Your blood pressure is a good type of pressure that you’ll want to know all about. Normal blood pressure means your body is healthy and working within its limits to peak capacity. The good news is that maintaining your blood pressure within normal limits is absolutely within your control. And in this day and age, checking your blood pressure is as easy as visiting your local pharmacy or even having a small personal unit in your home.
Monitoring your blood pressure with a home-based unit can be helpful however, if you prefer, have your blood pressure checked by your health care professional often. And remember not to worry; blood pressure tends to goes up and down, even in people who have normal blood pressure. Blood pressure should be measured when you are relaxed and rested. If you know your health care professional will be taking your blood pressure, arrive at your next appointment early and sit quietly to let your blood pressure return to normal. Traffic, parking and rushing to the appointment can all raise your pressure and preclude an accurate reading. Stay calm and take life easy!
If your numbers happen to stay above normal, your health care professional will help you understand how to regulate your blood pressure to stay within normal, healthy limits. Working with your health care professional, maintaining a healthy diet and making a few simple lifestyle changes could be all it takes to put you back in control and keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. Normal blood pressure is a necessary thing that allows blood to flow and deliver nutrients to the body. When your heart pumps, it creates this pressure to circulate the blood and bring it back, against the force of gravity, to the lungs for re-oxygenation.
HOW IS BLOOD PRESSURE EXPRESSED?
Blood pressure numbers include systolic (sis-TOL-ik) and diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) pressures.
- Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood.
- Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
Blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number above the diastolic, such as 120/80.
SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAINING HEALTHY BLOOD PRESSURE
In most cases of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says there is no one identifiable cause. This kind of high blood pressure is called “primary hypertension” or “essential hypertension”. It is usually due to a combination of factors, such as:
- Weight. The greater your body mass, the more pressure there is on your artery walls. That’s because more blood is produced to supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues in your body. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes and take a long, leisurely stroll every evening after supper. This can help reduce your weight easily and enjoyably.
- Activity level. Lack of physical activity tends to increase heart rate, which forces your heart to work harder with each contraction. Increasing your activity level is simple and fun. Take that stroll each evening, wash your own car instead of taking it through the car wash, rake up a few leaves for your composter or treat yourself to a few lengths in a pool.
- Smoking. Today, there are so many choices to help you stop smoking. Talk with your health care professional to choose the one that’s right for you. If you choose to quit smoking, having a partner in the endeavor can sometimes make it easier. Your partner will be someone who understands what you’re going through in the moment. You’ll have someone you can talk through your concerns with as well as having the support of each other if times get tough.
- Sodium Intake. Excessive sodium in the diet can result in fluid retention and high blood pressure, especially in people sensitive to sodium. Today, there are many salt substitutes on the market to make it easier for you to kick the salt habit all together.
- Potassium Intake. Low potassium can result in elevated sodium in cells, because the two balance one another. To easily increase your daily potassium intake, eat a banana, a few apricots, or dates and figs each day.
- Stress. Stress can raise blood pressure. Choose to learn a stress-busting technique such as meditation, tai chi, yoga or visualization. This can have double the benefit as tai chi and yoga help raise your daily activity level as well.
- Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older. Simply check with your health care professional more often and remember, it’s all within your control!
- Family history. High blood pressure can run in families. This type of high blood pressure is often easily controlled with help from your health care professional.1
The great news here is that everything listed above can be handled with a few simple changes to lower your blood pressure back to within healthy limits!
HEALTHY CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE TODAY
You can remarkably reduce your blood pressure through nutritional changes. Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit and reducing the amount of fat and cholesterol will not only reduce blood pressure but can help with weight loss, which also lowers blood pressure. Eat whole, fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. Include fruits, vegetables, garlic, onion, whole grains, soy, beans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel) in your weekly nutrition plan.
Low Sodium – High Potassium Diet
Most people know that reducing sodium intake can help reduce blood pressure. However, new information indicates that decreasing your sodium intake to help lower blood pressure appears to work better if accompanied by an increase in potassium at the same time. Keep in mind that reducing your sodium intake involves more than just not using a salt shaker. Make it a habit to read processed and prepared food labels for their sodium content as well.
As much as possible, try to reduce the following foods:
- salt; use a salt substitute or sea salt
- sugar; use a natural sweetener such as Agave
- dairy products (reduce, but do not discontinue, unless recommended by a health care professional)
- refined, processed foods
- fried foods
- junk foods
- caffeine; switch to decaffeinated coffee and tea, and drink herbal teas.
Try to drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., if you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 oz of water daily or about 9 – 10 cups).
Pets Can Help Reduce Your Blood Pressure
A pet’s calming influence may outperform drug therapy when it comes to reducing stress-related spikes in blood pressure, researchers report.
“We’ve shown over and over that it’s beneficial to be with a pet when you’re under stress,” explained Dr. Karen M. Allen of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She reported the findings here Sunday at a meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA).
Numerous studies have found that pets improve the emotional and physical well being of their owners, especially the elderly. The Buffalo researchers’ new findings suggest that Fluffy or Fido may even soothe the savage breasts of stress-prone Wall Street stockbrokers.
In their study, the investigators asked 48 stockbrokers to conduct in-home ‘stress tests’ aimed at producing temporary spikes in blood pressure. Prior to the study, the brokers lived alone and were diagnosed by their physicians as suffering from hypertension.
The brokers who owned pets also had stress-related rises in blood pressure, but these rises were only half as high as those seen in the petless group.
Pets may even outperform human companions when it comes to controlling hypertension. People with pets don’t feel they’re being evaluated. They’re loved and accepted by their pets.2
NATURAL PRODUCTS THAT ASSIST WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The following supplements can help lower blood pressure. Talk with your health care professional before taking supplements to ensure you are receiving the correct dosage and that the supplement will not interfere with any other prescription medications you may be taking.
CoenzymeQ10 – can assist with weight loss, has been shown to lower blood pressure.
Vitamin C – lowers blood pressure, helps prevent inflammation in the walls of arteries, helps with production of anti-stress hormones and adrenal gland functioning.
Calcium – helps maintain regular heartbeat, lowers blood pressure, is involved in the activation of lipase, an enzyme which breaks down fats.
Flaxseed meal – Grind 2–4 tablespoons daily. Flaxseed meal is a good choice due to its fibre, lignan, and vitamin content.
Hawthorn – In a randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers in Reading, UK, 79 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either 1200 mg of hawthorn extract a day or placebo for 16 weeks. Medication for high blood pressure was used by 71% of the patients. At the end of the 16 weeks, patients taking the hawthorn supplement had a significant reduction in mean diastolic blood pressure (2.6 mm Hg). No herb-drug interactions were reported.3
Balance your blood pressure naturally.
Flora Hawthorn Formula has historically been used for long-term heart support. Hawthorn berries, leaves and blossoms, plus hibiscus and passionflower, synergistically support the circulatory system by dilating blood vessels for improved blood flow.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil have been shown to be beneficial in controlling high blood pressure. In a 5-year study done at Boston’s Simmons College, it was found that flaxseed oil my help prevent elevated blood pressure by inhibiting inflammatory reactions that cause poor circulation and artery-hardening plaque.
Try adding some flaxseed oil to your cottage cheese. Why? Flaxseed oil is made more effective when 2 tablespoons of the oil are added to ¼ cup of cottage cheese. The essential fats bind to the proteins in the cottage cheese making them more easily absorbed by your body. For more information on this dynamic duo, you may want to read the book, Fats That Heal – Fats That Kill by Dr. Udo Erasmus.
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.
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