September 13, 2017
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in three American adults have high blood pressure. Fortunately, medication has proved effective in lowering blood pressure and has reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease for millions of people.
But despite helping to lower blood pressure, these medications also come with the potential for harmful or uncomfortable side effects such as:
For many people with high blood pressure, these side effects can be more difficult to live with than the high blood pressure itself. And many other people are opposed to taking artificial medication based on health or religious grounds.
Fortunately there are ways to lower your blood pressure without the use of medication. And below are 10 ways you can do just that starting today.
There is often a correlation between an increase in weight and an increase in blood pressure, and that’s especially true when it comes to extra weight around the waistline. Men with a waist size greater than 40 and women with a waist size greater than 35 are at an increased risk for high blood pressure. Dropping even just a few pounds can help to do the same for your blood pressure.
Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can help reduce your blood pressure. Jogging, biking, swimming or weightlifting are all effective for alleviating high blood pressure, but even something as simple as a daily walk around the neighborhood can make a difference as well.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and is designed to keep blood pressure in check. Just as importantly, cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol.
Sodium intake can contribute to rising blood pressure. Most people should keep their sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day but anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — along with African-Americans and anyone age 51 and over — should limit their daily sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams.
Refrain from adding salt to your food as just one teaspoon of salt can equal a daily serving of sodium. Eat fewer processed foods as they are generally higher in sodium than natural foods. And increase your intake of potassium as it can lessen the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
A small amount of alcohol can actually help lower your blood pressure. But drinking too much can cause your blood pressure to go in the opposite direction. If you’re averaging more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day, you might be increasing your risk of high blood pressure.
It’s easier said than done for many smokers, but kicking the habit can do wonders for your blood pressure. Every cigarette causes your blood pressure to spike for several minutes thereafter and the blood pressure of heavy smokers is given little chance to return to normal levels before the next cigarette.
While still largely debated, the effect of caffeine on blood pressure is believed to be similar to that of cigarettes. A caffeinated beverage can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure lasting up to around three hours. And while caffeine is not believed to have any long-term effects on blood pressure, heavy caffeine drinkers may sustain high blood pressure through continuous consumption of caffeinated drinks.
Stress is a contributor to elevated blood pressure levels and the demands of work, family, finances or health issues can cause stress for even the calmest of people. Find ways to reduce your stress levels and make a commitment to releasing some of that stress from your life.
An inexpensive blood pressure monitor can be bought at most pharmacies without a prescription and it only takes a minute to check your levels. Keeping tabs on your blood pressure level can help you remain in control and can validate the lifestyle changes you are making.
Tell your friends and family about your high blood pressure and encourage them to hold you accountable with your lifestyle changes. You may even consider joining a support group for people wishing to quit smoking, eat healthier or exercise more.
Medication is not the only answer for high blood pressure. Making some simple lifestyle changes can lower your blood pressure while also bringing a number of additional health benefits in the process.
*This content is not medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Christian Worstell is a writer and health enthusiast from Raleigh, NC. He enjoys mindfulness meditation, sport climbing, and is keen to try wingsuit flying one day. You can find more of his writing here.