By Dr. Khoobsurat Najma
Reader Q) What are the steps that I can take to lower blood pressure naturally?
A) People with hypertension ( high blood pressure) often need several medications to control blood pressure. But adopting a healthy lifestyle and making small but conscious dietary changes can go a long way in controlling blood pressure and sometimes even reducing the dose and number of medications. Here are some easy ways of keeping blood pressure in check :
1 . Go Easy on yourself. De-stress!
Chronic stress is an important contributor to high blood pressure. Even occasional stress can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking. Managing stress in your life effectively may help reduce your blood pressure.
– Give yourself time to get things done
– Learn to say no and to live within manageable limits
– Try to learn to accept things you can’t change
– Know your stress triggers and try to avoid them
– Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply
– Meditate! Whether it involves chanting, breathing, visualization, it can be an effective stress-management tool for many people
– Practice Yoga. Studies have shown that yogic breathing exercises reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension, possibly through their effects on the autonomic nervous system
2 . Cut Down your Salt Intake
Restricting the salt intake to less than 6gm/day can lower the blood pressure by 2-8 mmHg. To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
– Read the food labels carefully and opt for foods with low sodium
– Avoid having processed foods as they have high sodium content
– Develop a taste for unsalted/low salted food. Resist the urge to sprinkle salt over salads and cooked food.
3 . Go Bananas
Potassium rich foods can counterbalance the harmful effects of excess sodium in the body. Include foods like banana, amla, orange, potato, papaya, cabbage and bhindi in your daily diet.
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4 . Exercise Regularly
People who are physically active are often able to reduce the number of high blood pressure medications they are on.
– 30-45 minutes of brisk walking 3-4 times a week could lower the blood pressure by 7-8 mm Hg
– You could pick any physical activity you like such as walking, running, swimming, cycling
5 . Lose those Extra Kilos
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight may be enough to keep your blood pressure in control.
– Limit your calorie intake to around 1500 Kcal per day. Have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products.
– Stay hydrated. Drink around 2 liters of fluids throughout the day
– A weight loss of even 4.5 kg can lower blood pressure. A 10 kg weight loss could lower the blood pressure by 5-20 mmHg
6 . Limit your Tea/Coffee Intake
Caffeine can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension. Limit your caffeine intake to about 2 cups of coffee per day.
7. Stay Away from Alcohol
Research has found that consuming more than 2 drinks a day increases the risk of hypertension in both men and women. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. Restrict your alcohol intake to special occasions or weekends. And remember, moderation is the key.
8. Quit Smoking
Smoking is tied to higher risk of hypertension.
– Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish
– Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal
– People who quit smoking, regardless of age have a higher life expectancy
So wake up every morning for a brisk walk, eat healthy throughout the day, stay hydrated and go to bed with gratitude. Stay happy, Stay Healthy!