Blood Pressure Control with Food and Exercise
Blood pressure is an indication that something is happening in your body that is driving your blood pressure up. It’s the canary in the mine … a warning sign that something may not be right. Blood pressure is a measurement of how much pressure is needed to crush a vein to stop blood flow. Having the right size blood pressure cuff is important, and you should be sitting or resting at least 5 minutes before measurement. Also, both arms should be tested as a routine … any significant deviation might suggest blocked arteries on one side of the body. Speak to your physician or health care provider about your high blood pressure concerns.
If you have high blood pressure (readings persistently over 140/90 mmHg), try to eliminate the lifestyle factors that are increasing your blood pressure. Here are some suggestions for reducing abnormally high blood pressure. These are simple common sense solutions to hypertension that in combination might get you off medications.
- Easy. Cut back or eliminate alcohol. Reducing alcohol consumption — 2-4 mmHg decrease.
- Hard. Quit smoking—smokers are high-risk candidates for high blood pressure because of the smoking-related activities like drinking, lack of exercise.
- Moderate. Coffee has health benefits but in some caffeine-sensitive people, coffee can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure. Check you blood pressure before and after and if your increase is 5-10 mmHg, you could be caffeine sensitive.
- Easy. Don’t add salt to your diet. Reduce sodium — 2-8 mmHg decrease.
- Hard. Lose weight — 5-20 mmHg decrease per 20 lbs weight lost. Each pound adds a mile of blood vessels to your circulatory system (Dr. John Bergman). Just imagine how much harder the heart has to work to pump the extra mile of vessels.
- Medium. Eat a healthy diet — 8-14 mmHg decrease when you eat a healthy diet.
- Medium. Regular physical activity — 4-9 mmHg decrease. Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Moderate activity like walking fast enough to sweat but still able to talk.
- De-stress there is not enough research to support that reduction in stress can lower your blood pressure. However, yogic breathing exercises reduced hypertension and yoga was found to work as great de-stressor in a New Delhi study.
The combination effect can work as well as a bunch of medications. You can realize anywhere from a 20 to 55 mmHg drop without medications.
“Anybody who has hypertension should be encouraged to work with their physician to try various things that might help them lower their blood pressure without the use of pharmacologic agents,” says Dr. Matthew Burg, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
Eating right should be a cornerstone of your efforts
Try to eliminate sodium both the type that you sprinkle on your food and the hidden sodium in processed foods especially processed meats. And if you must use salt, try using sea salt or pink Himalayan salt that contains minerals.
Eat bananas that contain potassium which can counter act the hard-to-detect sodium in foods. Adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Best sources are bananas (422 mg each), a baked potato with skin (738 mg), natural orange juice (496 mg per cup), and unsweetened yogurt (531 to 579 mg per 8 ounces). Eat an apple or other piece of fruit or some raw vegetables before you dig into anything else.