When we reach 50, statistics tell us that we are more likely to fall victim to various medical conditions, including high blood pressure. But you are not a statistic. Statistics are only part of the story. We want to help you in beating high blood pressure and have some great tips to keep you healthy and feeling your best.
While these tips can help prevent high blood pressure, we recommend seeking out a doctor in serious cases as these are not intended to be taken as medical advice. However, the suggestions here are free or low cost, do not have negative side effects, and are likely to be strongly approved by your doctor for the positive effects they have not only on your blood pressure (BP) but on your overall health. Therefore, inserting them into your health routine won’t have an adverse effect and can still be helpful even in more severe cases.
Just 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise such as walking (decreased to 75 minutes if the exercise is more vigorous) goes a long way to lower high BP or to keep normal BP from increasing with age. This is just a baseline, so feel free to add more exercise and even some strength training or stretches.
The good news is that all exercise helps, so an hour in the garden or even cleaning up the kitchen counts.
People who eat lots of fruits and veggies tend to have lower BP. Plant foods are high in fiber and other nutrients like potassium, which has been found to lower BP. So stock up at the produce aisle and fill your cart with healthy, filling foods. Berries are particularly nutrient-rich, and this is the time of year to buy them.
There’s even more good news when it comes to eating healthy. In addition to the tasty berries and fruits you love to eat, cocoa is also a plant food! Adding dark chocolate and cocoa powder to a drink or using them as a baking ingredient can actually be good for you. As with most of our favorite things, though, the trick is to limit the quantity since these treats are high in calories.
We are not talking dirty here. C.R.A.P. stands for carbohydrates, refined, and processed. Minimize processed foods containing sugar, flour, and anything you can’t pronounce. However, we don’t have to eliminate them entirely. We are still human, but we should replace as much of the C.R.A.P. as we can with the fruits and veggies mentioned above. Included in the list of things to eliminate or lessen is alcohol. While it’s not exactly a carbohydrate, alcohol is a highly processed substance that is not good for our BP or for much else. Most of us do not have to eliminate it entirely, but it should be saved for special occasions.
And two pieces of good news. Unless you are salt sensitive, you do not have to worry about decreasing the amount of salt in your food. Eliminating processed foods will have already removed much of the salt from your diet, so your daily amount is going to decrease naturally. And caffeine only raises BP in the short term, so you may still be able to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.
You knew this was coming. There’s a well-known correlation between obesity and high blood pressure, so if you’re overweight, you need to make some lifestyle changes to try to lose some pounds.
The good news? If you follow the advice above about getting more exercise, eating more veggies, and cutting the C.R.A.P., the numbers on the scale will drop right along with the BP numbers. Making the small changes as recommended above will again have a natural effect on your weight, so this isn’t adding one more thing to your to-do list; it’s more of an added benefit you’ll see if you work with the first three tips listed.
This is easier said than done. One suggestion to lower stress is to work less. However, having a job that you need to support yourself or your family cannot be easily eliminated. Also, if you are looking after a child or a family member, you can’t just take a nap or a vacation. So while it would be nice to get rid of all of the stressors of daily life, that’s not really a realistic option, is it? That’s why instead of getting rid of your stress altogether, simply try to lessen it in ways that work for you. And the stress that’s still there? Learn how to manage it better.
Prayer and meditation are powerful stress reducers, and there is a lot of advice on how to begin a meditation practice. More simply, we can look at what we ourselves can control, namely our own attitudes. We can decide that we do not have to sweat the small stuff. Then we realize how much of what is stressing us is small stuff.
The good news is that this change of attitude will improve not only our blood pressure but every aspect of our lives.
One of the key aspects of keeping your blood pressure in check is to monitor it so you can make sure it’s in a healthy range. There’s a wide range of monitors on the market, from the home units you’d see in your doctor’s office to watches that offer BP monitoring functionality. To learn more about the watches available, take a look at our article about the 7 Best Blood Pressure Monitoring Watches To Try in 2021. Here are some other great products to consider: