High Blood Pressure – Natural Solutions.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
…is the problem in the letter “S”?
High blood pressure is prevalent nowadays. We must all know someone who takes medication for it, or has been threatened by their doctor to take it unless they act quickly. It is an important topic to address, because if left untreated it may result in a stroke. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in the Western World. Lifelong management requires committing to a few, simple diet & lifestyle tweaks:
- Salt/Sodium attracts water in the blood, increasing pressure due to more blood volume
- Sugar makes blood sticky & less flowing, increasing blood pressure
- Stimulants (caffeine e.g. energy drinks, coffee & to a lesser extent, tea) promote adrenalin release from the adrenal glands (situated on top of the kidneys), because our bodies think that we are in danger. Adrenalin perks us up, but also increases our blood pressure by causing a stress response
- Smoking stiffens our arteries, causing atherosclerosis. Lack of arterial elasticity increases blood pressure
- Stress induces our fight, flight & freeze response (sympathetic nervous system), which prepares us for survival by contracting our arteries, engaging our muscles & increasing our blood pressure. Additionally, stress depletes the important mineral, magnesium, which helps to relax our arteries & lower blood pressure
Top 10 Tips for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- Potassium is found abundantly in fruit & vegetables. It acts oppositely to sodium by promoting the excretion of water & salt out of the body, reducing blood pressure
- Nitric oxide is found abundantly in beetroot (especially beetroot juice). It is a vasodilator (relaxes arteries), which reduces blood pressure
- Omega 3 is found in oily fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, mackerel & anchovies), walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds & hempseeds (including their oils). It is a mild blood thinner. Thin blood increases blood flow, which reduces blood pressure
- Vitamins D, K & magnesium facilitate deposition of calcium into our bones. Without these three vital nutrients, calcium may be deposited in our arteries instead of bones. This undesirable outcome is called calcification. It is the reason why calcium is linked to cardiovascular disease. It is more likely to occur if taking calcium supplements in isolation. Ensure sufficient sun time during summer (vitamin D supplement is inevitable for most of us in winter – I take it in the form of cod liver oil with added vitamin D), eat plenty of green leaves for vitamin K, & include an array of vegetables, nuts & seeds for magnesium
- Caffeine is best to be enjoyed occasionally instead of daily. Substitute with herbal tea. Dandelion & chicory tea are great coffee-tasting substitutes
- Hydration is essential for life. Dehydration increases blood viscosity, reducing flow & increasing pressure
- Weight loss (if necessary) of a small amount, improves heart health by a large amount. Less weight to carry, reduces blood pressure & strain on the heart
- Exercise enhances circulation & blood flow around the body, reducing blood pressure
- Relaxation induces our parasympathetic nervous system (rest, repair & digest). This plays an important role in stress management. Book a date with yourself & don’t let yourself down! Would you let your partner/friend/family down? This may be yoga, reading or baking J the possibilities are endless!
- Consult with me! High blood pressure is a multifaceted condition. It develops & presents differently because we are all different. A Naturopath will provide individualised diet, herbal medicine & lifestyle recommendations by determining the cause in your unique case. Herbal Medicine is powerful, as many herbs are vasodilators, blood thinners & circulatory stimulants, which may significantly reduce blood pressure
Written by Olivia Kennedy ~ Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist & Wellpark Graduate
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