Hypertension is a very complex medical condition that needs to be handled carefully. Also called as high blood pressure, the condition occurs when the blood pressure in the arteries increase considerably.
And although hypertension may not cause any issues other than an alleviated blood pressure (primary hypertension), in some cases, hypertension may lead to other health related issues (secondary hypertension).
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to several other severe medical ailments like heart attacks and disability. And so, it becomes imperative that an individual starts taking precautionary measures as and when he/she starts noticing the signs of hypertension creeping into his/her system.
Here are some natural ways to reduce hypertension and keep your blood pressure levels at check. These options would save you many a trip to the doctor; and would effectively help you stay away from uncomfortable medications and painful treatment procedures.
Foods That Help You Combat Hypertension
The first thing to a healthy heart is a well balanced, consistent diet that would enable you to keep regular tabs on your blood pressure levels. If you suffer from hypertension, or are beginning to contract symptoms of the same, here are some food options you need to include in your diet and some trouble makers you need to strictly avoid.
People who suffer from hypertension are generally prescribed the DASH diet by physicians and nutritionists worldwide. Short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this particular diet would focus more on foods like vegetables, grains, fruits, and low fat dairy products while staying away from foods that contain added sugars, cholesterol or saturated fat.
Following the DASH diet would enable you to reduce your blood pressure levels by at least 14 mm Hg. Accordingly, here are some of the more common foods you can include in the DASH diet.
Skimmed milk is a rich source of vitamin D and calcium; two essential nutrients that help to control hypertension in individuals. Celery if taken consistently can help reduce hypertension effectively, thanks to the presence of a substance called phthalide which regulates blood flow and has a calming effect on the blood vessels.
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A natural herb in itself, garlic is known to contain several beneficial properties that work together to minimize the effects of hypertension; including blood clots and inflammation. Vegetables like tomato, spinach, beans, broccoli etc. need to be added to the DASH diet. The presence of lycopene, calcium, potassium and vitamins (A, C and E) in tomatoes ensure that your blood pressure levels remain normal at all times.
Spinach is a rich source of Vitamin C, magnesium, iron and folate; key ingredients that work on the overall health and well being of the body and mind. Beans contain ingredients like potassium and magnesium which help reduce high blood pressure levels. But perhaps, the best source of potassium would be broccoli which helps to control the insulin levels in the body in addition to preventing several cardiovascular diseases.
When it comes to fruits that help reduce high blood pressure levels, bananas take the front seat. Bananas are rich sources of potassium and hence work effectively to curb hypertension and effects arising out of the same.
You can also include kiwi fruits in your diet. Being rich in Vitamin C, potassium and lutein (an antioxidant); kiwi fruits help to control the blood pressure levels in the body in addition to preventing heart related ailments.
Foods to Avoid
It won’t do you any good if you go on a DASH diet without restricting a few foods that could increase your blood pressure levels to great extents. Here is a list of some of more important foods you need to avoid if you need to successfully combat hypertension.
Foods that contain too much salt in them need to be strictly avoided. Although you may feel that eating a normal dosage of salt (as eaten by others) would not do you any harm, there would be a big difference in the way your body accepts the salt and the way the same amount of salt is absorbed by the body of an individual who does not have hypertension.
Too much salt intake can also spell trouble for the heart. And so, if you want to stay away from hypertension and heart diseases that arise due to the same, you need to reduce the sodium content in your diet.
Fatty foods that contain saturated and trans fat are to be strictly avoided by individuals who suffer from hypertension. Excess fat consumption can have undue strain on the heart and blood vessels; and can cause quite a few serious ailments if not controlled in time.
The Benefits of Exercising
In addition to following the DASH diet, it is highly recommended that individuals who suffer from hypertension follow a consistent exercise regime to reduce their blood pressure levels by at least 4 mm Hg. Any kind of physical activity done for about 30-60 minutes a day, five times of the week can ensure that your blood pressure drops down to a normal level within a few weeks.
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Regular exercise can also help prevent full blown hypertension in case you are already suffering from pre-hypertension. Rather than focusing entirely on the weekends while staying put during the weekdays; chalk out a fitness program that would enable you to exercise each day. Start with light activities like walking or jogging; and then slowly move on to heavier workouts like lifting weights.
Opt for Tai Chi classes. This form of martial arts has a relaxing effect on the body and helps to reduce hypertension in individuals in addition to helping them reduce weight easily and effectively.
Other Precautions You Need to Take
Following the DASH diet and exercising regularly would definitely put you on the road to a speedy recovery from hypertension. However, there are some other precautions you need to follow in order to stay safe from the issue.
The effects of smoking and drinking
If you are diagnosed with hypertension, the first thing you would need to do is give up smoking and drinking for good. Failure to do so would increase your chances of being affected by strokes, heart attacks and other heart related ailments.
Although miniscule quantities of alcohol can be considered ok, it is highly recommended that you stop drinking if you have hypertension or show signs of contracting the same. Alcohol has a direct effect on the blood pressure levels, raising them to abnormal hours within hours of consumption. Consuming alcohol would also damage the blood vessels in the body with time, thus making it difficult to treat hypertension as and when it occurs.
Acupuncture and Reflexology
If you are not averse to the idea of being pricked by dozens of needles, then you can opt for acupuncture treatment to reduce hypertension. Of course, you would need to opt for a licensed acupuncture practitioner in order to get the maximum benefit out of the treatment. You can also opt for reflexology massages which help reduce hypertension to a great extent and enable the body to heal on its own.