High Blood Pressure

Lower Your Blood Pressure with Natural Remedies

Jessica Reader Blog

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Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) “was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 494,873 people in the United States in 2018. High blood pressure costs the United States about $131 billion each year, averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014”, per the Center for Disease Control.

With the current level of stress in most Americans, it’s likely that these numbers will continue to increase, since stress plays a key role in high blood pressure.

Implementing some lifestyle/nutrition strategies can be a tool you can use, starting today, to lower blood pressure naturally.

So, what exactly is high blood pressure and why is it a problem?

You’ve likely heard your doctor tell you that a normal blood pressure is 120/80, but did you ever think about that those numbers mean, in the scheme of your overall health?

The first number – known as your systolic pressure – occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries.

The second number – known as your diastolic pressure – occurs as the heart rests between heart beats.

When those numbers go above the ‘normal’ range, it means that there is excess pressure in the arteries if systolic is elevated. And, that the heart can’t rest properly between beats, if diastolic is elevated.

Think about blowing up a balloon. If you keep blowing, after the balloon is filled with air, it will burst. Excess pressure in our arteries can do the same thing, causing them to burst. This is known as a stroke. And, sadly, there is often no sign or symptom that anything is going on. You can have high blood pressure and not even know it….but damage to your arteries is happening, to be sure.

Men tend to get high blood pressure at a rate higher than women. The ratio is nearly 60% men to 40% women. And, ethnicity plays a big role, too. Black American males have a rate higher than white American males. However, sadly, black Americans tend to be under treated for this condition.

Here are guideline numbers you should be aware of:

  • 120/80 (or lower) = Normal
  • 130-139 Systolic OR 81-89 Diastolic = Stage 1 High Blood Pressure
  • 140 or Higher Systolic OR 90 or Higher Diastolic = Stage 2 High Blood Pressure
  • Higher than 180 Systolic or Higher than 120 Diastolic = Hypertensive Crisis
    • Seek immediate medical attention

There are many prescription drugs available to combat high blood pressure. But as you know, these drugs don’t fix the problem….they just mask them. And, they come with side effects that can be problematic. The most common side effects include:

  • Low energy/fatigue
    • Not a surprise, is it? If this medicine is slowing down your blood circulation, it is slowing down your energy levels, too.
  • Erectile dysfunction
    • Again, no surprise, if you think about it. If blood flow is being slowed down in general circulation, blood flow is being slowed down there, too.
      • And, though they make little blue pills for erectile dysfunction, the medication insert specifically states that it’s not for people with heart-related disorders. High blood pressure definitely qualifies as that.
    • Headaches
      • The changes in the constriction and dilation of blood vessels tend to cause headaches for many people.

If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are currently taking medication, you can implement the strategies I will be listing below. In time, your pressure should start going down. Once you get to the normal range, and stay there, it’s likely your doctor will be able to take you off of your medicine.

However, if you, or a loved one, are hovering between ‘normal’ blood pressure and Stage 1 hypertension, and your doctor has not yet prescribed a medicine, these strategies should help get your pressure under control in no time. But, you have to make the changes. Remember, ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two different things.

Blood Pressure

Strategies to lower blood pressure naturally.

Let’s address the ‘common sense’ strategies, first.

Your mother and grandmother have been right for all these years. In order to get healthy and maintain your health, you have to eat right and exercise. There really are no short cuts.

If you are carrying excess weight and eating fast food on a regular basis, it will be impossible to get your blood pressure under control.

Exercise

The good news is that exercise can be any activity you choose….as long as you do it consistently. And, it can be as simple as turning on music in your house and dancing around for 15-20 minutes, 4 or 5 times per week.  Heck, pick out your favorite 5-6 songs and get moving. That’s it….5-6 songs will get you to your 15-20 minute threshold. And, you certainly don’t have to know how to dance….you just have to move to the beat, lifting arms and legs, when you feel compelled to do so. I can promise you, I look like Elaine Benes, of the Seinfield Show, when I dance….but I don’t care. I’m alone. No one can see me.

Stress

When we are undergoing stress, our ‘fight or flight’ system is activated. In this state, our heart beats much faster because physiology is preparing us to fight the beast, or run away from it. However, most American’s aren’t fleeing a beast….but we still create ‘perceived’ stress and our body responds to it, just that same as if a lion were staring you down.   Road rage would be one example of ‘perceived’ stress.

When we live daily with high stress levels, it’s important to understand that high blood pressure does not just hurt the heart. It also causes kidney problems that often lead to chronic kidney disease. And, it also causes problems with brain health, too.

Choosing a strategy to de-stress at the end of the day will be very important. If you’re open to learning more about meditation, that can be a great way to de-stress. In our world of ‘smart technology’ there are many apps that you can download, for free, that help with stress management skills, too. Calm is an app that many people have found very helpful.

Eat Right

Though it goes without saying, please be mindful of the processed foods you are eating. These foods tend to be exceptionally high in sodium, which can increase blood pressure. Additionally, these foods cause weight gain, which puts stress on the heart.

Having said that, there are a few foods which really do focus in on improving blood pressure.

  • Beets have nutrients that improve nitric oxide production.
    • Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, helping to keep blood pressure under control.
  • Berries contain a compound called anthocyanins, which help with antioxidant production. They also help with nitric oxide production.
  • Broccoli also makes great antioxidants that helps improve nitric oxide production.
  • Pumpkin seeds are a great source of potassium, magnesium and arginine.
    • These nutrients are important for optimal heart health.
      • An interesting study showed that adding a small amount of additional potassium and magnesium-rich foods in the diet could lower systolic and diastolic pressure.
    • Salmon, Tuna and other fatty fish are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
      • Many studies have shown that DHA, one of the key compounds in Omega 3, strengthens heart health and lowers blood pressure.
    • Swiss Chard is another great source of potassium and
      • As the research mentioned above discusses, adding a bit more of these nutrients has been shown to lower blood pressure.

There are many more foods that can help to optimize blood pressure, but these foods are easy to find and should be easy to incorporate into your regular eating plan.

If you feel like you might need additional help getting started on improving your blood pressure, please know that there are many well-trained nutrition therapists who would be happy to start you on your journey.

I’ll do my part by providing you with a delicious recipe that contains many of the key foods to naturally lower your blood pressure.

beet salad

Recipe

Quinoa Beet Salad with Salmon

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, soaked and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup pepitas ( pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 medium raw beet, peeled
  • 1 medium-to-large carrot (or 1 additional medium beet), peeled
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach or arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 can (5 to 8 ounce) wild caught salmon or tuna

Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

To cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water for a minute or two. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the quinoa from heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot, drain off any excess water and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.

To toast the pepitas: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds or pepitas, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl to cool. This step is optional. I just sprinkle raw pumpkin seeds on my salad.

To prepare the beet(s) and/or carrot: First of all, feel free to just chop them as finely as possible using a sharp chef’s knife OR grate them on a box grater. If you have a spiralizer, you can spiralize them using blade C, then chop the ribbons into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife. If you have a mandoline and julienne peeler (this is a pain), use the mandoline to julienne the beet and use a julienne peeler to julienne the carrot, then chop the ribbons into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife.

To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.

To assemble the salad: In your large serving bowl, combine the toasted pepitas, prepared beet(s) and/or carrot, roughly chopped spinach/arugula (see note above about leftovers), cubed avocado, flaked salmon or tuna and cooked quinoa.

Finally, drizzle dressing over the mixture (you might not need all of it) and gently toss to combine. You’ll end up with a pink salad if you toss it really well! Season to taste with salt (up to an additional ¼ teaspoon) and black pepper. Serve.

Thank you, Kate (of CookieAndKate.com) for sharing this delicious recipe. It is one of my favorite go-to’s.

About the author: Dr Becky Spacke is a course instructor at Nutrition Therapy Institute. In addition, she has a private practice, working with people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. You can learn more by visiting www.HealingFromAlz.com

Image:

Image by www.volganet.ru is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Image by Lynn Gardner is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Image by CDC CC0 Images is free for use by Canva

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