I've never met anyone who thought: "Geez, I'd love to take Plus Medical prescription!"
Approximately 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, which can have serious consequences. But even with education, many people do not take the medication as prescribed.
Research shows that approximately half of patients whose blood pressure is not under control are due to patients not continuing to take their medications. However, high blood pressure puts people at greater risk of heart disease, and I have never met anyone who has thought: "Bring heart disease!"
So, if you have high blood pressure, are you stuck taking medication for the rest of your life? Not necessarily. There are natural ways to help lower blood pressure and possibly avoid medications.
Important note: If your doctor prescribed a blood pressure medication, take it. Do not stop taking your medications without the permission of your health care provider.
Whether you're taking medications for high blood pressure or want to avoid problems before they start, these natural treatments for high blood pressure can keep your numbers under control.
When the doctor places that tight fist in his arm, he finds his systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure measures the pressure your blood exerts on your arteries when your heart beats. Diastolic measures the pressure between beats.
Most of the time, the doctor is concerned about your systolic blood pressure (the upper number), which ideally should be below 120. If it is below 130, it is in a high state, but you probably do not need medication . If you are above 130, you are in hypertension and need to lower your numbers, according to the American Heart Association.
If your blood pressure is in the range of 120 to 129, it is better to make some changes before things get worse. And the best way to do it is through your diet.
If you want to lower your blood pressure, the first thing you can hear from your doctor is "lose weight". Having a higher weight can increase your risk of having high blood pressure. However, being overweight does not automatically give you hypertension and losing weight does not automatically eliminate the problem.
I myself, like a heavy woman, do not like to go into a doctor's office and listen to "lose weight" as their only medical advice.
Therefore, consider weight as a small aspect of hypertension. Instead of worrying about your weight, it seems much more effective to concentrate on healthy eating.
"When a client comes in with high blood pressure, there are several things that we talk about right away. The first is to simply adjust your diet to a more plant-based approach, "says Alison Clayshulte, nutritional counselor at Cambiati Wellness Programs. "Ideally, our customers have three times more vegetables than protein." Vegetables are rich in fiber, which is generally an advantage, but Clayshulte is especially interested in the mineral content of these healthy foods.
"We ask customers to focus specifically on high-potassium vegetables, since this mineral has shown beneficial effects in people with high blood pressure," says Clayshulte. "The highest amounts of potassium are found in green leaves (beet greens, chard, spinach and bok choy), sweet potatoes, tuna without mercury, beet and Brussels sprouts."
The first option for these essential minerals is through natural foods. Some people can not get enough through food.
In addition to potassium-rich foods, Clayshulte says that magnesium supplements are very promising in recent studies. "Taking about 300 mg of magnesium as a supplement for three months reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings," he says. "Magnesium also promotes relaxation and stress reduction, which helps decrease blood pressure measurements."
Although everyone can benefit from getting more green leafy vegetables and greens, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that a specific diet could be incredibly effective in lowering blood pressure.
The DASH diet, which means dietary approaches to stop hypertension, focuses on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as some low-fat dairy products. It also restricts the elements high in fat and cholesterol. Processed foods are not necessary.
In one study, participants ate according to the diet and reduced their sodium. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels were reduced after eight weeks.
This does not prove that the DASH diet is the only way to reduce blood pressure, but it is the most studied diet, at the moment.
If you really need to reverse your blood pressure, this diet seems to be one of the surest ways to lower blood pressure and help with overall health benefits.
Although the reduction in sodium intake showed significant results in this study, the role of salt and blood pressure is a bit more controversial than you might think.
For years, people have been told to eat less salt if they want to lower systolic blood pressure. A study by Harvard, the University of California, San Francisco and Simon Fraser University concluded that reducing salt consumption could save more than 280,000 lives.
Of course, reducing sodium intake usually does not mean removing the salt shaker from your table. Most of the time, we get our sodium from processed and canned foods that Really pack on the salt. That's a big reason why the DASH diet and nutritionists like Clayshulte recommend cutting out (or cutting back) processed foods.
But not everyone agrees that salt is a villain. According to an article published in JAMA, in the 1950s there were indications that sugar played an important role in heart disease.
In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation did its own research on heart disease and concluded that fat, cholesterol and salt were the main culprits. Essentially, they removed the emphasis of sugar and put it in salt and fat. That said, the research was paid for by the sugar industry, so it's not at all surprising that sweet things have been left out of the conversation about heart disease in the coming decades.
To promote the debate over salt compared to sugar, an article published in the Open Heartfound cardiology journal that added sugars raised heart rate and blood pressure and caused a variety of metabolic and insulin problems in studies in humans and animals. Although they also advise eating less processed foods, they blamed the side effects of high sugar content (not sodium).
In general, there are studies on both sides of the sodium problem, but all agree on one thing: avoid processed foods. I know that Pop Tarts and Doritos are delicious, but they do not help anyone avoid heart disease.
After going through the whole debate about sugar and salt, telling you to eat chocolate seems pretty weird. But a 2010 study found that dark chocolate helped reduce blood pressure in hypertensive people.
Although the study does not tell you how much dark chocolate you should eat, it's safe to say that a 1 pound bar of Trader Joe is too much. Also, if you think you can eat Taco Bell and Funyuns, and then open a Ghirardelli square to solve your blood pressure, you're wrong. I wish it were true, but it is likely that dark chocolate will only work in small quantities in addition to a healthy diet.
It has been proven that stress increases blood pressure. Therefore, anything you can do to reduce stress and promote relaxation is excellent for hypertension.
"The practice of mindfulness meditation and deep breathing are excellent tools for lowering blood pressure," says Dr. Elizabeth Rice, a naturopathic doctor and primary care physician at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. "All these recommendations elicit the relaxation response, taking the body out of the fight or flight mode, and relaxing the blood vessels to lower blood pressure."
If you spend 10 minutes meditating in a dark room or give yourself an additional half hour to watch a new episode of "Drag Race" (or the comfort TV show of your choice), doing a relaxing activity physically affects your blood pressure. If meditation is not for you, try crafting, drawing, reading, bathing or walking around your neighborhood. Whenever you prioritize a little relaxation every day, it will help reduce your numbers. Although there is no magic herb or supplement to reduce blood pressure, there are many natural options to reduce the risk of heart disease. So, the next time someone criticizes you for eating dark chocolate on the couch while you watch the "Vanderpump Rules", just tell them you're taking care of your heart.