In South Africa, over six million people suffer from hypertension. If your blood pressure is high, find out how to beat hypertension naturally…
If left untreated hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases the risks of heart and kidney disease, stroke and heart attacks.
While there is medication available to lower it, Fedhealth says that research shows that dietary and lifestyle factors also play an important role. In fact, when positive lifestyle changes are made consistently over time, they can reduce – or even eliminate – the need for blood pressure medication.
Six natural ways to beat hypertension
Here are six lifestyle changes that could help you beat hypertension naturally…
1. Eat a healthy diet
The more weight you gain, the more your blood pressure increases – so eating a healthy diet and losing weight can help reverse this.
There is a specific dietary approach known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which includes eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and moderate amounts of whole grains, whole legumes, fish, poultry and nuts.
If you’re a hypertension sufferer, foods that are high in potassium such as avocado, melon, banana and coconut water can counteract the effects of high sodium in the body (as explained in point 2 below).
2. Reduce salt
Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream, which in turn results in higher blood pressure due to the extra strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys. By reducing salt in your diet, you can lower your blood pressure.
Start by eliminating added salt at the table, and very salty foods like cheese, and cured or smoked meats, but you should also cut out foods that you may not know have high sodium levels. These ‘hidden culprits’ include processed foods like refined breads and cereals, canned or pickled foods, bottled pasta sauces, frozen meals, tomato sauce and mayonnaise.
3. Exercise regularly
You don’t need to go to a gym for hours every day – studies have shown that even just walking for a total of two hours a week can help lower your blood pressure.
The key here is to make exercise a part of your life and do it regularly, for example by taking gentle walks every day, or by cycling to work instead of driving.
4. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine have been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, so it’s important to avoid cut back on these in order to lower it.
If you can’t bring yourself to cut them out completely, exercise moderation, for example by limiting yourself to just one or two drinks on weekends, and by not drinking more than one cup of coffee a day.
5. Consider natural supplements
Two natural supplements can be particularly helpful in lowering your blood pressure.
The first is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant and important nutrient for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. The second is the omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for overall cardiovascular health.
If you’re not getting omega oils naturally through your diet (through foods like fall seed, nuts, fish or squid), omega-3 supplements are easy to obtain in pill or capsule form.
6. Reduce everyday stress
Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so your contributing stresses could include anything from a demanding job and long commute to work to financial worries or looking after small children.
While you may not be able to change these circumstances immediately, you may be able to make small adjustments that can help you cope better. For example, you could approach your boss about working flexible hours to cut down your commuting time or ask friends and family to help you if you’re juggling childcare and a career.
It’s also important to make some time for yourself to do things that you enjoy and that help you relax, whether it’s a walk in nature, spending time with close friends, cooking or meditating.
While no one is recommending that you ignore your doctor and stop taking prescription medication, these lifestyle changes can help you fight hypertension whether you’re on medication or not.
What’s more, the knock-on effects including feeling healthier, happier and having more energy.
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.