If your blood pressure is steadily creeping up then you are one among many looking for some of the simple things you can do to help reverse the process. More than 100 million or nearly one out of two American adults have high blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure naturally is not as difficult as it might seem if you know the tips and tricks to get you on your way.
Blood Pressure & Why We Need It
What’s the deal with blood pressure and why do we need one? Your heart pressurizes your blood by squeezing against it (beating). This pressure forces blood to move through the arteries of your body and into capillaries, where it carries oxygen to your cells. On the way back to the heart your blood moves through veins.
If the water in your house was not under pressure than it would not come running out when you open the faucet. Similarly, if your blood was not “pressured” by your heart than it would not be able to flow through your circulatory system (arteries, capillaries, and veins). Very simply, you need blood pressure to move blood through your body.
Lowering Your Blood Pressure Naturally – Eight Things You Can Do
There are many things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. Depending on your particular situation you may benefit most by one or a combination of behavioral interventions. Start with the one that you think will help lower your blood pressure quickest and then add other interventions as needed.
Here are some of the ways that have been shown to be most effective.
1. Exercise – Exercise can benefit everyone, even if your blood pressure is excellent. It is one of the best things you can do to keep your body healthy and your mind sharp. If you need to lose weight than exercise will supercharge your diet. See Fast Weight Loss Exercises – 5 Easy Ways To Lose Fat Quickly!
2. Watch Your Diet – According to a publication in the journal Sports Medicine, exercise, diet, and weight loss works great with diet to melt away the pounds and help lower your blood pressure. Sugar and refined carbohydrate (like flour) consumption can raise your blood pressure. A nutritionally well-balanced diet will generally keep you healthier and will most likely add years to your life.
3. Limit consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and salt – Stop consuming or limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and salt. Caffeine and alcohol can raise your blood pressure by elevating your heart rate. Drink decaf coffee and low alcohol content beverages. Salt can increase blood pressure by causing fluid retention. Try a salt substitute or get rid of the salt altogether. Avoid prepared and processed foods whenever possible.
4. Take dietary supplements – A number of dietary supplements may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Common examples include decaf green tea, probiotics, roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), cocoa and dark chocolate, omega-3 fatty acids, CoQ10, folic acid, Vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium. For more information see Foods High In Antioxidant – Eating Smart For Better Health.
5. Lose weight – Weight gain and obesity are definitely associated with the development of high blood pressure. When you are over your recommended weight for your height (body mass index or BMI) then your heart has to work harder to pump blood to all the extra tissue, which can increase your blood pressure. Losing weight and then maintaining weight loss requires a long-term commitment, which works best with a daily meal plan and exercise program.
6. Reduce stress and anxiety – Stress and anxiety can increase your blood pressure as well as your heart rate. Chronic stress and anxiety can make any physical or psychological ailment worse. Learn to take time for yourself to relax each day and practice things like meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi. See Mind Relaxation Techniques – A Healthy Escape From Reality.
7. Stop smoking cigarettes – Cigarette smoking can accelerate the hardening of arteries, which can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke (CVA). Additionally, smokers are at higher risk for emphysema as well as cancer the lung, and urinary bladder.
8. Get a good night’s sleep – According to the Mayo Clinic, sleeping less than six hours a night can raise your blood pressure. Chronic sleep deprivation can also cause a number of other problems including anxiety and irritability, depression, and difficulty concentrating. If you snore or stop breathing during the night than should have an evaluation for sleep apnea, which causes serious blood pressure and heart problems. For more information see Natural Ways To Help With Sleep – Feeling Refreshed Every Morning!
When Is “High” Too High?
Normal blood pressure is generally considered to be less than 120/80. A reading of 130/80 or higher is technically classified as having “high blood pressure”. If the top number is in the range of 120 to 129 than it is in a gray area or “elevated”. Technically speaking, there is no gray area for the bottom number, so anything above 80 is high.
If you are concerned that your blood pressure is too high to treat using a natural approach then the first thing to do is consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider. Your blood pressure is one of the key determinants of how healthy you will be, especially as you continue to age.
Problems Caused By A High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension), which is severe and uncontrolled, can cause serious damage to your body. You may not even be aware that your blood pressure is high, since it may not cause any of the typical symptoms, like headache or lightheadedness. Some of the most common problems include:
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) – Hypertension can make your arteries less flexible and damage their inner lining, which limits normal blood flow to the cells in your body. Atherosclerosis can eventually create serious health problems by affecting every part of your body.
Aneurysm formation – Aneurysms, which are a weakness and bulging-out of the wall of arteries in your brain, chest, and abdomen can slowly develop over time. These aneurysms can rupture, causing serious internal bleeding and death.
Heart disease – Hypertension can decrease blood flow through the arteries of your heart (coronary artery disease), which can cause chest pain (angina) and a heart attack (myocardial infarction). The increased pressure inside the chambers of your heart can eventually cause abnormal enlargement. The end result is that your heart may begin to fail as a pump and blood flow throughout your body may be severely compromised. Severe heart failure can result in sudden cardiac death.
Kidney problems – Kidney failure is commonly caused by increased pressure inside the blood vessels. This eventually interferes with the kidney’s ability to create urine and to remove waste products from the blood. Damage to the kidney as well as the heart can contribute to serious fluid retention. End-stage kidney failure may require dialysis or kidney transplant.
Brain damage – Hypertension and atherosclerosis can decrease the blood flow to the brain, which depends on oxygen and nutrients to function normally. Over time, this may lead to a transient ischemic attack (“pre-stroke” or “mini-stroke”), and well as stroke (CVA), a mild cognitive disorder (“pre-dementia”), and severe problems with memory and thinking (dementia).
Decreased vision – Increased pressure inside the arteries of the retina (which sends electrical impulses to the brain) and optic nerve can cause blurry vision, retinal hemorrhage, and permanent blindness. Glaucoma, which is increased pressure inside the eye itself, is not directly caused by high blood pressure.
Who Gets High Blood Pressure?
As you might have guessed by now, people who are stressed-out and sleep-deprived, smoke, do not exercise regularly, are overweight, and have poor dietary habits are more likely to develop high blood pressure. However, there is also a genetic component that can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
Additionally, certain medical problems like an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), a narrowing of the artery of your kidney (renal artery stenosis), or aorta (coarctation of the aorta), and a tumor of your adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma) can significantly increase your blood pressure. These “secondary causes” of hypertension can be very difficult to treat naturally and typically require prescription medications.
Checking Your Blood Pressure
The best place to check your blood pressure is at home when you are relaxed. Check your blood pressure at different times throughout the day and early evening to get a better idea of how it varies and a more accurate average reading. Blood pressure is usually checked in the left arm or wrist but if your right side has a consistently higher pressure than that is probably the more accurate reading.
If you have risk factors for hypertension, like a family history of high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, or obesity, then you should monitor your blood pressure at home. My number one recommendation for blood pressure machines is the Omron Gold Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor.
This is the machine that I use to monitor my blood pressure. It is accurate and very easy to use! It can store all your blood pressure on your smartphone or tablet so you can see the trend of your readings and show them to your health care provider. If you need a blood pressure machine then I strongly recommend that you buy this device.
Contrary to popular belief, both the top and bottom numbers of a blood pressure measurement are considered equally important. Your heart rate (pulse) is also important because your blood pressure and heart both play a part in determining blood flow through your body (cardiac output). When taking your blood pressure always make note of these three numbers and bring them with you to your office visit if you are getting medical care for hypertension.
What The Top And Bottom Numbers Mean
If you are wondering why your blood pressure reading has two (a top and a bottom) numbers then here is a simple explanation. When the heart is at rest (between beats) your blood is still under pressure but at a lower pressure than when the heart is contracting (squeezing). Therefore, your blood pressure measurement has a top (higher pressure or “systolic”) number during contraction and a bottom (lower pressure or “diastolic”) number between beats.
For example, 120/80 = systolic pressure/diastolic pressure = heart squeezing/heart resting.
Here is a video from the New Zealand Heart Foundation that summarizes the basics of high blood pressure:
Hypertension is one of the most common health problems, worldwide. If you have mild to moderately elevated blood pressure without related symptoms than there are a variety of natural approaches that you can use to correct the problem. Begin with one behavioral intervention and adds others as necessary. Monitor your blood pressure at home on a daily basis to track your progress.
It is always important to lower persistently elevated blood pressure, even if you feel fine. Chronically elevated blood pressure can cause irreversible damage to your body. Having a family history of hypertension does not mean that your blood pressure is allowed to be higher than normal. If you have very high blood pressure, with or without symptoms, then see a qualified health care provider for evaluation and management.
Tell Us What You Think
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section, or if I can help you with anything.
- Do you have any additional tips or suggestions for lowering blood pressure?
- Are you currently in a program or using a particular routine to lower your blood pressure?
- What works the best for lowering your blood pressure?