A while ago, I had a friend’s mother tell me that since she has high blood pressure, her parents and brother have it, she expects both her children to develop it as well. And of course, needless to say, I was very shocked to hear that! Her reasoning was that it’s in the genes, so there is nothing you can do about it. And of course, I then began my case about how you can prevent high blood pressure. Genes are not the major influencing factor of your health because ultimately it all comes down to the dietary and lifestyle choices you make. Therefore, family history or not, here are my five holistic health tips for preventing high blood pressure.
1) Reduce your salt, sugar, and caffeine intake. The daily maximum salt intake is set to be at 6g. (Remember, you have to multiply the sodium content by 2.5 to get the actual salt content). 6g is less than 1 tsp Salt is known to increase your blood pressure, so keep your salt intake to a minimum. Both sugar and caffeine are stimulants, which raise the blood pressure as well. Therefore, avoid sugars and sweeteners and also keep your caffeine intake to a minimum…no more than 1 cup of caffeine a day.
2) Have foods that are high in potassium. That’s right, potassium counters the affect that sodium has on your body. And aside from bananas and coconuts, there are plenty of other foods out there that are high in potassium. Therefore, also favour the following foods: apples, carrots, oranges, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, lima beans, apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, and strawberries. Essentially, the more organic fruit and vegetables you have in a day, you reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure. Therefore, next time you crave something sweet, why not reach for a piece of fruit rather than the biscuit? And let’s save the high tea biscuits and pastries for the one-off occasion.
3) Avoid frozen, processed, and packaged foods. All of these foods are often loaded with salt and artificial ingredients to act as preservatives. The best way to avoid eating these types of foods is simple – don’t buy them! When you look at your grocery store cart, you should see more fresh items than packaged items and none of the cakes and pastries or other packaged sweet foods. These goodies are often loaded with salt, preservatives and artificial sugars and sweeteners. When it comes to anything that comes prepackaged, remember to check the labels! Read the ingredients and if you don’t know what it is, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
4) Drink plenty of water. Have at least 2 litres of water a day. Most blood pressure medications act as a diuretic (means that you increase your ability to pass urine) and therefore, why not just drink more water to create the same affect. By all means, don’t stop taking your blood pressure medication, but what I am saying is that in order to prevent high blood pressure and/or to get on the right path to come off your medication, it can be as simple as drinking more water. Drinking enough water is key to staying hydrated and keeping your heart relaxed.
5) Take a break and relax. Yes, your dietary choices make a huge impact on whether or not you develop high blood pressure or how you cope with it. But your lifestyle also plays a huge role. Exercising, sleeping, and managing your stress levels are very important. In fact, exercise in itself can reduce your blood pressure. Get the heart rate up at least 3-4 times a week. In addition, activities like walking, yoga, and meditation are excellent for reducing blood pressure. On top of all of that, remember, work will always be there, so learn to relax. Take 30 minutes to yourself everyday to just be at ease and not worry about anything. Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is relax, so if you are having trouble managing your stress, give me a call for a free 15 minute stress assessment.
With that said, in addition to all the tips above, I would also recommend a great book which teaches you a holistic approach to prevention and in specific, how to create your new healthy destiny. Don’t let your “genes” affect your health. Take control of your own health. The book is called Four Quadrant Living by Dina Colman, who is a great friend and colleague of mine.
And remember, its never too late. Next time your GP says to you that you have “borderline” any thing, then that is your cue to step it up and get help with your diet and lifestyle. Or, if you have a family history, then take initiative and prevent that illness, because in the end, prevention is easier and preferable to cure. As always, I’m here to offer you dietary and lifestyle advice, so feel free to get in touch with me!
Health and happiness,