Contributed by: Dr. Snehal Singh
Rajeev considered himself fit – until he suffered a cardiac attack. His family history of high blood pressure and heart disease had put him in the danger zone long before he got to know.
High blood pressure is a common health problem with many complications. It is, infact, a silent killer. It slowly creeps inside you, carries no symptoms and puts you at risk for heart disease.
The fact is that high blood pressure makes the heart work harder than normal. And if left untreated for long, it scars and damages the arteries leading to a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage and heart failure.
Controlling blood pressure is hence important to reduce the risk of related health complications. Medications are surely useful to lower blood pressure, however, knowing the dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure naturally can be of great help. Even if you are healthy, controlling your blood pressure can help protect your health and prevent other lifestyle disorders.
Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure
Here are some of the most effective ways to reduce blood pressure.
Watch your Diet
Your diet plays a very important role, altering it can help reduce your blood pressure. Include foods that reduce blood pressure like complex carbs, in the form of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Take dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, figs, raisins, which can keep you healthy. Choose lean meat cuts and low-fat dairy products. Avoid simple carbs, sugars, candies, sweetened beverages, refined and bakery products.
High blood pressure is a result of high sodium levels in the blood. Increasing potassium levels can help to counter this process. Take foods rich in potassium like dark leafy vegetables, avocados, mushrooms, potatoes, bananas, beans, yogurt and fatty fish. Take coconut water; a potassium rich healthy drink.
If you wish to reduce blood pressure, reduce sodium levels by limiting salt intake. Read labels when shopping, avoid salted items and keep a check on home cooked foods too. Avoid adding salt to your food, use spices and herbs instead. Refrain from processed and packaged food items, as they contain excess salts and additives.
These dietary changes are suggested in the DASH diet to reduce blood pressure. It stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. It is recommended by most physicians, as a part of high blood pressure management.
Caffeine can have a negative impact on your blood pressure, causing it to rise after taking caffeine in any form. Most colas contain caffeine, which can do more harm than good. But if you are habituated to a cup of morning coffee, make sure you don’t overdo it. Limiting caffeine is one of the best ways to reduce blood pressure.
Smoking can raise your blood pressure to a great extent. When smoking is continued for long, it can also increase the risk of heart problems and cancer. Hence, the best way to reduce blood pressure is to quit smoking and stay healthy.
Cut Back on Alcohol
While alcohol in small quantities is considered good for your health, drinking more is surely harmful. Alcohol, when taken in large quantities can increase your blood pressure. Hence, the best way to keep your blood pressure in check is to limit your alcohol intake. Also, fried, salted and calorie dense junk foods are usually taken with alcohol, which must be avoided to reduce blood pressure.
Regular exercise has shown positive results in lowering blood pressure, increasing good cholesterol and managing stress as well. Exercise regularly, go for a walk or play sports, if your health permits, to reduce blood pressure.
Manage your Weight
Being overweight is one of the most crucial risks for many health problems. Reducing your weight can have a great impact on your blood pressure. This is one of the most effective ways to naturally reduce blood pressure.
Rest and Relax
Stress is one of the commonest risk factor for most lifestyle disorders these days. If you wish to reduce blood pressure naturally, find ways to manage your stress. Know what triggers stress or anger and avoid it. Relax with soothing music, a breath of fresh air, yoga, massage or by doing something you really enjoy. Rest is equally important; so make sure you get at least 6 to 8 hours of sound sleep every night. Rest and relaxation are natural ways to reduce blood pressure by allowing your body and mind to heal.
Take Medications Regularly
If you are on blood pressure lowering medications or any other medicines, ensure you take them as prescribed. Following medical advice religiously can help reduce blood pressure and also the risk of other ailments.
Monitor your Health
Monitoring your health is the most important way to reduce your blood pressure. Use a blood pressure machine to monitor your blood pressure at home. Also, follow-up with your doctor regularly and do as advised. It is also good to go for preventive health check-ups or yearly health checks to ensure you are doing fine. Any changes in your health can be addressed at the right time.
Home Remedies to Reduce Blood Pressure
Many natural remedies help to reduce blood pressure and can be taken with your physician’s advice. Most home remedies to reduce blood pressure are common food items; you can also use them in your regular diet.
Some of the natural remedies that help to control blood pressure include
- Herbs like basil, celery, coriander, mint, etc. help to reduce blood pressure. These can be added to your daily diet.
- Spices like cinnamon, garlic and ginger. These have great anti-oxidant properties and can be easily used in preparing various dishes.
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. are also known to have great benefits. You can use them to sprinkle over your soups, salads and sandwiches.
High blood pressure is a serious problem but can be managed well with medicines and lifestyle changes. Weight management, diet and exercise play an important role in regulating blood pressure. Home remedies and certain foods too help to reduce blood pressure naturally at home. These measures can be adopted with your physician’s advice to reduce blood pressure.
So, take charge of your health now! Plan a healthy lifestyle and keep your blood pressure under control.