Natural ways to lower your blood pressure
The number of Americans with high blood pressure has passed 100 million adults. That’s about half of all the adults in the united states. Yet 95% of high blood pressure cases have no identifiable cause and are known as primary hypertension. Even worse, high blood pressure has almost no symptoms until it leads to serious cardiovascular problems.
The good news is there are things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. Certain lifestyle changes are recommended as the first line of treatment for elevated blood pressure, a level of higher pressure before hypertension is diagnosed. These changes are also recommended to accompany medications in the treatment of more advanced stages.
What influences blood pressure?
Your blood pressure is based on two factors, heart output and resistance from your blood vessels. An increase in either one of these will lead to an increase in blood pressure. Your heart output can be influenced by stress, physical activity, and even blood volume since there is more fluid to pump. Resistance in the blood vessels are affected by many things; the nervous system, kidneys, hormones, blockages, plaques, and the person’s size.
This is why hypertension has no known underlying cause, as it appears to be multifactorial. Changing some aspects of your daily life can influence one of these factors, similar to how certain medications target different parts of this system.
Life style modifications to manage hypertension
While the following things can be useful in lowering blood pressure, they are also helpful preventive measures and healthy life behaviors. Lifestyle changes take time, so it’s important to take things one step at a time. Don’t try to implement all the changes at once and if you’re currently on blood pressure medications, continue to take them as prescribed unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
One of the biggest ways to lower blood pressure is to lose weight. As little as 5 pounds lost can reduce blood pressure. Losing about 20 pounds can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 20 points. When your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard or far, the blood pressure goes down.
Diet is key to weight loss, but it is also important to get the right nutrients and not many of others. The National Institutes of Health recommend a Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products while reducing things like saturated fats and salt.
A DASH diet also helps reduce salt intake and boost potassium levels. It’s been long established that reducing salt can help lower blood pressure but its also important to balance salt with potassium levels. Modern diets have seen an increase in salt with a decrease in potassium. Potassium is a necessary component in eliminating excess salt in addition to helping increase bone and muscle strength.
Regular exercise helps condition your cardiovascular system to help lower your blood pressure. Physical activity, like walking or jogging, of at least 30 minutes per day helps by making your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more with less effort, reducing the force on your arteries. On average, it can lower your blood pressure by 4-9 points. It also helps relieve stress, which can be a contributing factor in high blood pressure.
Chiropractic and blood pressure
Chiropractic adjustments have been known to influence the nervous system leading some to postulate that they may help reduce blood pressure. Some studies with full spine chiropractic treatments have not found this link but a recent study of upper cervical chiropractic did. The study found that 1 atlas adjustment lowered blood pressure significantly 8 weeks after the treatment. This specific upper cervical approach is being expanded to a larger study to further evaluate this treatment.
While these changes are simple to write down, implementing them can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help you stick to your plan. A doctor or chiropractor can be a great ally and give you more information about weight loss, DASH diets, and increasing your physical activity.