Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Treat Elevated Blood Pressure with Lifestyle
If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may think your family genetics destined you to medications as the only way to control your numbers. Your genetics is only part of the story. You can control and lower your blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle that may initiate new commitment to self care. Research shows evidence that environmental changes that assist weight loss and increase your daily intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will in fact lower your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure 130/80 mmHg or greater you are not alone! It is known that one out of every two American adults has elevated blood pressure or hypertension. These findings are not isolated and often accompany other health related concerns. While it’s normal and healthy for blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day, when your blood pressure stays elevated it can lead to many health problems – like kidney function changes, heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.
Cardiovascular health is a great motivation to drop a few pounds because it works! Weight loss is the most effective method for avoiding high blood pressure and minimizing the need for multiple medications. Many people do require medications along with lifestyle changes to help control their blood pressure. Here are some guidelines for treating and avoiding high blood pressure:
Decrease your waistline measurement
It is clinically evident that as our waistline increases, so does our blood pressure. Men with waistlines greater than 40 inches and women with waistlines over 35 inches are at greater risk of hypertension, elevated blood sugars and hormone imbalances. Some people recognize this risk as the apple or pear body shape. The more weight you carry around your waist the greater the risk of cardiac and metabolic health issues.
Routine exercise, whether it’s walking 2 miles or activity that raises your heart rate for 30 minutes a day will help keep blood pressure regulated. These are positive effects for metabolism and relaxation. Spending time in activity and in nature reduces emotional stress and lowers blood pressure!
Eat a whole food diet
A balanced diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber – but also limited in sodium, added saturated fat and cholesterol will help lower and maintain healthy blood pressure. A high fiber, low saturated diet rich in plants has the ability to lower your blood pressure as effective as a prescription medication. The other benefit? A diet rich in unprocessed whole plant-based foods is filling and lower in calories, making weight loss easier.
Limit your alcohol intake
If you drink more than one 12 ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine or one ounce of grain alcohol per day, you can actually raise your blood pressure. Alcohol is also a source of empty calories and liver stress. This combination will make it more difficult to loose weight.
Get rid of tobacco
Tobacco constricts blood vessels and drives up blood pressure. Period ! These are just some of the ways in which you can gain more control over your health and lower your blood pressure naturally.
What is the best part of lifestyle changes? When you live in a way that supports healthy blood pressure – by eating better, moving more, not smoking and avoiding excess alcohol – you are also decreasing your risk for weight gain, GI discomforts, cancers, joint inflammation and pain to name a few of many other chronic health concerns.
But if making all these lifestyle changes seems overwhelming, or you’re not sure where to start, reach out to a provider who can work with your lifestyle goals. It is a good idea to assess your diet first because nutrition is the foundation of health. What you put into your body affects everything!