About 75 million American adults (29%) have high blood pressure or hypertension. That’s 1 in every 3 American adults. Anyone, including children, can develop high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart attack. It is also the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. Each year American’s meet with their doctor and discover they have elevated blood pressure. I know because I am one of them!
About two years ago my blood pressure readings began to become too high. I decided I was not going to be put on blood pressure medications. This meant I needed to come up with a plan to reduce and maintain a healthy blood pressure using non-drug options so instead, I adjusted my diet and lifestyle and have managed to get my blood pressure into healthy ranges. Read on to see how I did it and how you can do it too.
What is hypertension?
You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your blood pressure readings are consistently 140 over 90, or higher, over a number of weeks. You may also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be over a number of weeks. If you have high blood pressure, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels.
How hypertension medications work
If you have high hypertension your doctor will want to place you on an ARB or an ACE medication. ARB stands for angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB). These are drugs that block the action of angiotensin. Specifically, ARBs prevent angiotensin II from binding to the angiotensin II receptor on blood vessels and other tissues.
Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical that causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract, thereby narrowing the blood vessels. Narrowing of blood vessels increases the pressure within the blood vessels and may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). Reducing the binding and activity of angiotensin II leads to widening (dilation) of blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors work similarly to ARB medications. ACE inhibitors lower your blood pressure by reducing angiotensin II in your body. This allows your blood vessels to relax and widen, making it easier for blood to flow through. It also lowers the amount of water your body retains, which lowers your blood pressure.
Four steps to lower blood pressure
I Get Moving
Many of people don’t like to “exercise”. So I prefer calling it movement. You don’t have to go to the gym and lift weights to be fit. Finding the right movement is imperative for success. Do what you enjoy and what comes naturally to you.
The fix is pretty basic – Don’t sit around!
If you have a desk job get up and walk around every 45 minutes. Park father from the door and get up and go to people (speak face to face) instead of emailing them whenever possible. Eat lunch away from your desk and take a ten minute walk on your lunch break.
Other good easy movement ideas include joining a a hiking/walking club or taking a yoga class. These kinds of low impact movements are ideal because they not only get the blood moving they also calm the mind. Remember just getting out into nature and away from electronic devices and distractions will lower stress and your blood pressure.
II Practice Meditation & Stress Reduction
The fact is you blood pressure will go up when you find you are unable to cope with daily stress. Besides turning off the news and avoiding those people and situations that push your buttons there is another way! It is to learn how to initiate the relaxation response by slowing your breath down and thus your heart rate and blood pressure. Both meditation and guided imagery offer this health benefit, are easy to learn and cost you nothing.
~ I get “white coat syndrome” and every time I have my blood pressure checked in the doctors office I panic. The last time I went in for a check up I decided to try listening to a ten minute meditation on my phone as I sat in the waiting room. It worked! My pressure reading was in normal range when the nurse took it.
You can learn how to do some basic meditation, deep breathing and relaxation very easily. Besides websites and YouTube videos there are a number of good free or low cost apps for you smart phone will show you how to use visualization and guided imagery as well as meditation.
Spending as little as ten minutes a day in a relaxed state helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress and helps create more joy in your life.
Here are a few links to get you started
https://www.headspace.com also has an app for your smart phone.
Take a look at your at your food consumption. If you are eating mostly prepared foods, restaurant foods and foods that come out of a box you are getting too much sodium and not enough vitamins and minerals.
The fix: boost vitamin and mineral intake and cook more of your own meals.
- Ditch the pre-prepared, boxed, take out and canned foods
- Use Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt – ditch the table salt
- Eat at least 2 cups of green leafy vegetables each day. The best and safest way to increase folate is by eating greens. These do not have to be eaten raw either. Greens can be lightly steamed, sautéed and added to soups and casseroles. Sneak them into your meals as much as you can!
- Eat 4-5 servings of brightly colored vegetables and eat a wide variety that is fresh and in season as much as possible. Think of how you can eat the rainbow every day ad include foods such as carrots, yams, peppers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes.
- Celery and potatoes are good sources of potassium.
- Eat 1 -2 servings of fresh fruit.
- Use herbs/spices; broths; citrus zests for added flavor and to help decrease salt
- Eat more garlic. It is very heart healthy.
- Cut down on alcohol. Stick with a glass of red wine
- Take time to sit quietly and chew your food. Don’t rush eating!
~ See this related post where I explain the importance of minerals in those with hypertension http://nourishholisticnutrition.com/high-blood-pressure-mineral-imbalance/
Heart experts like cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Dr. James C. Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.C. make these general supplement recommendations
- Multivitamin/mineral foundation
- Coenzyme Q10: 180 – 360 mg
- L-carnitine 500 – 1,000 mg
- D-ribose 5 -10 grams
- Magnesium 400 – 800 mg
- Additional fish oil: 2 grams (or up to 4 grams)
- Garlic: 1 gram
- Hawthorn berry 1,000 – 1,500 mg
- Note: Garlic and hawthorn berry have very similar action to ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors in lowering blood pressure.
Many naturopaths advise taking 90 mg of potassium daily. Folate in the form of methyl folate is also a good idea for most people but start with a low dose of 400mg. If you have a SNP mutation and cannot convert to folate supplementing with methyl folate is very important.
Need more help lowering your blood pressure without drug intervention? Let’s talk. Email me with the details of your health issues here: Are We a Fit?