Managing Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing heart disease and if left uncontrolled it can lead to problems with not only the heart, but also other organs as well including the brain and kidneys. If you have high blood pressure it is time to take control of your cardiovascular wellbeing and develop a health program to lower high blood pressure. From changing your diet to making time for exercise and stress relief, you can support your heart and improve your overall wellbeing at the same time.
Diet and Nutrition
The first and perhaps most important part of a plan for lowering blood pressure is diet. Eating well means the following:
- Including plenty of fiber in the diet to help remove waste from the body, including cholesterol.
- Consuming antioxidants to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and to protect the heart.
- Consuming important vitamins and minerals for cardiovascular health, such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and E.
- Eating good sources of omega fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.
Make sure you are eating a variety of whole grains, at least four servings each of fruits and vegetables, lowfat sources of protein, and nuts, seeds and legumes. Also, drink eight glasses of water each day.
A heart healthy diet also means avoiding or minimizing salt, fatty foods, sugary foods and processed foods. Soda, caffeine, and alcohol consumption (one serving of alcohol a day is safe according to the American Heart Association) should also be reduced.
You can also make nutritional and herbal supplements a part of your blood pressure lowering program, but make sure you talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or dietary supplements. The following can be helpful for high blood pressure:
- Ginkgo biloba (this herb may not be safe when taken in conjunction with some medications, so talk to your doctor first)
- Fish or flax seed oil
- Evening primrose oil
An Exercise Plan
Regular physical activity is another essential part of your plan for a healthy cardiovascular system. Make a commitment to 30 minutes, five
days a week of aerobic activity. Start out slow with walking or biking. Try other activities to keep yourself interested such as swimming, joining an aerobics class or playing tennis with a friend. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle now this may seem like a big task, but with exercise once you get going it will become much easier and even something you can look forward to each day.
The final component of a well-rounded plan includes a dedication to stress relief. An easy way to do this is to give yourself 20 minutes in the morning or evening to meditate. Sit in a comfortable, quiet place, clear your mind and simply focus on your breathing. If meditation is not something you are interested in, there are dozens of other things you can do — whatever puts you at ease (aside from smoking or drinking.) Gardening, painting, reading, listening to music and doing yoga are all examples of things you can do to relax.
By simply changing your diet, taking supplements and making time for exercise and stress relief you have a powerful and personal health program to lower high blood pressure. Once you have the basic plan down and have made it a part of your life you can do more things to improve your wellbeing, such as having a therapeutic massage once a month to improve blood circulation or turning your daily walks into daily runs. Be sure to talk to your doctor about taking supplements and have regular medical visits to monitor your health.
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
American Heart Association, https://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4563
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