One in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This indicates that the force of blood pushing on their artery walls is excessive, which can damage the arteries and raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.
It has been demonstrated that lowering systolic blood pressure to a maximum of 120 mmHg reduces these hazards. There are two approaches to this: lifestyle changes and drugs. While lifestyle changes alone can help some people lower their blood pressure, the two techniques are complementary.
“Blood pressure control is 70% lifestyle, 30% medicine.” “Don’t bother taking blood pressure meds if you don’t make lifestyle changes, since they won’t help,” says preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD.
How To Naturally Lower Blood Pressure
The phrase “lifestyle adjustments” implies that you will need to alter your habits in order to lower your blood pressure. In general, these changes are natural — non-pharmaceutical — methods of decreasing blood pressure. Six approaches have been shown to be beneficial in clinical trials, and two more are recommended:
1. Consume Less Salt
“The most important approach to control your blood pressure is to limit your salt intake.” According to Dr. Laffin, a low-sodium diet has the same effect as one and a half to two blood pressure drugs.
The average American eats 3,500 mg of sodium per day, which is significantly higher than the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 1,500 mg, or about one teaspoon, of salt per day. Because this number is very stringent, the Cleveland Clinic limits it at 2,300 mg. “The difference in effect is merely 2 to 3 mmHg,” Dr. Laffin says. “At the very least, we recommend reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day.”
Because sodium is buried in so many foods, it is difficult to eliminate sodium unless you cook everything from scratch at home, never eat out, and avoid all processed meals, including bread. But it’s not impossible. “It takes about 10 to 14 days to acclimate to a low-sodium diet; after that, some things will taste salty,” Dr. Laffin explains.
IMPACT: If you have hypertension, decreasing your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day will lower your blood pressure by 5 to 6 mmHg.
2. Increase Your potassium Intake.
Fast food, processed foods, carbs, potatoes, and meat are all high in potassium, which contributes to high blood pressure. A daily potassium consumption of 3,000 to 3,500 mg from foods such as bananas, tomatoes, and other vegetables is suggested.
If you have severe kidney disease, you should avoid consuming too much potassium since your kidneys may not be able to clear it, according to Dr. Laffin.
IMPACT: If you have high blood pressure, increasing your potassium consumption to recommended levels should lower it by 4 to 5 mmHg.
3. Follow The DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was specifically designed to lower blood pressure. It focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Adherents of the DASH diet typically fulfil low-sodium and high potassium recommendations while also losing weight. The research on this diet has been so positive that it is now regarded as one of the most important non-pharmaceutical treatments for hypertension control.
IMPACT: The DASH diet has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 11 mmHg.
4. Slim Down
Obesity raises the risk of acquiring high blood pressure. More than half of all adults in the United States have trouble with their weight. Any amount of weight loss is beneficial.
IMPACT: Every 2.2 pounds lost should result in a 1 mmHg decrease in blood pressure.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Men should limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks per day. Women should limit themselves to one each day.
IMPACT: If you have hypertension and consistently consume more alcohol than is suggested, limiting your intake may result in a 4 mmHg drop in blood pressure.
6. Get Some Exercise
Physical activity, particularly aerobic activity, is extremely helpful at lowering blood pressure. Aerobic activity causes blood vessels to contract and expand, keeping them flexible. It also makes the blood flow better and helps new blood vessels form, among other things.
IMPACT: 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week can reduce blood pressure by 5 to 8 mmHg.
Dynamic resistance exercises, such as bicep curls with weights, and isometric resistance workouts, such as pushing against a wall, are also choices. The amount they are likely to drop blood pressure depends on how frequently they are performed, how many repetitions are performed, and what weights are utilized with dynamic resistance exercises. They have the ability to reduce blood pressure by 4 to 5 mmHg.
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