. Sleep apnea causes the brain to pump more blood throughout the body which causes an increase in blood pressure.
Some people are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure if they have family members who also have the condition. If someone in your immediate family has high blood pressure then there is a good chance that you may also end up having it in the future as well. If you know that you have a genetic tendency to develop high blood pressure, then you should be taking even more steps to ensure that your blood pressure remains low.
Lifestyle Changes: Diet, Exercise and Stress Reduction
You can lower your own blood pressure through lifestyle adjustments in as little as a few weeks or a couple of months. The most effective way to lower blood pressure is through diet, exercise and stress reduction.
Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein helps to reduce blood pressure levels. The DASH Diet is commonly recommended to help with lowering blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet includes foods that are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. It also limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.
Lowering your sodium consumption is one of the most effective dietary changes you can make to help lower your blood pressure. Many processed, packaged and pre-made foods are high in sodium and so are restaurant foods. For this reason, it is important to get in the habit of cooking for yourself if you’re hoping to lower your blood pressure through diet. To make it easier, you can make large batches of healthy meals so that you have leftovers for the following days.
Regular body movement through exercise is another effective method to lower blood pressure. Exercise alone can help lower blood pressure in as little as a few weeks or months. Working out regularly helps to promote weight loss, improve stress levels and improve heart health–all of which will help to lower your blood pressure.
Aerobic exercises like walking, running and bike riding help strengthen the heart and improve circulation throughout the body. Regular exercise also helps prevent obesity which is another common risk factor for high blood pressure. You should aim for about 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day to help improve your heart health and maintain normal blood pressure.
Poorly managed stress can cause an increase in blood pressure. Taking steps to reduce your daily stress and learning to manage stressors that are out of your control can help lower high blood pressure levels. Many people deal with chronic and poorly managed stress, so there is a good chance that stress could be having a negative effect on your blood pressure levels.
Although prescription medications are available to lower blood pressure, some people prefer to use natural supplements to help lower blood pressure. Some natural supplements that may help to lower blood pressure include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Garlic has been found to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. One study notes that garlic helps to reduce arterial stiffness and blood stickiness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to benefit heart health in a variety of ways, with their effects on blood pressure being one of them. Omega-3 fatty acids can be taken as a supplement or ingested through your diet from eating foods like fish.
Magnesium supplements can offer many benefits such as improving sleep quality, reducing stress and improving bone health. Another benefit of magnesium is that it can help lower blood pressure. One study found that magnesium significantly reduced blood pressure levels in individuals with insulin resistance and prediabetes.
Always talk with your doctor before incorporating a new supplement into your daily routine, especially if you’re taking medications or have chronic health conditions.
Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture, Massage and Yoga
Some alternative wellness therapies such as acupuncture, massage and yoga can also help to lower blood pressure.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of small needles into specific pressure points of the body. Acupuncture can help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, promote relaxation and improve circulation. It has also been found that acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation and improve the overall functioning of the nervous system which helps to lower blood pressure.
Massage therapy is another alternative health therapy that might help to lower blood pressure by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Yoga combines exercise with breathwork and stretching to work as a mind-body practice that offers many benefits for health and wellness. Yoga not only benefits your physical health but your mental health as well. Yoga helps to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and promote relaxation.
The Benefits of Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally
The biggest benefit of lowering your blood pressure naturally is that it can help you avoid the need to take medications. Natural methods that help to lower blood pressure can improve your health in other ways as well, such as by boosting energy levels, improving mood, helping you lose weight and benefitting sleep quality.
Lowering your blood pressure naturally can also help to lower your risk of developing other conditions such as heart disease and kidney damage. Because high blood pressure puts an extra strain on the heart, high blood pressure can cause additional damage to the heart and lead to other diseases when it is left untreated.
You should always work with your doctor closely when determining the best methods for lowering your blood pressure. Your doctor can help you to find the best way to treat high blood pressure and support you through the process of adjusting your lifestyle.
High blood pressure is a serious condition that affects many people worldwide. When left untreated, it can worsen and lead to dangerous health conditions. You should always work closely with your doctor to treat high blood pressure but there are also plenty of steps that you can take to help lower your blood pressure naturally. Talk with your doctor about what your best options are for treating high blood pressure.